By Michael Curtis Goodman Games DCC Level 2
Long ago, Frygorix of the Thousand Lies, a foul demon, ruled with fear from atop a lonely tor, spreading death and plague across the land. Two brave siblings, one bearing an enchanted shield of great power, challenged the demon, vowing to slay it and free the land. In their climactic battle, black towers of six-sided stone arose from the hilltop, an eerie outcropping called the Demon Crown by some. Stories hold that the shield lies untouched within the Demon Crown, but who knows what else might dwell within those weird, dark pillars of unearthly rock?
This twenty page digest adventure details a dungeon with about thirteen rooms in it. Workmanlike, it feels constructed rather than imagined.
You hear about a magic shield in a cliffside area similar to the Devils Postpile/Giants Causeway, etc. IE: a bunch of hexagon stone “tubes” all mashed together. You wander about inside of them until you fight a demon and some rock monsters.
Goodman does a good job with their DriveThru descriptions, noting page count, levels, and so on. Further, they don’t fuck around in the adventure with a long boring backstory and a lot of meaningless drivel about making it your own game, how to roll dice, etc. It is, essentially, unpadded. Just like that short and sweet into to G1, there IS a little backstory, but it’s not excessive and it doesn’t get in the way of running the adventure.
Curtis understands the genre and his events and scenes fit in well stylistically. At one point you (could be) meeting with a trog queen sitting on a throne of skulls. The skulls speak in unison and translate her speech to common. There are multiple classic elements there, from the throne of skulls to them speaking in unison to the translation. In other places a sword can be imbued with the spirit of a long dead warrior. Things are embedded in walls (which seems to be a favorite of Curtis …) and sometimes pull themselves free. The elements are there.
But, I also find Curtis to be one of the more inconsistent DCC writers. While he understands the material, whatever it is, is doesn’t always get translated on to the page well. Some adventures, like the Chained Coffin, really translate the style well from Curtis, to the page, and back to the DM. Others don’t. Still others feel more constructed than imagined. And that’s the case with this one.
It feels more like a series a rooms each with something in them. It doesn’t feel like a whole but rather separate parts. The setting location should be fantastic, but it comes off as a little dry and boring, not interesting to explore. (Which could be writing or the design, this is the old “the dwarves are stoic builders” trap; they then come off as boring Brutalist. Looking good from the outside, but that’s all they got.)
Woven bags, not of human skin but just woven. Rock monsters pulling themselves out of the rock walls … who just do slam attacks. That’s boring. (As opposed to the fire harpies in another area that breathe fire gouts. That’s cool!) There’s just not a lot going on, and that leads to a kind of matter of fact nature of the rooms and their contents. Not exactly bad, but not really something to recommend it either. Also ran, as it were.
Dovetailing in to this are the Mighty Deeds. You need an interesting room to do these well. Something to work with. The brutalist architecture just doesn’t really you with anything much to work with. It’s an empty room. Try and do something.
One of the weaker, but not the weakest, of the Curtis adventures.
This is $7 at DriveThru. The preview is three pages. You DO get a chance to see some of the adventure. Note the boring rock people art, and the last page of the preview, with its read-aloud and descriptive text.
Bonus blog feature: Tower of the Hanged Men. This is a one pager that uses the art on the map to good effect. It’s a hard adventure to puzzle out, but, it DOES use the map art to help augment the adventure text to bring more than the sum of its parts to the adventure. Looks like maybe there’s some English as a Second Language issues. Remember one page designers … you also get the back of that page, if it’s printed two-sided!