The Temple of Pulchra Morte

By Adamo Dagradi
Mountains of Weirdness blog
Levels 2-4

Partially collapsed 400 years ago, during a massive earthquake that completely destroyed the

surrounding city of Spina. Empty since a few days after the cataclysm, when the city was abandoned by the few survivors.Only the Incarnate of the Goddess Pulchra Morte (N – Female) remains, a girl named Dafne, chosen since before birth to be the God’s representative on earth and granted immortality by Morte, until a sign showed the arrival of the next Incarnate. The sign which heralded her coming was the apparent death and resuscitation of her mother, while pregnant, in front of Morte’s altar. Dafne looks like a 17 years old girl and usually wears makeup that makes her face look like a skull, she dresses in red robes taken from the ancient clergy’s apparel

This eight page adventure details four levels of a temple with about fifty rooms. As the ration would tend to indicate, this is a relatively minimally keyed based adventure. Full of loot, and mostly devoid of creatures (only four fixed encounters?) it also tends to lack in evocative descriptions and interactivity. A weird one, that seems to mimic form but without its function?

Request-a-thon continues with this quirky thing. You get four pages of hand-drawn maps, that have all the quaintness one could desire in a (relatively) small map. Not exactly linear but also not exactly looping, we get a kind of star shape out of them, with rooms hanging off of loop corridors. Wanderers, 1 in 6 checked each turn, seem to be the major enemy here. For there are only four listed encounters in the text? And they all occur on the last level, mostly beasts. A tiger, a bear, a nymph, and a ghost.  This gives the thing a kind of empty feel to it. Almost haunting, I guess? Or, as a player, something less than haunting. Combining that sparseness of encounters with the lack of interactivity produces a weird sort of thing where you just wander around and loot the rooms? You walk in, search the place, take your jug or urine or silver hairpin, and move on the next room? There’s a pool or two where you can heal, but that seems less than fulfilling for a fifty room dungeon?

Descriptions tend HEAVILY toward minimalism. “Ex-storeroom, now museum. Dafne gathers here everything that she finds in the city’s ruins and that sparks her interest. Dolls. Tools. Trinkets” This is one of the longer descriptions. The rooms don’t really get much of a description at all, in fact. You get a room name, like “Female Temple Area” and in the description “In good shape but otherwise empty.” Uh. Ok. Or a storage room that just lists the contents. There’s a lack of overall vibe for the rooms. No real effort to bring them alive that is consistent throughout the work. One of the best is “Stone steps, sleek with humidity . Smell of burned herbs and fat from below.” Which is pretty good for stairs, but, that description, the first encounter area, is by no means an example. “Round room with stone bleachers on the sides and a pool in the middle. The water is murky, but clearer and colder on the bottom, 2 meters down” That’s more typical, and, even tending towards the more descriptive for the rooms in this.

I’m not really sure what to make of this. “. In a hole on the third northmost column a rotten leather patch is stuck and contains a gold ring with the sigil of the Malaterra family (70 gp – 300 if returned to the heirs).” That’s typical of the treasures … something interesting about them being hidden with a little description of them. And, I’d say that’s the best part of this, along with the maps and, perhaps, the wanderers table. But, I don’t really see how you can sustain that?

And the formatting? Font sizes change. Some monsters are bolded on some levels and on other levels they are not. (Pixies on the first level, for example.) A kind of sloppiness in the formatting. I guess it works, as an example of just writing things down and pushing it out the door. Yeah, you gotta publish and real artists ship. But, also, you gotta make it a kind of cohesive whole. And that’s missing from the formatting of this, which is all over the place. Almost like the manually set literal mimeograph and pastups of the olden days. Almost. 

There’s a certain degree of promise here, I think. You can see the designer is kind of on the right track with things. Almost as if they are playing Fake It Until You Make It. Which is fine; it’s how you get better. But, the lack of interactivity is rough, as is the soreness of both encounter and description. The lack of consistent formatting it just the final bit of straw. 

But, hey, it’s free on the designers blog! It looks like it may be the designers first dungeon, so, hey, Congrats Man! But do a lot better next time.

This entry was posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Temple of Pulchra Morte

  1. Baldo says:

    This review reminded me of a different blog with lots of free adventures: ,maybe you can find better stuff there.

  2. Chainsaw says:

    Requires a lot of skill to provide informational, inspiring, compact text for room and location keys. A good editor helps most, but an honest second opinion beats nothing at all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Author ask Guy Fullerton for help! He is goat at this

    Speaking of Guy where have you been? I would love to see what’s next from you

  4. 3llense'g says:

    This does not happen to be 4 one page (or rather two page) dungeons connected to each other, does it?

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