By Brad Kerr Swordlords Publishing OSE Level 3
An ancient temple to the forgotten god of swords lies hidden behind a waterfall. Great piles of swords choke its halls and spill out into nearby streams and waterways. What strangeness still treads and what swords will you draw in the Temple of 1000 Swords?
This 25 page adventure describes a slightly absurdist eighteen room dungeon with … a sword theme. I mean, SERIOUSLY sword-themed. Interesting encounters and good formatting compliment a utilitarian writing style
Oh, and it has carnivorous duck-people in it. I did mention slightly absurdist, right? And the giant duck-person egg? And rooms FILLED with rusting swords, streams clogged with them, a gelatinous cube choked full of them. I mean, this thing takes swords to 11, even providing a d100 table of interesting swords you can find and some guidelines on how to keep things interesting should the party decide to “mine” the dungeon for swords.
Complimenting this is a slightly devil-may-care attitude of the NPC’s in places. The jovial god of swords, a mermaid queen ready for marrying, and not particularly attached to the magic sword she’s carrying. Oh, didn’t I mention the merfolk? Blood enemies of the duck people? And their genocidal war between each other that takes place in the halls? Like I said, slightly absurdist … but never really going over the edge, IMO, and everything following logically (well, D&D logic …) from the initial setup. And I do love me some slightly absurdit D&D.
And there’s always the allure of the sword. Of the MAGIC sword. Nothing like “you see a faintly glowing sword” to get the parties attention and push them in to the encounter they just KNOW is going to be a problem. Why fuck with that giant tower of swords in danger of collapsing, with weirdo sand people forming and dissolving underneath it? Because there’s a glowing sword up in it. Mermaid chick got a glowing sword? Let’s see what she has to say … Sounds like my kind of guy! This is an excellent example of luring the PLAYERS in. There’s always some kind of power fantasy behind every player … even if I have to extend that to “fulfilling my bullshit character arc that no one cares about except me.” And, appeals to THAT are going to be the most successful appeals you can make as a DM/designer. Motivating the PLAYERS to Push The Big Red Button turns the encounter, or adventure, in a gleeful exploration of the roleplaying world, instead of the It’s What My Character Would Do drudgery.
There’s a stream of water that you have to travel up … choked by swords! Also, there’s a pit under it, full of pointy swords. Also, All the swords make the pit malfunction 3-in-6. You gotta admire the dedication to the sword theme here. Oh, look, a dude stuck to thew all, through the heart, with a glowing sword. And still alive. Of course he’s a vampire. Of COURSE he promises not to kill you if you release him. And, in a surprise twist, he doesn’t! Of course, he WILL cause future problems throughout the land, that the party will just KNOW they started. I fucking love it! That’s how you do an encounter! This is an excellent example, as well, of making the characters actions have consequences and further enhancing the game world by it. It’s not exactly a punishment, or a reward … or, maybe, it’s both at the same time. Good adventures that kind of follow on possibilities and this one delivers.
The writing here is more utilitarian than I would prefer to see, both in the overview text and in the DM text. “Vaulted ceilings, doric pillars, the echoing sounds of water. A massive statue of an armored god looms from the northern wall. A sword- choked stream flows from the east. A dark hallway leads west.” Certainly, this isn’t minimally keyed, and it’s not boring writing either. But, if I had a complaint with this adventure, it’s that those descriptions could use a little more polish to bring them to life more in the DM’s head. Not so much more words but polishing up what’s there. Or, the DMs text which reads “A pile of fine swords is placed before the statue as an offering. Two of them glow faintly in the dark (blades 2 and 9 of the nine). An enormous gem (1000 GP) is embedded in the statue’s forehead; it’s a treacherous climb to reach it (Strength check).” Again, certainly not overwritten, and only slightly underwritten, I’d suggest. Not enough to impact the play of the adventure, but, more effort in this area would really turning this thing from a fine journeyman adventure in a masterful shooting star of one.
I could go on and on about this thing. An excellent curse/geas provided by the God Of Swords (who can do a wish for you …), the fetal duckling horror that emerges from the giant duck egg. (Of course that’s what happens! OF COURSE! And that’s the sign of a good encounter, when everyone says “OF COURSE!”) VTT maps provided, a very god intro summary of what’s going on. This thing is is ready to go.
This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is seventeen pages, showing more than a few of the encounters. This is a good preview, showing the intro, as well as the encounters. I’d check out the first page of encounters to get an idea if you’d like this.