The Croaking Fane is a batrachian-themed adventure with lots of frogs, toads, amphibians, tadpoles, and of course lots of frogs, toads, batrachian amphibians and… did I mention the batrachian toads? Lots of toads, the batrachian kind. That’s all my players are going to remember, the toads. Themed adventures are good, but this relies a bit heavily on the batrachian toads. And my players have grown to expect puzzles in the Goodman Games adventures, but the toads failed to deliver any cerebral challenges, only batrachian challenges. It had good Kovacs maps, a creepy locale to explore, and treasure for our heroes to find (too bad they missed the 1,000 gp toadstone!) But the monsters were redundant and there weren’t many meaningful choices for the characters to make. We spent most of our time in a single room fighting a mob of medium-sized giant frogs in a combat encounter that went on and on, an endless loop of being killed but revived in time. Have you had this happen in your DCC game yet? Six of our nine characters died in this encounter and were brought back from 0 hp by our clerics, the hardest working of the character classes. Three characters died more than once, and the record goes to (drumroll please…) our cleric of Pelagia who died and was revived three *freaking* times in this one encounter. Ugh. This kind of combat scene is just exhausting. Not to mention batrachian.
The Black Feather Blade wasn’t an adventure I was considering running, except our characters really need a magic weapon to kill a demon. A quest for a magic sword… As long as the sword is cool, the players won’t care if the adventure is average. Something I love about the Dark Master’s approach is the magic items: They are unique and jam-packed with detailed personality. The magic sword and the cursed item (I won’t spoil) were neat enough to make this adventure worthwhile, though the rest was a pedestrian B-list module from a Gen Con Program Guide. The map was interesting enough and gave the characters some choices to make, the monsters were unique, and if you live to the end you can get a +2 two-handed sword, so my players were happy enough. Over the course of this adventure, Rob’s 1st level dude got killed, again. One side-effect of the extra-deadly adventures that Goodman Games specializes in is that players are always being sent back to 1st level. So then why is the Dark Master publishing so many 4th level modules? We’re never getting to 4th level. Goodman Games needs to publish a ton more 1st level adventures, and a few more good 2nd levels would be nice too. Please? Thanks.