Blood For The Serpent King is only about four rooms long, but our party of fierce adventurers was nonetheless forced to their wits’ end and the very limits of their capabilities. This module has a solid Mayan snake-guy theme, a puzzle element, and a couple of killer combat encounters: Our party never made it up the ziggurat thanks to the giant sea serpent. And lets not forget the terror and awesomeness of the finale location. The map is worth copying for player view—You have to see the art to understand the wickedness of the ziggurat and black storm. This short adventure is an add on to Bride Of The Black Manse and escaped my scrutiny at first, but level 2 comes before level 3, so…
This was the game our group really started to feel their Mighty Deeds and Spellburn. Mighty Deeds is a great mechanic because the players can just make it up on the spot. Spell casting is much more complicated, to the point of uselessness unless every wizard, elf and cleric has a copy of the rulebook to scrutinize. Thanks to People Them With Monsters for providing spell sheet downloads, bcuz having a handout for every spell is the only way to for new players to know their powers. The Enlarge spell totally kicked ass and somehow gave better Armor Class bonuses than the Magic Shield spell. A maximum spellburn by Whipplestan the elf to summon aid from the King of Elfland was the party’s only hope for survival after the giant water serpent wiped out the rope bridge. Several characters were killed and brought back from 0 Hit Points in the nick of time, adding an immense tension to the game, and the party’s inability to reach the top of the ziggurat and “finish” the adventure made it all the more powerful in the imagination. The sense of wonder and satisfaction was great! All thanks to the Dark Master for making possible such a fine Saturday afternoon!
I bought People of the Pit but then set it aside for a long time: I had two other adventures with a tentacle monster, so this one seemed unnecessary. But in playing the other two adventures, the tentacle scenes ended up getting cut. Since there aren’t enough 1st level modules, I dusted this one off and gave it a try. This is a solid adventure module with a great Lovecraft-inspired tentacle-theme. Whereas modules #67 and #81 used a tentacle monster for the finale, People Of The Pit made use of tentacles all the ways: Cool combat spell, form of transportation, inspiration for a maze, and other weird crap. Like the eyeball adventure (#81), this one plays its theme well for an unforgettable environ to explore and unforgettable foes to slay. It had more treasure to be found than most of the other 1st level modules, much to the relief of the impoverished characters (Armor is so expensive in DCC!) In our five hour game, the party only got to the temple on the second level, about halfway through the map, making this module a real all-you-can-eat suitable for all-night play. Too bad we’re all old now and start to nod off as soon as the sun goes down. My theory is that clerics are the most powerful DCC class because of the rules for Bleeding Out. Our party suffered two deaths in the fifth hour, both saved by the two clerics in the party, but once they lost one of their clerics irrevocably it was time to turn tail and escape with the gems. It would have taken a party of all clerics to get to the bottom of the fourth level, but I was disappointed with the finale—You just kill the lead cultist and the cavern collapses. I’m glad Goodman Games has ‘banned’ any more tentacle-themed releases, but could The Dark Master please consider banning the ‘collapsing finale’ that ends so many modules? Every time the dungeon collapses in the last scene, I think of Tango & Cash, not Gygax & Arneson.
Elzemon and the Blood-drinking Box is more of a horror module than an adventure module. There is no map to speak of, so no “mode of exploration”. Instead, the characters spend most of their time walking down a long, seemingly endless staircase. Cue death by boredom! This adventure is grueling and torturous, appealing to the DM’s sadistic side, and I enjoyed keeping the characters up all night with Elzemon’s powers of illusion. Unfortunately, our game had a 5 hour time limit, so the characters never got to battle the swarm of fangsights, which were the coolest monster here. By contrast, the giant hairless cats were slightly comical. Most of all, this adventure relies on the “mode of logistics” – Encourage everyone to bring extra torches, lest the second half will take place completely in the dark. I enjoyed this one as a departure from a regular map-based adventure, but I think something is missing if the characters are never faced with choices such as which door to open. The creepy setting was cool, but our party of adventurers made quick work of the hairless cats and of invisible little Elzemon since both clerics have the Word of Command spell. There were no major fatalities: Only a 0 level and the three hirelings died. Am I a bad person for wanting a higher body count? If only the fangsights had come into play, I’m sure we could have had our first 1st level fatality. Sigh.