Sunday, September 2, 2012
Review: DCG1 - Insidious
Several rownsfolk are missing. Strange creatures have been
seen moving in the woods around town. at night, sounds that
chill the soul can be heard coming from the town cemetery
and the ruins north of the town. Some even say that the dead are
restless and walk again.
The town sheriff has sent an urgent request for aid. Will your
young and inexperienced group of adventurers heed the call?
Fame and reward await those who can identify and defeat the
evil menacing the town of Sheridan Springs."
Author: Devon Hibbs
Published by Die Cast Games
Ok, this is a Level 1-3 module (3-6 characters) for "1st edition advanced" as the cover states. The main sections of the adventure are the town of Sheridan Springs and the old manor of the mayor.
*Spoilers after here*
It turns out one of the farmers dug up a strange, squat obelisk with glyphs on it while plowing his field, and the townfolk just thought it looked so nice they decided to put it in the town square. The obelisk is what's attracted a necromancer (featured on the cover) to the town, who is employing Orcs to dig up the graveyard and do his dirty work. The PCs are employed by Sheriff Olob to figure out what's going on and put a stop to it.
The module features some read-aloud text which, while not liked by everyone, in this module I think does a good job conveying nescessary information and was quite useful for a novice DM like myself, who I think is one of the target audiences. There's definitely some jokes and references to things grognards would probably get, but I don't have the background to spot most of them. Yes, this module has silly bits. If you don't like a bit of humor, snark, and absurdity in your modules, you won't like this one. I however, do.
The module starts with the players in a pub, playing "Dwarves, Nymphs, and Dinosaurs" and the bartender gives them a message from the Sheriff of Sheridan Springs (the next town over) that says the town is in trouble, and they offer a reward. The town has a few locations listed, one of which is Harold Johnson's Inn (which serves as a bit of a base for the adventure.)
The rumor table provided is actually used twice, once with a d6 and once with a d12. One-out-of-two of the rumors regarding the obelisk are stated as given anyway, even if they aren't rolled. (As well, one is a dig at Lorraine Williams.)
The mayor of the town died a few years ago. You see, he liked making magic items, and accidentally blew up half his manor. A few of the items he made are found in the ruined parts of his house.
The Manor is where the necromancer and the Orcs are holed up, and the long path out of town to it is where wandering monsters are found, including an owlbear and a new tree-type monster. The rooms in the manor are really quite well done, with a "nest" of stirges, and enemies actually doing things instead of standing around, waiting to be killed. There's also things to search through, and interact with, along with some great nonstandard treasure.
I haven't mentioned this, but the players MUST play smart if they're to make it through the adventure. On top of the two strong wilderness monsters, the Necromancer is a level 10 magic-user(!!) and aided by the Orc captain and a Zombie. Tough, tough end fight.
Overall, this module can make for a pretty fun start to a campaign, assuming the players survive, and even if they don't it puts the town on the map as a badguy base for future adventures, as is what happened in my game when I ran it.