Wednesday, 24 May 2017

In the Wake of the Zorkul

In the Wake of the Zorkul: No Art Version was written by Oliver Korpilla. The publisher is Mount Parnassus Games.

This adventure is a 0-level funnel, which could be adapted for use with higher-level characters (an alternate hook and adventure start are given in this case).

If you have ever played The Inn at Five Points with Brendan LaSalle, the beginning should seem sort of familiar to you - you are in an inn that falls into a sinkhole, and must then deal with what you find in the caverns. There the similarity ends.

(I would be interested to know if Brendan was running his adventure before In the Wake of the Zorkul, which was uploaded on August 06, 2014. Is this a coincidence, or is there a connection?)

In the Wake of the Zorkul is all about resource management (food, water, and light) while attempting to find a way to escape the cave system you find yourself in. Oliver Korpilla created an interesting and evocative setting, including descriptions of harmless wildlife that can sometimes freak your players out if you are lucky.

I ran this adventure two weekends ago, at the time of this writing. Although there are several potential ways to escape the cave system, none of them are necessarily obvious, and all of them require the players to be willing to risk the unknown. Some highlights of the game included:

  • Without food, the PCs consider returning to the inn and eating whatever bodies they can find. 
  • The Hunter Spiders were very effective, and the PCs were unable to loot one corpse as it was hauled into the darkness overhead.
  • Even with a halfling or two in the party, it didn't occur to the players to try to speak with the Warren Halflings after the were initially attacked. Nor did it occur to them to try to speak before entering the halfling warren, triggering that attack.
  • The Wizard Duel worked extremely well, with one PC being possessed. When that PC died, the Possessing Spirit jumped to another PC. Both players involved did a great job of not telling the third player what was happening.
  • One PC climbed the waterfall at Area 4-2, but then turned back.
  • The PCs found the Zorkul, and wisely decided to go nowhere near it.
  • The famished PCs found the Abandoned Dwarf Mine, and then exited through the Ogre Lair. By this time, I had them rolling d14s instead of d20s, and the battle with the ogre was certainly tense. Only by a combination of rolling well, and burning Luck, could they even hit the thing!

All in all, this was a fun adventure. The "No Art Version" is a free pdf, but I would gladly pay for a print copy with illustrations. There are a lot of points where it could be expanded, allowing the judge to use the exit location chosen by the PCs as an entry to the Underdark proper.

An inn. Usually a place to find entertainment or rest. Instead the earth opened beneath,
swallowed the place whole and now you're fighting for your survival in an underground world.

Get It Here!


  1. Hi.

    I'm thrilled to see a play report! :)

    Sometimes similar ideas get out in the wild, and I just happened to be one of those picking up on it. The idea of the adventure was derived from the idea that I wanted to make an Underdark adventure which "made sense" - and then I devised the hook with the inn.

    That idea was born out of browsing Underdark adventures some friends gave me which either did away with any idea of an ecosystem or idea of who feeds on whom and why the Underdark is there in the first place. While a module can only tell so much of the story, I wanted to have some sense of consistency and also multiple options for the players to pursue. Some details were born out of becoming conscious that previous releases I made lacked a bit in DCC weirdness (though delusion newts are a notable exception).

    I also commissioned some art for the cover - have a peek at a quick snap of it I took with my phone:

    It occurs to me that the adventure would work also very well with the occupation tables from "Sour Spring Hollow" by Goodman Games, since that funnel is taking place at a wedding. (Of course that wasn't available at the time of writing and at the very least a link to Purple Sorcerer's excellent party generator could be incorporated.)

    I recently had a friend and GM run it as playtest for one of my home groups but that group was out of characters within two rooms (the hunter spiders and the waterfall), leading me to think it needed an extensive rewrite if I wanted to publish it... One feedback, however, was that it made no sense to have plant life without light, so I am considering adding a table of magiosynthetic plants a Judge can roll on for a variety of effects if eating such plants, but in any case the Mercurial Magic table can be a great inspiration for any of this.

    I'm very interested in playtester feedback to improve the module before actually publishing it. Maybe we could work something out? :-)