Consider for a moment that, when Dungeon Crawl Classics first appeared in 2012, this adventure was ready and waiting for players and judges. If there was nothing else noteworthy about this product, that would be a feat earning it a worthy place in the history of the game.
But that is not all.
This is the first of four (at the time of this writing) adventures that take place in and around the Sunken City, and as such is included in The Sunken City Omnibus. It introduces the Great City as almost a shadow that is barely described. To the south is a vast swamp with over 30 miles of ruins, within which can be found whatever adventures the judge desires.
"A powerful teleportation device, The Sending Stone, stands at the northern end of the ruins, connected to many other stones scattered throughout the city’s rubble. The fearsome demon that powers the stone – Sender –transports adventuring parties for his own dark purposes between the stones… usually without incident. Bands of desperate adventurers known as Free Companies use the Sending Stone to explore the deepest parts of the sunken ruins, hoping for treasure and glory, but often finding horrible, muddy deaths instead."
Thus is a campaign setting born.
The author considered "the inevitable need for replacement characters" and created a setting conducive to their creation: "almost any isolated low-level adventure could be placed somewhere in the vastness of the Sunken City, with Sender providing expedient means of travel. Energetic judges could run numerous 0-level funnel adventures in preparation for campaigning, all in an environment where characters, even of differing Free Companies, would be aware of each others activities and capable of forming more experienced bands."
The setting materials include a description of Mustertown - the area outside the walls of the Great City that leads into the swamps - with locations, rituals around new companies going into the ruins, and key figures. One of which, the Warden, protects the Sending Stone from experienced adventurers for mysterious reasons of his own. There is another stone for veterans, which may send them to The Shriven Tower where the mumbling necromancer Xax makes his home in the darkest heart of the ruins.
The author also includes a "Mustertown Lexicon" to help the judge bring the setting alive, and to make heading out to the funnel adventure more fun while giving it a greater feeling of verisimilitude. As the players grow to understand the lexicon, they will begin to feel more like locals.
This is the actual adventure, which begins on the surface, but includes an interesting dungeon. One of the most interesting things the author did here was, right from the first adventure, make the setting the result of the interplay between patron-level entities. This is a profoundly good choice, as the idea of these beings and their rivalries is pivotal to Appendix N fiction as well as the Dungeon Crawl Classics game. Malloc the Creeper is introduced in this adventure; a full patron write-up, however, does not appear until The Sunken City Omnibus.
The creatures encountered outside the dungeon - crocodillos and opossumen - made me envision the Sunken City as a post-Apocalyptic version of New Orleans...appropriate for anyone playing an Umerican campaign! That the entrance to the dungeon, and the dungeon itself, is the ruins of an old sports stadium (of sorts) only heightened this impression for me.
My favorite part of the dungeon is Area D-3, and it saddens me that most characters cannot "understand the alignment language of Slimes, Molds, and Edible Tubers"! If you know that a 0-level PC is likely to be a wizard (or is an elf), you may wish to grant that character unexpected understanding of just what the purple slimes are humming!
The original release was black and white, but it has since been released in color. The RPG Now download includes both versions, as well as a pdf version for mobile devices, paper miniatures, printable battlemats (both greyscale and color), and a pdf of relevant charts and character sheets.
Battlemats can also be downloaded off the Purple Sorcerer site here, and paper miniatures can be downloaded here. Purple Sorcerer also offers Tips for playing Perils of the Sunken City at a Convention.
It is hard to imagine a publisher who invests more in your success as a judge.
Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate folk of the city, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance!
The massive crumbling ruins of the swamp-ravaged Sunken City await! The way is filled with peril, but those who survive will be ready to face even more dangerous fare!
Get It Here!