Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Sepulcher of the Mountain God

AL 2: Sepulcher of the Mountain God is a 1st level adventure by Paul Wolfe. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. Art is by Scott Ackerman and Ed Bourelle. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I have an editing credit on this product.

In ancient days, two tribes dominated the land: the Yuuto and the Omeri. The Yuuto, a tribe of mountain people, were fierce and savage warriors – raging through the more civilized Omeri lands in a constant state of war and rapine. With them, the Yuuto brought their savage god, Ira (pronounced eer-AH). In these legendary times, the Omeri finally rose up against the Yuuto invaders, drove them back into their mountain homes, and then destroyed the Yuuto utterly. Worship of Ira, the Mountain God, survived into the modern age in the obscure mountain hamlets and backwater lowland villages of his other worshipers. In addition, Ira is the god of giants, deep dwelling dwarves, and other mountain dwelling humanoids.

Through the ages of man, Ira has ever been locked in a struggle with Gelihedres, the demonic god of the lower worlds. The King of Darkness, as he is called, counts the squirming masses of deep cave systems as his servants. Though the power of both gods has waned over the millennia, they are still locked in a cosmic struggle of Law over Chaos—of the deeper darkness over the stony roots of the majestic mountains.

I cannot honestly remember if I first came into contact with Paul Wolfe when I was asked to take a look at this adventure, or through Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between. Certainly, when I was first looking at this adventure I wasn't aware of how often I would end up working with him, directly or indirectly, in the future! Nor was I aware of how often the theme of PCs being caught in the center of a battle between vast cosmic forces would arise in his work. That is very Appendix N.

The adventure suffers a bit from being relatively linear, and from forcing the PCs to act through the Curse of the Mountain God. A sidebar does suggest that the Curse need not be enforced mechanically, however, if the judge wishes to forego what is essentially a rather blatant piece of railroading that is hard to avoid. This curse differs from the ones in, say The One Who Watches from Below or The Sea Queen Escapes!, in that it constrains PC action, rather than opening up play through changing how PCs achieve their goals rather than what those goals are.

Despite this, the main through-line of the adventure is strong. Locations are interesting, and combine both man-made and natural features. Encounters include both what one might expect (in the form of un-dead and cultists) and other monsters (including humanoid crayfish) that the players will certainly not be expecting. Treasures are specific, rather than generic, and definitely tie into the themes and tone of the adventure.

One might hope that patron write-ups for Ira, the Mountain God, and Gelihedres, the King of Darkness, will eventually appear. Purple Duck's designation of Open Gaming Content is extremely generous, so these might even appear in a product by another publisher or another author. Someone should get on that.

This adventure was included in the The Stars are Falling adventure compilation. The linear nature of the scenario could easily be dealt with by expanding the natural cavern areas. Various Dungeon Lord issues, or The Marvelous Myriad Myconid Caverns in The Gong Farmer’s Almanac Vol 3, might offer the judge good places to start.

Braving the hidden tomb of an ancient tribal king, the adventurers become embroiled in a quest directly from Ira, the Mountain God – find the Skull of Vyache and his magic club, Alceon, that were stolen by Bashkim and the twisted minions of Gelihedres.

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