Tuesday 19 October 2021

Through the Cotillion of Hours

AL3: Through the Cotillion of Hours is an adventure for all levels by Daniel J. Bishop. Art is by Scott Ackerman (including cover) and Kristian Richards (cartography). The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

This adventure takes place in a dreamscape, and is my second piece of published writing for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Like Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror and the later Stars in the Darkness, this adventure used pre-existing cartography to suggest a new adventure. In this case, the original adventure was also converted to DCC, and can be found here.

This adventure is unusual in that it doesn't need to be solved in a single sitting. In fact, it is better if it is not, and if the judge allows significant in-game (and real) time pass between sessions. It acts as an extended riddle, with some potentially dangerous combats. A large party will make time in the dreamscape pass more swiftly, as each player triggers separate chimes. A single player, or a two-player team, if clever, can solve the adventure in a single session. I have had one player go so far as to solve it within a single hour!

If Quest For It is the beating heart of Dungeon Crawl Classics (and I maintain that it is), the judge needs to provide adventures that can answer questions, prompt the PCs toward resolving their goals, or that can even grant them outright. This adventure is specifically designed to do just that, and the PCs do not need to solve the adventure to benefit. There is a built in method of using the adventure just to ask questions, and some players may intentionally choose not to reach the end just so they have another chance to dip into that well of knowledge!

The title of the adventure comes from the first line of a poem I wrote, Far Dance Thrilling, which is among the first pieces of poetry I had published (in the now-defunct Pandora's Box). Although I did include the classical reference to the Gates of Ivory and Horn, there are a number of Appendix N nods to be found within the adventure. Most prominent are allusions to the Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft, but astute readers will note nods to Michael Moorcock, Andre Norton, and even Fletcher Pratt. There is also a tie-in to my later adventure The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn.

If you have any players who are as enthused about role-playing as they are about combat, this can be a fantastic adventure. Players have a chance to talk to dream analogues of themselves (which they may eventually figure out), as well as the 0-level PCs they lost in the funnel, now manifesting as dream ghouls picking at the remnants of a feast. 

You can read reviews of the adventure by Other Selves, the Iron Tavern, Tenkar's Tavern, Endzeitgeist, and Ten Foot Pole. Megan R. (a Featured Reviewer at DriveThru RPG) said "This is an adventure like no other, one that if done properly will live in your group's collective memory for years to come....This is an original idea well-presented." Her complete review can be found here.

Invoke patron results for Somnos, the Dreaming God, are also provided, although a full patron write-up is not.

Sooner or later, characters are going to want to quest to achieve some specific end – to raise a fallen comrade, to regain lost ability points, to discover a new spell, to find some new magic item…the possibilities are nearly endless. This scenario can occur at any time during the course of overland travel, and gives characters the opportunity to meet some of these goals.

In this adventure, sleeping characters are invited to the Cotillion of Somnos, the Dreaming God. If they can make their way past the entertainments at the Masked Ball, they can petition the Dreaming God to fulfill some request on their behalf.

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