Monday, August 25, 2014

Evil Wizards in a Cave, by Johnstone Metzger

Evil Wizards in a Cave is the second of Johnstone Metzger's Dungeon World / Labyrinth Lord series, and in a change of pace from some of the other modules this one is a hexcrawl. Those familiar with the previous adventure will see that the River Knife features prominently in the landscape of the setting.

This book has a fairly straightforward sounding adventure: some monks in a monastery, nestled in a mountainous territory plagued with extraordinary monsters, have had a sacred artifact stolen from them by some wizards who are using it to power a far-reaching and nefarious ritual that will affect every living creature in the surrounding region. Find the wizards, stop their ritual, and get the artifact back. Pretty simple really, but not quite.

The thieving wizards have to be tracked down and because the adventure is presented as a hexcrawl this adds a level of anxiety to stopping the ritual. The worst aspect of this is that there is nothing specifically in the adventure to tell you the ritual is happening. There are suggestions on how to impart this information to the PCs like prophetic dreams or insidious rumors, and there is even a suggestion that you just describe an impending supernatural feeling coming from the mountains where the wizards are hiding, in this way it's left very open for the GM to construct their own method of spurring the PCs to action, but not having anything concrete to give the players right away is a huge detraction from the rest of this module.

There is also very little in the way of clues to guide the PCs to the cave where the wizards are hiding, but the map puts the hexes at 2 miles across so it would be fair to give the players an eyeline to the mountains and hills on the map, thus narrowing their search. There are a few magical beasts prowling the area and there is even a dragon, and every hex has some kind of feature that ties into the local population of humans or beasts. The monastery even has it's own twist going on, but the twist seems unnecessary and I suspect this was added on for players who might find the hunt for the wizards too easy.

I have mixed feelings about hexcrawls and that might be why I am not as excited about this adventure as I was of the previous ones Johnstone Metzger has written. There is a lot going on in this adventure and plenty of interesting encounters, but the most interesting part of the module is the ritual the wizards are performing. It's too bad the players are set up to prevent the ritual because I think it would be a lot more fun for the PCs to enter this hexcrawl after the ritual has just been completed.

You can purchase both pdf and print versions of "RK2 - Evil Wizards in a Cave" at DriveThruRPG or just a print version at Lulu
Johnstone Metzger also has a blog and a patreon campaign for writing up monsters in Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord stats