A wise man once said “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” (John F. Kennedy) Each time I read a novel, story, or module that involves the ocean in some way I’m reminded of that quote. It makes me think of all we still don’t know about what exists down there in the deep. H.P. Lovecraft tied into that feeling to help convey a sense of the sheer size of the sea and what it may be hiding. And I think Dungeon Crawl Classics #75: The Sea Queen Escapes! taps into that vibe quite nicely.
Written by Michael Curtis for Goodman Games, The Sea Queen Escapes! is a 24-page PDF detailing an adventure for six 3rd-level Dungeon Crawl Classics characters (20 pages of content). The cover features artwork from Doug Kovacs and the interior includes art from Jeff Easley, Kovacs, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Pang, and Michael Wilson. Honestly the art is one of my favorite things about Goodman Games’ products that really brings me back to my youth and the art in my original Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook for 1st edition AD&D. Thank goodness for the Old School Renaissance.
It’s tough to offer much detail about the story without spoiling the whole thing, but it’s a great setup. The hook offers a simple way to drop this adventure into just about any campaign. Broken into three distinct phases, each offers a slightly different (but related) feel. The challenges mix traditional combat with some unusual traps, curses, and creatures… Even some interesting tips on underwater fighting that I thought were quite solid. Remember, this adventure does deal with the ocean – so your PCs are likely to get wet!
If you aren’t looking for any spoilers, I’d skip the next bit of the review…
- One of my favorite encounter descriptions is near the very beginning of the adventure: “The Shell Game.” It involves a collection of turtle shells floating in the air to get from the end of one set of stairs to the next. It’s a bit like a scene out of a Mario Brothers game where your little icon has to jump from shell to shell while avoiding getting squashed by some creature or another. Like everything else in the DCC universe, this particular encounter could be deadly if things don’t go well. So what’s my advice? Have things go well, of course!
- If you’re looking for a creepy, ghoulish, and creative group of creatures to cause trouble for your PCs, the Lampreymen are awesome. Lampreys by themselves are quite creepy, but when you make them humanoid and give them spears they become horrific!
- Lastly I have to say that asphalt lakes are simply evil. Don’t drop any lit flames or you’ll have some issues.
That’s all the spoilers, I promise.
I will say that the writing is quite good and surprised me in one place. The words “isosceles trapezoid” are rarely found anywhere in the real world outside of a math book and yet they appear in this adventure. Brilliant!
So if you’re a fan of the Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure series, I can definitely encourage you to check it out. Michael Curtis and Goodman Games did a great job offering some tricky encounters to further pare down your DCC adventuring party!
For more about the book…
- … check it out at DriveThruRPG for the PDF version.
- … check out all the Goodman Games products at DriveThruRPG.
- … and check out the Goodman Games website for many many more great products and adventures to inspire you!