Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-dungeon-crawl.html
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Witch Queen
PDF from DriveThruRPG. 84 pages. Monochrome cover and black & white interior art.
This is a meaty module. 84 pages, covers, maps, and OGL still leave a lot of pages for content.
First off, if you are not familiar with Dungeon Crawl Classics modules they are meant to emulate a certain feel of early 80s play. They went on to create the game Dungeon Crawl Classics, but the adventures are still largely OSR compatible. Actually, I didn't see a single thing in this adventure that screamed ts should be used for one system or the other, though on the cover they claim "1e." That is good enough.
This adventure is actually 3 adventures in one. Legacy of the Savage Kings, The Lost Passage of the Drow, and War of the Witch Queen (which I will discuss later). Each one is a different part of the Witch Queen's plan.
Reading through this adventure is one part excitement for the new and one part excitement for the nostalgia. For the new, I wanted to learn more about Kyleth (the eponymous Witch Queen and not to be confused with Keyleth) and the tome Ars Maleficus. The nostalgia comes from many little easter eggs throughout the pages that call back to adventures of the TSR days. I am convinced the Mad Hermit here is the same as the one in the Keep on the Borderland for example. There are also hints of influences from Vault of the Drow, Ravenloft, and even the rest of the GDQ series. In fact, the second adventure, "The Lost Passage of the Drow" could be slotted into the D series and no one would be the wiser. Replace Baba Yazoth with the proper Baba Yaga and have one of the many adventures she features in as a side trek.
There are a number of named characters that would work well as witches, Maeve, Baba Yazoth, and of course Kyleth herself. While using the title of "Witch Queen" Kyleth is only an 8th-level Magic-user. Make her a 9th or 10th-level witch and then you have something really scary.
Does it work with The Witch? Yes, absolutely. There is a number of great items and story points in this adventure for any witch character. In fact, I would say that any good witch would want to see Kyleth taken out on general principle. Plus there are a number of encounters and NPCs that would benefit from the rules in the Witch. Night Hags get more spell-casting powers for example and the medusa can also have some levels of the witch class.
Of course, there is the issue of Kyleth being one of The Thirteen. The Thirteen most evil wizards, witches, and necromancers in the world. She was the newest member, who are the other 12, and what are their plans? Is anyone up for an adventure against the Legion of Doom? I might have to come back to this idea. I can see witches, vivamancers, blood mages, evil wizards, and necromancers as part of this evil cabal. Each provides something different.
About the physical book. The book is 80 pages and printed on very heavy paper. It is softcover, but the binding looks good. With the heavy paper and glossy cover, I expect this to hold up to wear and tear. The cover is bound on, so no taking it off to use as a GM screen with maps. I am glad I have this as a PDF too to print out the maps and the handouts. I am really, really happy with this module.
UPDATE: Of course, I took this idea and ran with it making Kyleth one of the many Witch Queens that is gathering at the Tredecim. Kyleth was my first choice as the murderess of the Witch Queen, but I quickly dropped that idea. If Kyleth had kill the High Queen then her ambitions would be greater. No Kyleth is an opportunist. She sees the tide turning and decides now is her time to strike.