Hey Folks, we’re putting together another one of our mystery box series. Today we’re looking at an adventure from RPGnow, created by an independent publisher . This adventure, written by Trey Causey and published by The Hydra Cooperative, features a wonderful departure from the norm and has such a wonderfully different style. There’s a mansion in need of visiting, and the hijinks are just getting started as we explore Mortzengersturm the Mad Manticore of Prismatic Peak.
The Adventure is written for characters around level 3-4. It uses the standard rules for experience gain. Party size is of less concern than ingenuity, as some of the encounters are not appropriate for characters of this level, but can be avoided with quick thinking and smart decision making. This is an adventure that believes in the motto of “There are alternatives to fighting.”
There are a couple of hooks in this adventure depending on how you are planning on using it. The writers have a very different way of approaching setting and adventure design, and if you’re used to a more typical (or more serious) fantasy setting, this may put you off a little. I would encourage you to embrace the fun and give it a try.
This adventure is actually fairly straightforward and only 13 encounter areas deep. What it lacks in depth it more than makes up for it in flavor and complexity. By hook or by crook, the characters have to gain access to the Whim-Wham Stone (I kid you not), and either return it, or a sample of its energy to their employer. The Stone is currently in the possession of a wizard named Mortzengersturm, and his remote mansion is the location that the characters will have to travel to in order to secure access to the Stone. Once the characters arrive at the Mansion, something is terribly wrong, and the characters will have to figure out how to complete their mission and survive their expedition to the Mansion.
The characters will have to successfully find the Stone or its energies and escape the Mansion with their lives. Depending on how they resolve the adventure, there are plenty of follow ups, including getting the Stone back to their employer, exploring the area around the Mansion, finding the potential victims of the Evil wizard, and possibly having to come back at a later time to put the Wizard down for good. As an introduction to this world, this is a wonderful starting point to get your feet wet and explore the world. I want to see more of this setting, and this adventure gives you a lot of ways to get into the larger region.
What I like about this adventure
The author has put together a wonderfully complex adventure that is short enough that you could play it in an evening, but it doesn’t feel rushed. There’s a certain pacing required to put something like this together, and the author has done a great job of putting together a different style of adventure. It still plays like dungeons and dragons, but it’s got a healthy dose of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and other equally absurd ideas. It’s odd, but it’s a good odd.
The other thing that’s very helpful for this adventure is that it includes pre generated characters. It’s perfect for a one shot (i’m not sure i would use this is an introduction to Dungeons and Dragons unless i was dealing with experienced players) and is a delight to work with. The other thing that i really like about this is that it includes a sidebar on each page that gives the DM the important things that he or she needs to know about each area. That’s a really handy tool for a new DM, and i like that the adventure has the sidebar bulletpoints to help the DM keep focused around the descriptive text. This adventure is just a different way of looking at how you can put together a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, and i am a fan of this style. It’s quirky and it’s a little off center, but it’s enjoyable without being over the top levels of whimsy. (Your mileage may vary and you may have a different tolerance for whimsy than i do)
Issues with the adventure
The only major concern i have with this adventure is that it’s greatest strength (the whimsical nature of how it’s put together) can be a detriment. If your players are straightforward concrete thinkers, this adventure may cause some trouble for them. It’s full of wordplay and puns, and it may cause problems for some players. This adventure encourages creative thinking and different approaches to handling problems. If your players aren’t the type that want to explore and try alternative solutions, this adventure may not be the thing for that group. I think it’s an absolute delight as a one shot (and use the pre-generated characters). The one critique i have is that there aren’t any text boxes to provide descriptions of rooms and encounter areas to the players, and the map is not set to a scale, so the DM is going to have to puzzle out how big things are.
Mortzengersturm the Mad Manticore of Prismatic Peak is a very different feel from a typical Dungeons and Dragons adventure and it’s wonderful. Encouraging creative thinking, and a mind for mischief, this adventure is a delightful romp that can give the characters an interesting change of pace. It can also be used to kick off a hell of a groovy campaign for a remarkable breath of fresh air. You aren’t likely to find anything else like it, and that’s a delightful change of pace to stave off campaign fatigue. I give this adventure 5 stars, and i enjoy Mr. Causey’s work. I am interested in perusing more of his work and i will likely be spending more time on Drivethru RPG checking him out.
That’s our review of Mortzengersturm the Mad Manticore of Prismatic Peak, from Trey Causey.
[5 of 5 Stars!]