mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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by the power of greyhawk!

expedition to the ruins of castle greyhawk by jason bulmahn, james jacobs, & erik mona.

i'm not really a pre-fab adventure kind of guy. i mean, i've ran in my fair share of them (like, every earthdawn module ever, almost) but as for running them? no. i'm kind of a control freak, & i've kind of got my own thing. i don't even run precreated settings, as a rule. the only time i'll bend that rule is for big time nostalgia modules, & then i'll do it on my own terms. i kept trying to run harlequin when i was "dungeon mastering" shadowrun, but i'd run it only periodically: my schedule was one cyber-punk themed adventure, one magical themed adventure, one harlequin segment. anyhow, i never got very far into it, but it is about as deep as i've gone into an adventure module. just so you know my biases before we get started.

...castle greyhawk is pretty fucking great. there, i said it! it has nostalgia in spades, but it doesn't trump the story. in fact, i'd say it is the exact fucking opposite of ...castle ravenloft, which i thought was pretty crummy. one big difference: everybody has a reason for being there, & you can figure it out! you know, so-&-so climbed up through the underdark, whosit was summoned by a bad draw on a deck of many things, whatsisface was part of an earlier occupation that signed up under the new all fits, & not in some crazy ass way like it did in ravenloft, where it was, at best, some confusing mishmash ("this guy is the lich of a paladin who was possessed by a shadowfiend who was summoned by strahd but also strahd didn't know the spell worked & the paladin also was a reincarnated gnoll so..."). more importantly, the dungeon is full of puzzles. normally dnd rewards you for showing up & killing things. yawn. greyhawk rewards you for all kinds of clever shit. you know, if you figure out the right answer to the riddle, get a +1 bonus to your intelligence, forever. i've always been won over by rewards like that: it encourages your characters to be bold & interesting. & sure, there are some silly bits (dungeonland) but it is a nice break in tone, & an homage to the early days of the hobby. i vote to rule it "okay." speaking of homage, you know what? okay, redeeming robilar because his one-time player was annoyed at what happened to him when he became an npc? is just about the nicest thing. charming, guys, really charming.

i do have one problem: where is melf's green arrow?! melf drew a green arrow on the floor pointing to the secret layers of the dungeon! it is a big deal! i looked for that green arrow & i couldn't find it. it made a mordicai sad. on the plus side, the simulacrum spell is one of my favorites (though i normally change it to transmutation & call it homunculus). so i guess we'll call it a wash? what is my end opinion on the book? well, sadly, i wouldn't use it. but, & it is a pretty big but, the reason i wouldn't use it is that there is just so much to do here. you could run this game, this classic, totally not lame, totally sentimental dungeoncrawl, for a long, long time. there is stuff to do in town. there is stuff for the dm to customize. there are about a million side quests. there are npcs to ally with, to oppose, to swear vendetta against, to do anything with. you could make a campaign out of your own little band of adventures taking up with mordenkainan et al. left off. so yeah, i wouldn't run it, but only because i have my own ambitions for a campaign, right? which, dammit, now i've screwed myself by reading it, & can't play in any expedition to castle greyhawk games. fuck! schrödinger's module gets me again!
Tags: books, dnd

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