Enter the Dagon: Turning Reality up to 11
The origins of the Dagon spellduel tournaments have been recounted in previous Gen Con Program Guides, so in taking a closer look at DCC #95: Enter the Dagon, we opted to examine some of the peripheral details that help frame the adventure, to see how Harley (and other Goodman Games authors!) help bring their adventures to life.
For the setting of the adventure’s eponymous island, Harley drew inspiration from a recent trip taken with the Goodman Crew, detailed in the Goodman Games 2017 Gen Con Program Guide. Astute readers familiar with the adventure will note that the base of Dagon Island bears more than a passing resemblance to docks on Alcatraz. For those that haven’t been fortunate enough to tour the former island prison, maps can be seen online here. The path up the island is a series of switchbacks and odd stairs, set amid a series of close-set stone bunkers – not at all unlike the path up the Isle of Dagon.
As Harley has mentioned at a few of our seminars, adventure modules don’t have any limits to their FX budget. If you’re staging an adventure on a winding path up an island, make it the coolest island on the planet.
Hence, Ball’s Pyramid.
Rising like a jagged knife stabbed from the sea, Ball’s Pyramid is a geological wonder, the remnant of an ancient caldera, inhospitable to most life, and just the place any judge would love to send his or her PCs.
Even better, Ball’s Pyramid is also home to a massive six-legged insect, the Dryococelus australis, that – until 2001 – was believed to be extinct. (Their subsequent rescue and recovery is another fascinating story.) Again, Google it, but only if you’re cool with glossy black insects the size of your fist.
So now we have our ingredients: a place that mimics the architecture of Alcatraz, set on an island with reality-defying geology of Ball’s Pyramid, inhabited by massive insects from another place and time. Toss in some hints that the island is capable of its own movement, a nod to 1983’s Krull (you don’t need to Google this one), and you have the setting worthy of the PCs’ time and interest.
Taken in parts, any of these elements could contribute to an interesting adventure. The maps of Alcatraz Island are already nearly perfect for gaming; Ball’s Pyramid alone is a fascinating place; giant insects are always cool. But when haphazardly mixed together, brought to life by the brilliant Doug Kovacs and then dialed up to 11?
Now you have the setting for a DCC RPG adventure.