When Koraz-Hu, the Grand Vizier of Mars, was next able to sit at the frigid table of Omolo the Impassive, the Triumph of the Martian Warlord had long passed. The Vizier knew that Omolo’s people sometimes used the astralnet to visit cold, high places on the Earth. Sometimes, in decades past, they had even gone so far as to visit the blue planet in person, capturing the minds of human specimens in black bell-like containers.
They had visited Mars, also, in ages past, but the then-Warlord, Kattar the Glorious, had thrust them back into the cold dark. Yet here they were now, friends of a sort, although Omolo may have been among those who tried to create a beachhead among the Martian people centuries ago. The people of Yuggoth, that we call Pluto, are long-lived indeed. Perhaps they were even immortal, barring misadventure.
Fifth Edition Fantasy #15: The Drowning Caverns of the Fish-God, is a 10th level adventure written by Aeryn Rudel for the 5th edition of the World’s Most Popular Fantasy RPG. Although the village of Drydale is nowhere near the ocean, it is being attacked by fish-like monsters. Folks disappear at night, and some return with horrific surgical scars and strange new powers. All they recall of their captivity are nightmares or visions of drowning in the dark.
The nature of 5th Edition seems to lend itself to more linear adventures than does Dungeon Crawl Classics, and it shows in this adventure more than any of the others the Vizier has yet played. While Mystery Under the Monastery is also fairly linear in structure, the variation of what the PCs must do to succeed (rescue, fight, negotiate) makes the adventure feel less linear in play. Conversely, The Drowning Caverns of the Fish-God is going to see a lot of combat to move forward. The opposition is charmed, which gives the adventure the possibility of some role-playing, once the hook is set, as some creatures may regain their natural dispositions. Unfortunately, very few of these are amenable to negotiations.
Regardless of its structure, the adventure offers a variety of combat challenges, including a nasty attempt to fend of three giant slime eels while pushing through a pool choked with dead bodies. The adventure sets up a truly epic boss fight where the PCs are faced with the need not to slay one of the opposition, who is a charmed victim of the boss monster.
It makes sense that some adventures are fairly linear. If this doesn’t bother you or your players, the encounters should give more than sufficient payoff for action-oriented adventurers. If it does bother you, redrawing the maps to break up the adventure’s linear nature (and possibly including additional minor encounters) would go a long way toward making the adventure offer more choices for your players.
“I have seen water, in my youth,” the cold being said. “Long ago that was. Even when it is closest to freezing, it is too hot to bear. More I have learned from transferring my consciousness into beings upon various worlds, observing but unobserved. Soon I shall come to Mars. I hope that you will make me welcome.”
The Martian Vizier bowed low. “Of course,” he said suavely…but in his thoughts he was troubled. What exactly did this portend?
Writer: Aeryn Rudel
Cover Artist: David Griffith
Cartography: Keith Curtis
Interior Artists: Dean Kotz