two levels braved and oh so much more to go! Let's go deeper into the earth in
This module is 44 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages SRD, leaving us with 40.5 pages of content for this module, so let’s check this out!
This being an adventure-module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? The third level of Purple Duck Games’ megadungeon Purple Mountain could be transported to any subterranean location and is, like the other modules, modular enough to fit into your setting, though author Perry Fehr has managed to steep the locale in Porphyra-lore, the default world of PDG. Now, in Porphyra, the NewGod war has shaken the world to its core and seen the advent of a plethora of gods that supplanted the old elemental lords. One such lord, vanquished, slumbers in this level – or at least a fragment of him in the form of a sentient, dangerous crystal.
Now the level is much more sandboxy than previous levels of Purple Mountain and makes ample use of author Perry Fehr’s biggest strength (as far as I could glean from the Fehr’s Ethnology-series): The crafting of intriguing, believable societies. In fact, we get two different societies that inhabit the level: First of which would be the morlocks, degenerates now under the command of Nemyth Vaar, the nemesis, one of the rather cool gods of Porphyra (see also Gods of Prophyra/The Open Faiths Project for one of the coolest pantheons out there) and a consummate survival-of-the-fittest betrayer of double-edged gifts and dealings. However, to make matters more complicated, a faceless stalker has taken control of the morlock tribe and managed to, at least for now, take control of the degenerate creatures. Nemyth Vaar, not pleased, has since started sending mephits and similar beings to the sweltering caves (which also feature a lava river…). The truly despicable thing about these morlocks, though, is how they treat the mongrelmen, the second (and albeit weird and disgusting, actually rather pitiful and hospitable) group that inhabits these caverns:
Using the a dread bell, the morlocks have been instigating a tradition to feats upon the weak-willed mongrelmen, charming them via the Tolling of their bell to wander straight into their claws, thinking their charmed fellows wander off to a better existence. The contradictions between the naïve and charming, yet still potentially lethal mongrelmen society with threats from devil fish and other predators and the usurped morlock society that has stooped to lows even for their kind is striking and evocative, with ample chances for social interaction. Better yet, a mongrelman oracle plans on sacrificing magic items to aforementioned crystal – with potentially dreadful consequences, since it is definitely a most inappropriate item that will result in the summoning of a vast gibbering mouther that could empty the caverns if the PCs don’t intercede. And all of that BEFORE unique properties and hazards like strange mushrooms, weird rituals to Nemyth Vaar, the option to get a traitorous raven as a pseudo-familiar and oh so much more unique interesting bits and pieces come along. Have I mentioned e.g. the holes that feature the little locklings, a rather wicked (though not particularly lethal) hazard?
Better yet, the module also comes with a fully depicted, iconic obsidian legendary sword of Nemyth Vaar, new spells, all statblocks collated, lists of XP etc. for maximum ease of usability. Combines with the keyless high-res jpeg-player-maps of the complex, this leaves nothing to be desired on a comfort-level.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s two-column standard and the read-aloud text now is clearly offset against the regular text. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with aforementioned player-maps.
Wow. It is not often that I enjoy an underdark/dungeon module – they all too often feel like lazy versions of surface societies and power-structures. Not so here. Author Perry Fehr has managed to create a smart, concise, iconic, alien and weird 2-page-map complex of interlinked societies and traditions that should be considered not only a call-back to the great classics, but an overall fun time for all involved, oozing with interesting opportunities and options for further development. While working fine on its own in some depth (it shouldn’t be adjacent to the surface), the module truly shines in the context of the underdark/underworld and takes terrain, environmental factors etc. into account. If you don’t like the Nemyth Vaar-angle, you could easily replace him with e.g. a waspy goddess in Golarion (or a certain mother of monsters) and easily move this to just about any other campaign world.
Modular, smart, professionally presented and featuring a nice array of neat bonus content, this level of purple mountain deserves my hearty recommendation and 5 stars + seal of approval. If you’ve been on the edge about the series until now, give this a shot.