Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools

This pdf is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 45 pages of content - not a bad deal indeed!

This being a review of an adventure, I encourage potential players to skip to the conclusion. From here on reign the SPOILERS.

All right, still here? Vossian Velsurian is a scholar and enthusiast of all things botanical or fungous - especially the more lethal varieties. It is said passion and experiments with his beloved specimen that has driven him to aquatic exile aboard his vessel the Green Lady. Now, though, something is amiss. Either because the players have previously encountered his creations, are on board of a slowly sinking ship, receive disturbing, ominous and imprecise telepathic cries for help or any combination of 5 sample hooks and any you come up with, they draw nearer to the vessel - which seems to be bereft of crew-members. The landing crew sent to gather info fails to return and it's up to the PCs to board the Green Lady and find out what fate exactly has befallen the ship, hopefully avoiding the shark (or if you're particularly cruel, hammer shark) -infested sea. While exploring the 4 levels of the ship, it becomes quickly apparent that Vossian has found something truly vile - the olive slime. An intelligent colony of slime that takes over hosts without them even noticing it and transforms them into slime zombies has taken over and transformed the whole, slowly sinking ship and is one course for the main land.

Via cryptic and ominous hints of the handout (which is beautiful!) and a particularly deadly haunt, the PCs may find out that Vossian, as the last survivor, committed suicide rather than joining the oozing collective. In Vossian's laboratory lurks another strange threat or potential ally, the brilliant, enslaved Cerebral Fungus that served as Vossian's slave/help and has been sending out the cries - whether the PCs try to kill the insane creature or coax information out of it - they're in for a disturbing and interesting encounter. They may also find ye olde' green slime, which might prove to be their only chance - turns out that green slime loves to eat olive slime and the zombies and thus would make for a formidable weapon. And come on - who wouldn't want to fling green slime at foes? The slime zombies, linked telepathically and controlled by the aberrant intellect of the collective make for a formidable force to battle and their fluid tactics and responses make the sojourn to the Green Lady one that will have your players shiver, even before you add the complication of an assassin and the other specimen Vossian has secured - a spore-studded slime zombie version of a shambling mound would be one example of the deadly and challenging things at the disposal of the collective.

Now, as written, the adventure is hard and cool, but if you're a mean DM (like me), you can easily use the Olive slime to use some turncoat ploys - infect a PC and have him turn on his allies when fighting the collective. Add the telepathic cries of the mad cerebral fungus and perhaps a kind of mental static from the colony and you're in for one scary as hell horror scenario par excellence. You could also run this more like an extermination, of course and this variability makes the module even better. It also practically lends itself to the "It's not over yet"-twist with the potential for a wide array of olive slime infections: Rats, sea gulls, familiars, animal companions...the mainland awaits...

The adventure is intended for 5th level (and is deadly), but if you have a higher level party or want to truly make them suffer, CR 6 and 7-scaling advice is part of the deal.



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to TPK Games' 2-column standard, this time with a distinct aquatic blue-tinge, which is also one of my problems: The boxed text starts off as light blue at the top and turns very dark blue at the bottom. I print out all my adventures and usually only print out handouts in color, the rest in b/w. Well, my b/w-print makes about 1/3 of the boxed text illegible, as the dark blue and black is indistinguishable in b/w and I have a good printer... The lack of a printer-friendly version does hurt here and remains my one true, but sadly major gripe with the otherwise stellar module.

The pdf is fully hyperlinked to and fully bookmarked. It should be noted that the whole ship comes not only with a DM-map in full color, but also 13 whopping pages of battle-maps in full-color, so you can essentially play the whole module with miniatures without problem. Even if you don't - full color handout-maps sans secret doors and numbers - what more could you want? Oh yeah, there's a beautiful log-hand-out as well. This module is a joy to behold: Creepy, smart, deadly, lending itself to a plethora of gaming styles and coming with massive map-support as well as at least two creatures I absolutely adored. This haunted ship offers a lot of fun and is a vast step forward from the first Grave Undertaking - this is a full-blown adventure, and a great one at that. Richard A. Hunt and Tom Philips have written a neat take on the ship of horrors-trope and made this a joy to read. In fact, I'd immediately give this 5 stars plus seal of approval, were it not for the problem with the blue boxed texts and the lack of a printer friendly version. As soon as these have been added, I'll revise my review accordingly. For now, my final verdict will "only" be a 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

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