08 July 2016
Saturday Night Special 002: DCC Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet
My experience playing this with Mr. Wampler as Judge at North Texas RPG con was significantly different from my SNS due to a couple of factors. First, we were handed some artifacts and items at the beginning of the game that I probably should have emulated at my tabletop. This module is part of a series set on the Purple Planet and assumes the PCs have resided there for some time- a couple of the puzzles might have been easier had I included some high-tech artifacts from the fallen civilization to prime the pumps, as it were.
Second, our group at NTRPGCON went in through the "back door" and never hit the major encounter that is generally the first encounter once inside the adventure area. This was even further compounded by the single arcane caster in the party failing to use offensive spells when the party was getting overrun, then spending a significant amount of time at 0 HP. The Cleric had to bring the Wizard back twice, resulting in the Wizard losing 2 points of STA from having died a coupla times.
I'm going to give some impressions, because I don't want to give too much away about the module or its plot. It is a sort of dungeon crawl mystery. The PCs have to solve the major issue and to do that, a certain amount of exploration and investigation is needed. The encounters can be pretty challenging, even for a full party of 5th-level adventurers. The ultimate mystery itself is pretty freaky as it unfolds. In fact, the module had two of my players saying this was the first time in ages they had actually been creeped out by a roleplaying game. The atmosphere of the ancient temple complex does lend itself to causing a fair amount of paranoia among the players, and that's a priceless thing if your PCs are usually cocky and unafraid.
I'm going to need to secure the Purple Planet setting box (in September or October, sadly, my gaming budget is shot until I start getting my supplemental teaching pay) so that I can compare this module to the other foundational Purple Planet modules. I also understand there's a sequel module that includes airships. Ever since Mystara I have been enamored of airships in my D&D games. I very much want to see how that one plays out. In any case, without having the other modules to compare this one to, I'm prepared to give it a solid B+, pending upgrade to A with more support material. With the Purple Planet boxed set to back it up, it's an A easily, but standalone there are some things that are probably in that box that would have made running this module a bit smoother.
I will say the creativity and creepiness of the module gives me great hope for Mutant Crawl Classics, in which the esteemed Mr. Wampler is the lead author. If he puts as much Gamma Worldy goodness into MCC as this Purple Planet module seems to indicate he will, then MCC is going to be just as much fun to play. I look forward to it with great anticipation.