Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mortzengersturm, the Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak

Let's be upfront: I was one of the editors of Mortzengersturm, Mortzengersturm's author plays in two of my online D&D games, and I consider Trey Causey to be a friend even though we've never met in meatspace. With that disclaimer out of the way, I highly suggest you check out Trey's newest adventure, Mortzengersturm, the Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak. It's really, really good.

Here's why I think it's a great adventure:

  • Most adventures--whether published by the major companies or by small-press auteurs--tend to do a poor job of presenting information in a way that makes them usable at the table. Mortzengersturm feels like it was designed with utility in mind. The copious use of sidebars and short, descriptive text is illustrative of the best practices in presenting an adventure.
  • Mortzengersturm fills a gap and shows that 5e D&D can do more than just Forgotten Realms-style fantasy. The mood of Mortzengersturm is not high fantasy; it's a bit Wizard of Oz, a bit Saturday morning cartoon, and more than a bit satirical and whimsical. It's refreshing because it occupies a thematic space sorely neglected in the current range of adventures for the modern incarnation of D&D.
  • Jeff Call's art style--a cross between children's book illustration and Rankin-Bass--feels fresh and doesn't pander to expectations about modern or old-school game art.
  • It's inventive and fun. Mortzengersturm gives you a solid depiction of an adventure location and its major players, but it's open enough that it will survive contact with your players' crazy plans. It could be straight-up hack-and-slash or it could be run with stealth, diplomacy, and exploration as the order of the day--either way it would make for a fun session.
  • It's got monsters you would never have thought up.

The bottom line: it's no secret that I think most published adventures are either lacking in quality, simply don't fit with the kind of game I like to run, or require a lot of work on the part of the DM to be interesting. Mortzengersturm isn't like thatMortzengersturm is the rare prefab adventure I'm actually looking forward to running in my own campaign. That's really the best praise I can give.

The pdf of Mortzengersturm is available here.