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Friday, November 25, 2016

DCC RPG - Hole in the Sky Review

Expansion: Stephen Murrish made a massive expansion to this adventure that you can get for free right here.

Today I'm going to go through Hole in the Sky, a DCC RPG adventure for level 0 characters. I'm hoping to find some stuff to use for my D&D 5e campaign.

The reason I bought this was simple. This sentence on the back cover: "They are to follow an invisible bridge until they arrive at a hole in the sky – and then jump through."

That's all I needed to hear!

Funnel: DCC RPG 0 level adventures are weird. Each player has at least 3 characters, each of them a farmer, peasant, etc. They go through this meatgrinder of an adventure that will kill most of them. Those that survive gain a class and become level one characters.

You could easily convert this to 5e, but you'll need to change the Wheel of Destiny at the end.

The Plot: The bizarre Lady in Blue recruits people who want to escape their mundane lives. She sends them on a quest to free Drezzta, a powerful green-cloaked woman. There's more, but I don't want to spoil it.

The Hole in the Sky leads to an extra-dimensional prison. Those who free Drezzta get a spin on "The Wheel of Destiny," an artifact that can change your life.

The Lady in Blue

I think the Lady herself is my favorite thing in this adventure. The Lady in Blue is seven feet tall, has the head of a statue and she holds human heads in her hands. The heads do the speaking for her. 

To me, she is awesome because she's unique and different from most of the other female entities in these kinds of games. This NPC stands out as soon as you describe her.

When the metric ton of flavor text tied to the Lady in Blue is done, the heads kiss each hero on the forehead, which is weird and hilarious. Then she sinks down into the earth and is gone, which also amuses me greatly. What a great NPC.

The Invisible Bridge

At midnight, the group must step off of a cliff onto the bridge. "Once the last character has stepped upon it and gone more than 60’ across the bridge, the beginning of the bridge fades from existence, so that the bridge always ends a maximum of 60’ behind the hindmost character, and does not return." That is scary.

The journey takes three days. A storm hits and might blow characters over the side or else they fall to their deaths. They could have done a lot more with this bridge.

The heroes go through the hole in the sky. How can there be no flavor text for that?! On the other side is a weird realm with a purple sky. The heroes must head for the prison.

Along the way, the group might face a Chaos Pig: A "green and black tiger-shaped swine" that burrows out of the ground.

The Prison

The prison is a 300 foot tall monolith with 50 foot long thorns. The double doors are 60 feet tall.

Cur Maxima: A 30 foot diameter pumpkin that moves around using 8 vines as appendages.

This adventure is a little different from the other level 0 adventures. This one has a story and it is more about exploring a place and slowly learning what is really going on. The others are more of a funhouse dungeon.

As the adventurers explore the prison, the heroes are stalked by Cur Maxima. They meet bands of people who were also sent here to try free Drezzta but ended up going mad or just trying to survive.

The group is ultimately meant to free the prisoner, who is extremely powerful and can turn a character inside out with a thought.

The Wheel: Once the group has done this, they must flee the collapsing realm. They then meet up with the Lady in Blue and get to spin the Wheel of Destiny.

The Wheel is just a way to beef up characters and change them a bit. Rolling low is bad - The characters can end up altering time and going back to being a peasant, not even remembering that any of this happened.


This adventure had a lot of promise, but the actual dungeon leaves me feeling flat. There's really not a lot going on in there. Reading other reviews of this adventure, I see I'm in the minority.

I feel like the journey on the invisible bridge could have had some epic encounters, but there's just bad weather and some bird monsters.

The realm inside the hole is very vague, too. I feel like this adventure needs a lot of tweaking.

Story: That said, this might be one that comes off in play a lot better than it reads. This module has a story that I'm trying not to spoil. The story is very easy to follow and I would imagine that some players will really enjoy it.

I kind of wonder what happens if the group figures out what's going on. There's no guidance on how certain NPCs react if the heroes do certain things. The adventure seems to assume the group won't figure it out, but there's some pretty heavy clues in the prison.

The Pumpkin: I do like the idea of being stalked by a hideous monster throughout the prison. Long ago, I played through an old D&D adventure called Skarda's Mirror. In it, we were wandering in this mirror maze and a magic ape-thing was popping out of the mirror and terrorizing us. It was really fun. This could potentially be similar, though I think that the pumpkin monster might be a little too silly.

A giant skull with spider legs seems much cooler to me. I can just picture people laughing when I describe the pumpkin. I guess they won't be laughing when it mauls a character to death, but I feel a little apprehensive about it.

I think I would use the Lady in Blue as the basis for a demon lord in D&D. I'd definitely use the bridge and the hole in the sky. The rest of the stuff I could take or leave.

This is easily worth the money and I'd imagine some DMs could really do cool stuff with this.


Rynath Wilson said...

You know, given my love of 5e and DCC, I've actually thought about running a hybrid of the two. I think you could introduce a number of flavorful house rules in 5e that come from (or are inspired by) DCC; I've already done a funnel to 5e adventure.

Jason R said...

I like your method for mining material from published stuff. You can take even concepts or small snippets and insert them into your game, pretty much right away. I have been more rigid in my mining, looking for perfect fits in terms of flavour, geography, etc. I'm sure the nature of Planescape allows for the variety easier than a terrestrial campaign, but still I think loosening up my outlook will allow for more cool concepts finding their way in my games. :)

Sean said...

Rynath Wilson: DCC RPG is really similar to 5e, it's just more wacky. My big problem when running it is keeping track of all the charts. I think it would be awesome to put just one DCC RPG spell in a 5e game and see what happens.

Jason Raabis: Yeah, it's all there to be strip-mined! I always try to use it as soon as possible, otherwise i forget about it or lose enthusiasm for it. You could even just steal names from a module. You always need names!

Rynath Wilson said...

I've done that, actually--I let Wizards use Patron Bond and Invoke Patron, and replaced Find Familiar with the DCC version. My thought was that standard 5e spells are established magical procedures which are largely safe to use, while DCC spells are an older, more primal form of magic infused with raw chaos. As such, they require an Arcana roll on the DCC charts, with the possibility of corruption and other negative side effects. By only using spells that characters rarely cast from DCC, the amount of chart rolling you'd have to do would be greatly limited.

As for other spells, I think Wizard Staff might be okay, too, along with a few of the quirker options. I'd have to think about it more.

Sean said...

Rynath Wilson: That is awesome. I might try that sometime. I really love the way they do spells.