Here Be Spoilers
My weekly Thursday game is currently play testing Hypertellurians, and recently they crash landed their stolen transdimensional ship—which they hot-wired via a Power Word: Launch spell—in Dolmenwood. Specifically on top of the tiny, hand-drawn cart of a star metal prospector.
The poor prospector insisted the party travel together with him to the nearest magistrate to arbitrate damages. Naturally, the party insisted that—if anything—his cart might have damaged their (galleon-sized) ship!
And so it came to pass that the party was thrown headlong into the wild, psychedelic embraces of the module The Weird That Befell Drigbolton. What I love about that module, aside from its gorgeous and crazy art, and the ever-present Dolmenwood fairytale mystique, is the open ended nature of the adventure itself. Here we have an unusual situation—a ritual summoning of a star demon brings the literal star to earth—and it just escalates in weirdness as time goes by. There is no win condition to the module per se, it just is.
Frankly, as long as the PCs have a reason to stick around, and possibly investigate, it’s a great setup, as it lets the personal and party stories run wild.
Now, I’ve been itching to run Blood in the Chocolate since it came out. It won me over by (again) the excellent art, and the hilarious chocolate based diseases. It’s also the module that taught me how chocolate is made, and what’s up in 17th century Netherlands.
Vile, Villainous Villainess
When I was reading the module, my only worry was that its main villain, Lucia de Castillo—who is so perfectly fleshed out—wouldn’t get enough screen time besides an inevitable final confrontation. Easy, I thought, we have a tool for this and it’s called foreshadowing.
So I had the party encounter Lucia briefly in the hub of their transdimensonal activities, the Root of Worlds, and then again here in Drigbolton, at the barn dance.
Incidentally, I needed to introduce a new player character in the session, a vampire of sorts, so I decided that Lucia had employed him as a “date” for the barn dance, to look less suspicious (a tenuous plan, but luckily the villagers were all hyped up on jelly juice.) The “manna from heaven” was in fact why she was here in the first place. Having heard about it, and given the ability to breach worlds by another NPC, she decided she needed some for her chocolates. And rather than risking the wilds of Dolmenwood to get some, being a distraction at the dance while her pygmies siphoned some off from the copper tub, seemed like a much safer endeavour.
Keep Calm and Shoot the Hostages
Naturally this all went sideways when the PCs got involved, and Lucia was forced to speed things up by holding the barn-goers hostage, proclaiming that no one would be hurt if they did as she said, moments before shooting the nearest villager in the head to underline her point. (Or the irony of her point?)
Some werewolf frenzying and blow darts later, and the barn dance summarily transformed into a massacre, Lucia was forced to flee, the pygmies were eradicated (even the huge mosquito-like insect they’d brought along for fun), and the PCs were running to and hiding in the caves north of Drigbolton from a mob that had formed.
Just a regular Thursday then.
So there you have it, my Drigbolton/Chocolate mashup, with plenty further opportunities for adventure in either locale, especially a trip to Lucia’s factory itself. An example of the fun and craziness that can emerge from relatively open-ended adventure modules, versus more traditional dungeon crawls.