Advent of the Avalanche Lords (DCC)
This holiday adventure for DCC clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26, though these have been laid out in booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5) in size, meaning that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper, should you choose to do so.
This review was part of a request by one of my patreon supporters, to be undertaken at my convenience.
Okay, while this IS a module with a strong Christmas-vibe, it also is an adventure that isn’t necessarily for kids – instead, picture this adventure as a scenario that embraces the wild and gonzo side of the Appendix N-aesthetics that inform DCC. Think “Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. meets Christmas” and you’ll have an idea of the theme to expect. The module is intended for level 3 characters, 6 of them, and they definitely should be well-rounded, particularly when it comes to combat capabilities. Having some wilderness-stuff going on should also help.
All righty, as always, I’m going to discuss the adventure in detail, so from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only judges around? Great! So, the mighty man that would one day become known as Father Frost, was a humble woodcutter and brilliant artisan, but alas, an evil wizard named Meerakolos (lol) sought to corrupt him – and botched the job. The evil wizard and his associate engaged in an epic spell duel, which Father Frost, ultimately won. When a green-skinned elf from the North freed the ancient evil-doers from stasis, Father Frost never saw their return coming: The arcane weapon mongers have taken Father Frost and use him to power a new engine of war, the Celsion Engine.
The adventurers don’t yet know of this alliance of the 3 evil masterminds, nor that the wondrous, snowglobe-like town named Krinnleton is mere days from annihilation. Said town is encased in a force field, courtesy of Father Frosts skills. Speaking of which: Krinnleton is a great place in that it represents a quick and action-packed introduction into the module: After arriving and taking in the strange force-field that holds back the elements, the PCs will be surprised by the initial strikeforce of the self-appointed avalanche lords: Terror tots, basically suicide-bomber wooden dolls, attack – and in this context, it is actually the case that the PCs are rewarded for splitting up. We get full consequences for the actions of the PCs, and the surprisingly neat NPCs are folks you really want to help.
In the aftermath of these detonations, the PCs have already reaped the benefits of their actions. The trail leads the PCs to the wilderness beyond the force-field walls, and indeed, the wilderness has some cool random encounters, including polar bearman, strange coyote spirits, and the like – these critters are epic. Snow Angels in particular are a monster that is pretty damn creepy. The overland trek does allow for multiple different routes – but the clock is ticking, as the armies of the avalanche lords proceed towards Krinnleton, and yeah, they can happen upon an army encampment. In Father Frost’s workshop, potent tools may be secured, and ultimately, chances are pretty good that the PCs can gain some advantages for the showdown on the gates of Krinnleton…provided the PCs don’t miss it, of course!
The showdown for the future of Krinnleton is epic indeed, as the massive Celsion-engine is led towards the settlement by a pair of wooly mammoths, and once more, PC performance before this part will influence the combat’s difficulty. Ultimately, the PCs will have to enter the mighty Celsion Engine and free Father Frost from the infernal device. The boss-battle here is rather cool, as the PCs are once more rewarded for tactical thinking. Should they succeed, they’ll bear witness to Father Frost ascending to patron-hood! The write-up for the fellow is included, and does come with invoke patron rules, but not the other aspects of what this status usually entails. That being said, I do like the emphasis of Father Frost’s cold being a cleansing, good one – more often than not, cold tends to be associated with purely negative aspects, so a “good” cold patron is appreciated indeed.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed only cosmetic snafus. Layout adheres to a 1-olcumn b/w-standard, and the artwork presented is really cool. While we do not get player-friendly maps for all parts of the module, we do get two handout-style maps that the PCs can actually get, which is a big plus. Why Krinnleton doesn’t get a key-less, player-friendly version, though…don’t ask me. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the subchapter-headers, but not for individual rooms or encounters.
I ended up enjoying Tim, Callahan’s “Advent of the Avalanche Lords” – it’s a scenario that basks in the slightly gonzo magitech-aspect, that revels in its blending of classic themes and the uncommon. I’D hesitate to call this “weird”, as the term has come to signify horror-ish aesthetics in many contexts, and while the module does have scenes that could be taken as being dark, as a whole, it is a module that feels like a light-hearted, fun action-romp. Like, as noted before “Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. meets Christmas” – it is gleeful and honest in its deliberate and fun overthetopness. If the module has one weakness, then that the background story is somewhat needlessly complicated, but that doesn’t really impact y enjoyment of the module. If anything…this feels, at least a bit, like its scope may be a bit off. This may be me, but I couldn’t help but feel that the army-angle could have amounted to a bit more. The module does it well, granted, but in the end, I couldn’t help but feel that a couple of pages more could have really elevated this to masterpiece levels. Still, if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced Christmas-romp with deliciously outrageous concepts, this will deliver by the buckets. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this delightfully gonzo tale here on OBS!