Adventure Avenues: The Still Grotto
This brief module clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page patreon recognition, leaving us with 23 pages of content, though these do adhere to the A5 (9” by 6”) standard and thus are more of a booklet-size.
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
All right, still around? In the endless reedlands and marshes of Porphyra’s Fenian Triarchy (though adaptation to other settings is easy), dire omens reign: The feud between the peaceful grippli and the lethal boggards has been brewing for quite a while and it may become worse soon – the grippli have just lost one of their best warrior-diplomats, while the boggards heed the murmurs of a new force in the swamp, an erstwhile exile from their tribes, who has attained a powerful remnant of the NewGod Wars. Into this volatile mixture, the PCs stumble in face first via one of 3 detailed adventure hooks.
The location of the adventure itself is situated in the “Shunned Mountain” – 15 ft. high, it hides the entrance to the eponymous still grotto, where the foes loom. Now, in a nice twist, the module actually suggests multiple means of actually handling the value of treasure contained in the grotto. Now, structure-wise, the still grotto is very much a dungeon-crawl with pretty detailed read-aloud texts. The dungeon similarly is pretty internally consistent, with explanations on how certain creatures were attracted etc., so in case you consider this type of information important, it’s here. Another peculiarity of this module lies in the adversaries employed: From the sarennel to the defidi (think undead frog-folk; and yes, there are great full-color artworks herein!), the monsters featured make amply use of Monsters of Porphyra I and II, though, obviously, stats are included in this book for your convenience. In a nice note, magically infused terrain is featured in for your convenience in the relevant combat statistics of the respective adversaries – so no, you don’t have to do math pertaining the effects of that contaminating nightwave scale and its desecrate effect.
The PCs will have a chance to save a grippli survivor if they manage to defeat the dread, exiled boggard necromancer. The pdf also contains notes on divining ioun stones, the reptile-affine coldblood torc and the ring of engineered creature attraction that explains some of the tricks employed by the adversaries in this book. The pdf also includes a Diplomacy-enhancing cantrip as well as a breakdown of XP, EL and creatures by area in a nice table as well as a list of treasures to be found, with associated value.
Editing and formatting are very good this time around – I noticed no glaring issues that would have impeded my ability to run this module. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard for books of A5-ish layout. The artworks in full color are excellent and the pdf comes with a great full-color map of the Fenian Triarchy as well as a nice b/w-map of the complex, though no player-friendly key-less version is included. A JPG of the cover is also included in the download. To my chagrin, the module has no bookmarks, which represents a slight comfort-detriment.
Perry Fehr knows how to write adventures. While I consider his crunch to be somewhat hit and miss, I have yet to be disappointed by any of his modules, with unique cultures and a gift for creating evocative set-ups and thematically-consistent environments going hand in hand. This module, in contrast to e.g. the Purple Mountain-saga (seriously, check it out here – it may be the most under-appreciated series of dungeon modules for PFRPG!) has a smaller scope, but particularly when run within Porphyra, its unique backdrop provides a lot of its flair. The dungeon-exploration itself is a nice, brief stint in a thematically concise and relatively challenging environment and certainly is fun. Particularly for the low price point, there is not much to complain about, with the consistency and unique adversaries elevating this to a level where I consider it a nice little trip. While the module does not reach levels of pure excellence, it is a nice, inexpensive way to spice up your swamp/marsh-adventuring, initiate contacts with frog-folk or simply let your PCs gather some loot and XP on their way to the next big task. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars for a nice, inexpensive module; rounded up due to the more than fair price point.
You can get this nice, inexpensive module here on OBS!
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