Cult of the Sleeping God (3.X)
This brief pdf clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This little pdf provides the sketches of the village of Belfry Hollow, characterized by the eponymous belfry atop a massive hill within the darkened woods. The village comes with a nice, hand-drawn full-color map that includes scale and squares for reference, but which is only presented in a half-page size, which makes printing it out slightly less convenient than it should be.
The material is intended to work as a kind of 1-session mini-module for 4 level 1 characters, though DCs and the like are sparse. While two brief tables for gathering information are provided, the remainder of the module is remarkably bereft of DCs regarding environmental factors. The pdf wastes a bit of space on a 10-level NPC poisoner class, which is not particularly well-designed or interesting – or functional, as the key ability, making poisonous concoctions, is wholly bereft of any guidance regarding DCs and the like. I strongly suggest replacing this one.
The module per se is a pretty straight-forward cult-investigation, with a solid b/w-dungeon map added; unfortunately, maps for said complex once more only come in pretty “small” versions, which makes VTT or printout-use difficult. Speaking of which: The lack of keyed locales, while something I applaud for player-friendly maps, also means that the GM will have to do some improvising. While the structure of the simple investigation is surprisingly sound, the complex, bereft of environmental features and dangers/hazards etc. thus means that you’ll have to do some serious work. Suffice to say, there is no read-aloud text included.
Editing and formatting are okay on a formal level, less impressive on a rules language level. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with golden headers, and the hand-drawn b/w-artworks are charming; same goes for the maps, though their direct usefulness in the pdf is somewhat compromised by how they have been jammed onto half pages. The pdf has no bookmarks.
I don’t want to bash on James Eck’s little adventure sketch here. This is not bad, and for a PWYW-file, certainly something you can take a look at. However, I don’t think it does a particularly good job at its intended angle, particularly when compared to raging Swan press’ absolutely phenomenal “Against the Cult of the Bat God”, which is the superior take on the trope in every conceivable way. This may not be bad, but I am also left in a state where I genuinely can’t picture any scenario wherein this would be something I’d run. It lacks a distinct angle, has an inconvenient amount of fleshing out left for the GM to do, and I can improvise more complex investigations on the fly. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 2.5 stars, rounded down.
You can get this pdf here for PWYW on OBS.
You can get Raging Swan Press’ vastly superior take on the concept here on OBS!