The Revelation of Mulmo – Tentacled Edition (DCC) (Patreon Request)
This module is only available in print, and as such, my review is obviously based on that format. The module is a perfect bound softcover, and somewhat to my chagrin, it has a large enough spine, but doesn’t have its name on the spine. The module clocks in at 68 pages if you disregard cover, editorial, etc.
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.
Before we dive into the meat of the matter, it should be noted that, while originally penned as a companion tome for Angels, Daemons & Beings Between: Extended Otherworldly Edition (AD&BB:EOE), this module can be run all on its own; the judge might have to improvise a few spell-references, but I got this prior to AD&BB:EOE due to some quirk of fate and ran it without said book – went perfectly fine.
The adventure showcases some interesting ways of handling patrons interacting with PCs, and as such, provides two fully-realized patron write-ups, including invoke patron check results, patron taint, spellburn and 3 spells per patron – one for each spell level from 1st to 3rd. Additionally, the module codifies the scrying spell, which is exactly what you’d expect, save that it’s seen through the lens of DCC’s magic aesthetics, and, optionally, stats for a NPC that can become relevant – well, or not. One of the patrons is the eponymous Mulmo: A tentacled mass of shadow, he is said to be the keeper of every secret ever, whispering from the blackened haze. As such, his spells are Mulmo’s Dread Susurration, which can distract targets, cause Personality damage, penalize action die, etc. but the unlucky exposed to the most potent iteration, if they are blessed with an iron will, can potentially gain some cosmic insight here. Tentacles of smoke and gore spawn immobile, ever stronger tentacles with progressive grasping capabilities – think of these as ole’ Evard’s black tentacles, save that they are realized via creature stats. Finally, we have Walk the Akashic Record, which is essentially, as the name implies, a collective-unconscious delve that can manifest in a wide variety of ways. I really liked this patron back in AD&BB:EOE, and I certainly still do.
The second patron featured herein would be a new one, Gloriana, the faerie godmother – who is a genuinely benevolent patron – it’s just that she has SO MANY wards to look after, so accidents can happen, which is a rather fun explanation of patron taint. This theme also features in the spellburn section – “There now. I hope we learned something from this, dear.” I adore it. Gloriana presents DCC’s volatile weird magic in the guise of faerie tales, with dangerous whimsy, animated mayhem, being teleported to a ball, and more. This notwithstanding, Gloriana’s magic is potent indeed: The PCs will only laugh once about the bing, bang, boom spell that requires 3 actions to cast, has 3 spell checks, and three effects, spanning a total of 3.5 pages on its own. I love it! Gloriana’s Most Excellent Love Spell reminded me of a certain cult movie franchise, and it provides very potent buffs for the enamored, but also makes them somewhat dependent on each other. Compared with these two, the final one, faerie transformation, is a bit less exciting, but that notwithstanding, we have a fantastic patron in the best of ways – If anything, this one made me really yearn for Daniel J. Bishop writing more Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores. (Purple Duck Games released these FANTASTIC and compelling modules…and if you’re a judge with even remotely a taste for weird faerie tales, you need to get them ASAP. The first one is actually PWYW – you can find it here!) Heck, if I wasn’t dirt poor, I’d throw some money at master Bishop to write more…but I digress.
So that’s the new patron material. The module, formally, is intended for a group of 3- 8 characters somewhere in the level-range of 4-6. As always in any well-wrought DCC adventure, I recommend a healthy mix of characters for the module, as this definitely is an old-school adventure. The module offers a different twist as far as use is concerned – the judge can run this as a site-based adventure, sure. But the module also offers something rarer: The chance to return a deceased character from death! Instead of a PC, an NPC could obviously also be the target, but personally, I do suggest combining the two. Having a quest in the back as a justification feels more DCC-ish to me. One of the few formal complaints I can field against the adventure, would be that it does not provide sample characters for the player of the deceased character to use (and perhaps dispose of) during the adventure, but that as an aside.
Now, the cover implies as much, but in case you haven’t gotten that – this module does have a strong elf-theme that is more alien and weird than the D&D default…and no, PC elves don’t automatically know everything. Not required, but nice: If the judge has Critters, Creatures & Denizens, use of Crit Table F is suggested, and it is also suggested that some creatures within can be turned by Lawful clerics. If you do have AD&BB:EOE, you will certainly benefit from that as well: Among the random encounters, patron manifestations ranging from Enzazza to Mab can be encountered. So yeah, a well-stocked judge’s library is certainly helpful, but not required. Personally, I like it when there’s subtle cross-referencing going on, as long as it doesn’t impede the quality of the material, or its ability to stand on its own.
Bronze and stone weapons are used prominently in the module, and easy to grasp rules for their relatively quick degradation are provided. Aesthetics-wise, the module provides read-aloud text as usual, stats where they’re needed, and also features quite a bunch nice, rhyming and riddles. The cartography is top-down with 10 x 10 feet squares, and functional – not a lot of details are provided, but it’s certainly sufficient to run this without a hitch. Since the location features quite a bit of verticality, we also get a side-view map, which I certainly appreciated, as it helps envisioning the relation between levels, etc. One adventure location comes with more detailed, isometric maps (5 foot-squares here) that feature more details. This is a *personal* thing, but I’d have preferred uniform square-sizes. Not a personal preference, though: Much to my annoyance and chagrin, no player-friendly maps are provided. I seriously hope that this finally becomes industry standard in DCC as well. I suck at drawing maps, hate it in all iterations, and simply can’t draw some of the more beautiful maps. But having a secret door spoiled, or fat numbers in my locations is a huge immersion breaker that I positively loathe. I wish more publishers would follow the example of e.g. Purple Duck Games in that regard, particularly since DCC-maps tend to be very beautiful, and would make awesome handouts.
All right, and this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only judges around? Great! So, as noted before, a bargain between Mulmo and the PCs is probably the most satisfying way to run this adventure, and the sequence in which PCs are contacted is laid out rather well. One strength of the module is also one that deserves special mention: In the main adventure location, time flows differently, with a d7-table to determine its passing. This is in as far important, as, while wizard spell recovery etc. are guided by the time inside of the locale, for the purpose of clerical abilities, the time passing outside matters – which can make clerics more formidable, or weaker, and potentially change the campaign setting, if so desired. This is but one of the nest global effects here. The adventure locale, Erle’s Howe, is essentially a massive, hollow hill with a crown of trees on top. Nailing the sense of the dark faerie tale, the means of activating the entrance is actually already rather interesting. The Howe, somewhat disjointed from time, was one of the sites of conflict between the elves (which are anything but nice – case in point, e.g. Morhern the Exquisite, elven torturer…) and the trow. Unlike their friends with “d”, these are basically DCC-orcs that may or may not be corrupted elves.
Behind the glamoured entrances, the hollow hill contains a central 10-story tower (aforementioned place with isometric maps) and plentiful living spaces in the side of the walls. Interesting: Mulmo’s susurrations guide the PCs, for they need to acquire the body of a servant of Mulmo from within the tower – which is sealed. Thus, the party has ample reasons to explore the two levels of living spaces carved into the sidewalls of the hollow hills’ interior as they are questing for the rings. The patrons from AD&BB:EOE get ample chance to shine here, as the influence of several of them are obvious and possible to develop further. In a way, this is at once a strength and a slight weakness, as the module doesn’t really take time to let the PCs understand the respective patrons. They can e.g. find a complex machine crafted by a devotee of Ptah-Ungurath, but while fiddling with it can yield interesting results (or doom – this is DCC!), there isn’t really any indicator of the patron-involvement that the players can discern. The judge/player-information barrier here could be more permeable, as the lore implications of this complex spectrum of patron involvement can render the module more exciting, but that may be me. Secret oraculums and plentiful treasure, weasel-faced serpents. Elemental pools, the option to free a Prince of Eagles from confinement and mysterious machines, where 12 different level positions have different consequences can be found – or ignored. As often in DCC, risk and reward are carefully entwined, and parties knowing when to experiment, and when not to, are certainly better off. Elfs can btw. become Faerie Knights with the help of a magical armor, but, as often, this power does come at a cost. Absolutely hilarious: Alemourn, the drunken blade, a mighty sword that becomes more potent the more hammered the wielder becomes Inebriation is btw. handled with Agility, Personality and Stamina…
Beyond this, the tower provides a change of pace, as the PCs have to bypass the un-dead and lunar creatures to retrieve the body of Morgil the Moon-Sage (Said NPC mentioned before as one character in the appendix); it is also probably a little homage to LotFP’s “Tower of the Stargazer”, as the telescope works inverse to that one; it can conjure a variety of lunar creatures, with their own table and stats provided. The massive and incredibly strong caterpillar-like Tiny Moon Calf particularly made me smile, and from insectoid selenites to lunar centaurs…and what about the actually sophisticated and intelligent wormfolk that might mistake the PCs for dumb animals and attempt to eat them? (they can’t disgorge those eaten – very embarrassing indeed…) Anyways, the body of the slain Moon-mage must be carried below, into the dungeon beneath the tower, where the theme of the adventure changes and the full level of malignant elven douchebaggery becomes apparent, if it hasn’t already. More undead await, and the PCs have a chance to rescue a trow princess driven insane – and particularly perceptive PCs may find a dark, magical sword bricked into a wall…of course, only if they can best the un-dead master of the goal…
Ultimately, this place, this prison, also houses the access to Mulmo’s hidden fane, where the waters of life may revive a target – but if the PC’s follow their shadowy benefactor’s guidance, they are in for a rude awakening, as the pool requires 1d100 years to recharge; if they, however, attempt to revive their own comrade first, they’ll be in for a pretty brutal treat, as Mulmo’s whispering shades do not take kindly to their master’s wishes being spurned…
Editing and formatting are surprisingly good on a formal level, with only minor hiccups here and there, and the formal rules being precise as well. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard, with a couple of solid b/w original artworks, and b/w-cartography. The latter, as mentioned before, ranges from neat to functional, and no player-friendly maps are provided. All of this is particularly impressive considering the troubled history, publisher-change etc. that this book and its companion went through.
Daniel J. Bishop is one of the authors I look forward to reviewing, as he has a very firm grasp on DCC, and has yet to write anything I consider to be sans merits; he is never boring, and this holds true here as well. This massive module has a lot of things to tinker with, and sells its relatively conservative fantasy premise by diving deep into the faerie tale aesthetic. I like this adventure, and it certainly plays rather well. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel that the module has a few minor weaknesses hat keep it from true greatness. For one, I think that the adventure’s complex tapestry of patron influences could have been communicated slightly better to the players via direct and indirect clues – unless the judge devotes a bit of extra time to this aspect, the module can end up feeling unfocused and slightly confusing, as the PCs encounter disparate patron elements. On a prep-the-module-angle, it’d also have been rather cool for the judge to get an overview-table that lists the patrons, and perhaps hooks to lead into their services, or for them to have a more pronounced impact on the plot.
I know that this was not feasible, considering how the project went down, but I think this would have elevated the module from being a good offering, to an excellent one. Oh, and player-friendly maps. Anyway, this module still has a great bang-for-buck-ratio, a unique atmosphere, and is certainly worth its asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.
You can get this unconventional, pretty massive DCC-module here on OBS!
Missed Angels, Daemons & Beings Between: Extended Otherworldy Edition? The hardcover version of the book can be found here!
Missed the fantastic Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores? You can find the first one here, and for PWYW to boot!
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