HT 1 – The Perils of Cinder Claws (DCC)
This supplement clocks in at 32 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page editorial, 1.5 pafes of SRD, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
This is officially my most delayed review EVER. It came out last year in December and I didn’t get it done in time for holidays and after that…it just felt odd. So, with about one year delay, here’s finally the review!
This being said, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here?
In medias res – the characters find themselves in a feast hall of Christmas-themed decorations…and things immediately become ODD – silvery tinsel spiders, intelligent fruitcakes that never leave your system, dreaming of strange aeons – yeah, we’re in for some nasty, far-out creative awesomeness here. Deadly snowmen and tiny reindeer that each have unique abilities (like Rudolph’s red pustule nose that may blind you or Comet’s fiery burst…), aggressive ginger-bread men and sugar plum faeries. Of course, they may find something interesting in their stockings – though whether naughty or nice depends on the alignment and luck of the character… Oh, and there are elves…the unpleasant type. And then, all warmth subsides, things become cold and the PCs will have to brave the dread ice-cold claws of cinder claws before hopefully escaping the desolate ice-cold clime.
That’s the first module – the second herein, intended for 3rd level characters, also has the PCs drawn into the domain of cinder claws, here, the nexus of Yule – disturbing nutcrackers and rat-humanoids warring set the tone immediately, even before the unpleasant, swirling golden angels flittering among the branches of a massive tree. 6-armed, candy-cane wielding carnivores, deadly puddings, the bulwarg and skagaart (and friggin’ GRENDEL!) – unpleasant! And if the PCs think that regular animals are nice…wrong. Even domestic animals like cows and sheep are deadly and carnivorous here, so they better beware! Finally, they may come to stand before the Cinder Claws, who offers to act as a patron for PCS…or have them face his wrath – whether by diplomacy or force (the latter being a rather lethal prospect), the module concludes with a memorable scene indeed.
We also receive a full-blown patron-taint/spellburn/spell-list. It should be noted that the module comes with nice, player-friendly maps and full color cartography.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s 2-column standard and is rather printer-friendly. Cartography is nice and the artworks provided are neat as well.
Daniel J. Bishop delivers by the buckets – this constitutes at the same time the most disturbing Christmas modules I’ve read before, all while managing to avoid delving into a gore-fest – instead, this collection of modules allows one to delve into a sense of utter weirdness, of oddness and some primal, twisted take on Christmas tropes without losing the very intent and spirit of the holidays – these modules are frightening, unsettling, yes, but they never turn unpleasant, managing to maintain a sense of wonder and high-spirited fun. I love these modules and if I can get a group together this Christmas, I’ll run these. The modules are awesome enough to warrant you converting them to other systems, should you prefer a non-DCC-system – THAT good! Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval!