Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/04/16/tabletop-review-lair-of-the-mist-men-dungeon-crawl-classics/
Generally when I review a Dungeon Crawl Classics product, it ends up being from Goodman Games or Brave Halfling Publishing. This time around, we’re looking at a product from Purple Sorcerer. This is their third release for Dungeon Crawl Classics and it is also what they call a “mini-adventure,” although I’m not sure why it is called that, as it has roughly the same page count as the “full adventures.”
Lair of the Mist Men is a continuation of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, but you don’t need to have played that adventure to get full use out of it. That’s because Purple Sorcerer has included the seminal battle with the mist men from that adventure. You can use it as an optional start to the adventure in order to get the ball rolling, or you can just jump feet first into Lair of the Mist Men as written. I love that Purple Sorcerer has given you this option, especially since Lair of the Mist Men is a THIRD of the cost of the other Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures they have released.
Lair of the Mist Men is for six to eight Level 1 characters. Like most Dungeon Crawl Classics adventurers, it is light on story and heavy on combat. In this case, your village has been besieged by the mist men for nigh on three months. Finally, the players have found a way to track them to their lair, and so they set off to right wrongs and gain revenge on their accursed enemies. Hey, it’s not Shakespeare, but it does the job nicely. The players journey through a creepy swampland where they will fight resident locals and mist men in order to gain access to the cave in which they dwell. There, players will alternate between saving villagers thought lost forever, killing mist men and discovering the true source of the evil plaguing their village. The entire affair can be finished in one or two sessions, depending on how much the DM pads things out and how much the players stay on track. If you have Against the Vortex Temple (which isn’t actually available yet…), this adventure MAY lead directly into it, based on the choices your players make.
Besides the set six encounters in the adventure, you have a random encounter chart (you know, I’ve never actually met anyone that really uses those) and a neat little side effect of the mist men cave where characters spiral down into madness as if this was a Call of Cthulhu adventure. Between the sheer amount of combat and the insanity factor, this will be a hard adventure for players to come out of intact, especially when most DCC adventures call for even more players than this. Depending on how your team fares, you may want to ratchet down the encounters some if you don’t want to achieve a TPK (Total Party Kill). That said, the insanity effect is played more for comedy than anything else, and because comedy is all but nonexistent in other DCC adventures, I’m unsure how players will react to that. I mean, I love comedy, but DCC is a grim and gritty game and so I can see others being… more inclined to treat this system as SERIOUS BUSINESS and find fault with the adventure because of this.
In addition to the core PDF, Lair of the Mist Men comes with two bonus PDFs. The first is a set of three maps, and the second is a page of paper standee miniatures to represent the antagonists for the adventure. Both are a nice touch, although the artwork may be a bit TOO Cartoony for the core DCC fanbase. Generally, the art in Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures tends to be of a similar style to first edition AD&D or even OD&D, but the art here is decidedly comedic in style and more Warner Brothers than Larry Elmore. I think the art is a fun change of pace for the system, but I can definitely see a lot of DCC players poo-pooing the adventure based on the art, which is a shame.
Finally the adventure comes with four pre-generated 0 level characters, which is a bit nonsensical considering that a) this is an adventure for 1st Level characters and b) there are only four pregens but the adventure is for six to eight characters. Not really sure what the point of this inclusion was to be honest, but hey, extra content is extra content, right?
All in all, Lair of the Mist Men is a fun little adventure. Sure, there are some spelling errors like “Blassimers! Descrators!” when the text should be, “Blasphemers! Desecrators!” but Purple Sorcerer Games is a two man operation and I can speak from experience about how hard it is for one to edit your own writing, so I can give this a pass in some respects. Still, it is a professionally done piece, and one would think they would have at least run the text through a spell checker. With a price tag of under three dollars, and some very unique antagonists for your PCs to encounter, Lair of the Mist Men is well worth investing in if you enjoy playing published adventures with your Dungeon Crawl Classics troupe. There’s a good amount of humour to the adventure, something you don’t find in DCC adventurers outside of Purple Sorcerer games, so mileage may vary in that respect, but you’re still getting a fine, memorable adventure for your three dollars, and if you have players that take their a gaming more serious than what’s provided here, feel free to tweak the adventure to fit their needs instead of forcing them to adapt to it. If you like what you see here, perhaps it’s time to start the “Sunken City” series of DCC RPG adventures.