Dungeon Crawl Classics #36: Talons of the Horned King is a 60 page d20 pdf adventure for characters of levels 3 to 5. This adventure is one of many in Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics line of products, each adventure in the series presenting a good dungeon crawl from players and DMs to enjoy. This particular adventure takes place in the frozen wastes of the north, where characters investigating strange occurrences in a northern town discover something far more spectacular and dangerous beneath the Talons of the Horned King.
This product follows the now tried and tested layout and presentation of all the other products in the popular DCC series. A single, fully bookmarked file is provided, complete with much more information to give you an overview of the adventure and help to run it. Encounter tables are provided, setting information for the DCC setting, adventure plot hooks, background information and more. A large number of useful player handouts are also provided, enhancing the quality of this product. Layout, editing, writing, and art are all very good, exhibiting a high quality of presentation in this product.
The product also has quite a lengthy appendix at the end which introduces some new monsters, but also details a variety of futuristic equipment that the players may encounter during the course of the adventure. Naturally, some advice is given on how to handle these within a fantasy orientated adventure. Overall, an excellent job of presentation, art and maps.
The adventure takes place in any frozen location, typically a northerly area, and starts with the PCs following a trail to the Talons of the Horned King. A number of plot hooks are provided to get the characters to this point. From there the characters adventure through a daunting canyon until they reach the Talons, and soon discover something entirely more remarkable buried beneath the Talons - a buried, ancient spaceship belonging to a race of psionic beings. During the course of the adventure they unravel the mystery of the spaceship and the creatures that lurk there, as well as discover a whole new futuristic world for them to explore. The adventure does a splendid job of combining the fantasy and futuristic elements in such a way as to maintain the fantasy feel of the adventure without the characters believing they walked into another era.
This is quite a lengthy adventure containing close to 40 different encounter areas throughout the adventure, and wandering monsters to boot as well. There's plenty of combat to be had, but the adventure shines in other areas as well in providing a very interesting and tantalizing location and plot for fantasy PCs to discover. Here they'll come face to face with the unknown and strange around almost every corner, and battle a whole host of new and interesting creatures and effects. The adventure contains a good combination of combat and 'puzzle' type encounters, with each encounter complete with detailed background and feeling like it fits in with the rest of the adventure rather than being disjointed.
This is without a doubt a fun and interesting adventure. Many DMs may balk at the idea of combining future-tech with fantasy, but this adventure does it in an elegant and decent way so that the focus remains on the fantasy and the adventure rather than the technology of an ancient spaceship. The players will find lots of surprises around every corner, many of them hidden in the trappings of technology in such a way that PC won't realise they're dealing with technology rather than standard fantasy fare. This is a very enjoyable adventure, that most players and DMs will enjoy. Good background, good balance of encounter areas, interesting location, and good presentation - overall an excellent product.
LIKED: Talons of the Horned King is an intriguing and exciting adventure offering a lot of variety, good story and interesting encounters. Blends fantasy and technology very well, and does a splendid job of the presentation. A high quality and fun adventure.
DISLIKED: Nothing much negative to say about the adventure. Perhaps a little more detail could've been furnished at the adventure start, but the adventure is about the dungeon and that's where it excels at.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied