||(EDIT: Fixed a big cut-and-paste error.)
A number of gaming companies have tried to tap into an "old-school" feel, harkening back to the classic days of fantasy roleplaying games. Few companies are able to evoke this nostalgic design style as well as Goodman Games. Their adventures emphasize the best things about some of the early modules, while still maintaining the high standards of design and quality modern gamers have come to expect.
In the Slithering Overlord, the PCs find themselves facing off against three very different factions of subterranean monsters. The inclusion of three separate groups adds a certain amount of variety to the adventure. While all of the action takes place underground, the locations are varied enough to keep from becoming repetitive, and at least one dungeon has a touch of wilderness to spice things up.
The adventure includes a very simple adventure hook involving a religious order's search for three missing relics. This background is flexible and effective, and could even be completely ignored if the GM so chooses. In this regard, Slithering Overlord shares one of the strengths of the classic adventures that inspired it. It takes an interesting location, gives a decent reason for it to be filled with monsters, and adds a motivation for the PCs to go there.
One of the thing that stood out to me were the detailed monster tactics. I find these sorts of things to be a valuable resource when running an adventure, as it can sometimes be difficult to decode all of a monster's powers from a stat block. It's also nice to know whether or not a monster will fight to the death, what kind of attack it prefers, and how it interacts with other creatures in the dungeon. I appreciate the extra information. I also really like the flavor text for the various dungeon encounters. All too often, I see my player's eyes gloss over when I'm ready wordy boxed text, but this is (for the most part) short and to the point.
There is a lot of potential combat in this adventure, and I could see certain groups turning things into one fight after another. The various monster groups don't necessarily like one another, however, and a smart group could play this fact to their advantage. There are also a smattering of puzzles and traps; and I'm a sucker for any adventure that features riddles, especially when they're delivered by a giant stone head that shoots red-hot beams from its eyes. If that last bit doesn't sound cool to you, you may not be Dungeon Crawl Classic material. Another of my favorites was the fiendish otyugh, which is ?...summoned from a fiendish plane where sinners are forced to eat all manner of refuse as punishment for their sins.? Good stuff.
LIKED: This is a good selection in the Dungeon Crawl Classics line. There is plenty of dungeon for exploration, old-school art, and both classic monsters and brand new creatures. This is a nice, solid module that would be a welcome fit in my home campaign.
DISLIKED: While I like the Slithering Overlord, there really isn't anything overly special about this adventure. Its good overall, but it lacks a unique hook to put things over the top. As with any adventure, there were specific parts that didn't work for me. For instance, while I mentioned my liking of the giant stone head, I found the riddles it asks to be too easy. Also, I think that some parts of the adventure could become repetitive if the PCs take a kick-down-the-door approach.
Also, I didn't care for the way the designers glossed over large sections of the underground area. There doesn't need to be extensive descriptions of vast underground corridors, but a few sample encounters would have been nice for the GM looking to do more than just hand-wave the travel between detailed areas.
QUALITY: Very Good
[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]
[3 of 5 Stars!]