Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review & Commentary On The 'Pay What You Want' OSR Adventure - The Secret of Cykranosh For Your Old School Campaigns

 So once again I'm a bit late to the party with the OSR compatible adventure  The Secret of Cykranosh via DriveThruRPG as a Pay What You Want module.This is a Lovecraftian module done in a very cool sword and sorcery six page stroke.  This module has a bit of everything, according to the author's page;
"This is a short module (6 pages) that wouldn't exist without Dyson Logos's work. I based it on the Dellorfano Protocols Dungeon that I linked in last night's Actual Play report. Dyson has been releasing certain maps with a CC-BY license thanks to his extremely successful Patreon campaign. This allows anyone to use and remix the original work, even for commercial use." Now I do love Dyson's map making skills and cartography prowess. This adventure clocks in a at around six pages of OSR sword & sorcery design and adventure fun. But what is the Lovecraftian back ground of the adventure? Well according to the author's blog'  As anyone who recognizes the statue of Tsathoggua on the cover can tell, and anyone who's read "The Door to Saturn" knows, this is deeply inspired by the work of Clark Ashton Smith. I've worked CAS's ideas throughout the module, and I think fans will really enjoy this little adventure. The cover is from a (Creative Commons licensed) photo of a statue of Tsathoggua made by Richard L. Tierney, who happens to sort of be an Appendix N author (Tierney wrote a story in Swords Against Darkness III)."
My suggestion is to read The Door To Saturn by Clark Aston Smith  before running this adventure. Things are going to make a whole lot more sense then simply diving into it. 

 But there's more to it then simply another pay what you want module, this one is creative commons. Yup that's right its one that you can use, reference, and replay. Something I wish other OSR publishers would do.
"Because I like Dyson's move so much, I've also released the complete text of this module in CC-BY. So not only is it free if you want it, you can also use it in your own projects however you like. I'm a big fan of the Creative Commons license as a way to share and distribute gaming material because it's less restrictive than the OGL." This earns its marks with me already and its a very cool way of making sure your going to be pay attention to future releases from the author. It also means that this work can be used for your publishing efforts and rpg design work as long as you respect the CC guidelines.
But is the adventure playable? Well the background brings the author's version of Mount Vormos into full focus. Here's the background via the pdf

"Background : Mount Vormos is an ancient crag that lies along a crucial trade route. Bandits have
been attacking caravans passing through, and rumors have come to the lands south of the
mountain. A cave in the mountain pass overlooks a crucial juncture and has provided a spot for the raiding parties to take in trade goods. Magic-users will know that there are rumors   connecting Mount Vormos to the ancient sorcerer Eibon, who long ago vanished to distant Cykranosh. Clerics  will know that it is linked to the bizarre god Tsathoggua and his evil ways"

The encounters are well thought out, bizarre in their content and they work very well for a six page adventure. I've noticed that with recent third wave OSR material adventures six pages is the magic number for an evening's entertainment and play. This marks this as another module to add to the pile for running down the line. But what systems can this one be run with? Original editions or Retroclones? Well the stat blocks seem to indicate an OD&D marked preference but that shouldn't stop a DM from using this one for Lamentations of the Flame Princess .All you have to do is plum the whole Soloman Kane vibe for your PC's and off you go. History is filled with hundreds of cities, locations, etc. that have been obliterated by war, famine, pestlence,etc. this adventure location  might not be any different.
Do I like it? Well personally I think it makes a nice mid gap adventure for an OSR or OD&D campaign. With a bit of work and some slight of hand this one would make an excellent adventure for Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

With a bit of work and slight of hand this adventure could be used as a mid point to bring your favorite adventurers into the dark depths of a sword and sorcery adventure then leave them between the devil and the machinations of Tsathoggua. All in all this rates on the high end of a four out of five.

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