DCCRPG #80 Intrigue at the Court of Chaos Review
I recently received my copy of Intrigue at the Court of Chaos from our FLGS, and it is fairly unique among the other DCC adventures. Its difficult to write a review like this without giving away some serious spoilers, but I think I can tip-toe around the main ones and at least speak to the concept of the adventure. One thing I love about DCC is that a 1st level adventure can have you traveling between planes, and coming face to face with deities. Normally RPGs reserve this for the very pinnacle of level advancement, with DCC all bets are off.
I think the cover for this module is one of Doug Kovacs’ absolute best. The swirling colors and myriad of characters immediately tips you off that this is not going to be a typical dungeon delve. Also the first map on the inside cover is of the court of chaos, and rather than a typical compass rose indicating which direction is north, it simply states: “N = There is no North! All is Chaos!” This was apparently a note on the reference map from adventure author Michael Curtis that Doug left in.
This is not a “beer and pretzels” kill the goblins in the cave and take their stuff 1st level adventure. This is much more cerebral and requires negotiation, and possible Player vs. Player in-fighting. The first part of this module is perfect for players who gush about not rolling a die for several hours and having it be the best RPG experience they have ever had. It certainly appeals to some, and definitely not to others. Essentially the party is charged with retrieving the Yokeless Egg from the Plane of Law, but the terms of this agreement and who in the party returns the egg to which member of the court brings about the intrigue.
The second part of the adventure involves actually retrieving the egg itself, which is more of a typical delve, if anything can be described as typical in DCC. One of the challenges I really enjoyed encourages the GM to drop a lump of clay on the table and have the players form something from it to solve puzzle. You can also do it through a roll with bonuses depending on your PC’s profession, or use a combination of both, but I felt the actual clay would make for a memorable encounter. Most of the plane of law is very combat-light and puzzle-heavy. If your group is tired of the old combat slog through a monster-hotel, this will be a refreshing change of pace. If all your players want to do is slay legions of beastmen with 32+ spell check magic missle, this may not be the best adventure for them.
There is a lot of potential to have one PC (accidentally or on purpose) leave the rest of the party stranded on the plane of law. There is also a lot of motivation for players to backstab (sometimes literally) the rest of their party for their own personal gain. (Hooray chaos!) There is a clear disclaimer at the beginning of the adventure that if your players “enjoyment of the game would be compromised” by such scheming, this is likely not the adventure for your table. I feel like both this, and the bonus adventure from the special edition of The 13th Skull called The Balance Blade could be exciting as a one-shot, but would be very challenging to integrate in to an existing campaign.
Overall it is a very entertaining read, and for the right group would be a very memorable game, but it certainly isn’t for everyone.