Hole in the Sky is a zero-level funnel adventure module for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Here is a spoiler free review to help you evaluate if this is the adventure to kick off your Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign.The Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics module #86 Hole in the Sky by Brendan J Lasalle came to me through my purchase at Guardian Games in Portland, Oregon. I was looking for a 0 level funnel adventure to kick of a campaign setting of my own creation.
What is a Dungeon Crawl Classics Funnel?
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has a rather unique system as compared with other OSR games, in that characters begin at level 0 with a base occupation (turnip farmer, ostler, vagrant, etc) with just a few hit points and strong intentions of working their way up to being a 1st level adventurer. Because death comes quickly to characters with four or fewer hit points, it is recommended that each player starts with four characters – so the module is targeting 16 to 24 adventurers. What comes out the bottom of this meat grinder (a charming and somewhat accurate nickname for the funnel) are refined, battle scarred 1st level characters.
Review Criteria for RPG Adventure Modules
In this review, I ask the following questions:
- Presentation: How visually useful and organized is the module?
- Writing: How good is the quality of writing?
- Premise: How interesting is the background?
- Variety: How much variety is there in the adventure?
- Flexibility: How open is it for integrating into a campaign?
Hole in the Sky is a 15 page adventure, including one useful map and another which is more like a visual adventure tracker, denoting various areas. There is evocative interior, black and white artwork for use of the GM, but it is not separated for easy use as a visual aid for players. The adventure is divided into Introduction, Background, Player Start, Description of Adventure Areas, and Concluding the Adventure – all sensible. Read-aloud text introduces each area.
The writing quality is professional, with no obvious grammatical issues or editing fumbles. Some sections are overly long without being broken up with GM keys to denote important ‘what ifs’ with sub-section titling, however the text is organized well enough that a few read throughs should make up for it.
Here is the adventure description from the back cover:
The Lady in Blue, a mysterious figure of cosmic power, enlists a band of simple peasants for a strange task. They are to follow an invisible bridge until they arrive at a hole in the sky – and then jump through. Death awaits all but the bravest, strongest, and luckiest, but the Lady offers a reward beyond all the riches of the world: the chance to change the very stars these peasants were born under, and thus change their destiny.
As a 0 level funnel adventure, you are promised a one way trip to further adventure or a horrible death. The background material to the GM suggests much of what you expect from the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game; certain elements suggest a semi-rural, early medieval setting where you might find druids and witchcraft being a problem, but it is flexible enough to launch many types of campaigns. I used it to launch a fantasy, post-apocalyptic blended setting with strong Northwest American Indian elements, and it worked.
Much like you’d expect from Dungeon Crawl Classics, you have several random tables to mix things up. Most of the variety in this adventure are the things you fight, but you do get some shifts in encounter settings, and there are several non-player characters that interesting enough to warrant bringing them back.
This is a funnel adventure, which implies that its a one way trip. Much like many tournament modules, that means not moving along the designated path results in death. The non-player characters, monsters and back story are quite reusable for integration into a campaign – but the adventure location itself is not. It is hard to blame a funnel for being a funnel, yet I feel a mentioned town could have included a simple map and organized notes in order to make it actually useful to the GM.
Recently, Goodman Games referred to this as a forgotten treasure, a notion I dispute because a good module is timeless, and Hole in the Sky is an excellent funnel adventure, with fresh encounters and locations that let you use it once and never again within a campaign – or, depending on your campaign, you can reuse elements. For DCC RPG GMs, it also introduces two possible new Patrons. At the very reasonable price for this module ($9.95) , you get several nights of fun.
Title: Hole in the Sky
Publisher: Goodman Games
Author: Brendan J Lasalle
Total Score: 3.8