Game Title: Old School Essentials – Holy Mountain Shaker
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
Author: Luka Rejec
Artist: Luka Rejec
Genre: Old School Essentials/OSR fantasy adventure
Pages: 56 pages
MSRP: $15.00 for the A5 hardcover (with PDF) or $7.50 in PDF at DriveThruRPG
The adventure is intended for at least four characters of 5th to 6th level. Earthquakes are starting to rock the region, and the players are recruited to investigate the cause. The art is typical of the old school essentials line, cartoonish, and colorful. The layout is clean and brief like most of the OSE adventures.
The adventure uses a point crawl system where encounters are more regions rather than a clearly defined section on a map. Characters can explore each region to find hidden areas if they take their time. Travel between regions uses time rather than physical distance to get from region to another, as distances are imprecise. The adventure will require Dungeon masters (DMs) to track time as it is an essential part of the adventure. DMs who use battle maps or miniatures will need to create their own maps of the various areas they have descriptions but no map. The rest of the review has some spoilers so be aware.
The adventure has three distinct paths each with different vibes to enter the mountain. The mines use a steampunk vibe with railcars, golems and trapped elementals running the mine’s machinery. Characters will find miners and subsurface gnomes working the mountain. As the players wind their way deeper into the mountain, they will even find a giant freezer full of frozen fish.
The second entrance is near the peak behind a krummholz in some hidden megaliths. This path will lead the party down a spiral ramp to an ancient living ziggurat. Further down the path characters will find a haunted city and either an arena or a vast canyon leading to the mines. I suggest DMs play up the scale and wonder of these areas from a long forgotten civilization.
The last entrance is through a holy spring. Here characters will follow the river into the mountain. They will find the remnants of the glab-glab (fish people) who built the city. As they continue to follow the river they will come to the temple of the glab-glab and their unfriendly altered ancestors.
All these paths will eventually lead to the god fish at the heart of the mountain. The fish will ask the players to remove an annoyance inside its throat. Should the players find and remove the annoyance the god fish will grant them a permanent blessing before departing. Then it is a frantic escape to leave the mountain before it collapses.
The DM will roll on the collapse table each time the party enters a region. This will continue to escalate with each region have its own unique collapse event tree. If the party does not leave an area quickly enough, it may lead to all dying by a collapse.
This is not a module a DM can simply pick and run, and much effort will likely be wasted to flesh out the areas. Each region could easily have its own map, but one is not provided. The module is chocked full of treasure and interesting areas, but if players rush through the sections they will miss 90% of the scope provided. Even if players do take their time explore, they will likely only experience a third of the module. The collapse mechanic and descriptions of the collapses give a sense of urgency, but if followed it will leave much of the mountain unexplorable after the players escape.