Idylls of the Rat King

It has been several years since the Dungeon Crawl Classic series of modules first came out. I do not know the story that brought this successful line of modules us but I am sure it would be interesting. This is the first in that line. The module has sat on my shelf for years and finally I was able to get to use it in a campaign. If I use a book, I try to review it. The review will contain spoilers so beware.

Idylls of the Rat King is the first in the long line of Dungeon Crawl Classics. There are now over fifty modules in the line and it will soon be branching out to a new edition. This is the first one and a classic in my mind. It is written by Jeffrey Quinn. The module received an Honorable Mention for Best Adventure in the 2003 Gen Con Awards. It is for levels one through three and is written under the OGL for Third Edition D&D.

The adventure takes place inside a silver mine near the large thorp of Silverton. There is a small appendix in the back that details some of the Silverton Area. I like that the place has a militia of three people. The focus of the module though is of course the silver mine and its many levels. The maps for the most part do not look like a collection of mines. Level three almost has the look but for the most part it has the look of any old dungeon. That is one of my few issues with the module. The art is fairly average and the best in my eyes is the almost cute looking zombie badger on page twenty one.

The story of the mines starts over a hundred years ago and the cursing of the mine owner Jasper Gannu. He gets strung up by the towns folk and his wife and son are driven away with the curse that makes them were rats. That son has a son and now we are in business. He is Laurence and he is seeking to get revenge on the town that cursed his family. He pairs up with necromancer because that is always a good idea and they hide out in the old abandoned mine with their goblin minions. That is hopefully where the player characters come into the picture.

There are lots rooms and things to fight in this complex of mines. There is only one entrance and no other exits so not a lot of choices on where to go. The goblins are in good numbers and backed up by dire rats. With the rats and the wererats in the module characters will have wished they took the Great Fortitude feat. Once the group is in hopefully they will find some of the secret rooms. These are very important for they have a couple magical silver weapons to be found and more importantly they hint at what the heck happened one years ago with the curse and the even greater evil that is trapped somewhere in these mines. My players were able to find all the secrets areas and all the hints. It helped that we have two elf rogues in the party that are keen at spotting secret doors. They were never quite sure what the great evil was they were going to find. They also were not sure they really wanted to find it.

The first two levels are pretty much alike. There are plenty of goblins and rats to kill. There are a few other things but the module does not have odd monsters thrown in just for the heck of it. It means the players might get a little tired of facing the same things but there is never that thought of why do the goblins live peacefully next to this other monster that should eat them. The third level the group will be very happy to have a cleric with good turning skills. It is wall to wall undead with a necromancer on top. It is also the smallest of the levels. By the fourth level the player characters should have silver weapons and with luck magical silver weapons. This level is invested with were rats and a few failed fort saves can really alter the nature of the campaign. One of my players failed his fort save and when they went back to Silverton I had the local priest be able to cure him but only with a promise they would rid the mine of that ancient evil. They did try to, they just were not successful. The evil is a vampire and at first I had them talk to her. They were not sure what she was and she was trying to get information out of them and just fight them. She also hid the fact that she was a vampire from them. They gave her food and holy water to drink and that made things a lot clearer for them. They fought it but only had one weapon that could really hurt her so she pretended to get slain by going gaseous form.

Idylls of the Rat King is a good solid low level dungeon crawl. As the first in the Dungeon Crawl Classics I am pleased to say that it is as good or better then many of the fifty plus that have followed it. It is written for third edition D&D but many of the encounter areas can be brought together to form the larger areas that the fourth edition game favors. It will take a little bit of work on the DMs part but this module should be able to be played in other editions of the game., Just watch out for the stats on the Vampire, they might be a little tough in other editions for even a well prepared low level party. And if you do get to use this module and like it do not forget about the sequel Revenge of the Rat King DCC 27 or the first edition version Saga of the Rat King.