Since being unleashed at GenCon 2022 after a multi-year hiatus, I have been working through quite a backlog of reading material. And I figured that if I was going to ride out a mild Minnesota snowstorm this week, I may as well do a little more catching up.
With Valentine’s Day only ten days behind us at the time of writing, I realized the golden opportunity before me: One Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure that could combine the thrill of a challenging and mysterious dungeon crawl with the ever-important reminder that love can conquer all. That module is Stephen Newton’s The Corpse That Love Built, the fourth issue of the DCC Horror series.
Let’s start by setting the scene. I’ll try to be as spoiler- free as I can: A small town has recently suffered a series of abductions, and while many of the inhabitants want to focus on the practical, whispers circulate of a fabled figure in these lands by the name of Dr. Lotrin von Geisterblut, who once resided in a nearby ancient tower!
I went into this adventure expecting plenty of fun allusions to and twists on the “Bride of Frankenstein” story that has been reimagined numerous times in popular culture (I won’t consider that a spoiler as the title and cover art are a dead giveaway), and I definitely got plenty of what I was hoping for! This adventure is clearly geared toward classic horror themes and might be more befitting of a Halloween adventure review, but October is months away, and love never waits!
However, the true fun and surprise came from the ingenuity of the encounters throughout the hunt for the mysterious Dr. von Geisterblut. If your players have the innate curiosity to fiddle around with things that they find while adventuring - in the small hope that they can stumble upon a brilliant solution to their myriad of problems - then they will have plenty of macabre doodads and hints to latch onto here. These are some of my favorite moments in gaming, when a party can set its imagination on strange contraptions and unpredictable mysteries with minimal context and just see what happens.
Did I mention intensity? This adventure was written for a 2nd Level party who has hopefully built up a decent amount of skill and resources by this point, and oh boy does it remind you at every corner. I can imagine plenty of moments where a player’s panic would kick in at the realization of how some encounter mechanics play out.
Of course, none of this should be a surprise. I’m no stranger at this point to leaving a few hp (and the occasional fallen hero) behind at the cost of figuring out a puzzle in a Goodman Games module, and the feeling has never stopped being rewarding. Another “not surprise” is the quality of the artwork on display here. William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, and Stefan Poag all did great work. The dark journey has awesome, varied, and beautifully stylized illustrations to keep you anchored in the eerie setting.
Altogether, classic horror fans will love this one. And players who are not classic horror fans should still have a blast due to the depth of detail and challenge to be found as they delve into the mystery of the local disappearances. Love conquers all, but can you conquer love?
*The DCC Horror series and other adventures can be found at Goodman Games.