Another first level adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar, I’m torn on Cheating Death. It’s got some interesting locations, colorful characters, and good lore building for the city, but I’m not sure about the actual adventure itself. This is one I suspect I’d cannibalize and use its parts in various other adventures. As is, things feel a bit too arbitrary in a way that I would find annoying as a player, and wouldn’t want to inflict as a Judge.
For some reason, Death has noticed the PCs and is planning to mark them off in his ledger. Like taxes, Death is a sure thing, so they’re pretty much gonners, unless they can do something pretty special. Not a bad premise, to be sure.
The problem I have is that I really don’t know if the players are likely to put the clues together, and I don’t know that the adventure itself gives a Judge enough material to push them in the right direction. I think it might be better to make the characters aware of Death’s notice early on, making it clear that it’s not some witch or wizard, but actual Death that is causing trouble. This might be more likely to give them a direction to look, thus leading them to the clues in the book.
Assuming this is an adventure you’re going to work into a longer game, it might be nice to drop some elements into previous stories. A rumor or legend about the undying Burned Man living somewhere in the city or a visit to the Feathered Behemoth or Ghennea’s Butcher Shop can lend more weight to later encounters with these places. If your players encounter the Thieves’ Guild a lot, maybe they’ve heard of the Aviary.
I like that this seems to be an adventure that really rewards investigation and puzzle solving. I’m just afraid that not all the pieces are included. I’d have to actually try running it to be sure of that, so take my worry there with a grain of salt. Whatever the case, it’s definitely inspired me to use some of the elements if not the whole thing.
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