Grave Undertakings: The Ship of Fools

Weighing in at 52 pages, with 6 pages going to the basics (cover/OGL/etc.), 1 page going to a fully linked TOC, which I love to see, as sometimes I don’t want to waste my screen space with the bookmarks (which this PDF is fully stacked on as well by the way) dashboard open. One nice touch added throughout the PDF is a link BACK to the TOC, so that if you are using it in-place of the bookmarks, you actually can navigate via this method. So, counting with me? We’re down to 45 pages currently, from there we have 15 pages of maps…yes, 15. Two of those are the same full ship, dissected by levels (with a style that reminded me of Dunjinni) Why there are two I’m not entirely sure, as they are the exact same map. One is roughly a half page version with a full key, the other is a full page, but all of the numbers are still on it, making it still not entirely Player friendly. But, the 13 remaining map pages make up for it, by giving you the ship in battlemat form…that’s right, you can print out the entire ship and rock it with the minis. Other than my not being a huge fan of the cartographic style, my only complaint regarding these battle map sheets would be that the upper most tiers of the boat are still laid against an ocean background….even though they would have boat under them. Arguably you could Photoshop out the water if you don’t want to waste the ink, but if you are planning to stack the levels on your table, then the water will have to go for the top two sections of the ship. Small thing though, as there are groups that would run it as is, and that’s cool, it comes down to how you would use the maps….Me, I’m planning on mounting them to thin craft board that I will then stack with risers in between layers so that my players can truly “explore” the ship…

OK, enough about the maps…maps are all fine and dandy, and an integral part of the package, but you’re waiting to hear about the adventure, so let’s do this shall we? Players….rule mongers and cheats that ya are….the door, feel free to use it…time for grown folk to talk…..OK, sorry, pesky players, always trying to sit in on adventure conversations. Now, where were we?

Vossian Velsurian is that type of mad scientist/wizard I love to unleash on the world, and I mourn his passing. Luckily his passing, and the untimely circumstance that has befallen what is left of his crew are going to present to many an adventurer a chance at some thrilling encounters aboard his sinking vessel, the Green Lady. Presented with several options to hook your play group, everything from needing to salvage the ghost ship for material to repair the vessel they themselves are on, to a “rescue” attempt as there’s a sailor on the sinking vessel who owes a player money, to a psychic connection to something warning of danger that will give a nice creepy sense of madness and horror to the entire adventure. Point being, there’s quite a few options for getting your players on this boat, where they will discover that the previous crew aren’t quite as gone as they may have seemed.

Vossian had a penchant for fauna, the deadlier the more he was intrigued, and wanted to experiment with it. It was that fascination with killer organisms that led to the predicament that is the basis for this adventure. A crew enslaved by an olive slime working with a hive mentality to protect and feed the collective growing in the lower decks. Along with the infected crew is a variant shambling mound that has befallen the charms of this deadly slime. Adding to the level of distrust and creepiness aboard the sinking ship are the fact that the initial boarding party were possessed via the slime shortly after arriving, all save one (who is in fact an assassin in hiding waiting for her chance to strike at her chosen target). Water churned with sharks, skin eating eels, slime zombies and an insane Cerebral Fungus all await the group at various different points throughout the vessel, up to and including an extra-dimensional space…which had me wondering oddly, when the boat finishes sinking, if the water gets through the door of the closet , will it flood the laboratory? Or, if the door is closed, is that enough that the portal is not open…..hhmmmmm…

Each page is done conveys an aquatic theme as they bear a stylized blue background, with text boxes having a gradient background of blues (that are a little to dark at times to clearly read the text without straining). The coolest text base thing has to be the font used for the stat-blocks, not sure why, but I really liked it…except for when it was done in white, on a black background…I can barely read it when its like that.

The handout of the journal entry is visually gorgeous, I would of liked to have seen the chosen font perhaps a little more legible, and perhaps a slight bit more attention given to making sure it looked like it was written on the parchment. There are letters over the rope, and over a tears in the page. Still, if you’re not as nit picky as I am, it is very cool looking.

Art wise there are an assortment of zombiefied sketch style drawings, some better than others, all B&W. Formatting sticks to the two column approach, and editing was top notch. I saw no spelling or grammatical errors other than some odd spacing concepts on the TOC, but that was minor, and not an issue. The entire PDF is hyper-linked to the extreme back to the SRD, a GM would be hard pressed to run this adventure and not know what something is or does, its all at your fingertips. The draw back to that though, is it adds that much more blue, on a blue background, with blue text boxes….there starts to be a little to much blue, lol.

So, final thoughts……this adventure has the potential to keep a party running…literally. A sinking ship, a crew zombified by a slime that is seeking more food/slaves….oh, and the excellent inclusion of the slimes natural enemy (green slime) presented in what one can only take, as projectile weapon form…..the various concerns that come from whichever hook you as the Gm used to get them aboard, oh, and all those hungry sharks circling the sinking boat…yeah…this is going to be a fun evening…I can’t wait to get the boat built…lol

Negatives….well, there’s the fact I have to do my own Photoshopping to the battlemat..but I can understand why the water background is there, in case a group is looking to run them as separate levels entirely it would look really barren to only have that little nib of ship at the bottom of a huge page, lol. The darkness of the text boxes also bothered me, but it is still readable on screen, so I’m probably not as upset as others. The print crowd however, I doubt will be happy with the text boxes, as you can turn off backgrounds and graphics before you print out of Adobe, but you can’t get rid of things like text box coloring, only grey scale it.

So, I’m giving it a 5 star rating, as the adventure reads as a fun time, and it’s got me wanting to start building a 3-dimensional map for the ship. If you are of the print camp, be forewarned though, the text boxes are going to be dark at best, unreadable at worst. But, if you run your PDF’s strictly via electronics, you should be fine.

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About KTFish7

Part Time Reviewer & a Professional Meat Popsicle