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Designed by: JVC Parry
“Cult of the Glutton” is a one-shot dungeon crawl designed for Tier 2 play – that’s 5th-10th level heroes, although a Tier 2 party would have a hell of a time actually beating the final CR 20 boss at the end!
It’s an old-fashioned dungeon in that it’s devoid of story in favor of combat, traps, hazards, and lots of loot. On the plus side the actual dungeon design is absolutely delightful, with multiple branching paths, dungeon denizens that actually make sense, and plenty of secret passages and fun trap ideas.
The dungeon is an abandoned shrine to elven god Soloner Thelandira, though it could easily be flavored for any elaborate cave dungeon. It’s been taken over by a horde of Laogzed-worshiping troglodytes. Laogzed is the monstrous demon lord of gluttony, and he happily resides at the end of the dungeon surrounded by his followers.
The plot hooks for enticing the PCs to the shrine are fairly weak, and amount to little more than “go to this dungeon and clear it out.” The most interesting involves hunting after a missing elven scouting party, of whom the PCs will discover their grizzly fates soon enough, reminding me of The Company of the Yellow Banner from Tomb of Annihilation.
Even though most areas boil down to straight-forward combat, there’s still plenty of variety. A greater basilisk is chained up and preoccupied with a meal. Stealthy heroes could sneak past it, especially since it has only one eye and disadvantage on Perception checks. But then there’s also a chest on a nearby ledge – who could resist?
A secret passage can be used to bypass a roper, but defeating the roper will yield a Medallion of Thoughts, along with the last memories of the elf who wore it. That’s a really neat idea. I wish the adventure had expanded upon this doomed expedition a bit more.
The paths branch between a fungal cavern filled with myconids, a bat cave covered with inflammable guano – and bats that carry a nasty disease, and a horde of troglodytes near an underground river.
The map is given full color and nice bits of detail, like giant acid pools, and I love that the player map properly hides all the secret doors (there’s even a print-friendly Dyson Logos-style map if you prefer).
The adventure is easily worth it for the map design alone, though I do appreciate the care put into the traps and monster layout. Tripwires cause a barrel of diseased and dead frogs (!) to rain down on unsuspecting adventurers, inflicting levels of Exhaustion at multiple choke points. Nothing will make your PCs constantly look up more than when it rains dead frogs!
The only bit I had a real problem with was the end. The final boss fight is a ridiculously powerful CR 20 custom demon lord with Lair Actions and Legendary Actions, along with a dozen troglodytes and a pair of CR 3 trog champions who can summon CR 1 demons!
I’m all for epic boss battles but this one just seems absolutely bonkers. Laogzed is meant to hang back and simply use his Lair Actions, but even then this fight is incredibly deadly for 5-10th level heroes. The one suggestion is to spawn in a pair of CR 3 Spirit Bears as Soloner comes to the PCs’ aid, which is a lame deus ex machina. The demon lord should probably retreat once most of the trogs are down or something. Or just replace it with a CR 10 Froghemoth.
For a one-shot dungeon “Cult of the Glutton” provides a ton of content. The dungeon is meaty and well-constructed, the loot is plentiful, and we even get a few custom monsters. Even if you don’t want to run the exact encounters as printed, I would highly recommend this adventure simply for the excellent dungeon design that would fit well with any swampy, acid-bubbling cave.
- Well-designed cave dungeon with multiple paths, secrets, traps, and environmental hazards.
- Appropriate dungeon ecology with bats, myconids, and a roper existing among the troglodytes.
- Player map hides the secret doors and paths; DM map reveals them.
- Tons of loot, including several original magic items.
- Weak story hooks and almost no story-telling.
- A CR 20 demon lord is a bit much for a Tier 2 dungeon boss.
The Verdict: “Cult of the Glutton” is a good ol’ fashioned combat-heavy dungeon crawl in a disease-filled, acid-spewing cave with a fantastic map and an extremely challenging boss fight.
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