DMs Guild Review – The Heir of Orcus: Verse III

Explore a cyberpunk city in the Underdark to thwart the latest schemes by The Heir of Orcus in this Tier 2 AL-compatible adventure.

dms guild review

A review copy of “The Heir of Orcus: Verse III” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Anthony Joyce

I don’t quite possess the love and nostalgia for Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner, but I do respect the hell out of it for how it (and most Philip K. Dick stories) influenced and inspired so much of our modern storytelling, including this third chapter of The Heir of Orcus Adventurer’s League series.

Designed for a level 8 party, The Heir of Orcus: Verse 3 takes a surprising yet satisfying left turn into sci-fi territory with a well-realized cyberpunk city, bolstered by incredible artwork and map designs.

The Heir of Orcus: Verse 3 includes 50 pages, about 20 of which feature the 3-part adventure. Unlike the first two verses, Verse 3 tells a complete story with a proper beginning middle and end. It also drops the cool, 16-bit pixel art in favor of a gorgeous original art style.

Speaking of art, holy crap. Nearly every page is adorned with artwork. Character art, scenic art, and awesome isometric maps. Over 30 art pieces are included in the separate .zip file, including VTT tokens for over 20 named NPCs! The pages themselves feature a pleasing yellow-tinted color mixed with pink and teal, giving the entire piece a distinctive sci-fi neon tone.

dms guild

As an AL module the main story is kept tight and brief, with optional side objectives and scenes that can play out as per the DM’s choice. The initial Call to Action is a note from the psionically-powered duergar in Duerradin citing problems with the cult the PCs have previously tangled with.

I would have appreciated a Story Thus Far section that summarized the prior events, especially as this Verse actually has little to with them aside from the allied NPCs in the first act, and the titular demon showing up at the end.

I did love the way the opening chapter presents a big combat encounter as a simple skill challenge, with varying degrees of success or failure, and the subsequent travel montage hand-waves combat in favor of role-playing encounters along with some darkly funny twists.

The party arrives in Duerradin, a duergar cyberpunk city in the Underdark. The duergar rose up against their illithid oppressors and hijacked their psionic abilities for their own, including a way to create replican-sorry “psyms.” Psyms are android slave-labor, but of course they’re also much more than that.

dms guild

Duerradin is a well-written, interesting area to explore, broken down into several notable locations where players can learn more about its history, culture, and psym problem. Two scenes in particular stand out. One involves a psym defensively killing a reclamator (rogue psym hunter), with the PCs caught in the middle, while another is an entire side quest that involves working for the reclamators to track down another rogue sym in some slum apartments.

While Duerradin is great, very little of it has anything to do with the main quest, aside from a few teases of cult activity in the area.  In the final chapter, the PCs meet with Ios, the head of Duerradin (and their initial quest-giver), only for an evil anti-party to arrive and attempt to hi-jack the psionic system and steal the city’s ability to create psyms.

Thus the entire main quest boils down to: arrive in city, go to NPC that gave you the quest, fend off attacking villains. The battlefield for the climactic battle is admittedly cool, a digital cyber-scape filled with memories of illithid, gith, and duergar battling each other, but the sudden infiltration team feels more like an inciting incident to kick off the final chapter, not the final climax itself.

The side quests from Duerradin end up overshadowing the overarching narrative, but the positives way outweigh the lackluster final chapter, not to mention the detailed appendices which include NPC personalities (and pictures), as well as maps, handouts, magic items and AL awards. The Heir of Orcus: Verse 3 is a big leap forward in the series, even if my favorite bits didn’t have anything to do with the larger story.

Pros:

  • Adventurer’s League compatible, organizing brief adventure into scenes, areas, and side objectives.
  • Huge amount of fantastic original art and maps.
  • Simple but fun travel montages and combat skill challenge in Act 1.
  • Duerradin is an awesome cyberpunk city.
  • Detailed appendices for monsters, magic items, maps, side objectives, and story awards.

Cons:

  • The main objective and overarching narrative is simplistic, and overshadowed by the superior side quests and scenes in Duerradin.
  • Lacks a Story Thus Far section to summarize the events of Verses 1 and 2.

The Verdict: Featuring stellar production values and a fascinating cyberpunk city, The Heir of Orcus: Verse 3 is a big step forward in an already solid series of adventures.

A review copy of “The Heir of Orcus: Verse III” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

One thought on “DMs Guild Review – The Heir of Orcus: Verse III”

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