DMs Guild Review – The Slithering Brood

Investigate a rash of disappearances in a small town in this level 1 mystery-adventure.

A review copy of “The Slithering Brood” 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: Dylan Hyatt

From the designer of Gloria’s Gambit and The Sunken Village of Little Corth comes The Slithering Brood, a investigation-heavy level 1 adventure that takes place in the small town of Ditch Nettle.

Confusingly, this adventure actually takes place between the other two that I’ve reviewed, which also means the poor PCs are supposed to be level 1 for the entirety of Gloria’s Gambit as well as this adventure. That’s way too much level 1!

The adventure are linked together in an overarching mega-campaign, called The Orbs of the Planes, which is being released on the DMs Guild as 40 individual adventures. 

You can safely ignore the larger context of the campaign and the links to other adventures if you want, though it is a fun little addition that creates a shared story between the adventures, particularly as The Slithering Brood takes place in the same town as Gloria’s Gambit.

The 50-page adventure is divided into three parts, which the first part serving as the introduction and background, including the recent disappearances that have plagued the village. A jester turned zealous follower of Morloski, goddess of the brood, has been luring unsuspecting townsfolk into a nearby cave and sacrificing them to giant worms.

Parts two and three occur concurrently, with part covering the PCs’ investigations around town, and part featuring scripted events that occur whenever the DM wants. While the PCs talk to townsfolk and gather clues, they’ll discover another sinister plot between a pair of feuding farmers and ranchers. 

One of the farmers, Bruno, accidentally killed the sheriff when the poor man was coming to mediate the latest argument. Bruno stashed the body near his rival’s home, and even goes as far as to call a town moot to get elected as the new sheriff and run the PCs out of town to protect him and his family.

Ironically that subplot is so interesting and more engaging that it overshadows the main quest with the jester and the giant worms. The players could confront Bruno at the town moot, or go to his farmstead, treating it as either a hostile mini-dungeon crawl, or a tense social encounter, or a stealthy infiltration. 

dms guild

The adventure tries to account for several different variations in how the PCs tackle the story. There’s no set order for parts two and three, with the exception of the climax, which involves Kastor the jester kidnapping the local barmaid as his final sacrifice. The adventure runs out of alternatives with the climax if the PCs should defeat Kastor early, leaving them to seemingly storm the cave and destroy a few giant worms, sans screaming woman and spell-slinging jester boss.

An appendix includes role-playing notes for all the major NPCs. My favorite feature of the adventure are the direct Q&A dialogue sequences for when the player characters interrogate notable townsfolk. Role-playing notes are one thing, but having written responses to most-likely asked questions are a huge help in an adventure that requires interrogating multiple NPCs.

On the flip side the designer continues to use an unattractive layout format with large blocks of text and a haphazard color scheme that includes red, green, and blue subheadings, purple and orange sidebars, and yellow and gray dialogue boxes.

Artwork for the town depicts the important locations as colorful buildings, but the battle maps have a weird half-and-half treatment between black and white graph paper with some detail and color. I like the maps more than a plain Logos-style map, but it’s a weird choice.

Despite the mismatched layout I generally enjoyed the small town investigation. But please, if you are running this after Gloria’s Gambit – don’t make your players go through two adventures at level one!

Pros:

  • Written questions and answers when interrogating each NPC.
  • Non-linear approach to investigation and scripted events around the village.
  • Optional sidebars and expanded appendix for connecting this adventure to the designer’s overarching, multi-adventure campaign (including the previous adventure set in the same village).

Cons:

  • The sideplot of the farmer feud, murder, and political upheaval is more interesting than the actual main story of the evil jester-cultist.
  • Unattractive layout.

The Verdict: Though the main story is overshadowed by a more interesting subplot of rivalry and murder, The Slithering Brood provides an intriguing mystery-focused level 1 adventure with a small town feel.

A review copy of “The Slithering Brood” 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

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