Scintillating Grottoes Await – The Incandescent Grottoes [Old-School Essentials]

The Incandescent Grottoes

Author: Gavin Norman
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
Page Count: 48
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $7.50
Print – $15.00

“A bubbling stream cascades into a hole in the earth, leading to a series of underground watercourses and scintillating grottoes. Adventurers who delve within may discover odd mosses and fungi, a ruined temple complex, and the lair of a crystal-eating dream dragon.” Welcome to the Incandescent Grottoes! Old-School Essentials Retro Adventure Game is one of the dominant forces in the Old-School Renaissance. As part of their most recent Kickstarter, Necrotic Gnome has published five official adventure modules for the game—Incandescent Grottoes in one of those adventures.

The Incandescent Grottoes is a 1st/2nd level adventure for four to six adventurers. Specifically written and statted for Old-School Essentials; ownership of either Classic, Basic, or Advanced rules books will be necessary. However, it easily adapts to other OSR or original rules from yesteryear. Spanning two levels and 57 keyed locations, the Incandescent Grottoes is setting neutral and can easily be placed in your existing campaign, only requiring an enchanted forest.

Adventurers finding their way into the grottoes will find it an enchanting and yet dangerous place to plunder. Natural caves, or grottoes, give way to worked stone halls that were once home to a demon-worshipping cult. The cult, having long ago faded into obscurity, left behind remnants and traces of its presence within its long-abandoned temple complex. Today, the grottoes and old temple are home to several intelligent creatures and beings, some plentiful enough to be considered “factions.”  Unlike other dungeon adventures, the Incandescent Grottoes have no single overarching storyline; instead, there are several intertwined story threads and a bit of a sandbox feel. This is by no means a sterile, dull, or boring series of rooms to explore. On the contrary, the dungeon is alive! Relationships and attitudes toward the others inhabitants will give the adventurers a sense of realism as they plunder the dungeon and uncover its secrets.

Unique and interesting challenges await those willing to venture into the grottoes!

Presentation

The Incandescent Grottoes is available in hardcover (A5) and digital from DriveThruRPG. The layout of the book is very well thought out. On each two-page spread is a small inset map of the rooms corresponding to the description provided on the associated pages. This is a great feature that too few publishers use. The inside of the front and rear covers contain full dungeon maps that are easy to read. The editing is on point! However, there was a noticeable, albeit minor, continuity error referencing random tables on the rear endpapers, but those tables were on the following pages—likely just an oversight during the final layout.

The artwork, beginning with the cover, has a whimsical feel. That style is carried throughout the book, and while some may not appreciate it, I find it refreshing and fun. The digital version of the book also includes two sets of unlabelled maps for VTT use, one with a grid and one without.

Each of the 57 keyed areas is written in the standard streamlined format seen in other Old-School Essentials books. Conveying all important information concisely and utilizing bullet points. All pertinent information is presented in each keyed entry, eliminating the need to flip back and forth. Secondary, generic information and several random tables are all co-located at the beginning of the book for easy referencing.

Final Thoughts

The Incandescent Grottoes is a delightful adventure module written for one of the best old-school games out there. The setting agnostic approach makes it easy to slip into any existing low-level game, or it can be used as a springboard for a new campaign in any setting. The relationships and interplay between the dungeon’s denizens make it feel alive, unlike many dungeon crawl adventures that just feel dead and dull.

For referees looking for something slightly more sprawling, The Incandescent Grottoes can be linked with The Hole in the Oak to form a larger, 3-level dungeon with over 115 keyed encounter areas.

If you are looking for a fun entry point into Old-School Essentials or the Old-School Renaissance gaming space, The Incandescent Grottoes should be the first adventure you consider.

~ Modoc

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