By now, I run two different games (with two different groups) in Dunnsmouth. One of them is just at the start of it, while the other has been through most of the encounters, the common as well as the „important ones“. As I am writing this, the tale of The Three Men that went to Dunnsmouth will continue tomorrow and a prep session is waiting for me. But before I take up this labor of love, I will share with you my answers to a question you might not have asked yourself yet: what comes after Dunnsmouth?
SPOILER WARNING! The rest of the article will include information about Scenic Dunnsmouth, Death Frost Doom, the Pale Lady (all by LotFP) and Skull Mountain (by Faster Monkey Games).
The natural course of action, so it seems to me, would be to continue with LotFP´s Death Frost Doom. Those who own both it and Scenic Dunnsmouth will have noted all the hints and ties the latter has to the first. But I fear that this nasty brute of a dungeon would wreck the PC and leave them broken and torn… and thereby, perhaps leave my players with a sour aftertaste in their mouth. Furthermore, while Scenic Dunnsmouth has all the obvious ties-ins to Death Frost Doom, Death Frost Doom has no real links to the happenings in Dunnsmouth.
Some of my players became curious in regard to the one big monster they have slain, and they want to find out about it. So, I linked it to “that old cult in the mountains” for my games, but left it all vague enough to work out the details later. A quick shift through the available adventure modules of other publishers provided me with two solid ideas, and I will use both of them (each with one different group).
Skull Mountain by Faster Monkey Games is available as a freebee and was the first stop on my tour. The oldschool dungeon contains a complete, fortress-like cult hideout in a volcano with pathways down into the under-realms, a horde of half-humans and a dragon that they serve. In short, pretty hefty stuff, but also a host of material that is rife for tinkering and customization: I decided to turn the upper levels of it into deserted areas where the characters will find little opposition and even less things of value: the people of Dunnsmouth had fought the cult here, killed the majority of them and drove the rest into the depth below. But the true owners have returned, and the Labyrinth and all below it have been put back to use.
The true owners, in this case, are a faction of the Aelf-Adal (from Veins of the Earth): they try to continue the old war against the dreamers (which means: any human and demi-human alive), and the Spider in Dunnsmouth is what they crafted from the stuff of their nightmare realm and brought over into this world. And it is not the only one. All of the Darklings in the adventure, I plan to replace with Aelf-Adal, and the lizardfolk will be replaced with different spider mutants (human, dwarf or whatever else I come up with later). The dragon will be replaced with a very large and special version of “the Spider”: an avatar of arachnophobia.
The players will be free to decide on how deep their characters want to delve, and will for sure fall back to Dunnsmouth at least once. And if they somehow gather enough allies to deal with what lies below Skull Mountain, they may venture deeper into the Veins of the Earth, if they want to…
The second option that I will put to use is The Pale Lady: both of my Dunnsmouth-versions contain a large, flooded area that once was the center of the small community. Said lake will be the gateway to the realm of The Pale Lady (instead of the hedge), but it will be different to the one in the module:
The Pale Lady will not give birth to Bunnymen, but to Spiders and Demi-Spiders: the latter, wretched little mutants, do her bidding. She will not feast on petals and flowers, but on larva and maggots. Both will be harvested in the field, on which grows a crop of strange corn and thorny berry-bushes, cultivated on in inches of manure. The filth of the captive slaves and a herd of sickly sheep are the source of the dung. While the plants are meant to feed the slaves, the manure they grow in is meant to attract flies and feed maggots, and its the maggots what the slaves harvest for the Pale Lady. The fields will be abuzz with flies, and sickness and stench will be all around. The palace of the Pale Lady will be made from layers and layers of spider webs that have been wove over dead trees and thorny bushes. Aside from that, the module will be pretty much the same.
I am looking forward to see how these changes and plans of mine play out.