Cats Have No Lord

Review: Isaac the Alchemist

Isaac the Alchemist is an 8-page adventure for Cairn created for the 2023 A Town, a Forest, a Dungeon Jam.

In short: This one isn't for me, at least not without making some changes before running, but that's a matter of personal preference rather than a measure of the quality of the adventure, and I think it would be very good for the right table.

Adventure Summary: Players are tasked asked to retrieve a potion to cure the town notary's headache. They must travel through a kobold-infested forest to the laboratory of a mad alchemist, which is full of strange experiments, puzzles, and bandits.

What I Like: The tongue-in-cheek tone of the writing really works to sell the humor of the somewhat ridiculous scenarios throughout the adventure. It is also well organized, and provides good background for the warden on the motivations of the various NPCs and how to run them.

Of the many oddities in Isaac's lab, my favorite is the brainless corpse that can take on different personalities if brains found throughout the dungeon are inserted (there should be more brains).

What I Don't Like: Most of the action in the town and forest feels pretty scripted toward funneling players quickly to the dungeon, which can be helpful if trying to play through this quickly, but limits chances for player agency until they arrive at the dungeon.

Inside the dungeon, the puzzles are too complicated for my tastes. But, to the author's credit, they are very thoroughly described with diagrams, so a warden with a table that enjoys such puzzles shouldn't have too much trouble running them.