M3: Twilight Calling (1986)

M3: Twilight Calling (1986)  sees Alphaks up to his old tricks, once again trying to revenge himself upon the PCs that done him wrong. Its kind of sad, really.

Unlike the previous modules, this one doesn’t have a labyrinthine political framing. Alphaks wants to free the Carnifex and wants to dupe the PCs to do it (see, you have to be lawful, and clear of purpose, to open the prison, so Aphie can’t do it, nor can anyone he puts the whammie on). Getting to the prison requires first using a ring of standing stones to access seven color coded demiplanes, where they must retrieve the realm’s symbol, which is part of a larger key. Doing this puts them at odds with seven rulers, all of whom must be bested in some form. The realms are all brief, and each has a strong theme. This is contrived as hell, but I dig it.

Once all the symbols have been secured, the PCs can open the way to Castle Carnifex. Now, here’s the thing that bugs me. Throughout the adventure to this point, you get hints of what the Carnifex are – cannibals, powerful magic users, haughty godlings, maybe dinosaurs? Now that you get to the castle, though, you never get a picture or a description. Or, if there is one, I can’t find it. I’ve pored over this thing. I have no idea what the Carnifex look like. I find that…vexing. They also aren’t all that scary – once the PCs are in, it quickly becomes apparent that they are planning some sort of invasion and the PCs just have to break their magic doo-dad to put a stop to it. Then they leave, sealing the Carnifex in their castle for all time.

Once out, the rulers of the seven realms lament their defeat and offer their realms to the PCs, effectively allowing them to graduate to the Immortal Rules box without having to do all the pesky and impossible grinding to become an immortal, as laid out in the Master Rules. Which is both a relief and deeply frustrating.

Oh, and, great master plan, Alphie,  by the way, turning your nemeses into immortals. That’ll teach ‘em.

Pretty standard cover art from Ben Otero. On the inside, Larry Elmore did the honors, which is always a treat, even if he’s loosey goosey and these are more sketches than illustrations.

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