X6: Quagmire! (1984)

X6: Quagmire! (1984) starts a sort of odd trend of water-related theming in the next several X-series modules (up to X10, the wargame module Red Arrow, Black Shield). It is by Merle Rasmussen, creator of Top Secret.

This is a bit of an odd one. There are lots of good ideas – the players need to get to a city that is sinking into the coastal swamp and its king has called for aid. Once the players get there, they find it under siege by, primarily, lizardfolk. Once that is dealt with, the population wants the PCs to help them relocate to semi-legendary cities nearby.

The hook here is the cities, all three of which are like giant whelk shells stood on end, with the living space carved into the interior spirals. This is cool. Weirdly, all three cities are identical in their layouts (which keeps the page count down I guess). Unfortunately, as cool as the idea of a spiral seashell city is, there isn’t much for the players to do there. Once the siege is broken, the remaining two cities (one of which is sunken into the sea) amount to pretty pedestrian dungeon crawls.

In fact, most of the module is devoted to wilderness encounters for the journey to Quagmire, which is fairly isolated. The players can choose between traveling overland through the swamps, by sea, or some combination of the two. There are tons of encounters, many of them rather interesting, but since none of them have anything to do with the drama unfolding at the city, they very much make the journey the destination. I was a player in Quagmire not too long ago and I ultimately found it to be aptly named: it was a slog!

Nice art though, by comic artist Jeffrey Butler. Also appreciate that title page – the title treatment and the little section icons give me a good vibe.

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