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The Isle of the Plangent Mage (2021)

The Isle of the Plangent Mage (2021), by Donn Stroud, with illustrations by the always amazing David Hoskins. “Plangent,” by the way, means a loud, reverberating, often melancholy sound.

The first thing that struck me about this one is how big it seems, despite being the same number of pages as the other OSE modules. The underwater tower of the mage is just a portion of the small sandbox to explore — there is a nearby fishing village, the coastal caves, two lighthouses and the tower’s island. The 50-ish room underwater tower, full of mutants and musical puzzles, is definitely the centerpiece.

Why go to this nightmarish place (and it is horrible, though I won’t tell you what lurks inside)? Well, treasure. But also mystery! The mage and his musician wife have both recently disappeared. That’s a good reason to check things out. But then, there’s also the local ecosystem, which is definitely out of whack in a cursed kind of way. All of these are sufficient to encourage players to check the place out. Are they pressing enough to stay once they’ve seen some of the awfulness inside? I am not sure. It could have used a bit more space to add those extra hooks and flesh out the factions inside.

The art is fantastic. Hoskins rises to the challenge admirably, even in color (controversial opinion — the color its gorgeous and all, but I do think it diminishes the elegance of his line work). This space is deeply weird, like Annihilation-level weird, and Hoskins’ visuals lay an effective foundation for your imagination to build off. If you read through this adventure and still think “basic” equals “boring,” I don’t know what to tell you.

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