Fifth Edition Fantasy #5: The Drowning Caverns of the Fish-God, is a 10th level adventure written by Aeryn Rudel for the 5th edition of the World’s Most Popular Fantasy RPG. Although the village of Drydale is nowhere near the ocean, it is being attacked by fish-like monsters. Folks disappear at night, and some return with horrific surgical scars and strange new powers. All they recall of their captivity are nightmares or visions of drowning in the dark.
The nature of 5th Edition seems to lend itself to more linear adventures than does Dungeon Crawl Classics, and it shows in this adventure more than any of the others the Vizier has yet played. While Mystery Under the Monastery is also fairly linear in structure, the variation of what the PCs must do to succeed (rescue, fight, negotiate) makes the adventure feel less linear in play. Conversely, The Drowning Caverns of the Fish-God is going to see a lot of combat to move forward. The opposition is charmed, which gives the adventure the possibility of some role-playing, once the hook is set, as some creatures may regain their natural dispositions. Unfortunately, very few of these are amenable to negotiations.
Regardless of its structure, the adventure offers a variety of combat challenges, including a nasty attempt to fend of three giant slime eels while pushing through a pool choked with dead bodies. The adventure sets up a truly epic boss fight where the PCs are faced with the need not to slay one of the opposition, who is a charmed victim of the boss monster.
It makes sense that some adventures are fairly linear. If this doesn’t bother you or your players, the encounters should give more than sufficient payoff for action-oriented adventurers. If it does bother you, redrawing the maps to break up the adventure’s linear nature (and possibly including additional minor encounters) would go a long way toward making the adventure offer more choices for your players.