Author – Highland Paranormal Society (@natetreme)
Where to Buy – https://natetreme.itch.io/sludgemother
Sometimes your party is hired to clear out rats in the tavern’s basement. Sometimes you can win the favor of the Mudland Conclave by evicting an eldritch goddess of sludge from a post-apocalyptic high school. If the latter appeals to you (and you’re only deluding yourself if you say it doesn’t), do yourself a kindness and check out the Highland Paranormal Society’s Cursed Chapel of the Sludge Mother (CCotSM). Though this adventure is designed to fit on a DM screen, the author managed to fill it with enough
sludge flavor to make it feel like a much larger product.
The front of the DM screen is dominated by the image of a goddess/saint that will look familiar to folks who recognize church iconography. This goddess, however, has a number of tentacles worming out from under her habit. In sharp contrast to the oily, dark nature of this adventure, the product’s color scheme uses a bright, cheery white, light blue, pink, and summery yellow for both the cover image and the map on the DM-facing side of the screen. It’s an effective use of contradiction and, more simply, just very pleasing to look at.
The adventure itself is fairly straightforward and perfect for a quick one-shot. There’s fewer than ten keyed locations with a good variety of combat, roleplaying, and exploration for players to experience. As it is a 5E adventure, players will likely be tempted to fight their way through the map but unless they’re extremely high level, that would be ill-advised. Though most of the baddies are CR 1/8 (bandits) or CR 1/4 (roachlings), the titular sludge mother is a CR 23 kraken. There’s also a CR 16 iron golem to contend with among other things.
This wild variety of CRs feels more at home in an OSR adventure where there’s less of an expectation to overcome each challenge by hitting it enough times to kill it. This is not a fault with CCotSM, it’s just something DMs need to be mindful of if their players aren’t used to running into unbeatable encounters. If DMs want to have more straightforward fights, I’ll provide a list of workable substitutions in the notes after this review.
My favorite thing about this adventure is the amount of setting information it includes. It’s stripped down enough that a DM could easily slip it into their pre-existing campaign world but, at the same time, has enough strange specifics to inspire a setting all on its own. I think it’d be fun to play in a setting built on the ruins of our modern world. If you’d rather stick with a more traditional setting, its easy enough to remove a bit of flavor and place the adventure in the ruins of some setting-appropriate chapel.
Folks familiar with other products from Highland Paranormal Society will know exactly what to expect with this adventure in terms of quality. Every aspect is well designed and, for a 5E one shot, CCotSM offers more than its page count suggests.
If your players are more of the brawn-over-brains types, and you don’t want to encourage them to change their murderous ways, consider replacing the iron golem (CR 16) with a pentadrone (CR 2) and the kraken (CR 23) with a water weird (CR 3). Neither of these will be pushovers but neither will they obliterate the party immediately.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review.