Monday, March 30, 2015

Running Deep Carbon Observatory

For anyone reading this who doesn't own and/or isn't running Deep Carbon Observatory then this probably isn't the post for you. Here's my review instead.

For everyone else, maybe this will interest you and maybe it won't. What follows is a record of some of my thoughts about the book and how it went down in my campaign.

Thoughts on the Adventure

The Crows

  • The Crows are worth running.
  • Before you run Deep Carbon (or at least before you players get out of Carrowmore) figure out how long you want the Lock river to be. Take into account whatever movement speeds you are using for small boats, movement speeds for overladen idiots who can't find small boats and a rough estimate of how many encounters you want to have between Carrowmore and the dam. Alter the "projected series of events if the PCs do nothing" accordingly. Build a very rough outline of the Crows activities around this and they'll be much easier to run.
  • "Some Specific Tactics of the Crows" is cool, but most of those tactics work only in the Drowned Lands, where there's so much other good stuff going on that I found it hard to fit them in. Instead I used them for inspiration for the Crows' actions in the Profundal Zone and the Observatory, which are more sparsely populated and where the Crows are at their best.
  • In my campaign the Crows were a very shadowy presence in the Drowned Lands. They set up fights with monsters in the middle of the night, doing annoying things with zombies, etc. but not implicating themselves until after the dam.
  • The dam is a great place for the Crows to besiege with baited zombies, Golems and wandering monsters while they quietly climb over the side and leave the PCs to be torn apart.
  • Ghar Zaghouan and Zolushika Von der Linth are the most interesting members of the Crows and, as stipulated in the "projected series of events," they end up eaten by the giant while Echo and Höoloch escape to ruin your campaign. I prefer it the other way around, with Crazy Dwarf and Evil Hermione Granger running the show.

Gruta de Juxtlahuaca

  • How the hell are you supposed to kill her? Did my players do it the right way? Did we cheat? I don't know!
  • They manacled her to a roof, chopped her into tiny screaming pieces and fed her to the pike. It was awesome.

The Giant

  • Raggi's The God that Crawls is a really good example of how to run a monster just like the Giant. Except that the Giant can sense everyone's location within the observatory, so there are even more excellent opportunities to be hunted relentlessly through the darkness.
  • Its image was clearly designed for holding up to webcams and saying "this is the last thing you see," while moving its face closer and closer until its mouth covers the entire screen.

Using Deep Carbon After the Adventure is Over

  • There are a lot of excellent tables in here. It'd be a shame to let the ones I never got a chance to use go to waste.
  • I wrote up an index for Deep Carbon for printing and pasting into the last two blank pages of the book. Hopefully they'll help in using Deep Carbon as a reference for general Underdark weirdness.

Inspiration for My Own Adventures

  • The dungeon should bleed into the world above.
  • The world above should bleed into the dungeon.
  • The quiet sections of the Profundal Zone creeped my players out wonderfully.
  • Presenting my players with challenges that I don't know how to solve is fun. 


  1. Starting to run it on Monday - this was pretty helpful, thank you!

  2. Starting to run it on Monday - this was pretty helpful, thank you!