Module Review: The Caverns of the Many-Legged (David McDonough): 5 Stars
In a hidden part of Undermountain, former slaves feed their monstrous queen who is fixated on
revenge. A broken drow house has finally found a place to call home – only to become abominations. And a massive beast slithers, hunting for anything to satiate its hunger and quell its madness. Welcome to the Caverns of the Many-Legged.
David McDonough’s The Caverns of the Many-Legged is a tier 3 (levels 12-13) exploration module intended as an Underdark expansion (though it is easily made setting agnostic). While mostly absent a plot, the variety of engagements and quantity of loot make it a nice addition to the main Dungeon of the Mad Mage material. While I personally found the module “difficult to get through”, I believe that most players and DMs will really enjoy the material and have fun playing through it.
Variety. The amazing variety presented in this module allows the players to fight some of the most interesting underdark monsters, and allows them the choice and agency upon which Dungeons and Dragons is built. Choldrith, drow, spiders, and aberrant Yuan-Ti are all possibilities for the players to fight, or side with. The encounters range in difficulty, but nearly all of them are sure to be exciting and could have larger consequences for the dungeon of the mad mage. This is surely the most exciting aspect of the module, and I am looking forward to playing so I can systematically clear each room (though I suppose I should use diplomacy too…).
Flexibility. While this module is technically fitted in a specific level of the Dungeon of the Mad Mage for levels 12-13, it is flexible enough to fit into almost any campaign. Furthermore, the fact that it can lead to continuing consequences within the Undermountain “ecosystem” means the DM and Players get much more “play time” out of it than just the sessions spent within the module proper. This is an organic module, it grows and changes depending on who is playing and the choices they make. As such, it brings to life the Undermountain as a complicated and interconnected network of races and politics that adds a host of nuanced roleplay and combat opportunities.
Treasure. The treasure rewarded seems of a balanced variety between weapons (both mundane and magical), gold, gems, trinkets, and other things. Players won’t get rich, especially from a single encounter, but completing their jaunt through the whole cavern can yield a fair amount of loot if they make the right checks. The loot from the module won’t break your campaign, but the characters will be notably better off than when they started.
Lack of Plot. While there is a minor connection between all the cavern’s rooms, and a distinct place within the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, the Cavern of the Many-Legged is largely without plot. Focused mainly on exploration and encounters, this adventure may have waning appeal for certain kinds of parties.
Engagement. From the perspective of a DM who would need to read through the whole module in order to prepare it, this adventure was slow reading and hard to finish. This might be due to the overall lack of plot, or the large amount of background in the beginning. The writing is excellent, and I’m sure as a player the adventure is incredibly exciting. Still, I have a suspicion that though the DM has all the tools he needs, preparing this module for players may feel a slog for some of them.
The Caverns of the Many-Legged is a professionally delivered, exploration focused module for levels 12-13. It is recommended for any parties doing the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and is assured to present a fun and immersive variety of encounters. You can support us and these reviews by clicking through the picture below: