Module Review: Happy Jack’s Funhouse (Jeff C. Stevens and Remley Farr): 5 Stars
They would have a home and fear no more.
Happy Jack’s Funhouse is the spiritual successor to the Platinum bestseller Madhouse of Tasha’s Kiss and delivers just as much horror, engagement, and fun as its predecessor. While some of the maps are a bit flashy and the art placement is a bit much, mechanically, narratively, and thematically this adventure is flawless.
Ambiance. Happy Jack’s is the epitome of environmental horror and twisting the normally comedic and mundane into the gut-wrenchingly abnormal. There won’t be any jump scares, there’s little in the way of gore or disgust. It’s true horrific value lies in it’s harnessing of inexplicably primal fears and the realization that that which is normally enjoyable can evoke in us the deepest anxiety. If you’re looking for a way to disturb your table while still having fun, Happy Jack’s Funhouse is the adventure for you.
NPCs. Each of the NPCs in this module are vibrant and engaging. Even the supporting cast comes to life with dynamic vivacity and relatability. The adventure is packed with NPCs the players will enjoy interacting with and the DM will enjoy playing. They provide both thematically interesting narrative and unsettling interaction that moves the story forward and sets the scenes.
Scaling Options. One of the many things the authors do well is provide options for scaling the adventure. For any DM who hasn’t used Average Party Level (APL), they give a brief overview how to calculate it, and then set scaling DCs for each APL range. This allows DMs to easily and quickly scale almost every encounter within the adventure, and make it playable for a large variety of parties (levels 1-15).
Encounters. The adventure is packed full of encounters that are fun, challenging, and thematically immersive. With experiences ranging from a roller coaster to a costume closet to a mirror maze, there is something for every player to enjoy and for every character to excel. If you don’t enjoy what this adventure offers, you’re probably a fuddy-duddy… or a mimic…
Archetypes. Happy Jack’s comes with a separate PDF with two subclass options, one each for the rogue (the jester) and the bard (the clown). While both might not be appealing to a wide variety of campaign types, they definitely have enough appeal to see some generous use. They are mechanically balanced and fun to play, and i’m certain DMs and players alike will find reasons to use them at the table.
Maps.* There are numerous high quality maps provided in the product, which make the adventure easy to run and visualize. My one problem with them is they are colored coded with bright neon colors and other flashy features that make them hard for me to read. Some people may like that, but for me it was distracting and almost dizzying. In the cartographer’s defense, the color choices are consistent with the other thematic elements of the adventure.
Art Placement. I’ll preface this criticism by saying that Happy Jack’s Funhouse is well worth the price, and is an extremely high-quality product. That being said, some of the art placement and other layout choices are unappealing to me. There are full pages of art, which while being awesome, I tend to think of as padding within Dmsguild PDF’s. This is a matter of personal opinion, of course. From a more objective standpoint, there are a couple pages with only one or two paragraphs on them, leaving three quarters to half the pages completely empty.
*since the publishing of this review, the authors have commissioned new maps.
Happy Jack’s Funhouse is rated 5 Stars and is a must have, especially for those who love horror or enjoyed Tasha’s Kiss. With great horror ambiance, expert design and narrative, and engaging NPC’s, it’s sure to be a home run for the entire table. You can pick it up by clicking on the picture below!