Dead Gods

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Dead Gods is a Monte Cook "deluxe adventure" module for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. This module was Wizards of the Coast's end-run around 2e's restrictions, to restore Orcus to canon. r k post's cover for that features a 'roided-up naked Sean K Reynolds, if you're into it, not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's technically two adventures: "Out of the Darkness" (124 pages), and "Into the Light" (31 pages). Nobody pays attention to "Into the Light". Honestly they haven't paid much attention to "Out of the Darkness" either on account the plot is so broken.

Out of the Darkness[edit]

As leadup, something Horrible murdered Modron Primus, took Its place, and set off the Modron March to tour the planes too early. The Great Modron March anthology dealt with that.

At the start of this one, the party visits Crux, a branch of Yggdrasil; where they learn that this Horrible thing is bumping off gods. These particular gods are 2e obscurities like the illithid god of knowledge. Thence it's off to Baator, Orcus' old fortress in the Negative Material, the Vault of the Drow (yes, that one). Also to Ranais, in a tie-in to Bruce Cordell's Tomb of Horrors followup. So far, so very tiringly Da Vinci Code.

Over the course of this rattletrap the party may, or may not, understand that the Horrible is naming itself "Tenebrous" and is Orcus back from the grave. Tenebrous isn't exactly Orcus at his full strength... but he's got hold of some powerful OTHER magic, like the Last Word, which kills gods dead.

The last stages, not to say the closest this shaggy-dog story gets to a plot, starts at Pelion where the Last Word had been stored. Here they learn that Tenebrous needs his Wand back - which is in Agathion, that part of Pandemonium not (directly) connected with the rest. So the party goes to Pandemonium, and through a semiambulatory 10' vagina (I wish I was kidding) into Agathion. They pick up Orcus' Wand and, hopefully, wreck it, thus scattering Tenebrous' essence thereby bumping off Orcus for good.

Then comes a coda. The party goes to the Astral for Orcus' floating corpse. This coda is redundant to the point it overturns the whole point of the adventure, which is to prevent Orcus' return. He's going to return no matter what.

So for all that this (sub)module is Orcus' vehicle, he's a sideline character. The module's job is to amuse the party whilst the canon is getting changed, no matter what they do. As a storyline, the adventure fails the central test of "does it make the party, heroes"; as an adventure, it is a railroad better published by Union Pacific than by any RPG outfit.


Orcus is back and he's bad. Er. That's about it. I mean, besides de-canonising extraneous divinities that hardly anyone even knew existed.