The Curse of Er’ Mah’ Gerd: Review

When we received a review pdf of the Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd from David Michael Williams over at, we knew right away it would be a fun time. The title alone sells the tone of the adventure, and it stands out in a landscape oversaturated with grim dark gritty realism. Er’Mah’Gerd is fun, and it isn’t ashamed of it.

Many, if not most, “fun” adventures tend to be shorter, or skimp on solid rules, almost done as though the joke means you don’t need to write a good module because “hey it’s all a joke”. Er’Mah’Gerd doesn’t fall into the trap, and you shouldn’t assume that because it’s a comedy, that it isn’t well done.

In the adventure, the players take on the role of returning heroes who solved big quests and have since gone on to retire. Unfortunatly, one of their quests seems to have unintended side effects, requiring them to return from retirement. We start with some faction peace treaty talks, mediated by our returning heroes, but as with any good adventure, the talks go sideways, and the PCs must pick sides before traveling to The Funk to set things right. A cool inclusion here is a flowchart for how the plot will probably go, including the three main forked paths. Heavy spoilers with this image.

I use maps like this in my planning, and it’s great to see a module include it. As a DM running an adventure, it really helps me to know the expected order of events. It lets you walk into a session with an end goal in mind and help corral aimless players. When they answer the question of “What do you want to do now” with “I’m not really sure” you can nudge it towards the next scene.

The encounters are great in Curse. What I like about them is we get details. This is not the sort of adventure that gives you 3 sentences and tells the DM to just wing it. Instead, we get some nice read aloud text, a bolded Objective: for each scene, explanation on the time of day the scene takes place, the setting, how initiative should be handled, tactics, and an aftermath wrap up. I also appreciate the scaling charts for how to adjust based on more or less players. This is one of the few adventures where I think I might be able to flip to the encounter and run it, vs pre-planning it out and filling in blanks myself.

My top encounter for the book is Knell-on-Wheels, in act 2. Probably because I’m a sucker for trains, and ran an entire campaign that kicked off with a train to a frontier town in hell. In this scene, the party finds their way to a dwarven camp set up like covered wagons on the frontier, swapping the covered wagons out for steam engines. What I like about this scene, is that it doesn’t start as a fight, its a scene. You show up, get an hour to chill with the dwarves, probably ask them about their trains, and then they get going on a convoy as a form of travel. We get a whole bunch of background lore on the world to discover, or at least the Dwarves perspective of it, and some info on some of the factions. All conveyed as the trains cruise through the countryside. I always like a nice hot springs episode, and the train ride gives a similar vibe.

The commode-o dragon should tell you all you need to know if you’re not sure if this is the game for your group.

But the Curse isn’t just an adventure module, it also includes a campaign setting and information for running future games set in Mezzo-Earth. We get a full pantheon, with deities like Scoundrelle a neutral evil deity of trickery, or Gallant the lawful good deity of life and justice. We get a list of races your classic fantasy races and how they exist in world, and the entries are done in a vivid but humorous manner. The entry for dwarves, for example starts with “Beards. Biceps. Brew. What can be said about dwarves that hasn’t been said a million times over”. Elves opens with “While not all elves are tree-huggers, most of them value nature…” We get paragraphs on dwarves, and most races, which might sound light, but the frank and funny way it’s delivered really sets the tone quickly with shorthand and reliance on tropes. Mezzo-Earth also brings in a new race, my perpetual favorite, Minotaurs. This time worshiping Caht-Tel, Goddess of the Stampede, the Mezzo-Earth minotaur have a culture focused around might, hunting, and raiding. Your viking, barbarians instead of pastoral herders.

Overall, the Curse of Er’Mah’gerd is a great adventure to run if your group is looking for a fun lighthearted game that has plenty of opportunity to get serious. It’s well crafted, and the lore for Mezzo-Earth really gives you what you need to run additional side quests, follow up adventures, or even whole campaigns after you wrap your introductory adventure.

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