THE NEXT MARCH WASN'T DUE FOR ANOTHER 189 YEARS. TRY TELLING THAT TO THE MODRONS!
On a regular schedule, the Great Modron March spills out of Mechanus, and the lawful automatons files their way around the Great Ring. No one knows why they do it, but everyone stays out of their way - because when the modrons march, they'll walk right over a berk who doesn't know enough to move aside.
But this March has started decades before it was supposed to begin, and that's even more of a mystery. Caught unprepared, the planes shudder under the modrons' collective footsteps - and even the modrons themselves seem a little out of sorts.
The Great Modron March anthology features 11 adventures for characters ranging from 1st to 10th level, as well as new information about the modrons of Mechanus. Each adventure can be played separely or linked together to form an extended campaign. The modron procession touches every Outer Plane in turn - and it isn't always welcome. On their unswerving path, the clockwork creatures will destroy celestial towns, be attacked by evil knights intent on using modron parts in foul experiments, and lead characters onto the deadly plains of the Abyss and into the famous prime-material labyrinth of Undermountain. Without help, they'll be lost in the swirling chaos of Limbo or even fail to complete the March entirely.
And along their route, every blood on the planes seeks the answer to the most important question: Why have the Modrons abandoned their normal, lawful schedule to march years before they're due?
The Great Modron March (1997), by Monte Cook and Colin McComb, is a series of adventures that give the heroes a tour of the Great Wheel, acompanying the clockwork automata from the plane of Mechanus around the multiverse on an unscheduled tour. It's eleven separate adventures can be played in almost any order, skipping around as desired in order to customize the adventure path's pacing. They're designed to take heroes from 1st level to 10th.
There are also a lot of good set pieces in these adventures that can be yoinked by DMs for use in their own home adventures, and the module definitely delivers its money's worth. Good thing, too.
A True Story. I pretty much cackled with glee when I read The Great Modron March for the first time. The adventure was full of clever fights, intriguing villains, and exotic planar locations; just the sort of thing I loved. It was also a perfect lead-in into Monte Cook's upcoming Dead Gods adventure.
And so I planned for my campaign to focus on modrons for the next year or so. With the PCs already in Sigil, it was no trouble to set up the beginning of The Great Modron March; on cue, the modrons poured forth from the gate-town of Automata to begin their oddly unscheduled circuit of the Great Wheel, trampling anything in their wake. The heroes watched with awe.
"Wow," said one of my players, "that modron just walked through someone's house. Modrons are kind of jerks."
"Lawful neutral," said another player, "whatcha gonna do? You know, there's a lot of other heroes here who can deal with this. Let's go back to Sigil and just check in on them later to see if anyone found out why they're marching."
"Good idea!" chorused the group. And back to Sigil they went.
With them went my modron-related dreams, hopes, and aspirations. But I'm not bitter. Nope. Not at all. Even if to this day when trying to decide what to do in my current D&D campaign, a player occasionally says, "Let's go see what the modrons are doing!"
And when the modrons finally finished their march, and the PCs asked why they had been marching in the first place? I didn't tell them.
Wherein Your Historian Learns a Lesson. I think I would have been fine if I'd used the adventure hooks in the adventure instead of trying to create my own. Even so, modrons aren't necessarily sympathetic characters, and you'll want to think about how to humanize them enough that the heroes want to follow them and discover what's going on. The adventure does address this, but perhaps not in as much detail as I would have liked.
Varying, Epic Tone. The tone of each adventure varies somewhat. The book's content careens from a horrific facility that is trying to create monstrous human/modron hybrids from dismembered modrons to a lesson in unanticipated consequences when the PCs help right an ancient wrong, to roleplaying with an insane modron judge, to the challenge of being summoned and pressed into service by an extraplanar conjurer. I think these adventures work best when layered into an ongoing campaign, with side adventures and other exploits between them to help match pacing and tone.
Note that there are moments of dark horror in the adventure, as well as opportunities for exceptionally fun roleplaying. There's even a tie-in to the Forgotten Realms and Halaster's Undermountain.
Overall? This is a slightly uneven, magnificently rich, really fun adventure that delivers a substantial amount of creativity and valuable play for the money.
About the Creators. Award-winning author Monte Cook started working as a freelancer for TSR in 1992 and ultimately left Wizards of the Coast in 2001 to start Malhavoc Press. His 2012 Kickstarter for the post-apocalyptic science-fiction(-fantasy) roleplaying game Numenera raised over $500,000.
Colin McComb is the creative lead on inXile's Kickstarted RPG Torment: Tides of Numenera, which uses Monte Cook's upcoming sci-fi/fantasy game Numenera and which follows in the creative vision of Planescape: Torment. Also an award-winning designer, he has written dozens of games and adventures for TSR and Paizo Publishing.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.