Written by James C. Boney
Once in a blue moon, a spectacular piece of work comes out of the Dungeons & Dragons constellation of RPGs. Monte Cook’s and Colin McComb’s The Great Modron March nicely fits this bill as an adventure for 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Planescape supplement (for the younger people in our crowd, Planescape was a supplement for the game… back when dinosaurs ruled the earth… which allowed the players to travel through the planes of the multiverse in all sorts of wacky and perilous adventures).
From the module, we learn: “…once every Grand Cycle… a horde of modrons spills out of Mechanus through the gate-town of Automata and parades around the Great Ring.”
Sounds reliable enough, except “…when the mordrons march through a plane, they cause all kinds of havoc… they’ll trample right through a town and over the inhabitants if the berks are too slow to get out of the way.”
Well, that sounds fracking awful, but since it happens like clockwork, those in the way of trouble have time to vacate before the modrons come marching in… except this time the modrons are early.
Way early, as in no one had time to get milk and bread from the store, as in 150 years early, and the two authors have developed a series of adventures around this worlds-shaking disaster guaranteed to entertain your players for days.
The first adventure (The March Begins) is for levels 1-3 and places the PCs right at the beginning of the March itself while emphasizing how important the event actually is. Arriving at Automata involves the characters filling out about four hours of specified paperwork much to their chagrin, and aid Jysson the cat in finding a sentient book he once possessed when he was human.
The second adventure (The Unswerving Path) is for levels 2-4 and is more for thinkers and diplomats. The PCs are approached by Archons who want the party to dissuade the March from swarming Mount Celestia and Heart’s Faith. There is nothing the party can do to stop the March; this adventure is about helping those caught in its path.
The third adventure (Ambushed!) is for levels 3-5. The paladin Sir Vaimish Crasad hires the party to help protect the modrons as they make their way across the Outlands to Tradegate. The party fights off a raid by the Tacharim, a group of evil knights who think attaching parts of modrons to their armor would look cool. The party must infiltrate the Rendering Works and stop the Tacharim.
Adventure four (Politics of the Beasts) is for levels 4-6. The party must save a nymph whose pool is contaminated by the March. The PCs must actually change a series of events that are stopping the March so that they may proceed and the pollution cleared before the nymph dies.
Adventure five (Modron Madness) is for levels 4-6. Here, one of the PCs’ comrades is kidnapped in Sylvania and replaced with a horrid mechanical double.
Adventure six (Law in Chaos), rated for levels 5-8, has the heroes leading a group of modrons through Limbo while facing githyanki and slaad.
Adventure seven (The Modron Judge), for levels 5-8, has the party facing false murder charges in Bedlam and being tried by a modron with a secret desire.
Adventure eight (Camp Followers), for levels 6-9, has the party taken on a wild ride through the planes and forced to help an evil witch retrieve a powerful book of spells within a certain time frame.
Adventure nine (Sidetracked), for levels 6-9, leads the party into an underground maze guarded by a vampire and a drow priestess. The party must escape of be trapped within the dungeons of Undermountain.
Adventure ten (The Flower Eternal) is for levels 7-9. Sir Crasad returns and begs for the party’s help in destroying the Tacharim once and for all before the modrons are disassembled.
Finally, adventure eleven (The Last Leg) is for levels 8-10. The party must search for the modron crucible, a magic item that may or may not exist, as the March enters Acheron.
This mini-setting shines as one of the better supplements to come from the days of Planescape, and the authors have woven a series of useful adventures which can be used singularly or as a mini-campaign taking the PCs from levels 1 to 10. Though it is typical of the “railroad” fashion of gaming that was popular during the day of 2nd edition, this reader highly recommends it for extra-planar play.
[Editor’s Note: 2017 marks the 20th anniversary year of this thrilling supplement.]