This review is made possible by the gift of a review copy, QWERTY and rolling natural 20s.
Let’s be real here. You already know if you want to play this module based on the title Velour Palace of the Disco Emperor alone. That decision will probably be cemented by the old school look of the module cover and it’s artwork. Designed by Joseph Bingaman of J. Halk Games, Disco Emperor is an OSRIC™ System module, created at the request of Luke Gygax and premiered at GaryCon XI. But beyond the title, you probably want to know, are you gonna dig it or is it bogus?
The actual palace is a solid design by Bingaman with shades of TSR’s Rahasia. Bingaman is very familiar with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition and is true to that aesthetic. The other aesthetic he’s true to has more shag carpet and bellbottoms involved. Loaded with 70s tv and movie tropes as well as cameos by well known personalities of the time, there really isn’t a room that doesn’t make a reference to something from the 70s. A Dungeon Master may very well get caught up in figuring out all the Easter eggs the first read through. It’s silly. It’s parody. It has a suggested music playlist.
It’s also dangerous in the way that a classic AD&D module would be. Players will find it all too easy to let their guard down due to the jokes and NPCs they encounter and find themselves in a less than groovy situation. Disco Emperor doesn’t skimp on the traps, puzzles or surprises. It’s no coincidence that one of the songs on the suggested playlist is The Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive.
Like a true classic module, there are new magic items and new monsters introduced. There is one in particular that I liked for being on theme in the best way possible as well as deadly. It wouldn’t do for me to give that away.
The module’s use of the number “S54” is entirely on purpose, rather than the standard mystery potions found in dungeons, there are recreational substances that probably makes this adventure for an older audience. However, references to them could also be removed without effecting the game if someone wanted this to be more family friendly.