Call from the Deep

One look at the cover for Call from the Deep by JVC Parry and I knew it was something special. Gabriel Cassata’s art immediately evoked a sense of wonder, intrigue, and dread. This was something I needed to read as soon as possible. Luckily Josh Parry afforded me an opportunity to take a look at a preview copy prior to publication. Let’s take a (comparatively brief) look!

Call from the Deep
Call from the Deep

Call from the Deep by JVC Parry

Writer: JVC Parry
Publisher: DMs Guild
Cost: $39.95
Product Length: 270 pages

This campaign’s intent (beyond giving you a great story to role-play with your players) is to carry adventurers from 1st to 12th level via milestone XP. Of course, you can decide to level your player characters however you choose. Within these pages you will find a compelling story line, memorable NPCs (and lots of them), and rich and detailed environments. Players will have great opportunities for social interactions, exploration, and combat employing all manner of ability checks.

The players are charged with investigating a mysterious crash-landing in the Trackless Sea and the Sea of Swords. They will also investigate the illithid colony of Zellix’Phor. Will they actually survive without atrocious scars or PTSD? Will they survive at all?

Writing

There is A LOT of content in this campaign and Parry does a great job of not rushing the material while also not being long-winded. Scenes and NPCs are compellingly written. Some scenes are meant to be tense and it comes through in the writing. The rest is up to a skillful DM and cooperative players. The page count in this adventure may be overwhelming at first but this isn’t a one-shot. So, take your time absorbing the material and creating a great campaign your players won’t soon forget.

Originality

This is a great story and it’s epic in the true meaning of the word. The scale of this adventure is big and it is consequential. The players’ choices will matter not just for their own sake but for Gundarlin and other areas in and around the Trackless Sea region.

Production

I’m thoroughly impressed with the production of this work. It’s a veritable who’s who of creators and artists. Aside from Parry and Cassata, this work features interior art by Dean Spencer, cartography by Dyson Logos and Elven Tower, layout assistance by Phil Beckwith plus many more! Even the Guild Creator Resource art looks nicely integrated rather than a cobbled together mess that would have been all too easy given the sheer amount of content included in this adventure.

Design

Yes. Yes. And YES! In this adventure, the cleric will have his time to shine. The rogue will get her turn to be instrumental. Meat shield barbarians and warriors will have their moments. Rear flank casters will be crucial. Everyone will be pivotal at one time or another and no one, no matter their class, will be a third wheel. Many of the encounters are intentionally deadly so the players will need to talk their way out of confrontation or find some other means of conflict avoidance just as much as they will need to fight. Or, they’ll get their time to die! I’m certain that if you run this campaign from start to finish that you will explore just about every ability check and condition in 5E.

Final Thoughts

Ordinarily I would suggest that you only start a campaign of this magnitude with a consistent and a consistently reliable group. However, given the deadly challenges in this campaign, I think you’ll be okay with a group that meets regularly even if each player is unable to be at each session. There are ample opportunities to explain someone’s absence during the campaign or introducing new characters (people will die in this campaign). Depending on frequency and length of sessions, this adventure could go on for several months. You’ll get your money’s worth with Call from the Deep!

Call from the Deep is available on DMs Guild


A review copy was provided by the creator.

Author: Patrick

Board gamer, role-player, father, blogger.

10 thoughts on “Call from the Deep

  1. Here’s a few tropes that come to mind regarding mental illness in rpgs and pop culture:

    #1 He’s bad because he’s crazy- mental illness being blamed for dangerous behavior that doesn’t make sense.
    Without spoilers, Game of Thrones did this recently when a major character started acting totally against their nature and the only reason was basically that their family gets crazy. Alternatively, A Beautiful Mind does an excellent job of illustrating what schizophrenia is really like for a person and I think that’s extremely helpful.

    #2 Mind control makes him crazy – the concept of two minds fighting for control of one body leading to erratic behavior.
    This can be problematic if only played for laughs because it would be a truly horrifying experience. It can be helpful in that many people feel controlled by their mental illness and thinking of it as an external force that can be fought back against is a much more helpful narrative than thinking of it as part of you that exists because you’re broken in some way.

    3. Just get better – major mental illness is gotten over by one great act of will.
    It’s fine for a character with crippling anxiety to summon their courage and face their fear at a pivotal moment in the plot. It’s not fine to suggest that because of that moment they’re cured and don’t deal with that anymore. This minimizes the illness and reinforces the notion that someone can ‘just get over it’ when the reality of very common mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression is that they need to be managed through ongoing healthy habits and treatment.

    I’m sure I could go on but hopefully that’s plenty of food for thought.

  2. Madness is always an interesting mechanic when setup correct in a campaign. I’m particularly intrigued by the description of each class grow moment to shine as well. That can be difficult to pull off.

  3. I lean towards madness being qualitative, meaning that the player and their perspective on the matter ultimately defines the madness and therein lies the spectacle! I myself have only had a character get as deep as the first level and, while a bit relieved, never got to explore how to RP it myself.

  4. Mental disorders in your planned games is best first addressed in advance, such as a Session Zero. You would be surprised with how many people you know with this struggle. One Love.

    1. Will, you’ve been randomly chosen to receive a complimentary copy of Call from the Deep. I’ll email you for the best contact information.

  5. How about mental trauma as a lasting effect/character trait after certain encounters? Your average hero isn’t going to be traumatized by run-of-the-mill goblins or owlbears, but big bads like Strahd, or a lich, or Cthulu, can leave lasting mental scars. With the right mechanic, and the right roleplayers, it can be interesting to have PTSD carried into later sessions. Think of Iron Man’s reactions to the Battle of New York, or Captain Picard’s dealing with the aftereffects of assimilation and Wolf 359.

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