Rescue Rainbow City is an upcoming adventure from Awfully Queer Heroes, the folks behind Saphyx Spectacular Spells, Selanars Socketed Items, and Adventures in ADHD. It will be available in both print and digital, and is being developed for both Dungeons & Dragons 5E and Pathfinder 2E.
I was lucky enough to be given a preview of the adventure for review purposes. The full adventure will be crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and contains 40+ unique city locations, 25+ NPCs, and over 50 monsters.
Before I began reading for this review, I noted down a few things that I was specifically looking for – what would make this a good adventure for me? I came up with six points:
- An engaging storyline: The most important for me, is this interesting? Does it set itself apart from the myriad D&D/PF adventures out there for Tier 1-2 characters?
- Vibrant NPCs: Whenever I’m DMing, information about NPCs is very helpful. Especially notes on their personalities – they should feel alive.
- It should be more than just “D&D but Gay”: As a member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, I wanted to make sure that this adventure had more going for it than just queerness. While representation is incredibly important (and is included as a point below), being queer should not be the adventure’s entire personality.
- Something new and innovative: What sets this apart from other adventures? Does it contain something I haven’t seen before?
- Great art, by humans: Awfully Queer Heroes have always delivered on this in the past. I wanted to see that this high quality trend was going to continue.
- LGBTQIA2S+ Representation: With everything above considered, does it include a wide range of queer representation? Are less common sexualities and gender identities included?
The adventure begins in Rainbow City, the queer capital city of all realms. It is a utopia of equality, with thriving trade and culture, a robust military, lush green spaces and even plumbing. Reading the lore provided about the city immediately brought to mind the famous Myth Drannor of the Forgotten Realms setting; both places considered beacons of solidarity and equality in their respective worlds. I found myself wondering if Myth Drannor was in fact a large inspiration for Rainbow City due to the number of similarities that present themselves throughout. Regardless, Rainbow City sounds like an amazing place, somewhere where anyone would want to live, queer or ally.
The problem is that it has been invaded by an evil force, an insidious thing that has grown over many years within the depths of the city’s sewers, attracting cultists as it fed on the positive energy that radiated from above. The adventure begins shortly after this evil (and its cultists) has taken over almost completely, and the city is now overrun with monstrosities and other horrors.
The characters begin the adventure as they join forces with the Allied Advance, a small militia that is determined to take back the city, but lacks the strength to advance any further than the outskirts. The Allied Advance needs the characters’ help to forge ahead, district by district, and claim Rainbow city back from the evil that has overtaken it.
This is ultimately an adventure about claiming territory as the party moves through the city, claiming it piece by piece for the Allied Advance. The city is divided up into sections, and as each section is completed by the characters, it becomes owned by the Allied Advance. Once claimed, the area turns into friendly territory, with NPCs moving back in after it has been cleared.
The adventure feels almost like a video game in this respect; in order to be able to proceed past the magical barriers into the next section, players must defeat a mini boss and obtain an item they carry. There are also opportunities within each section for players to take actions that will affect their situation later on, when they reach the centre and face off against the BBEG.
The preview copy I was given included just two sections of the city. Assuming that the gameplay continues in this manner throughout, there is the potential for it to be quite linear in nature, depending on how the barriers between sections open up. Though a linear adventure is not necessarily a bad thing, I would like to see some choices offered to players along the way – skipping ahead might be tempting to some folks, but it would come with the downside of not having secured all they need to, potentially making their final showdown much more difficult.
The possibility of players biting off more than they can chew is a great way to add some extra tension and genuine risk to their efforts, so I’m very interested to see how the rest of the adventure presents itself.
Environment, NPCs and Monsters
AQH have done a great job of providing a number of NPCs and Monsters unique to each area. Stat blocks are included for the monsters, and friendly NPCs are diverse, each with a paragraph of text to help the DM bring them to life. Each NPC’s sexuality and gender identity is also noted, in some cases making it perfectly clear whether they are “romanceable” or not!
Each city section is described in good detail while at the same time being concise. There’s plenty of room for a DM to either use the provided text as-is, or add their own embellishments. They’re themed by both colour and function, such as the White District being home to the Allied Advance base camp, and the Silver District beyond containing holy places, temples and burial grounds.
The mini boss for each zone is also unique, with their powers and cultists aligned with the district they are found in, guaranteeing a diverse cast of foes as the adventure progresses through the colours of the rainbow. While the preview didn’t include the stats for the final boss, it did include an amazing piece of artwork showing the monstrosity devouring the city. A cropped version of this is visible on the Kickstarter pre-launch page!
Rescue Rainbow City seems like it will shape up to be a very fun adventure with plenty of interest and excitement for player characters of any kind (not just queer ones!). The situation is compelling as the party will not be pursuing personal goals (unless they have a stake in Rainbow City themselves), but instead defeating a great evil and restoring the homes of thousands of innocents, with success surely cementing them as heroes.
The gameplay is unique for a tabletop adventure, and regardless of whether it turns out to be linear in nature or not, I can see this appealing to TTRPG players who also play video games. The setup is reminiscent of a World of Warcraft raid or similar experience, which will appeal to many, including myself for nostalgia reasons.
The NPCs in the adventure are all queer, and including their sexualities is a great way to show diversity. Even in the preview there is a wide range represented including bi, ace, pan, nonbinary, and transgender characters.
As far as content warnings are concerned, I would note that there is a brief mention of enslavement. As with any adventure, DMs should make sure they are using safety tools at their table to avoid this being triggering for their players.
In conclusion, Rescue Rainbow City comes across as an excitingly unique adventure that should be aspirational to a wide range of players and characters. It’s great to see that it is being developed for both D&D and Pathfinder simultaneously. I’m excited to see the full version, and eagerly await the launch of the campaign!
If Rescue Rainbow City sounds like something you'd enjoy, you can sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter launches here. You can find more of Awfully Queer Heroes' work on DriveThruRPG. To keep up with what they're doing, follow them on Twitter or sign up to their Mailing List.