Nothing but a bunch of frickin' faeries!
Whoops…I should have said "spoiler alert" first. Why? Because Beyond The Crystal Cave
is indeed all about the fantastical faeries.
The story is very simple and oh so familiar: Two young lovers from two rival families (smells a little bit Romeo & Juliet, no?) have run away in order to be together. The girl's father is paying a handsome reward for their return. The difficulty is that they've escaped into a magical world that no one's too keen on entering. So, along comes the brave adventurers and away we go!
The entrance to this magical land is through the titular crystal cave. Once through there the adventurers enter a lush garden where it is always Summer. The garden is populated with many a fairyland trope: looney leprechauns, tricksy pixies, pipe playing satyrs, etc. A couple original creations were conjured up, most creative of the two is the barkburr: a small stinging tree that flings itself at its victims. Also included is an old standard of the English mythological tradition, The Green Man. This larger-than-life character, a drunken green-thumb with breath that'll knock you on your ass, is the guardian of the garden.
In fact, all of the garden's inhabitants are guardians, for they believe that the two young lovers, who have come here to escape their families, are actually the second-coming of the storied lovers who originally created this enchanted little world, and they will do whatever they can to protect the couple. And the catch is, the adventurers must refrain from harming the garden or its inhabitants. Willful destruction will lose them their reward.
So you see, this is not the typical slash-and-grab Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Beyond the Crystal Cave
is one of the most radical departures in game play offered by the TSR line of products. The young, blood-thirsty crew I DMed would have been frustrated by this one. There is plenty of potential to play out silly scenarios that would be fun to roleplay, if that's your bag. We never acted out scenes, but I did like to create colorful scenes and characters that would stick will my group of players long after the game was over. Decades have passed and they're still reminiscing about the chatty giant firefly, the sly doppelganger, and the cow-chucking ogre that I filled their adventures with. Rating Note:
Tough call on this one, because it's decently written, plotted, etc, with plenty of roleplay potential for the DM, but if you play this one the way its intended, there's actually not a lot of excitement to it. To be successful, you should just walk through the garden not disturbing anything, solve a puzzler or two, and quietly leave with the young couple when they are willing. BORING!