It seems hardly necessary to give particular introduction to the Deep Carbon Observatory at this point in the DIY/OSR/D&D history. Suffice to say, I wrote a brief review after purchasing and reading it way back in July of 2014. For the longest time I had no chance to run it, but eventually I managed to sneak it into my current Rainbowlands campaign (session 34 is this Wednesday!). After four sessions in the DCO valley, the heroes now stand outside the pit and the Observatory itself.
Have running the game and time changed my original review? Not essentially. All the good parts of the DCO remain good, but running the game has made me appreciate more what works for me and what doesn't. I run my game sessions with minimal preparation for two simple reasons: laziness and some other reason.
Thus I haven't taken advantage of all the moving pieces built into the valley. For example, the NPC party, the Crows. I've not found a way to bring them into conflict with the PCs and a single page with their stats plus activities per day / location would have been handy.
The same applies to my misgivings. Some turned out to be spot on, others irrelevant for my play style. For example, laying out the valley as a point-crawl a-la Slumbering Ursine Dunes would have been useful, sure, but I managed to wing it well enough. On the other hand, a one-page overview / glossary / or index of key factions, NPCs, monsters and items (Ambatoharanana! The Witch! The Third Party! The Oculist Priests!) would have been so useful for a lazy DM like yours truly.
One thing I wrote back then, though, has changed:
I don't know what would be the perfect solution, but this is a really complex and interesting adventure: it would require more than just a simple linear layout - I don't have a solution on this.I think I have a partial solution for a low-prep approach to an adventure like this now. What I'd need are diagrams, annotated maps, timelines and glossaries of the key plots, NPCs and locatons in the adventure on 3 to 5 pages tops, so that I can track where, what, when and why.
However, that is not something I will solve here and tonight (perhaps I'll solve it with Apotheosis: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Became the Bomb). What I can solve is simplify my running of the Observatory on Wednesday by taking all of Gus L's top-down maps and combining them into a single document. And so, the post ends like it begins. Here you go.
17-Nov-2015: Updated linked .pdf to include side view.