Deep underground, an orc-infested dungeon is revealed to be an abandoned sorcerous laboratory, the turf of powerful ancient wizards and their secret research… There, the Selenian Conclave labored on how to extend their reach to a place most remote indeed, for their aim was the Moon itself!
This is an eighteen page adventure in a small two level dungeon with nineteen rooms. About half the rooms are quite complex with the second half, mostly level 2, being much simpler. The puzzle rooms are very mechanical and the simplistic formatting used detracts from usability, fighting you, in almost a wall of text manner. There’s stuff to play with, but this is almost certainly highlighter material.
The core of the first level, and hook, are orcs raiders who have moved in, but after a couple of rooms it turns in to a wizards dungeon, with the five (gone) wizards rooms being the bulk of the dungeon, as well as their summoning circle. The puzzles/interaction in the dungeon mostly relates to the doors to the wizards suites and various tricks. A prismatic wall, fibonacci sequence lock, other simple logic puzzles. In their rooms you can find some parts that can be used to get a giant teleport circle in the basement working. Thus the interactivity is more of the traditional puzzle type. This makes many of the rooms over a column or so in length, with a significant portion based on just getting through the door.
The backstory is long, and not really interesting, with the dungeon actually starting on page six. Lines like “the broken statues were actually destroyed stone golems” adds trivia backstory that has no use in the adventure. This, combined with the already lengthy descriptions, creates an almost wall of text environment in the rooms where you hunt for the important stuff. There’s some combination of the font, spacing, formatting decisions, that make it all run together worse than usual. Highlighter is a necessity … and that’s never a good thing. It’s the designers job to make sure I DON’T need to use a highlighter. Bolding, bullets, removal of useless trivia … all needed. The mundane treasure presented borders on either side of the barely acceptable line, with gold necklaces and silver earrings walking one side and an ivory statue of a warrior toeing the other.
The setup is good, with the orc raiders and their response briefly touched upon, with a couple of sentences about the villagers, their pleas, rewards, reactions. It doesn’t drone on, even if it is more than bit disorganized, appearing in multiple places. This dovetails in to some NPC hostages the orcs have, with motivations and a decent/terse personalities to roleplay. Motivations that don’t go on and a lack of emphasis on trivia like appearances. There’s not really enough adventure, after rescue, to fully utilize them, a decent sized design flaw.
I find this one hard to judge. It’s trying to do the right things, it’s just implementing them clumsily. The adventure has three parts: the orc raiders, the further exploration of the wizard suites and dungeon doors, and then figuring out that there is a bigger summoning circle puzzle to solve. That’s a nice structure, as is the theming of the various wizards. The engineer. The prismatic one. The ghost. The spider on. Nicely done. But the entire second level is essentially empty except for a puzzle room, and the orc raider portion is a little small. Combined with the quite rough formatting/almost-wall-of-text, and a little bit of a “samey” vibe of the the thing feeling like every puzzle is a door puzzle …
This is $2 at DriveThru. The preview if four pages long and shows you some of the backstory, some of the village stuff. The first two rooms (or, most of the second room anyway) are listed, which is a good example of the style of the rooms in this adventure. You get to see the NPC details (yeah!) as well as the LONG room descriptions and the font/formatting that I think contribute to the wall of text feel.