The Darkness Beneath Dalentown


By Tim & Matthew Bannock
Self Published
S&W
Levels 8-12

… Spurred by stories of restless spirits, the party soon finds themselves staring down an invading force of oozes, slimes, puddings, and jellies all in the service of demons! Worse still, the ancient dwarven lords that once protected this underground library and mining operation have been horribly transfigured by the infernal powers at work, and linger on as deadly spirits and automated guardians who are tortured by their station and forced to repel the intrepid adventurers!

This 37 page adventure has about seventeen room rooms on about eleven pages and includes a small town. Featuring sewers AND dwarf ruins, the DM text gets quite long. Pruned WAY back it would be an ok adventure.

While expanding the (very small) towns sewer system workmen break through a wall. Monsters and oozes start to appear. Adventurers were sent in and most got slaughtered. The party is sent in to clear things out and bring back the other bodies. There’s some undead, ghosts, and a Juiblex worshiper down there.

Dwarf ruins and sewers. *sigh* Once upon a time the world was full of wonder and there were ancient ruins attributed to no one .. or to cockroach people. Mystery is a good thing; it leads to a sense of wonder. Tired tropes are not a good thing.

The town provided is small, really just a village (with full sewer system …) and is Just Another Generic Fantasy Town. It’s text is expanded some to be fleshed out, just as the default hooks are. There’s nothing special going on with the town or hooks, just a little more information than usual. That little bit extra does wonders though for cementing ideas. Its right around my tolerance level in length, maybe a bit over the line. It does have a nice little events section, for what happens when the partyrests and/or takes their time. Ooze attacks and so on, with just enough detail to get the DM going. Nice length to them, short and terse with a few details, and it’s a good resource for making the place actually seem alive.

The dungeon map is mostly linear. The DM text for the encounters can be LONG. It’s full on “this used to be a …“ and “the plan was for ….” and lots of tactics, etc. But … nestled in each one there DOES tend to be a short little section that actually contains the room description. It’s not a masterpiece of evocative, but it’s a cut above the usual dreck. You just have to find it in the other text.

Here’s an example of the DM text. This is one paragrapgh in a six of seven paragrah full column room description: “The original idea was that water was stored in the cisterns, and could be heated or cooled through mechanisms that acted upon water in the shallow depression — a sort of pool or channel for water to flow through — but the exact nature is lost to time and damaged parts encased in the earth and other accessways throughout the complex that are now unreachable.”

But … here’s the first half of the first paragraph also, for comparison: “Two immense cisterns dominate this open warehouse- style room, standing in a shallow depression forming a channel that could move water through underground pipes. Iron pipes run along the length of the cisterns up into housings in the ceiling. Each cistern includes a lid”

That’s not too bad if it were standalone text. And then, of course, there’s three and half more paragraphs of text. Ug.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is twelve pages. Page seven shows you the town event chart, while the last three pages start to show the adventure proper. The text just gets longer.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/241414/The-Darkness-Beneath-Dalentown–Swords–Wizardry-Edition

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15 Responses to The Darkness Beneath Dalentown

  1. Edgewise says:

    I’m sorry but I really can’t get past a village with its own sewer system.

    • timbannock says:

      While I’m obviously biased by being one of the designers, I’d argue from experience that Dalentown is not a village: it’s actually a large town. Not yet a city, but on the verge of reaching that point in a generation or so, easily. We built it and mapped it for 5600 residents and used the features of Cityographer to setup a town for that size population (page 4 of the adventure); that’s WAY bigger than a village.

      Additionally, when mapping the sewers, we show that there are only 5 “lines” that run along the contours of the hills the town is built upon so that they drain out into lower land or downstream into the river. Given assumed tech levels in D&D with full plate armor, crossbows, and so on, we assumed a very simple drainage system like this would be entirely within reason.

      Again, I’m one of the authors, so perhaps this is my bias showing. I don’t in any way intend this as a statement of someone being “wrong,” but only as an explanation of the logic we used when building the adventure. YMMV!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love Dean Spencer’s art–great cover!

  3. Gus L says:

    I think it’d be nice if writers understood the weirdness of their setting stuff and created weird in game justifications. I.E.

    “The run down market town of Dalentown holds 400 souls, an array of huts and badly built 2-3 story 1/2 timber buildings around a ruinous ancient cube that serves as it’s market and town hall. Atop this crumbling block of blue marble is a broken statue of an insectile water-bearer, while along its facade an inscription reads “And I Shall Grant You the Waters of the Earth” in the court tongue of the long fallen Cockroach Empire. Dalentown was once a pumping station and quanat nexus for one of great cities of the Cockroach Empire – now sunken beneath the poisoned mud and giant glass cranes of a nearby marsh. The sewers and underground aqueducts remain, and Dalentown’s notables, who can’t leave well enough alone, are seeking to bring some back to working order to provide clean water to their farms, slave mills, and mansions…”

    Plus that way one doesn’t need damn dwarf ruins – they can be cockroach people ruins, which is 10,000 times better.

    • Honestly, I lean the other way.

      I prefer straightforward, mundane, logical, & traditional settings/content.

      That way, *I* can be the one to “weird it up”, and I DON’T have to find a way to CUT OUT the weirdness-as-written which doesn’t fit my usage.

      • Gus L says:

        I suppose it’s a matter of choice and what’s useful to the GM. What I look for in someone else’s product is inspiration, ideas and imagery.

        I can draw a good map quickly enough, stat new monsters on the fly, and while I have my own ideas and descriptive phrases a good set of them make running an adventure easier. Not that a published adventure should lack usability, stats and good maps – but I don’t care to read about some orcs in a hole that has a dwarf ruin beneath it who threaten a caravan and I don’t want to play such an adventure either – no matter how iconic it is or functional it’s user design.

        • YouDontMessWithTheJeff says:

          I can see both sides. yeah, Cockroach Empire is one hell of a lot more evocative than dwarven ruins but then again, Cockroach Empire??? WTF??? lol Besides, what is a tired old trope to one person can be viewed as classic or iconic to another person. It would be more interesting to me to weird up those dwarven ruins.

  4. I think by this point, most Dwarves must suffer from melancholy from everything always ending up in ruin.

    • SolCannibal says:

      Yeah, that kind of “everything is post-war british empire crumbling around us” stuff can really bring the blues.

      Now getting this image of a broken dwarven nation, part broken antebellum South, part post-WWII british empire, some wandering young bards, a mix of blues musician, Pink Floyd and/or Black Sabbath, trying to evoke and at the same time shake up the lingering cultural melancholy, because they are young, angry and don’t to start life in a world left behind…. Hmmm, i dig what’s coming up, think i’ll make notes.

  5. Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    Of interest primarily to plumbing enthusiasts.

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