This is a two-level tomb/dungeon that reminds me quite a bit of Tomb of Horrors. In fact, I’m going to go reread the Tomb to see how it measures up to this product. It seems that a great sage has discovered the final resting place of Anadi. Anadi was a great and powerful mage from long ago, who was the inventor of many of the spells used today. Surely great reward awaits those who plunder her tomb!
The dungeon tomb complex is a mostly design with a couple of branches on the upper level which do not meet-up. While I usually prefer much more complex maps, this design is fine in this context since it’s tomb complex and, like most, is a puzzle rather than a living breathing dungeon. It starts off well: the stairs down and in are blocked halfway down by a wall of force. The party will have to come up with a way on their own to breach the wall in order to get access to the dungeon. It’s followed up by a room which nauseates characters and a hidden room complex with a monster that only attacks people hauling treasure OUT of the dungeon. That’s a nice touch; too often the return trip is hand-waved away. It also contains the first bit of screwage: a secret door which can not normally be detected. Clearly it has to be that way to offer some justification for the hidden room complex and “treasure monster”, otherwise the party will just slaughter the creature along with everything else. It smacks of bad design though and I would have preferred it be handled another way.
Following that is a “push the buttons and die” puzzle. The party has the option of, essentially, pushing a set of buttons with no hint of what they will do. Ok, so they won’t die and the effects are not TOO seriously bad (polymorph for a few turns, take some damage, enable a monster in another areas, etc) but it still smacks me as rather arbitrary. There are 10 button combinations, none of which are required or do anything good. I guess the lesson is: don’t screw with things in tombs unless you have to. There’s another magically hidden secret door that’s can’t be found through normal means right after the buttons, which leads to a potential stone to mud deathtrap once the spell is dispelled in five rounds.The next room also has a potential deathtrap: essentially it’s a box that, when opened, has a sphere of annihilation that sucks in whoever opened the box. There’s another difficult encounter right after in the next room, in which the party has to do 50hp of damage over an entire 20×20 area all in one round. I’m not even sure that’s possible?
The second level of the dungeon causes all spells cast by the party to misfire 20% of the time, and has several more of the “secret doors which can not be detected by normal means.” With some monsters in them that come out and attack the PC’s. Uncool. The map is mostly linear with a couple of teleport areas (two) that the group uses to get to a new linear section of the dungeon. There’s a locked/deadend room with an illusionist polymorphed in to a cockatrice. He has the mindset of a cockatrice but retains enough cunning to employ his abilities to the utmost. This strikes me as wrong for two reasons. First, he’s got the mind of a cockatrice but can retain his illusionary spells? Second, it’s a living creature (at least I’ve always thought of them as needing to ear/drink) living in a locked room. It seems to me just like another justification to have a cockatrice with invisibility, confusion, and mirror image, in which case it should just be a new monster. One of the rooms the party can teleport to, a trapped/jail area, prevents all attempts to teleport/blink/etc out. Again, I don’t like this.
The dungeon seems much more like an excuse/justification for screwing with the PC’s then a good crawl. I don’t want to screw with the PC’s. The wizard worked hard, presumably, to earn his frigging teleport. He should be able to use it. Anything else strikes me as ‘magical economy’ nonsense and/or screwing with the PC’s. It COULD be viewed as a killer dungeon, in much the same way as Tomb or Horrors was. I wonder how Robilar and his orc minions would do? Hence the reference to Tomb above; I don’t recall that module having as much screwage however perhaps I’m wrong. This product seems to take too much control from the players. Maybe it would work with pre-gens at a meet-up as a one-shot if you announce in advance it’s a deadly puzzle dungeon?
This is available on DriveThru.