Dungeon Magazine #6

There’s a whole lot of ‘set things up to screw the party over’ stuff in this issue. L.A.M.E. The wilderness crawl the end is ok, as if the concept of the non-eucledian dungeon … that’s well worth stealing to do something of your own with.

After the Storm
by Nick Kopsiniss & Patrick Goshtigian
Levels 8-10

This is a weird little adventure in a bay after a big storm. The party hears rumors about stuff washing up on shore that indicates a famous pirate and his ship have wrecked on some well-known reefs in the bay. Rumors of treasure abound! After a lot of overwrought introduction there’s a nice little rumor table and a pretty brutal wandering monster table. Suffice it to say that leaving the rowboat is a REALLY bad idea … but it’s nice that the monsters respect the personal space of people in a boat and never attack folks in one. Weird. The bay/cove has a number of pretty standard encounters: giant octopus, giant oyster, a wreck, and the pirate ship. There are, of course, undead pirates in the wreck and the thing is stuffed FULL of magic weapons. There’s a decent little were-shark encounter that kind of surrounds and touches many parts of the adventure, which is nice. There’s also an old hermit that causes some trouble through false rumors, which is nice also. Otherwise .. pretty standard under the sea adventure with some nice wrapping that surrounds it.

White Death
by Randy Maxwell
Levels 4-7

This is a short little four encounter dragons lair encounter with a short wilderness adventure that feels tacked on after the fact. A town council hires the party to deal with a white dragon. Not unheard of, if I think of the party as a group of german mercenaries during one of the big civil wars. They make their living off of fur traders, etc, and that’s not happening because of the dragon. The journey is maybe 100 miles from the town to the dragons lair, with about 6 standard arctic wandering monsters in a table. The lair is a single room with a dragon on a big pile of gold. A dead dragon. The real dragon is hiding on a ledge and jumps the party. End of adventure. Five pages is short, but it should be A LOT shorter for what you are getting.

Bristanam’s Cairn
by John Nephew
Levels 8-12

A hermit and a cairn nearby on a stormy night. The hermit tries to rip down the cairn every night because he goes insane and then he builds it back every day when sane. Inside is a death knight. The smartest thing to do is to do just the hermit. Problem Solved! The BULLSHIT death knight has an Anything Sword that allows it to be any magical sword, from round to round. It has three charges. IE: Just enough to fuck the party over and keep them from having it. Lame. Any adventure in which someone wears an amulet guarantees it’s proof against detection. PC’s should kill all amulet wearers on sight, always, in every adventure they ever undertake.

House of the Brothers
by Mark S. Shipley
Levels 6-10

The party stumbles over a cave with a couple of giant brothers in it. They are always aware. They sniff out rangers first. They are given magic items and as many set ups as possible to push everything possible in their favor. Their is D&D in “players vs. DM mode” which is completely lame D&D. There is some good treasure description here in the eight rooms of their lair. Enameled mail and the like. It’s mixed in with boring mundane treasure but the adventure does have a nod here and there to more evocative descriptions.

Forbidden Mountain
by Larry Church
Levels 4-7

This is an adventure in a non-eucledian geometry dungeon. A lot of words go in to describing how this works and the effects on game play. That part is pretty cool. The dungeon has 12 room interconnected with a fair number of hallways that should provide a decent adventure with the non-eucledian element. The problem is that the room encounters proper are boring as hell. The monsters have some surface flavor text them. “blue giant porcupines” and “yellow-and-blue owlbears” but the creatures are nothing more than some color changes. There’s nothing really going on in the rooms at all. There’s a box with “do not open” on it and a “void room” similar to a sphere on annihilation. There’s also a non-magic sword that can be made magical through the intervention of the gods. Those last two elements are relatively cool, as is the non-eucleudian part. The rest is devoid of interesting content.

Tortles of the Purple Sage – Part 1
by Merle & Jackie Rasmussen
Levels 4-10

This is a BIG wilderness journey through the Known World, around the Savage Coast area. The party is hired to escort a group of Tortles (bipedal turtles) to their ancient spawning grounds in the north. It’s VERY general but has 18 programmed encounters that can show up in various regions of the LARGE map. Rare flowers/spices with 3′ long dragonsflys. A thundering herd of animals on a plain … followed by a grass fire. Weird stuff on the beach. Weird falling stuff from the sky. (a rain of flesh & blood from the sky , one of the options, is cool!) It might be thought of as ‘Isle of Dread, but on land.” It’s going to take a decent amount of DM work but this could serve as decent mini-campaign for your game if you put the work in to expand the ruined cities, NPC’s, and so on.

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6 Responses to Dungeon Magazine #6

  1. PeterD says:

    Just FYI, there is a letter to the editor about The House of the Brothers in issue #9, and a reply by the author in #11. He’s set things up to be a challenge to people who play like his very skilled players. Re-reading that letter of his, I’d play in his campaign.

    I don’t think I ever used anything else from this issue – nothing ever fit in with my game’s needs.

  2. Guy Fullerton says:

    House of Brothers looks fine to me — quite good in fact. It’s a challenging environment, sure, but the only arbitrary design decision was the giants’ ability to recognize rangers (not “sniff out rangers first” fwiw). Your assertion that “they are always aware” is not wholly accurate; while the giants do have a number of means for detecting intruders, none are foolproof, and they layers of protections can be peeled back individually through skilled play. The situation is obviously ripe for a party to observe and/or probe carefully instead of just barging in — these kinds of situations are a fine way to design a challenging environment (i.e., one for mid/high level characters, who generally have many safe means of information gathering at their disposal). After all, the giants and their pets are not keyed to a location; the designer probably assumed the approach by the PCs would be fairly dynamic. As icing on the cake, it offers a potentially great reward to a bold party that merely dips its toe into the situation, thereby rewarding a party that realizes discretion may be its best approach here. (FWIW, the author of this scenario is also one of the authors on The Black Monastery, from FGG.)

  3. House of the Brothers is one of my favorite Dungeon adventures (and I’ve been meaning to run it at a con ever since, just never worked out). It’s just a great setting as the Brother’s lair has many tricks, traps and treasure….killing the giants is only half the fun. My one complaint would be that it’s too short….really just describes the lair and the brothers and not much of the surrounding area. It makes a good location style encounter to place within a sandbox.

  4. Bill Barsh says:

    Looks like I have some reading to do before next year’s North Texas RPG Con! Seriously, if you get the chance, get into one of Mike’s D&D games. He runs a fantastic event!

  5. solomani says:

    Working through this backlog – you are refreshing my memory so will reread some of these to loot for ideas since its been 30 years since I have read these early Dungeons.

    I remember playing white death but the NPCs kept saying “wight dragon” and my PCs heard “white dragon” and I just ran with it. Was fun.

  6. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    I just re-read Tortles of the Purple Sage, both parts, and the one thing that bothers me about it is just how much more could have been done with the setting. A lot of unrealized potential. The ruined cities are a prime example. When you think of ruined cities you get excited. The mind starts to race feverishly about what adventure might be found there. However, in this adventure, you don’t get that. What you get is the most boring and generic ruined cities you could imagine. The idea of naming the various factions using Lawful, Neutral, etc, is also lame, lame, lame.

    I do realize that because this was published in Dungeon, there were space constraints but this whole thing could have been expanded into its own boxed set or at the very least a gazetteer on the region. I agree with though that this could be expanded into soe much more if you wanted to put the work into it.

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