Dungeon Magazine #9


Dear Lord, why did I ever choose to do this?

The Lurkers in the Library
by Patricia Nead Elrod
AD&D Levels 1-3

Six pages that boil down to “a couple of orcs break in to a library.” The library is exhaustively described to a degree where all of the words run together and you don’t get a good picture of what it is. The party stumbles upon a scene In Media Res and are told a tentacle came through a wall and grabbed people. They are expected to look in to things and explore the library to eventually stumble upon the orcs. An effort is made to give the orcs and hostages personalities but its unclear if that’s ever going to come up in play. I suspect that the orcs are just gonna be hacked down. In spite of the length this is, in reality, just the barest outline of an adventure.

The Crypt of Istaris
by Richard Fichera
Levels 3-5

Oh boy, a full page of read-aloud! Soliloquy, HO! AND a page of useless background?!! And useless fresco’s on the walls showing suffering?!?! Say it isn’t so! A symmetrical star layout?!?! Hot diggity dirt! Ok, I’m being a bit unfair; it has some bad points but it is virtually chock full of interesting rooms. There’s a nice statue trap/puzzle in room 3, a set piece with piercers in room 4, weird experimented on ogres ala Doc Frankenstein in room 6, weird nozzles and gas in room 7, and a strange ceiling in room 8 … and so on. There’s some bullshit “only 20% of the time” and the like nonsense. This is a tournament module, and so that explains a lot of the set piece type encounters, but it’s also got some nice environments, descriptions, and the like, especially for the time in question. It’s much closer to the positive aspects of C1-Hidden Shrine than it is the crapfests that usually appear in Dungeon.

The Djinni’s Ring
by Vince Garcia
D&D Solo
3rd Level

This is a Choose Your Own Adventure solo adventure with an elf in an Arabian Nights type environment.

The Golden Bowl of Ashu H’san
by Rick Swan
Levels 2-4

This is a linear wilderness adventure. You’re on a mission for a village, wander down a trail meeting people, and then end up at he adventure site where the thing finishes up. One of the things I like about the OA adventures in Dungeon, thus far, is how the spirits are much closer and integrated in to the life of the surrounding lands. This adventure is no different. A remote farming village is experiencing a drought and the old head man knows that someone has to go to their sacred site and see what’s up with their protective spirit. As usual, no one in the village s brave enough to go. The party then has ten or so encounters in the wacky & wonderful world of Dungeon OA. There’s a nice fairy tale feel here, with injured animals, old wells, haughty warriors blocking a shrine, and a forceful merchant. It’s exactly the sort of content I like to see in an adventure: whimsical and fanciflul, appealing to some of the old historical tropes. There’s a good mix of combat and role-playing. I approve.

The Ghostship Gambit
by Randy Maxwell
Levels 3-6

This isn’t really an adventure but rather an encounter with a ghost ship. A port town is having trouble with many of the ships coming in being attacked by a ghost ship. The characters get hired to do something about it. That entails hiring a ship and sailing out, having no encounters, and meeting the ghost ship. Which is actually just some pirate aquatic elves. Eight of them. Adventure over. There’s not really much here, in spite of the page count.

The Plight of Cirria
by Grant & David Boucher
Levels 8-12

This is a tedious wilderness adventure followed by a tedious cloud castle adventure. A poly’d dragon hires you to find her mate and hands you a map. The map, a collection of symbols and directions, may be the best part of the adventure, although it’s very simple. You then get to make 80 wandering monster checks over 20 days. This takes you past a number of mundane encounters that tend toward either the environmental or normal. You also pass two monster hideouts, which at least provide a speed bump. It never amazes me how something exotic and fantastic, like a cloud castle, can be made in to something boring. The descriptions are mundane and boring. In the end you kill a couple of demons and wizards. Joy. Boring. There’s a convoluted trap room that you might be able to salvage, but not much else. It’s just a flat and boring adventure with charm, depth, and very very little interesting and gameable material.

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8 Responses to Dungeon Magazine #9

  1. Reynaldo says:

    You know, I used to regret not picking up the Dungeon Magazines that were around when I was a kid.

    Now I don’t as much.

    • Reynaldo, you are dead on. I bought them haphazardly normally based on a single solid adventure that I had glanced over. I found more often than not that I couldn’t salvage even any decent set pieces. It was as if the writers HAD to fill X amount of pages and it didn’t matter how many dead horses had to be beaten to do the job. I thought maybe some point down the series they would really take off and provide two or three solid usable adventures per issue…it never happened.

  2. PeterD says:

    I figured you’d dislike The Plight of Cirria, because you tend to hate the ones I really liked. I ran this one in my 1st edition GURPS game to great effect. I subbed in the wizard enemy of the PCs from a previous adventure for the guy in the module to make it personal, set it in the deep south of the Forgotten Realms (the cloud castle was over Chult somewhere, IIRC), and modified the hand-out map a bit. It made for a multi-session wilderness adventure the players talked about for a long time. Maybe for the rest of the campaign – they loved the hand-out map puzzle, the encounters on the way, and the cloud castle. It was an interesting location and made for a good place to have it out with their enemy (who escape again, barely, by the skin of his teeth and one roll that went his way, despite great PC tactics.)

    I never ran any of the others, but I got my money’s worth out of that one. I promise I’ll stop commenting after a few issues – I stopped subscribing somewhere in the teens, so I won’t have any direct personal experience with the issues.

    It’s not clear to me yet what you’d consider a good adventure – lots of description is bad, little description is bad, generic is bad, special is bad. At least that’s how it seems – what’s your criteria for a good adventure? You gave the nod to the (very) linear Golden Bowl, which I found kind of weak. Maybe we just have opposite interests in an adventure?

  3. Alex J. says:

    I hope you at least check out issue 18 with Tallow’s Deep and Chadranther’s Bane.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please keep going. Issue 14 has The Wererats of Relfren, and Issue 15 In Pursuit of the Slayer and The Elephants’ Graveyard. I like these and the two that Alex J. mentions.

    The general point you make about the wordiness of some of the adventures is fair, especially when there is a couple of sides of backstory that are unlikely to come to light during play.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ran the Lurkers in the Library multiple times back in the day (junior high or early high school I think). Didn’t think it was completely terrible, as a quick adventure that could be strung together with other stuff.

    • Haakon says:

      I just read “Lurkers in the Library”. I think is the best thing in this issue, because the 3 NPC’s are interesting to me. The Orc attack part is less interesting to me.

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