Dungeon Magazine #52

This review is not up to my usual standards. This issue really weighed on me. “Jesus fucking Christ how many pages are left?” is not something you want to find yourself saying while reading something you’ve bought for fun.

Spirits of the Tempest
by Mike Selinker
Levels 9-10

This “adventure” is a riff on The Tempest. In that vein it’s organized in Acts and Scenes. IE: a railroad hell hole with very little free will. While I would not want to discourage folks from trying new things it remains that this thing fails in the core purpose: adventure. I’m using that word in a loaded sense that fits in with my core conceit. It’s clear that many/most adventures fall into these event of scene-based encounters. By railroading the players it fails to provide the adventure that is promised, instead turning it into a simple “roll the dice” game. Mike Selinker, I respond to your Shakespeare riff with a riff of my own: I got this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe.

by Willie Walsh
Levels 1-3

This is a simple little 2-page side-trek with a grell. For those of you unaware, side-treks are where dungeon magazine takes what should be a paragraph encounter in an adventure and expands it to two pages. The villagers want you to kill an unknown monster. It’s grell,and lives in a little cave up on a hill. It will push some boulders down on you. *sigh* I like the map though. It’s a nice little encounters map with a road, stream, elevation, boulders, etc. It reminds me a bit of some of the smaller Harn maps … and that’s a compliment by the way.

Welcome to the Krypthome
by Samuel Heath
Levels 1-3

Humor in D&D is a tough thing. Best to take it as it comes instead of forcing it. This adventure forces it. Some dwarves want you to find their brother/kill the monsters in a mine. It’s two goblins with a ring of invisibility and a bag of tricks. Lots of hilarity ensues. All of the room descriptions are NICE and long, with lots of read-aloud and DM information. Long even by Dungeon standards. There is one nice bit though: the dwarves have a boot with their brothers foot in it. Nice imagery there.

The Hurly-Burly Brothers
by Kevin Wilson
Levels 3-5

This reads like a Grimtooth’s room. Two ogres summon a roc, pick up a PC, and drop them into a net in a ruined tower. It ratchets down through a hole in the floor to a room with a giant scorpion, pit & the pendulum style. The other players get to rescue them. It’s timed, so the longer it takes for everyone else to get to the tower them the closer the captured PC is to their fate. I have no idea how this shit gets in to the magazine. Were the submissions really so poor?

My Lady’s Mirror
by Christopher Perkins
Levels 6-8

This is a sequel to “Lady of the Mists”. Many people like Lady of the Mists. This adventure has very little to do with it. This is an adventure in a castle that has been overrun. It’s got quite a few levels, and at 65-ish rooms its quite a bit more substantial than most Dungeon adventures. While the wizards away their Mirror of Life Stealing gets broken and everyone inside freed. The prisoners fight a bit and massacre most of the servants in the castle. Two who escaped plead with you to free the castle, look for their friends, etc. There are six or so of the prisoners left in the castle, and a lot of dead servants and few more hiding, etc. The adventure recognizes that it is, essentially, a social one and takes advantage of that. The former prisoners have several factions and various motivations. Most of these revolve around “getting their stuff back” and “revenge on the wizard.” As such they are generally willing to talk, unless they suspect the characters are in the service of the wizard. There’s some looting going on with the former servants, some hiding, some random demon evil-doing, and so on as well. This layering of things going on really gives the thing a life that most adventures don’t have. The room descriptions are crap and overdone, as was the style at the time. There could be more advice on the former prisoners, and the faction element, timeline of events, could be played up more. S greatly simplified map with the room names written on it, the NPC descriptions/stats, and about a page of text would greatly reduce the bullshit and make this one a solid C or B.

Laughing Man
by Paul F Culotta
Levels 5-9

This is just an NPC, really, for a Ravenloft game. It’s a ghost killed when he was laughing. Two pages.

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10 Responses to Dungeon Magazine #52

  1. Greg M. says:

    Nobody left you a comment? That’s sad. Everybody is feeling beaten down by DUNGEON Magazine at this point.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mike Selinker contributed two more Shakespearean pastiches: Dark Thane Macbeth in
    issue 54, and Lear the Giant King in 78. If memory serves, I didn’t like them too much. If
    you are going to stick to the plot, railroading seems inevitable. I haven’t read it, but apparently
    there was a Dragonquest adventure “The Blade of Allectus” which was based on the Tempest. It seems to have garnered some good reviews.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      I’m not judging, but your “Catalog all Shakespearean-themed adventures” hobby seems a bit niche …


      • Anonymous says:

        Some might argue that UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave is a reworking of Romeo and Juliet……

        The question is, can you take Shakespearean themes and produce an enjoyable adventure rather than a predictable railroad? Blade of Allectus might be the answer, but I’ll leave that judgement to someone who has actually read it!

  3. krebizfan says:

    Blade of Allectus just lays out the island with the philosopher mage, daughter, monsters, and others and then leaves the PC group to decide how to deal with the situation. That is the format for most successful RPG adaptions of media: let the PCs interact with interesting NPCs and see what happens. Others fall into the trap of trying to map the RPG experience to the original. I think there were another dozen or so Shakespeare inspired adventures from various publishers of middling quality.

    Worked out for Selinker in the long run as he had a lengthy professional game design career.

  4. badmike3 says:

    The idea behind My Ladys Mirror is a good one, i had a lot of fun with it and made up a few of my own psycopaths to add to the mirrors escapees when i ran it years ago.

  5. John says:

    I’m considering running Krypthome at a con next spring…should be good for some laughs. I thought “My Lady’s Mirror” was superb (as was “Lady of the Mists”).

    Question: have you ever seen “Palace of Queen Ehlissa”?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey! You found my (ancient) adventure in Dungeon magazine and reviewed it! Sorry about the long descriptive text… I was trying to be overly expository, and the players in my local game liked the descriptions. As for the humor: it worked in high school, trust me. 20 years later… yeah, it could have used some work. 🙂

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