By Charles C. Reed
A decent enough little adventure marred by the organization. A village has portents of doom. Some believe and some don’t. A little investigation and/or a timeline can lead to some caves and the hags behind it all. It’s all described in number/dungeon format and that’s too bad. Instead of including all of the information about the people in the description for the locale it should have been broken out to a short description of the “mundane” village locations and another section on the people, personalities, and politics of the situation. There’s an element of the hags using Wands of Frost and plotting in a, what I consider, an un-hag-like manner. Once again, just do the effect, you don’t need a justification from the book. Still, minor points. Some note taking would shorten this to a page or so and make a decent little adventure.
The Amulet and the Underdark
By WDB Kenower
The party is hired to find an amulet. Bandits stole it and sold it to someone who sold it to someone (evil dwarf stronghold!) in the underdark. “The party should not be allowed to kill the bandits if they are of good alignment, after they question them.” Uh huh. It’s also not clear at all how the party is supposed to find out where the amulet actually is in the dwarf town,and the underdark portion is really just glossed over without much detail except for a wandering table. This adventure is super-long for no real reason.
The Forgotten Man
By Steve Devaney
Meh. A story of redemption. You meet a dude in a village who has lost his memory. There’s a big build up with someone coming to find him and a stupid stupid play (plays and carnivals, I just don’t get the fascination with them in adventures.) Dude learns he’s The Evil One and goes back to his castle with his lich pal. Lich pal and his 100 jerlamaine torment the party on and off as they explore. Meet the evil dude again and hope to turn him back again to good. As a story of redemption is sucks. As a dungeon is sucks and is boring & lifeless. As a DM aid it does not help run the adventure in any way other than “here’s a whole lot of words to look at.” IE: it sucks. The set up is fine, if very long and transparent. The entire middle is lame and the end/dungeon is just not interesting.
Into the Nest of Vipers
By Matthew G. Adkins
Oh, I don’t know. Six pages of hook/backstory is a bit much. The 10th level druid who cares a little but not enough to do anything, and the bulk of the dungeon adventure in a “dead magic” zone, along with the length but boring description, make one hard to find something good to say. Six page hook to go find a ranger, find the ranger dead with a note referring to the druid. Druid sends you to dungeon in a dead magic zone where you fight a bunch of bandits. This should be one page, at most, instead of the 16-18 pages it is. There’s just nothing interesting in those pages of detail.
Non-Prophet Organization is a good one, I concur. I think you have underestimated the Amulet and the Underdark. When the PCs know they need to visit the Underdark, they are supposed to report back to base where they are given useful limited duration “appear and speak as duergar” rings. These should allow them to plan the theft of the amulet, which the chieftain is openly wearing. This adventure encourages talking, taking and questioning captives, and planning.
However I do agree with your review of the Forgotten Man, which I believe is something of a fan favourite. It seems a bit heavy-handed to me, although it could spring to life with the right group.
I actually took pieces from every adventure here bitd, one of my favorite issues in that I could use a lot of it. . Even “The Forgotten Man” gives you a cool castle layout, just dump the connect the dots adventure. Nest of Vipers has a good bandit organization you can plane in the wood somewhere for a party to stumble upon.
It’s funny how opinions can vary. I’d agree, The Forgotten Man is far from perfect, but Chris Perkins did say in an interview that it was one of his favorite Dungeons adventures. Considering his role in the development of Dungeons & Dragons, I imagine that might have been taken as a complement by the author.
I think he was the line editor for D&D at one point.
“Nest of Vipers” was great.
I remember having fun running through “Nest of Vipers” – I have never read it but my DM at the time linked the bandits to some priests of Set our party had been beefing with, adding more weight to the “Viper” name,
That’s exactly how I feel about these magazine scenarios, as a GM. You pick out pieces to include (or work on) in your own campaign. Or simply let yourself be inspired to create your own stuff when you need inspiring inputs on where to go now with your own game.
Of course it would be amazing if the adventures were perfect and overly good out-of-the-box. But they doesn’t have to be, in order to inspire and be useful to other GM’s. I think that inspire-aspect is overlooked.