Dungeon Magazine #94

d94
Bloodlines
By Luke Johnson
3e
Level 7

A simple dungeon-crawl with betrayal at the end. My life is a living fucking hell. MASSIVE read alouds. Almost seven full pages before room one. Irrelevant maps. A wall of force that can be raised or lowered at will so the baddie can monologue. The dude who hires you “watches your progress with magic” and then betrays you. Perhaps the definition of Wall of Text. Even though this has line breaks it has more Wall of Text than the people who don’t know what a line break is. Line after line of irrelevant detail clogging the thing up. Formatting to make a reader weep (which, in the designers defense, may be a Dungeon Magazine issue.) One room tells us there is a keyhole on both sides of the door. This is really nothing more than an expanded lair dungeon with nothing interesting going on in it. Just mundanity: Traps & combats, both boring.

Still reading? How about we have a contest and everyone tries to rewrite the following. I’ll give the winner some prize.
“The room is empty, but careful searching might benefit the PC’s. The far left corner of the room at one point has a wooden shelf; a successful Search check (DC 20) allows a character to find four holes bored into the stone in this location. The holes held pegs that supported the shelf and are arranged in a horizontal line, about a foot apart from each other and 5 feet off the ground. They are each a little wider than a thumb and extend into the wall almost a foot and a half. There is a secret compartment being what used to be the shelf. A successful Search check (DC 22) allows a character to discover the release mechanism: simultaneously pressing two small catches located in the two opposite holes. Two stone blocks slide apart, revealing a shallow alcove (1 foor deep, 1 foot high, and 2 feet long) Inside is the TREASURE.”

Note: the treasure is not the Hand of Vecna, but just three potions.

The Last Hunt
By James Wilbur
3e
Level 4

Escort an old knight in a forest for the last hunting trip of his life. Nine pages for five encounters: the soul of brevity. It’s just five scene based encounters. The only interesting one, in any way, is an encounter with a neighboring lord who accuses the knight of poaching. There’s just nothing here. A few set piece combats? Is that what THE FANTASTIC has come to?

The Excavation
By Michael T. Kuciak
3e
Level 3

A side-trek fighting a dretch and some ghouls in ruins.

Worms in the Exchequery
By Frank Brunner
3e
Level 15

The party is sent into the treasury to find some thieves inside. This is a stupid fucking adventure that is absolutely wonderful in the world it builds. Planescape, Vornheim, ASE1/Towers … “The Royal Halberdiers of the Reticulated Castellan” and “Attend, sors, the excises therein are for the public dikes and flood season draws nigh!” WONDERFUL! “You can’t just leave my husband trapped in there like common riffraff. What is a portal to the Hells has opened? The Hells are for commoners, not nobles!” Wonderful NPC rumors, all in the same vein as the above. There’s some bullshit around keeping divination magic from working. Otherwise, this is just a short six room adventure with a couple of combat, including the finale with some shadowdancer thieves. The beginning is definitely the best part, with the adventure proper being a major come down from there.

Spiral of Manzessine
By David Noonan
3e
Level 11

A joyless adventure putting the characters in the middle of an escape attempt at a prison for mind flayers. Forced combat after forced combat on a map that is almost completely linear. TO get the players to divert to the prison there’s a column of text explaining a cave-in and how each different way around (spells, mostly) will fail. Airtight doors. SIgils and magic tattoos every to ensure the mind flayers don’t escape. Bodak guards who avert their gaze for the prison staff. A door that summons a gelugon every time someone crosses the threshold. A double cross from a prisoner. (No double crosses! Fuck it’s tiresome! SOMEONE has to not double cross the party or the party will never trust ANYONE, and the roleplay with evil monsters allied is much more fun than Just Another Stinking Combat.) Set piece combats. Forced situations. It’s like adventure design has devolved into some weird exercise in which the DM uses the rules to nerf the party and build a monster via kits that can defeat them. The emperor has no clothes!

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12 Responses to Dungeon Magazine #94

  1. Fucktard's Everfull Ass says:

    Three mouthfuls of squirming blue termites have a hidden nest in a lonely rotten shelf in this otherwise empty room. Eating one mouthful heals d8+1 hit points.

    • Hal says:

      This gets my vote (after 5 comments), hands down. I especially like the unit of measurement.

      • Fucktard's Everfull Ass says:

        Thanks. Needs some minor tweaking, but I wrote it while taking a crap that morning, so it’s not too bad under the circumstances.

  2. Gleblix says:

    “HOLEY ROOM: Sacked by a disappointed looter. Old, dusty furnishings, smashed and upturned, including a wooden shelf with a secret button ripped from the wall. 4 mounting holes for shelf bored in wall, 1′ apart, 3″ diameter, 1.5′ deep. Secret alcove opened by pressing catch at end of two end-holes. 3 potions inside.

    Features: Secret alcove containing 3 potions.”

    Screw DC search checks.

  3. Beoric says:

    You need to include DCs for a 3e game, but there’s no reason you can’t indulge in a little remedial DM/player education:

    “This room is featureless except for a series of holes in the wall in the far left corner, which are all that remains of a 3 foot wooden shelf. The holes are large enough to accommodate a finger, and can be found with a DC 20 Search check, or automatically if the PCs are searching the walls (as for secret doors). There are catches inside the holes which will open a small compartment containing the treasure. The catches can be found with a DC 22 Search check, or automatically if the holes are closely inspected.”

    I’m assuming we aren’t adding any clues that weren’t in the original; otherwise I would be inclined to have rotting pegs sticking out of the holes, which would be obvious and mentioned in the preceding boxed text. Who puts a wooden shelf in a cistern, anyway?

  4. Gus L says:

    Dusty Cube:
    Swept disturbingly clean, close examination will reveal several splatters of blood on the ceiling and a set of holes bored in one corner. There are catches in two of the holes that will open a Hidden Wardrobe if pressed simultaneously.

    Hidden Wardrobe – A stone stall, barely big enough to stand in, containing rotten clothing and three vials of magical elixir: a black tarry Philter of Hate (+2 attack +1 damage, 1 point AC penalty for 20-WIS turns), An ivory tub of greenish Wax of Division (1D6+3 applications, each allows a normal cutting weapon to strike weapon immune creatures), and a red glowing test tube of Artificial Light (will act as a light spell if agitated, lethally poisonous if ingested).

  5. James MacKenzie says:

    Opulent carpets and couches once decorated this chamber, but gnawing giant rats have left them ragged and filthy. The only undamaged item is a shelf of mildewed mahogany too high on the wall for the rats to reach. Four small holes in the wall beneath it may once have supported similar shelves, but two of them also hold hidden catches (Search DC 22 to spot them). Pressing both catches open a hidden niche, in which sits a tarnished hand mirror, the Glass of the Sodden Countess.

    Once a prized possession of Countess Khowderei (a noblewoman infamous for her drunken misadventures), the Glass must be thoroughly polished before it will function properly. The Glass can be used to store potions (and other potables) by pouring them into it. The possessor then need only name the stored drink to see her reflection appear to quaff the named beverage. The possessor then tastes it and feels its effects. The mirror currently holds two shots of single-malt whiskey, a tankard-full of northern mead, two Potions of Lesser Restoration (just the thing for hangovers), and a Philtre of Delusion (for 30 minutes, it gives the drinker the mistaken idea that she can read others’ most secret desires). The mirror radiates a moderate dweomer of illusion.

    Along with the mirror, the niche holds a note in common. It reads “two single-malt, one northern, two hair of the dog, and hearts’ secrets”.

  6. Qwerty says:

    “Apparently empty room. A secret compartment in the left wall (Search DC 22) hides three potions.”

  7. anteprepro says:

    The floors are scraped and scoured, room barren save one crumbling shelf in the corner, covered in patches of moss. There is a faint scent of mildew. Hidden beneath the shelf are four small and grimy holes, suitable for prodding by a stick, or poking from a courageous finger. Doing so in the first or last hole prompts a peculiar grinding sound. Pressing into both at once makes the stones of the wall slowly separate with a tremendous grinding noise, revealing “The Alcove”.

    “The Alcove” is a small, moist cavern covered in mushroom and mold growths. Shattered green glass and a strange bluish green glowing liquid fill a small pool in the center of the room. Three green bottles with no labels are tucked in the corner.

    The liquid here magically enhances plant and fungal growth. For humanoids and most animals, could either result in changing size, internal fungal growth, transformation into a myconid, temporarily learning to speak fluent Plant, or simply tasting the distinct flavor of truffle oil. Oozes and sentient plant-like creatures will recklessly pursue this liquid if it is nearby while animals fearfully and instinctively avoid it.

  8. Paul says:

    “The room is empty but careful searching might benefit the PCs. A DC 20 search check reveals the remains of a shelf in the far left corner. The wooden pegs and board have long since rotten away, but close examination reveals a secret switch which opens a small compartment behind the shelf which contains 3 dusty bottles of halfling wine. The years have transformed the vintage into potions of lesser healing (or similar potions at DM discretion).”

  9. James MacKenzie says:

    (Going for Brevity:)
    Looted Armory Chamber – A secret compartment under a shelf opens when hidden catches in peg holes are pressed (DC 22 Perception). It holds three gourds filled with goblin-made Haste potions. Users feel overwheming hunger after the haste effect ends: Save (Will DC 16) or devour all available food items.

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