By Peter C. Spahn
Small Niche Games
The adventure takes place in a cave complex known as the Shrine of St. Aleena which is set in the Chronicles of Amherth™ campaign setting, but may easily be dropped into any remote wilderness region of any campaign world.
This is a thirteen room dungeon, a former holy site overrun by evil. The dungeon proper only takes seven pages, with the wandering monsters taking about five more and the rest of the pages being maps, illustrations, and supporting material in the appendices … including the more lengthy NPC stat blocks. The wandering table is pretty decent, as is the nice description of the area around of the entrance of the dungeon. The dungeon proper is a pretty classic.
This has a vaguely Voldemort villain in it. Evil Bad Guy was killed by a Aleena, who becomes a saint. His evil spirit takes over her shrine as revenge, and his evil presence begins to attract other evil creatures. As a result there’s a sense of corruption in the cave/dungeon mashed-up complex. Evil black tendrils slowly forcing their way in to sealed vaults, snakes in holy sarcophaguses, the corrupted souls of protector spirits (ghouls), and a few classic puzzles to round things out. The pages are averaging about three rooms each, after art, etc. This makes the rooms proper come in at three to four paragraphs each of decently sized font. This is really stretching the limits of what I think you can run at a table without the help of a highlighter. Better to skew non-prescriptive and the let the DM fill in the rest then force a highlighter or a “at the table wumpus hunt” for the details of the room. It’s not exactly pushing in to Wall of Text territory but it is getting closer to that line than I would to see. This is solidly in the non-gonzo category, while still avoiding the Harn-like low-fantasy setting.
The wanderers table here is quite nice, if a bit wordy at a couple of paragraphs per encounter. The variety is nice, like a woodcutter you can recruit that actually a decent warrior, or a medusa, complete with statues, who just wants to be left alone. The only downside here is that the wilderness adventure is not really mentioned at all, so the wandering table won’t get a particularly strong workout unless maybe the party camps in the forest between forays. There’s also a quite nice entryway map/surface map for the dungeon, quite similar to the gatehouse/outdoor area in Stonehell. I really like these foyer-like areas. They do a good job in setting a mood and acting like a transition area to the main dungeon. Plus, it’s got a cave behind a waterfall. I am ALWAYS a sucker for the classics.
Maybe it’s the recent spate of Dungeon Magazines, but I really thought this one was a great example of a classic small exploration dungeon. Maybe a little wordy. Maybe could use a little more imagery of more interesting magic/mundane treasure. But a nice solid little product.
This is available at DriveThru.