AA#6 – The Chasm of the Damned

Every 37 years a mysterious chasm appears in a certain region. Never in the same place twice, always in the same general area, and always close to some settlement and ALWAYS a source of adventure … until it disappears exactly 108 hours after appearing, taking everyone still inside with it. The time of it’s appearance is close at hand, so strap on your bastard sword and warm up that wand, it’s time to go adventuring!

This is a cute little hook which allows for a lot of interesting little things to occur. Why is the village suddenly overrun with monsters? The chasm just showed up and it’s caves inhabitants are looking for dinner. Rumor table? Of course! And of course, things may have changed in the last 37 years since the caverns appeared. The clockwork like appearance also allows for rival adventuring groups to be encountered, and there are tables provided, as well as NPC stats, to help the GM determine how many other groups are also raiding the chasm. Those are all nice little touches that actually make sense given the chasm’s backstory.

There are eight small lair dungeons detailed over the three distinct tiers of the chasm. Oh yeah, the bottom tier is filled to a depth of two feet with all sorts of bones. Nice! The various caves are full of beasts, humanoids, and tricks/traps. For example, the first cave is full of ‘super orcs’, along with a corpse full of rot grubs, a couple of prisoners, and a statue/idol with ruby eyes that will … disagree … with looters. Another cave complex just has a couple of beasts, a few undead, and a weird status in a pool that does … weird things. There are also potential allies to be found within the caverns, which means FACTIONS! And factions are a very good thing indeed, it provides opportunity for role-playing and diplomacy. Combined with the NPC parties and the time limit, things could get very interesting indeed. Each complex only has a handful of room, five to eight or so. Some of the caverns interconnect, and two are linked to the history of the chasm proper. A 14th level MU is going to be a challenge for the party, as is the nascent godling nearby.

The backstory is very brief, and the entire product radiates a kind of terseness that reminds me quote a bit of the older TSR modules. In most cases rooms just get a sentence or two of description, with the monster stats worked in to the paragraph, and usually those are just the HP and maybe the HD if that could be variable. Woe be unto the DM who doesn’t have a MM nearby. I appreciate the terseness in the room descriptions, although I do like a little more in the monster stats area. There are three of so new monsters described, a few new magic items if the weird magic variety, and a nice little write-up of the various other NPC groups the parties could encounter.

The product feels a bit … short. Perhaps I’m unconsciously comparing it to the the caves in B2/Borderlands, however the cave systems seem small and there don’t seem to be very many of them. The tricks are pretty good, and there are a fair number of them. There’s not really any real wandering table for the chasm or caverns. The interlinking cave systems are the more interesting ones, from an exploration standpoint, I just wish there were more.

This is available on DriveThru.


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