Dungeon Magazine #123

Salvage Operation
By Mike Mearls
Level 2

An adventure on a twelve-room wrecked ship, with vermin. Get to the hold, get a crate of loot that you’re paid 200gp for (containing a +5 cloak of protection and several figurines of wondrous power) and then exit the ship while it’s being sunk by a giant squid. The “vermin on a ship” angle is ok, and Mearls read-aloud in this is generally a cut-above the usual Dungeon fare (“Thick webbing coats this room. Bones, shriveled limbs of men and animals, and other gruesome remains dangle from the sticky tangles.”) Still, it has empty skill checks (“If the party doesn’t make the check a random sailor points the fact out.”) and it feels both … empty? And, in spite of the nice-but-not-overdone vermin theme, a little procedural. I really got the sense, in reading this, that it is just a generic adventure formula spiced up a bit. Hook. Slow explore with a couple of monsters. Bad Guy. Dangerous “hidden” area that’s the true location. And then a quick escape! It’s a generic formula and works sometimes, but when you can TELL it’s the generic formula .. .then it loses some luster. It feels constructed rather than imagined.

Crypt of Crimson Stars
By Andy Collins & James Wyatt
Level 6

This looks like it could be the opening for another adventure path. You’re hired for 2000gp to go get a dragonshard from a crypt. Tribal halflings rising velociraptors guard the tomb and must be killed. Lip service is paid to bargaining with them, but you can’t actually get anything out of it except “we delay the combat until you come out of the crypt.” Then you get to “explore” a three room crypt. At least it’s only eight pages for three rooms?

The Amarantha Agenda
By Phillip Larwood
Level 13

Nine pages for one encounter. An evil druid & her tree have taken over an elven outpost and destroyed a nearby city. You get sent to figure out why the outpost didn’t warn the city of the attack, and find/kill the evil druid.

Quicksilver Hourglass
By Anson Caralya
Level 30

The world is ending and you need to stop it. I only hold back a *yawn* because at level 30 “the world is ending” seems like an ok thing to me. This is a dungeon crawl full of combats full of the usual “you can’t skip the encounter” movement/passwall/teleport gimps and ends with a potential 750hp combat with a god. It takes care of the “1 combat work day” thing by aging the party while they are inside “the hourglass”, forcing them to get their asses in gear or die of old age while they long rest. Some of the monsters in this are conceptually nice. “The sphere of Ruined Bodies” and giant undead heads. Otherwise it’s just combat tactics porn, room after room., with a decent little story behind it of a god committing suicide. Too bad that little story/epic premise was wasted in this hack-fest.

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6 Responses to Dungeon Magazine #123

  1. The Mixed GM says:

    Maybe it is just me remembering my love for dinosaurs as a kid…but how can you take a concept as great as halflings riding raptors and make a bad adventure? That’s just…wrong.

  2. Fucktard's Everfull Ass says:

    Midgets on dinos?!? Gurl, u so crazy! 2 bad u adventures blow…

  3. SolCannibal says:

    “An evil druid & her tree have taken over an elven outpost and destroyed a nearby city.” – is it me seeing things or is Amarantha Agenda’s plot a sequel/spin-off to “Root of Evil” in Dungeon 122? Kind of getting the vibe, though Mearls’s adventure is the higher level one…

  4. Nanashi says:

    “. Lip service is paid to bargaining with them, but you can’t actually get anything out of it except “we delay the combat until you come out of the crypt.””

    That’s wrong. In the development section of part 2
    “None of the halflings know about the secret exit (see area 3 below). That exit opens out in the middle of the upper bluff, so if the PCs are careful, they may be able to sneak out of the crypt and avoid the ambush”

    Plus this is a 7th level adventure. Sneaking past them is a realistic proposition, especially if PCs see them while still inside the cave (though explicitly saying this would have been a better use of word count than some other things. “If a halfling spots a PC, he signals his allies to their presence and prepares for battle but does not advance into the cave.”). The two ways that immediately come to mind are using invisibility on a sneaky PC and having him carry the party out in a bag of holding, or dimension dooring far enough away they won’t realize you’re gone.

    The real crime of this series in in 125. That’s a mess and the only problem you saw was linearity. A dragon is used as a random minion to a mere human with no explanation in an explicitly Eberron module. Even for a renegade that’s not how dragons in Eberron work. He needs something like “Noxic sees Lamishal’s plan succeeding as critical to moving the prophecy forward. Most of the Chamber thinks he’s lighting a candle with a Fireball and is engineering fulfillment of this section in more subtle ways.”, “Bitter at being driven from Argonnessen/corrupted by Tiamat, Noxic knows Sharn is home to a lot of Chamber assets, including a few elder dragons, and gladly take the chance to burn them.” or even just “Once southern Breland is consumed by fire Noxic sees it becoming his territory. He might even scavenge some fireproof treasures from the ruins of Sharn.”

    The big-bad’s only fire resistance is from an item he’s holding, he doesn’t even have Endure Elements, yet he hangs out in a room full of lava (there’s even a sidebar saying this area does damage per minute of exposure!) and has been for two weeks. He can’t hold the rod ALL the time! He’s not going to be much of a threat in combat either; All his offense is 100% fire despite the PCs having had plenty of time to prepare for that given it’s blatantly given it’s a blatantly fire themed adventure.

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