Dungeon Magazine #124

Erik Mona
The Whispering Cairn
Level 1

Part 1 of a promised 12-part Age of Worms adventure path. And a mixed bag. There’s dungeon where you meet a ghost that wants you to bury his bones with his family. In return he will open a door for you. Leaving you find his family graves looted, leading to a small necromancer tower and then back to the dungeon to finish up the exploration. It’s got some decent puzzles and traps and I like the “exit and return” sub-adventure. It feels like it’s been explored over time but it doesn’t feel forced in either that aspect or the dungeon reset component. This thing has a solid core. But … you can also tell it’s a plot dungeon. In fact, it feels like a video game dungeon. Go to the central core. Go to wing one. Go to wing two. Go get key for wing three. The ghost fetch quest also FEELS like a fetch quest. The pretext is just too obvious. The real problem is the text. Mona has done a terrible job in creating something usable by the DM without MOUNTAINS of work. Read-alouds can stretch to four paragraphs. Endless detail in both the read-aloud and DM text. (And the returns of column long stat blocks.) It’s all nonsense background and vague non-specific descriptions. This is another one of those things that needs a SERIOUS edit. Doing so would reveal a decent plot-based adventure.

Temple of the Scorpion God
By Andy Collins & James Wyatt
Level 6

Part two of the Shards of Eberron adventure path. Six rooms, six monster fights. Calling this piece of shit an adventure is an insult to the word. And you know what? It makes PERFECT sense. The intro says these came from a D&D session at GenCon in … 2004. My experience with organized play/RPGA/DDAL have been UNIVERSALLY negative. Nothing more than min/max hack & slash fests. One time they took the character out of my wifes hand when she announced she only had a +1 to hit, stating “you must have built your character wrong.” This adventure is PERFECT for those kinds of ass hats. And before someone chimes in with “Different strokes for different folks.”let me come in a preemptive FUCK. YOU.

Chambers of Antiquities
By Robert J. Kuntz
Level 16

This Maure Castle level is full of treasure vaults and studies. The Maurer levels in Dungeon are so frustrating. Rob has some good ideas and they are well implemented. And they hide behind mountains of useless text about history and background, making the damn things hard to use. There is an INTENT that comes through through, and his DM text, where mechanics are concerned, are pretty well done; understandable without droning on about mechanics. But then you have to wade through three paragraphs of garbage on backgrounds and history and old room uses in order to get there. I wish we could get these levels without all the garbage. Like some of the other levels, the stairs come down in an great open room. Like some of the other levels, the introduction read-aloud for THAT room is pretty great. Like the other levels, the read-aloud falls to simple facts after that, generally useless and uninspiring. And then there are exceptions. For every two well-done mechanics rooms there is one where the mechanics and effects go on for a page. It’s hard to not recommend a Maure Castle level. If you have any interest in the castle then you need this. And if you don’t, or are just intrigued, then start with the old TSR adventure Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventure. For it’s faults, its probably one of the closest things every published to the old Greyhawk-ish campaign dungeon style.

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11 Responses to Dungeon Magazine #124

  1. Landifarne says:

    Why do you bother with the 3E Dungeon Magazine issues any more? Compared to the review of something like The Night Wolf Inn, these have become stale and pointless. Seriously, go back and look at your last three or four Dungeon Mag entries…

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      It’s my own damn fault. I remembered, fondly, the goblin cave-in adventure and thought “wow, there must be other hidden goodies in Dungeon! There must!” Well … maybe …

      In any event, my box of magazines is almost gone, only a couple dozen left. Which means I need to figure out what the Saturday review is going to be. A different magazine, maybe an adventure from outside the OSR (Pathfinder, 5e, One Ring, Ars, OP, etc?) or just more OSR. I’m torn between motivating myself to mine old magazine and my main goal: concentrating on new designers//works Who the fuck really needs another review of the Village of Homlett?

      Feel free to offer suggestions, which I may even listen to …

      • ifryt says:

        So after the Dungeons Magazines, please review more of the new material – OSR and 5th Edition. It’s the most needed. I know there is a lot of crap, but there also happen some gems.

      • Melan says:

        You could look into what’s going on with the 5e Dungeon Masters Guild stuff. Does it offer anything interesting in adventure design, or is it just the same dross that went into Dungeon? Does it have its highly rated classics?

        My only contact with the site was when some loser tried to sell a shoddy 5e conversion of one of my adventures; probably not the best first impression.

      • Buzzclaw says:

        Have you considered reviewing later 2e products that marked the death knell of 2e? Stuff like Oblivion Stone, Castle Spulzeer/Forgotten Terror, and How The Mighty are Fallen. Or the Undermountain series. I also think you might find Hour of The Knife and The Awakening to be interesting.

        It seems like the bulk of reviews in general lean very heavily on AD&D 1e and B/X but not so much on 2e and BECMI.

      • Qwerty says:

        I’d certainly enjoy some 5E reviews.

  2. Kevin says:

    I think it is more of a mission for him. Is it insanity? Probably. However, it is still useful when he does find some quality content. (Nbod’s Room for me)

    • Melan says:

      It is the kind of world record that, like eating the most junk food in one sitting, makes the winner feel a combination of revulsion and a sense of accomplishment. People from the future will not have to subject themselves to it because one day, Bryce had already been there.

  3. Beoric says:

    It’s still possible to get these magazines from Paizo, and the reviews on the website rate this issue as 5/5 stars, so its not like you can rely on them. Bryce is providing a valuable public service.

  4. zarathustra says:

    I say keep reviewing newer, original stuff from any OSR/fantasy genre.

    I believe your instincts are correct and that no-one needs another review of Hommlet, Saltmarsh etc. as yeah, google is right there. I’d sure as hell enjoy it but I’ve got my opinions and experiences of those, 90% of the new stuff I don’t.

    These Dungeon reviews are punishing though- maybe only include if they have something of true interest, not a “could be salvaged if…” because we all have those half-baked ideas by the 1000s.

  5. Nanashi says:

    I have to ask how one does get a mere +1 to hit, even at level 1, in 3.x before penalties. Even with the many intentional traps Monte Cook put in the system I can’t see any player that weak without intentionally gimping themselves. Only three remotely possible ways come to mind: A dex rogue making a melee attack (Symptom of one of 3E’s stupid design ideas by making weapon finesse a thing but requiring rogues wait till third level to pick it up), 10 dex melee character opening with a ranged attack or a caster making a (ranged) touch attack.

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