DB3 – Deeper Darkness

This is a Castles & Crusades adventure, however it can be used with any pre-4E version of D&D.

This is a continuation of module DB2 and adds three more levels on to that dungeon. The maps are very linear and the chambers tend to be a bit bland and crawling with creatures. Each level has a different theme: gargoyles, bugbears, and serpent-men.

This product adds three more levels on to the Crater of Umeshti dungeon , first seen in module DM2 – Crater of Umeshti. You may want to go back and reread that review to get the backstory on the Crater, and how the party came to be on the fourth level. The maps for this product are one again very linear. It’s really just a wide circle of hallways/rooms that surround the central pit of the crater. There are a few side passages here and there and an occasional interesting detail, such as a robe bridge across the crater on level five or stairway from level three to level four, however for the most part this is a linear crawl. Each level will be dealt with in turn and then the next will be explored. This is really a shame. This level has more openings on to the central pit than others, however the party is probably not high enough level yet to fly or have other means of hopping between openings. The concept of the dungeon is a good one however the cramped feelings of the maps and their linear design really work to prevent any meaningful explorative play. A true three-dimensional dungeon complex would be a nice thing to see. The maps are STILL too small, just one-third of one column. I’d love to see these as downloadable on the website; my eyes get fatigued just thinking about them.

Level the fourth is home to a large group of gargoyles. This levels has about 15 keyed locations and every room, save one or two, has a creature in it; invariably hostile. There are a few vermin to break up the gargoyles, and tomb complex with a few undead in it. The tomb has a puzzle to two to work out, including how to get in. This provides a nice change of pace the from “See Gargoyle. Kill Gargoyle” routine encountered in most of the chambers. There’s also a group of trapped adventurers that the party can rescue. It’s pretty lame that they have a wand of undetectable alignment. Yeah, I know, otherwise they’d get slaughtered right from the get go, probably. I just hate that kind of stuff. It’s a kind of forced economy and gimping the party. I’d rather see the other party have more complex motives and there be a better reason for the PC’s to cooperate. It’s too easy to just say they are scum slavers and have magic that conceals their intentions. Divination magic gets the short end of things from most groups; I like to see it pay off.

The fifth level is full bugbear and ogre outlaws. This level is another straight-forward 16 keyed location hack-fest. Every room but one has a monster encounter in it. There is a small trapped area and a fountain that can be repaired for a boon, however for the most part it’s just a really linear hack. There’s a rope-bridge across the central pit shaft which may end up as an exciting encounter. I suspect it was written to be that way. There’s also a foundry and a prison where the party may gain some allies. They are not very interesting as presented and will need some work to beef up their personalities.

The sixth level is one of the more interesting. It’s also very linear however only about half the chambers have creatures in them. Those are the Thune, a new monster race of extra-planer jerk-faces. They have a strong culture and lots of abilities. Kind of like a cross between the Drow (abilities), Yuan-ti (bloodlines) and Mind Flayers (planer, culture, evil.) There are a few new magic items to be encountered here. They are very interesting and provide some nice new effects. There is also a lot of strange stuff for the party to poke & prod. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really do anything, positive or negative, if the party interacts with it, making it just window dressing. Window dressing is good however a nice opportunity was lost in not presenting effects. There’s a section of rooms underwater in this area, and there is a little more than a column of rules inserted just before that section that explains underwater effects and how the parties abilities will interact with their underwater environment. Movement, temperature, spells, drowning, invisibility, being swept away, etc. This level is all too short.

This module, when taken with module DB2, appear to be attempting a mega-dungeon. There are a few problems with that. The maps are not big enough or interesting enough to truly get an exportation feel. The small cramped maps feel even smaller because of the lack of empty rooms; every room has something to slay. The limited mobility between levels and small level maps mean that there’s not really an opportunity for factions. There are some one-liner comments here and there in the text about hiring the party, however these are usually overshadowed by the “attacks immediately” type verbiage that is quite liberal. This limits factions. IN addition, the lack of a coordinated response to invaders, and “they use ambush tactics” is not addressing the issue, means more work for the DM ahead of time to work out who’s coming to who’s aid and when. The lack of exploration elements, empty rooms, traps, weird scenes and things to play with, makes the crawl a little one-dimensional.

You coulda been somebody kid. You coulda been a contender.

This is available on DriveThru.


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