By Shane Ward
Halfway between here and there is a small roadside Inn. A weather worn wooden sign stands outside of the door “Adventurers wanted, apply within”. Weary from the road, you stand outside the Inn, smoke rises from the chimney promising a warm evening. The inside of the Inn is small and cozy, a set of stairs lead up to much needed beds. The small bar is decorated with old suits of rusted armour, a bookshelf with musty tomes and a large map of the countryside. The bar is empty save for a small gnome who is fast asleep at a table, smoke curls from his pipe.
I continue to be out of sorts. I’m hoping to settle back down come April.
This twelve page adventure details a ten room dungeon using five pages. It has a throwback quality, with room nearly its own little isolated thing. Not really evocative writing, but the DM text doesn’t overstay its welcome and the basic/nostalgia factor is high with this one.
Goblins hoot and holler while whipping prisoners chained to a wall. Smoke pours from under a doorway with figures inside dancing around a glowing orb. An old crone sites near a pool of bubbling black water. Zombies stand knee deep in purpleish slime tearing a body apart to feast upon. A troll slumbers in front of a door, with a large brass key around his neck. A stone well filled with black liquid sits under a terrifying mural drawn in feces and blood.
You know, I said the writing wasn’t evocative but the encounters sure as hell are. Just about each of the ten rooms features a little vignette, described in a sentence or two. These are basic encounters; they feel like bookcases that turn to reveal a secret passage or Harryhausen skeletons. Basic but iconic. That’s the main appeal of this adventure. There’s a charm to these encounters. Almost randomly strewn together, that just lends to the overall effect of mystery.
WTF is going on here? The gnome locks you in his basement after luring you there with rumors of treasure. Inside if a demon that trades the gnome longevity potions in return of victims willingly entering the dungeon.
Curses, weird potions, new magic items, +1 swords … the adventure has what you would expect from a basic Holmes adventure. The encounters capture the weird charm and iconic non-Tolkein/non-high adventure vibe from the early dungeoneering days. It’s easily worth $1 if you are in to such things, and could serve as a nostalgic one-shot.
This is PWYW at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $1. The preview contains the entire twelve pages of the adventure.https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/234962/Dusty-Door?affiliate_id=1892600
Thank you very much for the review. I appreciate it.
I’d love to see a post on non-Tolkein, non-high adventure vibe. I’m certain know exactly what you mean, but I’d like to see specifics by someone who can articulate it and put their finger on the details.