By Tim Krause
Tomorrow River Games
… The party has already delved into the depths of the mountain and stand at a crossroads where they have difficult choices. They have already defeated almost all of the creatures at Lord Keraptis’ command, rendering him far less sinister or capable of exherting his influence on the land. But do they risk it all and delve deeper into the mountain to eliminate Lord Keraptis for good? What if something more sinister awaits them?
This 86 page adventure is a compendium of three different ones; three levels of a dungeon, with about 80 or so rooms overall. It’s about Keraptis, from White Plume Mountain, with the first level written back in the 80’s and the other two more recently. Tending to the minimal side of things, it’s pretty your basic low-grade ToH. It got some goofiness to it, in the log, in the same way a jr high adventure does. An arbitrariness.
Well, I just don’t know where to start.
This thing has some minimalism going on. Not the extreme kind found in VAmpire Queen, but a very plan facts like style. One of the rooms tells us that “The passage seems to end here in dense vines and the trunks of three large trees. The vines are from a Lurker Above and the tree trunks are Xorn.” That’s the room, all of it. Page after page of that, which is how the designer gets 75+ rooms in to about 20 pages … while still including big art pieces.
It is, essentially, only the mechanics that are included. “This is no saving throw or ability for the players to find this trap. It till instantly teleport them to …” is a phrase written more than once. There’s a certain minimalistic charm to this style. Kind of like one of those modern home living rooms that are all white with one simple L couch in the middle. Ok, yes, It fulfills the basic purpose I guess. But can’t we do just a little more to make it livable? “This room contains no creatures but has all of the implements to torture poor victims.” is not exactly Joyce.
There’s no real joy to this. The descriptions don’t really spark the DM much at all. A chest contains “It contains 30 pieces of jewelry, 40,000 gold pieces and three randomly determined magic items.” Well, ok, yes, I guess that’s a 4e treasure-parcel kind of thing? It’s the journey, not the destination in D&D. All of that gold and shit, yeah, we want it for XP, but it’s the fun of it that we’re really after. And “30 pieces of jewelry” isn’t really very fun. (Nor is an exhaustive list. Oh no! Adventure writing can be hard! Especially at high levels!”)
There’s this goofy simplistic thing it’s got going on also. An almost arbitrary thing. A dragon tries to surrender, if you almost kill him. If you DO kill him then his treasure just disappears. If you walk through a certain wall you take damage. But if you then jump in a river with your armor on you get healed. Its just … disconnected? This weird sort of logic. I know, I say don’t explain shit, it’s magic”, but there’s this sense of the arbitrary that I don’t like. Not explaining why is different from things just being arbitrary.
Wandering monsters happen on a 10% chance every turn. But … if you short/long rest then it’s only 10% every hour. This being 5e I’m sure that’s an attempt to control the resource game, but, still, man, that’s a little rough eh?
This is COMPLETELY unlike any other 5e adventure I’ve seen. It’s got a very “i made this in jr high and then edited it as an adult” thing going on. It feels more like an art project, like that kickstarter that made book of jr high published adventures. A curiosity, nothing more.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a currently suggested price of $2. There’s no preview.https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/253687/In-the-Dungeon-of-the-Wizard-Lord-Keraptis?affiliate_id=1892600