- By Jeremy Reaban
- Self published
- Levels 2-4
After 200 years, a bold band of adventurers plunded the first level of the dungeons beneath the ruined tower of Reynaldo Lazendry. What horrors await upon the second level of the insane mage?
This fifteen page adventure describes level two of Jeremy’s dungeon, with 56 rooms and a Frakenstein/revivification theme. It’s inconsistent and, it seems, jeremy’s heart just isn’t in it.
I’m always happy to see large dungeons, even when they arrive in installment plan mode, like this one. Big dungeons, exploratory things, are what the game was designed around and really show off the strengths of D&D. The mechanics of the game, at least up until 1e, work well with what large dungeons have to offer. To that end, the map here is an excellent exploratory map, with loops and moderate complexity that really allows the game to show off how it works. Loops, bypassing, dark corridors that anything could be lurking down … it’s all present here.
The theme here of a Frankenstein lab level, with some Herbery West thrown in, is a good one. It allows for a lot of room for weird effects. Stitch some new abominations together, give some severed body parts life, and fill in a lot with creepy things floating in strange liquids in jars. This is expanded upon with other moments, like couches whose seats can be searched for loose coins. If you accept that every waterfall needs a cave behind it then you must also accept that couches need to have things in the cushions. Life has a logic to it and D&D should play to that logic. Players LUV it when their theories and logic make good.
But, all os not good in Charnel Pit land. For every washroom with buckets full of weird eyes and baby shoggoths with attachment issues there are also fifteen rooms where not much effort was put. The food storage room, two, tell us the door is hard to break through but can be picked … and nothing at all about the room other than that. Normal food? Body parts? Anything evocative at all? No. Still, room four, the morgue, tell us that it is as cold as the food storage room. So … it’s the same temp as every other room in the dungeon, because the food storage room told us nothing. Room seven tells us, exhaustively, how many wigs are present of each color even though it has no bearing on the adventure?
The rooms are focused on history and backstory rather than interactivity. The Torture pits tells us that “Twelve of these pits contain people who Lazendry brought back from the dead using the revivification process but were incomplete or somehow not right as referred to by ancient wizards as liveliest awfulness.” So rather than focus on the occupants ,the sights and the smells and how the party might interact with them, we instead get a brief bit of history, justifying why the creatures are here. They are here because we’re playing D&D tonight. Or, we want to anyway.
Monsters, especially in something inspired by Lovecraft, should be awful. In this they are … present? We get descriptions like “strange pre-human beings not unlike ogres with very large mouths” or “appear to be a misshapen human shaped mass of flesh, often with bones exposed and large gaping maws. They are ferociously hungry, even though they don’t need to eat.” You can see hints in these descriptions of something better, but its abstracted to the point of providing little of concrete value to inspire.
Jeremy has a style that he likes to write in, and I don’t always agree with his choices, but in this adventure he seems to be slipping even from that. It feels more like a first draft, or rough notes, than it does a complete adventure. Still, coming from Jeremy, that makes it better than most.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $.50. The preview shows you the entire adventure, something I wish more designers would do. From it you can tell exactly what you are buying before you buy it. Note page three, the first page of rooms, for some of the writing style issues, and then page four and page ten for some light humor and heavier monster descriptions.