Pig-faced orcs and a handful of special trick rooms elevate this above the rest of the mediocre elements.
Orcs! The lands of man are once more under attack by these foul bests. The party must seek out and confront this unusually organized group and confront the demonic forces that whisper to them.
Yes, they are pig-faced orcs. Now THAT’S out of the way …
This module contain a three level dungeon and cave system. The first level is the domain of the orcs, the second an old temple complex, and the third is an extended trap/puzzle with only two real encounters. The introduction is short and to the point: a group or unusually organized orcs is raiding the nearby village and farms and the players are encouraged to stop it. There’s a nice 16 entry rumor table and some notes on adding hirelings to the party. All of this fits in to about 1.5 pages. This beginning section is just about perfect and is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in an OSR adventure. It’s short, contains a small & simple hook, and has a nice and extensive rumor table taking up almost half a page, or 1/3rd of the introduction. It doesn’t really skip anything either; it has a section explaining the stats, where to get pre-gens, an introduction, background for the DM, how to get to the caves, a camping site, and a section on hirelings. There’s not real information on the village, past the hirelings, and no wilderness adventure, however the rest of the introduction is excellent. It’s JAM PACKED and should serve as an example on how to write and edit a module lead-in.
The first level, the orc caves, is of middling size with 6 or so rooms, and is unfortunately quite linear. It reminds me a lot of the maps for the Caves of Chaos, especially those first few caves. There’s a side passage here or there, but essentially it’s just one long passage that sometimes runs through rooms and sometimes has a door or two to side rooms. This is unfortunate. It turns this initial section of the adventure in to little more than a hack-fest since there is not much opportunity for bypassing or exploring areas. There is a nice list up front of all/most of the orcs in this section so the DM knows how many will be showing up if and when a pitched battle occurs. I appreciate those lists in adventurers in which the monsters should be making an attempt to repel invaders; it saves me a lot of module prep work. There are A LOT of orcs in here; more than 40 standard warriors alone. Remember those hirelings? I hope the party took advantage of that option … There’s also a nice little note about more orcs showing up to reinforce the caves if the party camps out or returns to town. Again, that’s a nice touch and appreciated; it shows a commitment to a living and breathing dungeon. Unfortunately that’s the only real example of that on this level. This level is really just a series of standard rooms with orcs in them. The last is an exception and contains the Idol of the Orcs.
Smart parties will find their way on to level 2. Again the map is not too interesting. You might think of it as being laid out like a ‘+’ sign, with rooms and doors on each of the four legs of the plus. This level has about eight rooms. It’s small size holds some undead, and animal or two, and two examples of the kid of weird stuff I like to see. Once is a room with ghostly trophies and the second is a magic chalice. Both provide the kind of weird and strange exploration environment I’m looking for. The party gets to play with the chalice and the trophies are … strange. Thee’s also a very nice trap room that’s a near perfect example. It’s freaky, strange, non-standard, and completely obvious once the party figures it out. I like. A better map and more empty rooms to break up the weird ones would have made me happier. As it is the level feels cramped with too much on top of each other. Then again, it’s only eight rooms and there’s only so much one can do with a level of that size.
The third level is really just one big maze with two encounter rooms in it. Those two rooms are VERY well done trick rooms. Those, in combination with the special rooms on the second levels, really reveal some great potential in the author. There’s a nice imaginative element lurking in him that needs to utilized more.
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