The Tomb of Raven Darkmore

By Joseph Mohr
Old School Role Playing
Levels 9-12

Raven Darkmore is the legendary Grandfathr of Assassins. He has ruled the night for the last forty years. Now he has been laid to rest. The location of his tomb has been a mystery until recently. A pair of thieves have found the location. Unfortunately, one of them died, trying to explore the tomb. His partner decided that he needed a little help. He has contacted the party offering to lead them to the tomb for a share in the treasure. But not everything is as it appears. The thief leading the party to this tomb is not trustworthy. And the tomb is not as empty as it might seem.

This 27 page adventure describes a small 23 room tomb dungeon with a “central star” layout. It stuffed full of high level baddies, all living in harmony, waiting to kill the party. And is in single-column format. And is dull.

Do you think your life has meaning? Let us assume you were locked up, today, in solitary confinement for the rest of your life, with little to no agency in your life from now on. Let us contrast that to the life you have now, or, perhaps, what you imagine to be #BestLife. Is one more meaningful than another? Can the choices and outcomes of either life be declared to be meaningful … because there can be no meaning, making everything, essentially, the same, and the struggle against the absurd what brings value? But, what if there is no struggle? What if you are not aware of it? Sometimes, reality has a way of slapping you around and challenging those beliefs of your. Reality, in this case, in the form of The Tomb of Raven Darkmore.

Blah blah blah. Grandmaster of Assassins dead, buried in a tomb, thief dude finds it and recruits to you help him loot it. He will, of course, betray you and, of course, the GM isn’t actually dead but is hanging out inside with all of his assassin buddies. As in, there are ten 10’ squares with ten high-leve dudes in the room, about half assassins. If you follow the DM advice then they just backstab instead of doing their assassinate strike. Oh, and then there’s the ghost that hangs out in the tomb. And the two bad-ass vampires running around. And the mummy lord priest. And the Death Knight. All in a small tomb complex laid out like a central star. No one really cares that you’re there, or hunts you down, or really cares that anyone else is there either. They just hang out in their little rooms, waiting for someone to come visit so they can attack. 

This is the problem with tomb adventures. This is the problem with ihg level adventures. A static environment with unintelligent undead for low level adventurers is not the same as a high-level adventure with intelligent (super intelligent) undead. If this were a low level adventures, returned, then it would just have the “I am a boring tomb adventure” problem to solve. But, as a high level adventure, is has to solve all of the high level adventure problems also, and it just doesn’t try at all. They are all just there, waiting. 

And I didn’t even mention the two assassin patrols or the black pudding or the hang of displacer beasts wandering around. There are, of course, a lot of traps. 

It’s all in single column. It’s gots continuity errors. The ghost loves his wife, but I guess he never leaves his own tomb to go find her missing bones? Plus, her tomb is LITERALLY on the other end of the room, an open room. And her locket is in her crypt. But he’s never gone over there to find it? And then, when her bones DO show up, later in the adventure in another room, they are labeled as HIS bones, not hers. It’s like no one tried.

A chapel to a forgotten god. A tomb with an alter to the same god. That’s the detail you get. Nothing special. All abstracted. Everything boring and generic, when it exists at all. The descriptions are all facts and mechanics. Both doors are locked with extremely complicated locks (-50% to picking.) Of course. “The coffins of the king and queen lie side by side in death. Dominik and Eliza were king and queen of a minor kingdom that once existed in this area. They died nearly 400 years ago during a war that engulfed this region.” That’s your room description. Enjoy. Abstracted detail. Non-existent detail. This is like a randomly generated dungeon. Just roll on the DMG chart and put the monsters in and slap a trap down in each room.

This is not D&D. Oh, I know, one true-way-ism and all that fuckery. Why bother writing an adventure when you could just randomly roll on tables to produce the same thing? 

The highlight of the adventure is Ghosty McGhostface, who will help you, maybe, in the final fight, maybe, if you find his wife’s bones. Maybes. There are essentially no room descriptions. Maybe one room has “murals of his best assassinations.” Everything else is backstory and trivia, when it has descriptions at all. 

Love bland descriptions with an emphasis on mechanics? Do I have an adventure for you!

And, of course, there’s no level range given on the cover. Or in the product description. Why bother? Three stars on DriveThru. Ouch!

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $3. The preview is six pages. For that, you get to see the level range, on the title page, as well as two pages of wandering monsters in the wilderness. Bad preview. Previews need to show you something of the meat of the encounters, what you will actually be buying.

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16 Responses to The Tomb of Raven Darkmore

  1. Avi says:

    A hang of displacer beasts is like a pride of lions?
    Just a thank you for saving me the time to read this 😉 (and many others….)

  2. John Paquette says:

    Some of this fellow’s adventures are available for free on Dragonsfoot. I got the first couple, and then decided that “free” was too high a price.

    • Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

      Yeah, if I recall correctly, they are all high-level slogs with a lot of homebrew setting backstory… not exactly my bag.

  3. Gnarley Bones says:

    I’m just going to throw out there that the AD&D “Clerics Turning Undead” table makes including undead in high-level modules a fruitless endeavor. A 12th level cleric turns a vampire on a 10.

  4. Shuffling Wombat says:

    From the preview, it only appears that the thief will try and pickpocket a magical dagger that the PCs might obtain. Does he actually fight for the assassin/vampire/whatever other creatures could be found in the monster manual alliance? 9th-12th level PCs should be casting detect evil, know alignment, ESP, detect lie, etc.
    You seem to have discovered a journeyman author with a considerable number of free offerings. This one sounds poor; high level adventures are not easy to write, you have to take into account PC abilities without unfairly limiting actions. “Adventures in the Wild Woods”, yet another of these villages beset with bandits, monsters etc., is a decent (but not great) offering.

  5. Dave says:

    Totally putting an emo goth assassin named Raven Darkmoor in a game now. There’s always something usable.

    I draw the line at “Darkmore” rather than “Darkmoor” though. That’s a bridge too far.

  6. Oswald says:

    I almost wonder what an adventure would be like where all npcs are sitting for eternity in their own rooms, barred from knowing the existence of other rooms or thinking of leaving; literally staring out at the door mouth agape waiting on players to enter. Some kind of wizard spell placing them all in quantum states.

    • Chris says:

      I’m imagining something like Superman’s “Phantom Zone”, with it’s creators presumably long gone.

      • Karel Hynek Macha says:

        I like the long-gone creators idea. Oswald, your idea of NPCs ignorant mental states is horrifying, and could make an interesting short story.

        But I’d rather play a module in which the NPCs and monsters trapped in the wizard’s prison (or the dead pantheon’s prison) are conscious of their predicament, sustained by magical means, likely insane from confinement several times beyond their normal lifespan. The NPCs could have piecemeal information and maps (and treasure that is useless to them) that the PCs could combine to navigate the array of prison cells safely (and figure out what many of the cells contain ahead of time). The crazed NPCs could blow their one chance at liberation, and the PCs could murder (in self-defense) the people who have the informational key to the PCs and NPCs getting out alive.

        • Oswald says:

          Now we’re getting somewhere. Your idea adds a ton more gameplay. Each npc should auto attack thoughgettimg them to calm down could allow for allies. Each npc should auto attack on a different way, some fall from the ceiling, some burst from the ground, others have gadgets and whatsits on them.

        • Nick says:

          This is a brilliant idea! What drives the characters to explore the place?

          I ask, because motivation is often difficult to get right for high level adventures.

        • Chris says:

          I think it would work best if the PCs did not initially know what the place was and if enough of those NPCs engaged them in strange conversations rather than combat that it took a while to figure it out. If every door that they open inadvertently sets some BBEG free, it could fuel a campaign for a long time.

  7. OSR Fundamentalist says:

    >And is in single-column format. And is dull.
    I find this true of all Mohr’s works. He is the Filbar-guy of OSRIC.

  8. Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    Both doors are locked with extremely complicated locks (-50% to picking.) Of course.

    Great, it’s not like thieves aren’t totally useless at low levels, and finally hit their stride at this level range.

    “The coffins of the king and queen lie side by side in death. Dominik and Eliza were king and queen of a minor kingdom that once existed in this area.

    Dominik and Eliza? Was their kingdom Paramus, New Jersey?

    • Shuffling Wombat says:

      Has the competition for the least convincing faux medieval monarch names begun? Time to celebrate King Wayne and Queen Waynetta. (Harry Enfield characters.)

  9. Knutz Deep says:

    Raven Darkmore sounds like an emo vampire Larp character

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