By Joseph Robert Lewis Dungeon Age Adventures OSR/5e Levels 1-3
Everyone says the world is dying. Today you meet a stranger who has already seen it happen. She has traveled back through time to save the world…but only if you can save her! An eldritch woman from the future begs you to save her from her sister, who wants to drag her back to her own time. To close the time portal, you must climb down through the buried corpse of a kraken. The prize? A giant diamond worth 10,000 GP…if you can pull it out of the portal!
This 28 page adventure features a dungeon in a fossilized kraken with about 22 or so rooms. It has a kind of airy, dreamlike thing going on. Mythic, but not in an epic way, you feel like you’re somewhere else. Excellent writing, interactivity, and all the rest combine to create something that you’re excited to run and share with your players. Dungeon Age seldom disappoints.
What is “good”? This is one of those things I like, even in real life, that drives the people around me crazy. See a movie with the girlfriend and she asks “Did you like it?” and I respond “What does like mean?” … in all seriousness. This thing, though, is clearly good … whatever that means. 😉
It has this kind of mythic, airy feel. Almost dreamlike. Not EPIC, although the set up could be construed as that. Not a dream, but this otherworldliness feeling even though it is, essentially, a dungeon. It’s a combination of the elements used and the style in which they are presented that deliver on it all.
A cracked mud flat. Delicate blue flowers with tiny red crabs, a tower leaning dangerously askew. Three huge grey tendrils wrap around it. A flash of blue light from an upper window, whisps of violet smoke, a woman shouting in anger. This is the opening scene. The ground floor, a cloud of violet smoke, a dream-fox, barking at you to not interfere as it climbs a stone tentacle to the upper floor. Blue light flickers, the ceiling booms, dusts rains down on you. A weird woman, tale, golden, with small tentacle begs for your help. Her world, the future is ending, and she needs you to close the portal below, wedged open by a diamond as big as your head, to keep her sister from hunting her down while she tries to save her own future. WHich, the adventure notes, doesn’t matter. Dreamy. Ethereal. You KNOW shit is going down. And yet, the stakes are minor, it’s impossibly far in the future. You’re not actually saving the world, not in the way trope fiction would have you.
The format is three column, about one column per room. A small read-aloud, easy to grok, a quick hit of a few sentences, quite evocative. Words are underlined and then those words have their details explained in bolded bullets below. It’s easy to scan. And, in the less is more category, the imagery is strong Strong STRONG. You KNOW these places. These things.
Creatures are well described, interesting, with interesting new effects. The dream fox, when it dies, looks you in the eyes and describes the time (soon) and place (aweful) of your death. [DM Note: this is always false.] Oh, but what a wonderful effect for the party to deal with!
Magic is new and interesting. The Remora’s Necklace is a seahorse pendant and makes you invulnerable whenever you are asleep. The drowning flare is a candle that only works underwater and goes out when removed from it. Described. Interesting effects. Described in terms of what they do, not in terms of mechanics. The way a fucking magic item should be! Mundane treasure is prevalent and hard to remove, but maybe the logistics benefit organizing a way to get all of those pearls, or obsidian …
“Knowledge, wealth, power!” whisperers her sister … ready to give you a Wish if you will just bring her sister to her … there’s no right answers in this adventure. It just IS. Oozing with evocative descriptions. A format that makes it trivial to run … I dare say without even reading it (which, while not a requirement, is testament to how clear it is.) People to talk to. Things to do. Creatures to hack. Temptations to explore.
I’m flaming out on this review, the way I always do when something is really good. This is really good.
This is $2 at DriveThru. The preview is sixteen pages, showing you everything to need to see to make a buy decision. And, it’s only $2? Pffft.