By Gustavo Tertoleone Black Dog OSR Level ?
The Inverted Pyramid, a dungeon located in Thebes, Egypt. The place was built as a gigantic tomb to hide secrets and technologies from the Ancient race who had enslaved humanity millenia ago.
This 35 page adventure uses nineteen pages to detail a four level twenty room egyptian themed dungeon … with grey alien/ancient astronaut themes. It’s definitely not dry, with decent, if predictable, interactivity. Language use and organization though suffer.
This could be thought of as just another egyptian temple themed adventure. But, then, there’s the grey aliens aspect to it. That makes things … strange. Interactivity in this one tends to the better side of the spectrum and that is, in part, thanks to the presence of the alien theming. There are alien devices and pools and statues to mess with, things to open up and puzzles to solve. Oh so many puzzles to solve.
That is a good thing and a bad thing. These sorts of tomb adventure, especially egyptian ones, seem to be trap and puzzle heavy and this one is no exception. Most traps are hallway ones, which I have an aversion to. I think they slow down the game. But, whatever, you’re free to your own (wrong) opinion. But, when too many puzzles and traps are in an adventure then I think the adventure suffers. “Oh, it’s one of THOSE adventures …” IN particular, there are riddle puzzles in this thing. Riddle puzzles that I would say are out of place and break the tone of the adventure. It makes it seem more like a published adventure than an adventure locale to explore. The very first room is a door with a picture of Ra and Amon on it. Where their staves meet there is an indentation. There is a riddle present. “Feed me and I live. water me and I die. what am I”. You put some fire in the alcove, 5th element style, and the doors open. It’s not bad. But, also, it IS bad. The riddle explicit aspect, here and in other places, is more in place in a fun house dungeon rather than … whatever this is. It’s the explicitness of it. The funhouse nature and the mismatch in tones.
But in other places things fit in well, well, as well as a spaceship egyptian themed adventure can. Pools to play with. A monster, a kind of mashup of body parts from different creatures (what’s that called again?) is in a room. It has a monstrous number of hit points. The wall of the room are covered with tiny little bits of papyrus, with writing on them. Hitting the monster causes some of the runes to flash or glow. It’s a puzzle that just LOOKS like a fight!
There was a little intro that was nice also, describing (if it can be called that) the area above the dungeon. It’s devoid of physical description, but it does have some notes about potentially putting in bandits or grave robbers or something. Which got me thinking. What about grave robbers. Kind of friendly. Kind of rivals. More opportunistic than anything else. That could have been a fun little thing to have.
Other areas have a room with mummies hung upside down, hung in chains. Freeing them causes them to return to life … rejuvenate, and potentially be longer term campaign enemies. Nice! Likewise a room full of mummies. Just normal ummies. But you FEEL like they are all watching you as you move about. Paranoia! I love it!
The writing can be, let us say, overwrought.
“The forgotten chambers resting below the desert were kept in the dark for millennia, glancing the light only when groups of brave thieves dared to enter this place in search for treasures.” Is this Poe, or a Hammer production of Poe? Likewise “so macabre that any heart will start racing as soon as the characters’ eyes meet the gaze of the monster.” Uh huh. Padding. Commentary. Writing for the DM as reader rather than the DM as DM.
In other places the writing can be downright confusing, like “[the dungeon is] accessed by moving the three main stone pillars in the center of the ruins closer to each other, uniting them as one single pillar.” You move a pillar? That’s all there is, no map, no better description. I’m not really sure what I should be putting in there. In other places there’s a kind of shorthand used that does the DM no favors “This room has the exactly same details as the room 9 and its entrance can be found in the exact same way, “
These issues hint at the issue of organization of the text which, as is usual, is present. It looks like this is a English as a Second Language design, but, I don’t really think that’s the cause of the confusion. The designer is imagining the fuck out of things, they just don’t know how to get it down on paper correctly and are, in places, a little too hackney for the adventures own good.
Also, you can get five spaceships, that fully recharge in sunlight and shoot 3 times a round for 2d10 damage and move at 300 miles per hour and … you get the idea.
This is $5 at DriveThru.The preview is four pages, all actual dungeon rooms. That’s great! Good preview! That first page of it is a good example of the rather lengthy DM text that is all over the adventure.
The same designer has a zine: “Vomitations of the Grotesque Princess is an infamous zine from Brazil” says the author. It is 11 pages, costs $5, and its lead article is “A Brief Text on Existentialism.” I admire this persons moxie!