By Tony Garcia & Simon Barns Voxelhouse B/X Levels 1-3
The famed archaeologist Jonas “Greytooth” Walker discovered a strange pit upon an expedition to the Dead City. A spiral staircase descended into this pit, leading to a series of rooms carved from the rock. Each room lay behind a closed door and their mysteries have not been unveiled. The entrance is marked by a large portal made of black basalt. There is a belief that this underground complex may hide information about the mythical city of Xumoria, which is rumored to be located on the Isle of the Ancients. There are inscriptions at this site indicating the presence of an ancient wizard named Arne “Sacre” Nissen, a well-known Xumorian scholar and great explorer of Artrusia. Adventurers seeking the entrance got and haven’t returned yet. Exploratory expeditions are leaving Crimsonwater, heading for The Dead City. Dare you go down into The Pit?
This thirty page adventure uses five pages to describe seven rooms. This was someone’s dream.
So, what’s on the other 27 pages? An overview of the game world … presumably duplicating the information found in the publisher’s “World of Altrusia” game book. It contains such exciting information as “The Human Empire” and “The Orc Kingdom.” Majesty & Wonder this is not.
We get a one page overview of a starting town. It has little detail but the usual generic fantasy stuff. The town of 920 people does, though, have a sewer. So, you know, it’s cool. It also has The Shady Orc, a tavern. Or, rather, one of the locations of a chain of taverns found all over the world. And another tavern that is known for its wild boar stew. Do you think wild boar comes in often enough to support that as a main menu item? Or, maybe, it’s just domestic pig relabeled as wild boar and sold to the owner?
Anyway. You find some flyers for someone at th tavern wanting to hire adventurers and everyone in town is buzzing about the new dungeon and there are adventurers everywhere. And in the tavern you are going to its stuffed full of adventurers. And when you ask after the dude from the flyer the bartender is like “Why do you want to talk to him?” Dude! For the same fucking reason the last two hundred people in here wanted to talk to him … the fucking flyer! Anyway, that all happens in a read-aloud that is like a page and a half long. So, fuck you wanting to play D&D; this is a four-hour one-man show mashing up Moby Dick and heorin addicition.
Dude pays you 3000gp to go to the dungeon a week away and find a map inside that tells you how to get to the megadungeon. You walk for seven days and have wandering encounters with 1d6 bears, ghosts, hill giants, a mummy, all on the wanderer table. A little aggressive for level 1’s? Whatever. You get to the ruins. “Signs direct you The Pits entrance” says the read-aloud. Really? Signs? And this isn’t farce? No, it’s not farce.
You are now at the adventure. Seven rooms, one of which is empty, is five pages. Multi-paragragh read-aloud. Doors that don’t open until you kill the monsters in the room. Find the moon key to open the moon door, the star key to open the star door, the heart key to open the heart door. The read-aloud over-explains, saying things like there are a half dozen bodies on the floor. The DM text says very informative things like “The room is trapped. This can be detected and disarmed by a thief (if there is one in the party.)” IF the players open the chest THEN they find rotting food.
The forest encounter, in the place from the cover, the main seven room dungeon, starts with “You descend the stairs and reach a room that is set with a floor of pale stone tiles.” Does that match the sense of wonder from the cover illustration? No? How about the fight with a single skeleton inside the room? You know, after you faced a hill giant/1d6 bears/ghost/mummy in the wilderness, potentially?
A dream to some. A nightmare to others. Who the fuck asked me to review this?
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $3. There’s no preview link, but there are several sample pages. You get to see the first room in the seven room dungeon. The writing is all like that.
“Arne “Sacre” Nissen” eh? Reminds me of the old Filmation Journey To The Center Of The Earth cartoon, except the character named there is Arne Sacknussem.
Arne Saknussemm is referenced in the original Jules Verne novel, also.
A dream to some. A nightmare to others.
Excellent reference. I’m dying laughing.
Some people view the removal of barriers to entry in publishing as a good thing. I generally disagree, publishers kept this kind of drek out of circulation for the most part. Of course, there was plenty of garbage in the official TSR modules, so go figure.
Gabor did not like this either. I find it interesting it bothered you less. Shows how much more shit Bryce sees
It bothered our host less? What did Gabor do, track down the author at his home and curb stomp him?
That would be something to see…
Well this review has no all-caps rants, so there’s that.
The town of 920 people does, though, have a sewer.
Oh, hell yeah, baby, GIANT RAT FIGHT!!!!
Find the moon key to open the moon door, the star key to open the star door, the heart key to open the heart door.
No doubt inspired by a bowl of Lucky Charms.
That sort of thing doesn’t bother me too much. Silly and unoriginal, sure, but its easy to run and can be effective at the table as a foil to other heavier elements. I’d be disappointed if someone didn’t make a lucky charms jokes. In fact, I’d probably have them hidden in a small red box, maybe even guarded by an angry dwarf. YMMV and all.
I guess it was designed as a beginner for kids- but that’s no excuse to pull back on the wonder, kids have great imaginations.
Sounds like this one is “aggressively generic”.
Well, the moment someone doing the intro decided “Rando Mc LongName” and whatever he found was somehow more noteworthy speaking than THE DEAD CITY, i knew this one was going to be a s#Itsh0w….
Also – “this is a four-hour one-man show mashing up Moby Dick and heorin addicition.” – damn, Bryce, now i want an adventure about a zealot ex-addict priest hunting down crack-ambergis producing leviathans with a crew of undead overdose victims.
My kids write adventures. Even my seven year old.
What a waste of an evocative cover.
“What a waste of an evocative cover.”
Hahaha, gotta love that one lone skeleton fight.
Then again, considering how my last skeleton fight went, this might aswell be CR 4