By Amanda P Hopeful Weird Wonder BX/Cairn/D&D "Low Levels"
Don’t get excited. The Burning Teeth are a mountain range.
A charismatic exiled warrior lord Dakon Lazard drove his followers to an ancient warrior temple in the Burning Teeth mountains, looking for redemption at any cost. It has been a month since any of the warriors have come from their vault. Villagers have begun to go missing, merchants are losing trade goods, and the earth rumbles more furiously than ever. Explore the volcanic mountains and discover what has happened below in the Sunken Grave.
This thirty page adventure describes a 21 room dungeon with a boring disposition. Devoid of most evocative writing, or interactive elements, and slightly generic in the way that system-neutral things can be. I should have gone with the four page two hour dungeon instead.
You get three things here. First, a small town. You get descriptions like “Respite has had to be relatively self sufficient as a border town. As you wander, you can find carpenter’s shops, cobblers, and any other craftspeople you might find in a small village.” So, you know, totally worth the page count to describe a generic small town. Unless you are doing something memorable then there’s not much reason to spend a whole lot of time on the town. The best of the town entries is “Two large, homely men play cards at a table while the other two guards on duty whisper to themselves as you approach, eyes grim and deadly serious.” Note the difference between that description and the previous one I pasted in (which, was another location, as generic as it seemed …) In the guard one you have something going on. They are playing cards. They are glaring. They excuse danger. This is specific information. And in the world of evocative writing specificity rules. Not detailed, but specific.
Part two is a kind of wilderness journey, I guess? There’s a watchtower on a hill and a side-view map showing a cavern system with around eight rooms. The rooms get descriptions like “The Cavernous Descent is a dank hole with a hidden ladder under a wooden trapdoor.” or “The Fountain of Ignus. A heavy door (locked) leads to an ancient shrine to a forgotten fire deity. A place for dreadful healing, soothsayers and curious sights.” Completely abstracted text. I’m not sure why the designer even bothered? This is not the second adventure I’ve seen recently that has a cavern system as a “front door” to the main dungeon. It’s not a bad idea, but, why provide these descriptions, abstracted as they are? There’s nothing here. Or, perhaps, you’re putting work on to the DM? I don’t understand AT ALL why this section exists.
Finally you’ve got the dungeon proper. The rooms are formatted in a bullet point kind of system, maybe four or so per room sometimes. But, they aren’t really in an order that makes sense. One room starts by telling us that a plaque hangs over the door to the next room. Then it tells us that door is broken and hanging from its hinges. THEN it tells us the room is full of pipes and shower heads pumping out hot steam. With acrid simple and burning cinders. Uh … Hello! Burying the lead! Finally, it tells us that thee is a great eye carved in to the door. Which door I don’t know. The one in to the room? That would make sense in the other room though, the one that leads here? It’s all just blasted out, without any consideration as to what he DM needs when.
But, mostly, there’s a sense that things just don’t work together. One rooms description is “The air singes your lungs and the hair on your arms. Sweat pools on your palms. The steps were carved long ago by a workman’s pickaxe and chisel.” So the workmans pickaxe thing is all padding, but the environmental stuff isn’t. Excet, it really has no purpose. It’s not like the next room is the furnace room or anything. It’s all just window dressing.
And EVERY room feels like this. Like they are just window dressing. Like nothing in the rooms matters. One tells us that “In the Drywell: a 40’ pit. At the bottom, skeletons forever longing for their lost loved ones or raging at having been deceived.” So, ok. And? I mean, that’s fine, as a kind of side note to a room, but as the whole thing for the room? And for EVERY room to have this sort of window dressing and little else?
This extends to a “random effects” table. It’s just a table full of things that can happen to you in certain rooms. Like, now you glow green. Great! Why? Because the dungeon is evil. Uh, ok. I guess I’m corrupt now? But it’s all just window dressing. No good or ill effects, really. Grow a small antenna on your head that has no impact. Sure, whatever. Next room?
A room with a bridge, over bubbling acid, is written as the most boring thing in the world. The entirety of the description is “The collapsing bridge. Above the bubbling sulfur boiling acidic water. SUpports one person at a time. You get scalded every turn you are in the water if you all in. A set of bronze armor likes at the bottom of the lake” The armor thing is good, but, otherwise … thats taking an exciting room concept and making it in to nothing.
This is $5 at DriveThru, The preview is eleven pages, but it’s the first eleven, so you don’t actually get to see any of the content you are paying for, preventing you from making an informed decision.