By Joseph R. Lewis Dungeon Age Adventures OSE LOW/Mid Levels
The ancient world of Harth withers beneath its dying sun…but it’s not dead yet. The pastoral village of Kettle nestles on the banks of a strangely warm lake. A few people are missing. A few creatures prowl in the shadows. Then the cemetery erupts. A stranger reveals that a magnificent city lies hidden below. Wondrous treasures sit forgotten in towers and vaults, but deadly monsters roar in the darkness…and they’re clawing their way up!
This 61 page adventure describes a number of civilized areas, all interconnected, along with their surrounding “adventure locales”, and some inciting events to go along with it. It retains the functionality that is a standout with Dungeon Age Adventures. The supplement describes a rich and flavourful environment, though not perhaps as bizarre as it should be? Such is life.
This adventure is more of an … adventuring environment? I mean, they all are, I guess, in a way? But this one mixes civilized areas with wild areas much in the way that a starting locale village will. You have your home base. It has some questy-type things associated with it. There’s some surrounding lands with some adventure spots, some related to fetch questy things and some not. And, then, let’s add ANOTHER home-basey type place UNDER the first one, with the same sort of mix of home basey more civilized lands and outlying adventure areas. And then let’s add ANOTHER one under that. And ANOTHER one under that.
This is all in the typical three-column format used by Dragon Age. You get about a page of intro for each major area and then it stars in on the keys, with three columns. You get a short little description with certain words bolded and underlined. Those keywords are then called out in the DM text below, making them easy to find, with a short little text section that elaborates on it. And maybe those sections also have a keyword, if needed, that are elaborated on further below. It keeps the individual sections terse, and thus easy to scan, and the bolding makes it easy to find the sections you are looking for and glance at other things to riff off of them in the moment. Which is what a good description format should be doing for the DM. The intro sections give a brief overview of the entire area, what’s gong on, what can/could happen, some random encounters and so on.
The general idea is that there’s this village full of the usual village shit. A few quests, etc Then one day a hole erupts in the local graveyard and a disheveled figure emerges. Turns out there’s an underground city under the village, full of weirdo humans! And it’s suffering a kind of apocalypse. Dragons are burrowing up and rampaging through the city! This causes refugees, etc, full of weirdos. We get a couple of levels of the city, the upper level, the city proper, the lower level, and then the basement where the dragons are coming from. Along the way we get lots and lots of fetch quests and weird things to explore and do and people to help … or not.
There’s a good sprinkling of things in this adventure, all with strong imagery attached to them. The lake next to the first village is quite warm … from a giant crystal lantern in a save underneath it. The lantern, a major point of the adventure, and be “snuffed out” … but, the warmth also keeps asleep a giant crocodile at the bottom of the lake. And I mean a GIANT crocodile. The dragon eggs, waking up and rampaging, offer a kind of tension element and timer, driving things forward. Magic items/treasure is strong, like The Song of Life: “Once per day, you can sing this song to a person who died in the last minute. Three weeping ghosts appear and resurrect the dead person.” That last bit, three weeping ghosts. That’s the kind of specificity I’m talking about when I refer to it. It harkens back to classical elements. It’s terse, and it adds SO much more flavour to what’s going on. This is the flavour you want to add, and how you want to add it. A quick hit, a burst.
On the downside …
The thing gets long. And the multiple environments, with the many people, get a bit complex to keep track of. This is really pushing the ability of the layout style to handle. It WILL take notes to run this successfully. Mostly, because it is a campaign and not an adventure. Or, rather, a series of adventures? It’s a larger environment, more akin to a regional setting in some ways, or a hex crawl, then it is an adventure. I don’t meant hat it IS a regional setting, or that it IS a hex crawl, but, rather, the scope is such that you can compare it to those … and those sorts of things need a little extra help in this area. Cross-references could be quite a bit stronger, helping the DM locate things. For example, the blacksmith has lost his tools. He can tell the party about it. They are sure to ask “Ok, where?” … Hmmm, let me find that reference in the text and page through things looking for it …
And, the bizarre underground city full of weirdos? It could be weirder. Or, the people more weird, I guess? The marketing had me sold on a ASE sort of city, and what I got was … well, I don’t know. I didn’t really come across with any impression at all of the city and its people.
It’s a good regional kind of setting. I can see using this as a city supplement. This is the home base, and, over time, as you are exploring dungeons and such nearby, thie shit in theis adventuree starts to pop up. One day a baby dragon pops out of the ground and rampages, or the cemetery opens up. It’s got A LOT going on, which is how I like my cities/regions/home bases. As time goes on the party could explore these “new” city elements, get in to more trouble, while also doing their normal dungeon exploring nearby. It’s not laid out for that, and you’ll need to take notes. I’m more generous in allowing notes in cities and regions, but, still, notes is notes. Is it worth it? Maybe? I don’t think there are really a lot of very interesting home base places, especially those with expanding “Baldurs Gate” style environs and plots.
This is $8 at DriveThru. The preview is 30 pages. More than enough to get a sense of the product.