By G. Hawkins Self Published OSRIC Levels 3-5
The Bottomless Pit of Zorth has stood as a place of inscrutable mystery and dread since time immemorial, yet not few of the brave and reckless have tried their luck within its deep and reportedly never ending depths. Those lucky enough to survive can attest to its apparent bottomless nature, but spoke more of the alienness and oddness of the place: the unfathomable purpose of the giant rotating pin that pierces down into the depths; the otherworldly machinery; and the crazed and demented denizens that for reasons unknown defended the hellish hole. These survivors often left with a sense that there was a deliberate design and purpose to the Pit and that a terrible but inhuman intellect ruled and guided all, though none have yet seen or met this assuredly dreadful master.
This 56 page digest adventure details a six-ish level dungeon with around 65 rooms. A seriously fucked up 65 level dungeon that will represent a strange, alien-like slime environment, the likes of which are seldom seen in an rpg adventure. Which is a good thing. Decent formatting, weird environments with interactivity, and decent evocative writing are only detracted from by a tendency to run long in word count. Not to excess, but it’s getting there.
This is a decent adventure. You probably want it. The deciding factor is probably the vibe of the environment, so I’m going to talk about that first. It’s a slime dungeon. Meaning that just about every surface is covered in slime or has some sort of slime feature. The monsters are either outright slime monsters (new ones) or some kind of hybrid slime creature, as shown on the cover. Does the cover appeal to you? Yes? Then this adventuring environment is for you! One section is, literally, completely slime covered (in the non-monster sense) as if you are are walking through a body or some such. Oh, oh, I know! Remember those Psychedelic Fantasy adventures I really likes? Three of them were REALLY bizarre environments, alien-like. This gets close to that vibe, but, stays solidly in the D&D camp. It’s a pretty good realization of a slime themed environment, and in fact is probably the best slime themed environment I’ve seen in terms of reinforcing the theme. But, it’s still recognizable as a D&D dungeon.
There are six levels to the dungeon, or about that. There’s a central shaft, huge and empty, and a central pillar in the middle of it, floatig in the air, with a bridge over the shaft to the central column at the surface. Then you go down the column and see, at about six different points on the walls, some cave entrances. You need to figure out how to get from the central piller to the cave walls. Oh, aalso, the bottom is filled with lava. And, also, it’s bottomless. Yes, these two things work together. Also, the shaft spins. And is broken in to segments, each of which spins in a different direction. And there are chains that swing. And there are hidden teleporter portals, invisible, that youneed to make a leap of faith to use to get to hidden areas of the dungeon. Also, did I mention that everything is slime themed? There’s a fuck ton going on in this thing. And I’ve JUST described a small part of the central shaft and pillar and haven’t even gotten to the rooms yet!
The central shaft/pillar thing is the only part of the adventure tha tis in any way difficult to understand, and I finally figured it out a little way in to the adventure. There are both traditional maps and lots of side view maps to help the DM understand the verticality of the situation. (And VTT maps for the internet crowd) Each of the six dungeon levels has a little section up front explaining what is going on and how the rooms work together and then each room has a little up fron paragraph description, with certain words bolded and those bolded words followe dup on later in their own paragraphs as things of interest the party might investigate, etc. It’s a good format. The initial text descriptions do get a little long at times, in about seven sentences or so for some of them. I’m not a big fan of that, and think that certain rooms, like the Animatorium, for example, could have been better/more terse described in the initial description with more in the follow ups. “Fleshy blob” descriptions with follow ups instead of detailed fleshy blob descriptions. But, whatever, it could be worse.
Interactivity is good, although a little one note in places. Chains to swing on and things to jump to. Slime to eat, machines to play with … and a few too many levers to pull and helmets to try on. Seriously, it’s a theme. And not enough to be farcical
The fucking thing is also HARD. In one place there’s a 25% chance per minute of a 15HD monster getting you. And the main slime baddies are ROUGH, even though its unlikely the patry will meet them. Most creatures, though, are one and two HD creatures and there are rooms just primed for the ye old fireball to go off.
There’s some decent writing throughout, like “A fetid and rotting corpse lies in the mud. Its body is a twisted mass of odd limbs, bumps, warty growths and misplaced” or a mottles purple cone-shaped blob with dripping pink slime”, as a monster description. Although, admittedly, there is a rather slime forward description style. 🙂 There’s also a kind of sly humor that runs through it. Some slime creatures on treadmills are motivated by an illusion of “ a female tread
servitor running away through a field of grass, then seductively turning to look back …” or, a transformation of a party members head, giving them a snout and a ranged attack like te slime zombies have from it. Which expels the PC’s brain from the snout, killing them .. .but probably stunning the creature that the brain hits in the face. 🙂
There’s some repetition here, quite a bit where the shaft and teleports are concerned. And, to little effect, I was still confused about the shaft, or, perhaps, it wasn’t immediately clear until I read more.
So, pretty nice little dungeon. The central shaft element gives is a good twist, and the slime theme is a good one. This, and that Finch adventure, Spire of Iron and Crystal, could be kissing cousins. It’s a unique environment, good for a Fantastic Place for the party to adventure to.
This is $7.50 at DriveThru. The preview is twenty pages. Pages fifteen and on show the actual encounter keys. Check them out! So, good preview to determine if you want to buy it; I wish more people did this. Also, the level range could be in the product description rather than on the cover only.