by Jim Baney and John Feldman
for Knightvision Games
What evil machinations lie hidden in the flooded depths of ancient Kharnos Dzin? Whispers in the dark summon the uninitiated … as evil brews beneath the surface of a dead city. Great rewards lie in store, but will adventurers find more than they had bargained for?
This is a pretty vanilla product. These reviews are the hardest kind for me write. There’s nothing to get excited about in the module, either for good or for ill. Fear not! I shall forge on, but my heart isn’t really in it. This is part two of a dungeon crawl. The party has journeyed in to the dungeon in search of and old retired adventurer, Sir McGuffin. In this second module they are now deep under the earth, continuing to search for some guy they don’t know. So, yeah, a few more levels for megadungeon like place.
Let’s start with the maps. There are about 12 maps provided with about 15 or so levels/sub-levels/sub-areas described by the maps. Most levels have just a handful of rooms, maybe eight or so. The way these levels relate is mostly a mess. It is VERY difficult to figure out how some levels connect to others. You have to work hard to figure out how a certain level connects to those above/below/beside it. This is not because of some strangeness with the map, such as in DL1 (kick ass map!) but rather the maps themselves are confusing. There’s no real notation about which stairs connect where and which features take you where. After looking at the maps and the text for over an hour I _think_ I finally have things figured out. But I’m not sure. That’s a major problem and makes these poor maps, since that’s the purpose of the things. Most of the levels have at least one interesting feature on the map … interlocking towers, a crumbling facade, different levels, etc. That’s nice to see. The small size of the levels though seems to work against things … I think. It reminds me a lot of the Skull Mountain module … lots of small levels with just a few rooms per level. They do a good job of showing some features on the map though … stairs on the same level, rubble piles, statues, etc. I like a map with detail. I may be implying that the large number of mini-levels is a bad thing, but I don’t think I mean to do that. It could actually be pretty cool … if you could figure out how things go together. This seems like a great place to note that there are no wandering monsters. 🙁
The actual encounters are not too exciting. Almost all of the monsters are going to be attacking on sight. There are some lost goblins that will talk to the party, and a couple of dwarves but that’s it. Everything else picks up their weapons and attacks or leaps out and attacks. I would have liked to see some more variety in the monster reactions and some more variety in the rooms themselves. By this I mean some puzzle and traps rooms, or rooms full of strange things to explore and play with. Some of the combats are a bit more interesting because of their location. Giant bats attacking as you cross an aqueduct, or flying jellyfish-like things attacking while you are on an open-air platform, and the set piece ending. Other than that … not much. No factions to encourage more role-playing. No foreshadowing of the main villains. The weird radiation aspect is not played up too much at all. I think I actually feel asleep twice reading this thing over. Not a great sign.
The mundane treasure is full of jewelry, arm bands, etc, which I really like, but the magic treasure is a let down. There are really only two new items. One resembles a sword of wounding and is probably too powerful for a 1st-2nd level character adventure. As with the first module, there are good number of new and unusual monsters, fourteen or so. I love seeing new monsters with new special effects. The party never has any idea what they do or what can kill them. A good example here are some cog monsters … the party can get some of their clothing or items caught in the cogs while fighting them, to different effects. More modules need to do this. Replace your humanoids with humans/bandits and spend your imagination making new things to freak the party out and surprise them!
This is available on DriveThru.