Pyramid of the Undying

By Simon Carryer
Simon Carryer Games
Level ... 3?

A new take on the greatest D&D adventure ever written.

This fourteen page adventure details a ziggurat pyramid with five levels and about sixty rooms. It’s a respin of The Lost City and does a great job with the formatting, the writing, and the interactivity. The support of the faction play could be a bit stronger, but, I’d run this a dozen times over before running the original Lost City.

I know that a lot of people love the classic adventure The Lost City, but I have not been that impressed with it. At least that’s my memory. I don’t own it and it’s been a long while since I took a look at it. I know that I wasn’t impressed with it, in contradiction to the zeitgeist that the old school D&D culture has over it. This one, however, does a much more decent job … again, filtered through ancient memories of the original. 

Ok, so, ancient culture (this one on human earth) seals themselves in a pyramid and lives eternally. There are three main factions and everyone love to wear some animal masks and take on the persona of the mask. So, a dude in a wolf mask acting like a wolf. What I am impressed with here, though, is the interactivity and the combination of evocative writing and formatting. 

This is a more traditional paragraph formatting. A room number, a bolded name, and then maybe a bolded monster entry as the first thing. So if the room has giant bees in it then tha’ts the first thing the DM sees, prepping them that their description needs to have a monster in it. Then, generally, one paragraph follows. A short one or maybe three or four sentences. This contains the room description with everything you need to run the room. It’s evocative, and written in such a way as to inspire the DM to more. 

So, in practice, lets look at this. 

3 Fire Beetles (1hd, armor as plate, corrosive spit 2d4) Perfect! It’s short and sweet, and reminds me a lot of the Ready Ref monster sheet, which I absolutely fucking love. There’s room for the DM to fill in. I know what the fuck I’m doing. I can run this thing just as written. 

Then, comes the room description. For the beetle room (2. Workshop) we get the room name. Great! I’m oriented now to what the room actually is and I’m thinking “workshop” as I read the rest of the description, my mind now framed correctly to fill in details. “Ladders descend from above. The beetles’ abdomens emit a ruddy glow like a torch. Shelves around the walls contain spare parts for the statues atop the pyramid, clay pots holding remnants of lubricant oil, and metalworking tools. A small forge completes the workshop.” Great! Just a couple of sentences here. We get some evocative room shit, like the ruddy glow from their abdomens. Ruddy, that’s a great word! The choice of adjectives and adverbs helps enhance the room. We also get some remnants of lubricating oil. Again, great, something for tehh DM to work with as they run the encounter. Spare parts for the statues is enough for me ot fill in, and the room description, for the workshop proper, whats in it, is not an exhaustive list of is evocative enough that I can get an idea and fill things in. This is the appropriate amount of detail for the room. It’s good room description. Terse, evocative, it’s got some light elements to work with. 

Another room, containing seven stirges, has “Four glittering gems lie in the shards of an amphora, worth a total of 1,700sp. The stirges have entered through a crack in the stonework.” Note the glittering. The classic image of gemstones in a ruined vase, spilling out on to the floor. And it’s got an element of pushing your luck. You want the loot but the room has stirge in it! Want the loot? Make the decision to face the sitrges!

Or, how about an acrid smells coming from a room with an obvious green slime covering the floor … with some amphorea in it! Or, a dead body in a bronze ibis mask, his arm swollen and purple! Great description! Just enough detail to run with. You don’t need to go hog wild and give everything an evocative description, pick an element or two and craft that fucker.

I’m a big big fan of these. Decent amount of interactivity, embedded in almost every room. An emphasis on humans, with some fantastic elements thrown in and a good use of vermin and giant animals. Some classic elements, like a rotating corridor and sliding statues. It’s good.

There are factions present, as with the original, and I both like them and don’t. They get a little inline description about a third of a page, when they first pop up. How to join. Little missions, etc. I’m pretty happy with them. It could be little stronger, with maybe, which areas are under their control and/or marking on the map where reaction creatures live, for fighting in the room next door. 

But, also, for an adventure tha features A LOT of humans (which, again, I like) it’s a little weak on the actual humans. They don’t really come to life much, more could be done with the personalities, and, maybe, turning them in to those BioShock party goers sort of thing. I want more in this area. I want the human element to REALLY come to life and seem like a functional society. We get some example names, and masks, but a little job party vibe, especially in the appendix, with some better examples, would have been REALLY great. I want some minor intrigue like “my wife is a zuesian” or some shit. Another page, just for the people, to inspire the DM, would have done A LOT to help thi sthing. 

But, still, GREAT adventure. I probably should have read the original to see how close the encounters are to the original ones, but, also, Fuck It! This can can easily stand alone. It’s not the greatest adventure you’re ever gonna run, but, also, it gets pretty close to brining home that Thracia vibe, both in form and function. And, I can’t think of a stronger compliment than that

“Should the character ever turn their back on the worship of Zeus, they lose these benefits, and will henceforth be automatically hit by lightning attacks. If they are outdoors during a storm, there is a 5% chance of them being struck by lightning and killed. & missions” Yeah man! Bring it Zeus, you fucker!

I’m tempted to Best this. But I’m not going to. I’m gonna need just that little bit more, with the people. So, Regerts it is. But, know this, I was close. As I think about the usaul shit piles I review, I feel like I need to strongly contrast this to that. And maybe I did with a Regerts? If you are at any way interested in the original then you should absolutely check this out. I would not be unhappy, at all, if more of these classic respins showed up.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $1.

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13 Responses to Pyramid of the Undying

  1. Gnarley Bones says:

    As a refresher, we had a “module of the week” series at Dragonsfoot, where we treated older modules as a book club, re-read them and discussed. Some of these, I personally hadn’t read in decades and read so much differently now than I remembered.

    Lost City is famous both for the genuine weirdness, it’s play, it’s vast scope and, of course, the reveal of the Lovecraftian baddie. For me, the original runs out of steam, ironically, right toward the end. It seems the author was running out of room and the detail and descriptions get more and more abbreviated. It definitely could use an expansion.

    And, if fact, I do believe there’s a fan-made B4 Companion out in the aether somewhere,

    The B4 discussion (if I can cut-and-paste correctly) commences here:

    • Gnarley Bones says:

      Yeah, nope. I couldn’t. The B4 discussion kicks in at Page 8.

    • Shuffling Wombat says:

      Yes, lots of interesting discussion in that thread, albeit a bit salty when certain modules were discussed. Prince did a very good review; YeOldeGeek on Youtube has some fascinating thoughts about the Goodman Games expansion.
      The module proper ends at the fifth level I think, with the remaining material being for referee development, so it is reasonable that it isn’t as detailed or properly integrated. The original has lovely maps, which this fan edit seems to curtail (judging from the preview). B4 is actually my second favourite of that series.

  2. Anonymous says:

    GREATEST EVER? You gotta give us more Bryce? Why do uou think that?

  3. OSR Fundamentalist says:

    bruh you are literally fangirling over a straight copypaste of B4 with almost non-existent alterations
    I’m pretty sure even the part about Zeus is swiped from somewhere else
    Maybe you should re-read the old modules

    • Knutz Deep says:

      No, no, Bryce is too good for most of that old TSR pap. He doesn’t do that, although many, many people in the past have suggested that he should indeed do that. And he should

      • Chimerical says:

        Bryce reading old TSR modules would be a waste of his drive, they’ve been reviewed to death and back and only a handful of them are actually good. It would just mean that much fewer gems he unearthed from the manure piles of modern adventures.

        But, yes, this is B4 with some minor cosmetic changes.

        • OSR Fundamentalist says:

          If Bryce is too ignorant to recognize literal plagiarism from the modules that shaped the OSR, then fuck his drive and fuck his reviews, he needs to educate himself
          If I want some ignorant casual squeeing over regurgitated content I’ve got youtube e-celebs I can watch

    • PrinceofNothing says:

      I must confess a similar sentiment upon skimming it (not the old modules part, that is up to mr. Lynch alone). If the author would have gone the distance and done the full 10 levels it may have had some more weight to it (something like Mike’s Wilderness).

      B4 was always stronger in concept then it was in execution, but rewriting it takes a bit more…ambition?

  4. SMR says:

    Hahahaha!! Bryce, it’s seriously time to hang it up, bud!! Jesus. This might be your most clueless review yet. Hahahahaha!!

  5. Tom H. says:

    Certainly, the encounters Bryce calls out map 1:1 with rooms 3, 4, 6, and 8 from Tier 2 of the original adventure.

    Having wasted good money on the Goodman Games 5e rewrite, I’d much rather something like this, if it actually completed the bottom & improved on the original -at all-.

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