By Luke Simonds Cats Have No Lord Black Hack 2e
The Tomb of the Twins is a mini-dungeon designed for use with The Black Hack 2e system. It is a small dungeon set in the tomb of two ancient necromancers with many possible ways for unsuspecting adventurers to be killed.
This ten page adventure uses four pages to describe twelve rooms in a tomb dungeon. It’s not overly offensive, keeping things breezy in the text department while providing some light interactivity in most rooms. It’s just also not that interesting, with the sparseness of an AD&D dungeon in twelve rooms.
This one is kind of rough. At first glance it’s not doing anything too terribly wrong. A featureless done of black rock. A set of large silver mirror-like doors that open easily. Rooms that, while not overly short to a minimalistic degree, are still short enough, on the text front, to be able to read and take in relatively quickly in a traditional paragraph style.
“This is a 5 by 10 ft. room with a low ceiling. Inside this room, objects float somewhat
weightlessly. There is no source of light in the room except what comes through the front door. Straight ahead is another set of double doors, these made of a dark wood. The doors are unlocked, but stuck shut, swollen from dampness” That’s not an altogether terrible description. For an empty room it’s burning some energy to the thing. The light from the doors you just came through. The weighless thing is out of left field and never mentioned again, so lets ignore that, but damp swollen wooden doors? Sure thing! There’s another paragraph describing five glyphs above the door that mean nothing. I can get behind that as a kind of entry room for a dungeon.
But it really does this in room after room. This kind of sparseness. Which, you know, I really like. It’s got a kind of old school feel coming through. Room two is a mural on the wall with some unlit brass sconces on the wall. Rooms three and four have three chests each. Room five brings us “Chairs, pieces of a broken table, remnants of a banquet, and eight skeletons are strewn wildly about the room. In the corner is a large hole dug roughly through the floor.” Not bad.
But, also, we’re halfway through now, about, and there’s just nothing here. There are ONLY twelve rooms. The kind of sustained dungeoneering, and the sparseness of the rooms that would follow, is just not present here. There’s only twelve rooms. And thus you wander in to a room and go on to the next, not really DOING anything.
Well, not exactly true. There are the traps. Attached to almost every room is at least one trap. Black hack style. That fucking empty room one has a trip wire inside the doorway that rings a bell in the corner of the room. Wait … what? I though that room was empty? No? There’s a bell in it? Uh … ok. And room two tells us that those brass scones … well, one is actually gold. That’s the key to opening the secret door. Oh, and you know there’s a secret door because of the dust on the ground with footprints in it. Uuh … what?
So you’ve got these trp & door porn descriptions (at least they are relatively terse) that contain more information that you get to integrate in to the room description. And while the initial descriptions are great, a kind of hybrid between read-aloud and DM text in that you could either way with them, the trap & door porn details seems like they should be integrated as well.
Or, maybe you just don’t tell the players about the dust and/or let them live with the brass sconce situation? That seems shitty. Do you roll with the shitty shitty thiref as a class and make them announce and roll in each room and then tell them about the dust/gold, as favour text for making their roll, or do you integrate the dust, and sconces, in to a room description and then elaborate on the footprints and/or gold nature of one scone in the natural course of play as followups through Q & A interaction with the players? I mean, I obviously prefer the second method, but, the way the text is presented makes that difficult to achieve. The extra information is a tack on, and obvious, rather than an integral part of the room.
Oh, and the fucking treasure? “You may decide how much is in each chest.” Well fuck you. Even though you tell us there is a “large ruby” and “gem encrusted cup” in the chests, they have no value. Figure it the fuck out on the fly My DM, the designer can’t be bothered.
It all ends with two things on a pedestal that, if you fuck with, brings two liches back to life to fuck shit up. Uh …. That seems a bit extreme for what otherwise would be a pretty simple adventure? A little Death Fristy, but without the telegraphing that Death Forst goes through to let you know. Arbitrary here.
So … you know … it needs a little more thought. A little simple, a padded page count for only four pages actually mention used for the rooms. And the rooms essentially being a placeholder for a trap/secret door and maybe a fight. Yup, there’s a floor tile puzzle or two, but that’s de rigeur at this point.
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