The Lair of Ysmorg

By Michael H. Stone
Self Published
Levels 3-6

Face the beastman horde of Ysmorg the Brutal, lairing in a derelict dwarven fortress. Exploit the internal power struggles of the monsters to infiltrate their ranks and pit them against each other.

Delve ancient dwarven halls full of secret corridors and traps. Encounter a vengeful dwarven spirit use its knowledge of the fortress to your advantage.

This 25 page digest adventure uses  ten pages to describe 31 rooms in an old dwarf fortress taken over by bugbears and hobgoblins. Great formatting goes a long way to elevate a relatively standard adventure with a decent mix of interactivity … though tending towards hacking. 

SoO, the local hobbos in an old dwarf fortress have been taken over by the buggy bear boys. Time to do some stabbin, boyos! There’s a little faction play here, with a chance that the hobo leader recruits you to take out the buggy bear boss. There’s an emphasis, as well, on reaction rolls, that one doesn’t usually see noted as explicitly as it is here. So, (+ they try to recruit you to their side, and so on. This is, I think, perhaps the reason for the a page or so at the beginning detailing raids and recruitment.

There’s a page or so at the beginning that details how the numbers of humanoids at the fortress grow each week, or, have a chance to. And then also how they can get to a point where the humanoids raid the borderlands, as well as a chance for each raider to live or die during the raid. This is almost out of place in this adventure. For, while it adds a lot of detail and certainly seems natural, I have to question if it ever comes up? You’re gonna have to be in the fortress for some time. Or, retreat and redelve. Theres no context for the fortress, so no borderlands or wilderness listed. I’m not bitching, but, just noting that the raiding table seems a little out of place given the lack of context about settlements and/opr places to raid. (Or hooks, for that matter. There are none, which is not a problem.) SO, the raiding/growth must be related to the faction subplot? I don’t know. Seems weird.

Anyway, we’ve got this old dwarf fortress map. It looks like it came right out of an old White Dwarf magazine. High praise indeed! Same level stairs. Some objects on the map. Monsters in the next room noted on the map. It’s really going all out. Even a loop. Not bad for such a small map. Nicely evocative and complimentary to the text.

Formatting is great. Font size changes, boxed text, font color, bolding, and even a bullet or two. Mini-maps compliment the room text to show the context the room is occurring in. Stat blocks are concise and don’t distract. It’s on the edge of being too busy without actually going there. The text writing is trying. It’s not too long and keeps the odious behaviour to a minimum. It’s not gonna win an Evocative Writing award, but, it doesn’t fuck it up either. I wish it were quite a bit stronger in this area. Treasure is decent. Porcelain vase, instead of a vase. Fine elven win, instead of fine wine. A locket inset with a large glass eye … an ESP amulet. Just a word or two more to beef things up from book minimums. 

Interactivity is … a humanoid lair. Which means that the vast majority of shit is humanoids there to stab. The reaction roll emphasis and potential faction play helps in this regard as bit, as does some very light order of battle shit. (or, rather, Do They Hear You shit. Organized response is lacking.) More support/guidance for the faction element could have been included as well. I’m not looking for an overabundance of it, in general, but if thats a major point of the adventure then it should have a little more support. It doesn’t  HAVE to be, but in this, I think its supposed to be?

There’s a few other things as well, generally old dwarf shit. Get the magic armor from the tombs and you can control an earth elemental at a side door. Dwarf ghost might tell you some shit if his reaction roll is chill. A decent number of barricades and locked doors to navigate, but, that’s really part of the Stab Assault. I’m not mad at it. Desecrated alters. A well of potions. I think, maybe, the 31 rooms are pretty close to each other, and with the humanoids lairing here, it’s going to a little lopsided in the stabbing asthetic. 

As a stabbing adventure, it’s decent. The other interactivity gives it a little variety. Writing is not odious. Good formatting. 

I’m not particularly excited about this one. It’s a decent work and I’m certainly not mad at it. But, also, I’m not looking forward to it. Considering my feelings towards the designers previous work, this is a massive improvement. And, also, I might expect a little more from an adventure at this level range. It’s pretty straightforward for three to six.

This is $5 at DriveThru. Preview is seven pages, including the first three rooms. Check out that formatting!

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3 Responses to The Lair of Ysmorg

  1. Budapestkick says:

    In fairness, the raiding/force growth tables make a lot of sense if this is being dropped into a sandbox and is a very useful resource in that regard.

  2. Libra says:

    The symbol system looks quick and easy to follow. Very nice.

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