By Melrex The Merciless Merchants Gold & Glory Levels 5-9
Starvation is upon two barbarian clans. Hope for survival rides on a scout’s report of sighting a dead Solifugas, a colossal ice worm. Hunting bands are set out to collect meat for survival but none have returned. You have been tasked to find them and bring back meat for the clan to survive the winter. But winter has been harsh and merciless this year, and other humanoids are rushing for the food source. And how did this giant worm die? What lays below the Glacier of the Mammoth?
This 41 page adventure features a multi-level tomb and glacier with around eighty rooms. And multiple factions. A little light on the non-puzzle non-npc interactivity for my tastes, but, if you’re in to old D&D adventures, like G2 or such, then this is your happy place.
Yeah, ok, so, GIANT worm dies running IN to cliffside. Inside is an old tomb. Humanoid bands show up to “mine” the meat. Other things show up to eat the humanoids. Human clan members, refugees from a failed meat gathering expedition, are trapped inside. So, if you don’t do the initial “go find the missing clan members” hook then, as just your average hobos, you can find the trapped clan members inside the worm/cliff and gather meat, etc, to the great delight of the nomads back home. Interesting way to handle a variety of hook conditions.
I seem all over the place with this review. Let me back up. A cliff side has a tomb in it. It’s full of undead with a couple of main warring factions, feuding brothers. And, then, a few NPCish undead hanging around with goals related to the main undead factions. Notably mom and also dad. And then some more undead just going about their business doing their own undead things. And, then, out of the blue, a GIANT worm runs in to the cliffside. Like, IN to the cliffside, penetrating it, before dying. It’s the middle of winter and everyone wants fresh meat, right? So humanoids start to show up. Bugbears and goblins. And, then also, ice trolls and insect creatures. And, then, some shit shows up to eat all of the humanoids, like yetis. And, then, humans tribesmen show up to gather meat, and get slaughtered with a few trapped inside. Yeah! Insert party here.
I must say, when looking at the map I literally exclaimed “Holy Fuck!” It seems the designer has stepped up their mapping game, between this and Dragons Gullet. Nice map, with a central “worm’ corridor down the middle and caves and tomb room mini-complexs/zones hanging off of it. I’d light to see some monsters noted on the map, as well as noise, for DM ease, but otherwise a pretty decent and interesting map. There are a few rooms with reacting monsters and/or major/loud noises though and its a shame that’s not shown on the map or noted better in the text … in the adjoining rooms.
Interactivity is … interesting. It’s mostly combat. By far. With a heavy dose of talking to folks, potentially. I think just about everyone CAN be talked to. There’s a decent number of people asking you to surrender (only to eat you later) and at least SOME more interesting things … generally of the Please Go Kill Them For Us variety. But, still, it’s in there.
The writing here is journeyman. “The walls, floor, and even ceiling glow an eerie blue from the cold ice that forms the cavern. The upper half of an orc corpse is encased in a block of ice and lays in the center of the cavern, only traces of blood staining the floor. The bottom half is nowhere to be found. Several other figures are scattered about, in various positions and are encased in blocks of ice, with a few fallen over” I can quibble a lot with that. Yeah, it’s decent enough, for the DM. It’s also padded out in a weird way and lacks a certain joie d’vivre. It’ll do … it’s just not doing a lot.
WHat we have here is a bit of a poser. This thing is not my style. But, as in G2, it is well done. Perhaps more so than G2. The dungeon concept, that of a giant worm penetrating a dungeon, has been done a couple of times before and is done here well with an interesting map. The supporting humanoid factions/zone is interesting, as it the undead faction play and their “normal life” shit. Creature encounters have a little bit to them, like the ice trolls playing the “thrown the goblin off the cliff” game. Yet, this feels a little too much of a hack for my tastes in dungeons. It’s a pretty decent hack, with descriptions that wont win an award but do not offend too much. The mix, though, feels off to me, for my own tastes in D&D. Malrex is a solid producer of dungeons, though.
This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is the entire thing, because Malrex is a stand up dude.