By Wagner Self Published/No Artpunk 2 1e Levels 3-8
Long time ago, under mountain named Peikon, lied the fortress-monastery beholden to guarding the most disasterous secret of dwarvenkind. A combination of prison, temple and ruin, it held the worst criminals of dwarvenkind – those whose crimes had forever severed them from the dwarven race. Well-guarded by the most qualified of dwarven gaolers, the laxening of its security could only be excused by law of entropy, and its distant grandson; erosion – the slow killer that comes to all mountains eventually.
This 39 page single column text describes a dwarf dungeon, with verticality, with about 22 rooms. It’s certainly unique, in both the good and bad contexts of the word. I’m never gonna run the thing. Nor is anyone else. Which is a shame.
I guess the closest analogy, for this adventure, might be White Plume Mountain. Maybe. The rooms here are a mix between puzzle-like things (sometimes literally, like a chessboard) or rooms that have bend towards something puzzle-like. Or situation-like? Neither seem really fair. There’s some shit going on in this place and almost every room is involved. And as a result many of the rooms feel like a puzzle, or a Special. It’s really REALLY fucking hard to explain what is going on with the rooms. I’ll come back to this.
The map has a good deal of verticality to it. As a result there is both a traditional two dimensional map as well as a more isometric map that shows the relationship of height to the various rooms. More than this, the rooms, prepper, have verticality to them, with different heights being important to them. Ladders and tunnels to the top of them, towering overhead. It brings a refreshing dimension to play. Related to this, there are six entrances to the dungeon, most of them tied to a specific hook. The base hook is an entrance on the top that is discovered via airship. Thus you explore the hollowed out mountain from the top down. (Speaking of this, the place is large. Each “square” on the map is not 10’. Or 5’. But, rather, the distance a man can move in one turn. Or, rather “One full movement.” In any event, the scale IS large, but probably not mountain-filling large. One ‘Y’ corridor is, I think, 180’ wide and 1260 feet long. BTW: the grid squares on the map are totally not suited for this sort of thing. Whatever. Cute idea to represent scale.)
The descriptions are absolute garbage. That’s not why you are using this adventure. Room two is an underground lake, with a couple of skeletons in it. The last sentence of the (short one para) description reads “Then they will try to use sharpened hand-bones to cut the ropes of the bridge while tesspassers are still on it.” I note, this is the first mention of a bridge. Looking at both map, along with the description, I can put things together. And that’s what’s going on in this adventures descriptions. You have to REALLY work at what is going on. Transitioning to room three, it’s labeled Night Dwarves. There is … a page? Of text that describes the night drwarf culture and history. Essentially a bad monster manual description. Then finally, you get to the statue of a giant octopus that is OUTSIDE their room. Then, finally, the fat that they are usually gathered around the fireplace in the room while playing cards. Except for one of them. Jesus h christ. There IS no rhyme or reason to what is put ni a room or the order it is put in a room. It just is. Hang on and go with it. In one place you find a bronze sword of wounding (taken from the infamous Garrun bloodletter)” How do you know this? Useless background.
But, man, the actually the fuck rooms. Like a nightmare of Grimtooth. Some fucked up dragon, a bunch of dwarves, a wizard from the future. Clerics. And this Deathfoam shit all over the place … a kind of last resort trap for the prison complex. Room after room after room of weird shit going on.
I don’t know. Maybe, one day, dude will get on the right drugs and produce something usable by the general populace. But that day ain’t today. Rooms of content, that you REALLY have to want to wade through. And I don’t. I’ll just go run Thracia.