By G. Hawkins Self Published OSRIC Levels 8-10
When death finally drew near and the forces of law were at the gates, Heimfell the giant two-headed king built a great tomb in the hills. He ordered his sorcerers to place a curse upon his family and servants, forcing them into a state of unlife to guard his crypt for eternity. Many treasure seekers have died within his halls and to this day the two-headed king is still lord of his final domain
This twelve page adventure features a two level dungeon with about 55 rooms. It’s varied, interesting, and not quite as static as most tomb adventures. It’s a good dungeon, suffering only from a lack of evocative writing, and, perhaps, just a tiny touch of the The Tomb Problem.
This is part of a compendium of adventures. About fifty pages with nine adventures included. Which, doing a quick thumb through, appear to be decent adventures.This one, though, is a two level tomb dungeon housing the skeleton of a giant two-headed king of old. And his undead buddies. And some static shit. And a decent number of traps. IE: What one expects from a tomb adventure. The level here is a bit suspect. Ye Olde Cleric will be getting a workout calling on his god to wash that undead right out of their hair. Chock full of nuts, and undead … with the second level of the tomb having a -2 to turn attempts. Nice try buddy, but eights and tens are still gonna fuck up some undead, I think? Meh, it’s just a resource, like anything else, I guess.
A lot of what’s going on in this tomb is going to be familiar. You enter a room, it’s got a sarcophagus, and inside is a clawing sound and a moaning female voice saying “let me out, help, let me out.” A wight. Or, Ye Olde Niches With Skeletons In Them. This extends, even, to the classic statue trap/puzzle, of which there are several present. Statue with gemstone eyes, a hand raised in warning, eyes begin to glow and then shoot disintegration beams. These are all classics. Up to and including bridges over chasms and a giant stone rolling ball trap. The classics are present, both in trap form and in creature form. The adventure does a decent job with them. Take that wight encounter. The scratching and the female Help Me (Daphne?!) sound help set this apart. It’s not just a sarcophagus with a wight inside, but the sounds, and lure from them, help to amplify the encounter just a little bit more.
You could have a room with a wight. Or a room with a sarcophagus and a wight inside, which is better. Or, Make the sarcophagus stone. Or, how about white-streaked black marble. Stick in some tattered tapestries of a stern faced elderly woman. Make them tattered and decayed. Finally, add the scratching at the lid and the Help Me. We;ve gone from a minimalist encounter, a wight, through some other versions to arrive at an encounter that has a smattering of evocative text and has something active going on, the scratching and voice. It’s now closer to a situation and infinitely more interesting than just a boring old sarcophagus with a wight inside.
And the designer does this, over and over again. “Two 12’ tall bronze statues, two-headed and
holding giant mauls, flank a crumbling stone bridge (60’ long) arching over a canyon. Below, a raging river fed by a thundering waterfall cuts through the black rock; on the other side a ledge before thick, granite doors embedded into a cliff face. The cavern ceiling towers above (200′ high)” That’s pretty good scene setting, but, also … wonder what’s gonna happen with those giant statues carrying mauls … you know, the ones next to the crumbling stone bridge…
Formatting is great. The maps are clear and interesting, one has an iso view. Different elevations present, rivers, statues, etc. And the text is clear and easy to read. Seriously, this is one of the easiest to read things I’ve ever seen. So much so that I hazard to say that any other font/spacing should be illegal. Bold room names (which, perhaps, could be a bit more descriptive) followed by a short little descriptive paragraph, keywords bolded and expanded upon in bullets below, with brief uses of italics and shaded boxes for more clarity.Nine rooms per page, on the first page, and they feel good. Each room is clearly separated from the rest, good use of whitespace to shift attention. I seriously can’t give it enough praise, especially in the layout/font category.
That bridge entry is, perhaps, a highlight of the evocative writing in the adventure. It’s not that any of the rooms are bad, but, it does get that “Just another marble tomb room” vibe to it after awhile. How many marble sarcophaguses can you do in a dungeon? But, when there is something more colourful to describe it generally gets a decent enough treatment. Magic items/treasure could be better described, but, I guess that’s the nature of this particular beast.
So, it’s a solid dungeoncrawl in a two level tomb. More than good enough to challenge the players. I might say tha the interactivity is a bit low/slow, as is similar in a lot of tomb adventures, but it’s not exactly the static place that most tombs are.
This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is eleven pages and shows you several rooms. It’s a good preview.