By Aaron Fairbrook
The Merciless Merchants
There is no purpose, no reason, no why, and no suggested character levels as it really depends on how greedy the players want to be. No hooks, no main villains, no huge storyline….Instead of another chest full of glittering treasure for your greedy players; inside are just stairs leading down. In fact, that’s the hook! Stairs descending downwards into the unknown. Are you adventurers brave enough to explore the contents of The Chest?
This sixteen page adventure uses four pages to detail the fourteen rooms in a dungeon that is inside of a treasure chest. The concept remains nice, but it’s more of a treasure than it is a dungeon. Which is fine. But, also, uninteresting as more than a curiosity.
You find a treasure chest. Inside the chest are some stairs going down. Mini level time, for the dungeon! A classic dungeon element, the level within a level, I’ve seen … four? other adventures like this. Which is not to say the concept is bad, but, also, there’s not much new under the sun. And not much new in this. Uninteresting, to put a point on it.
There’s basically one room devoted to each treasure type with some kind of guardian in it. Some copper coin creatures. Liquid silver dudes in a pile of silver coins. Some gold featureless dudes with a gold dragon. A jewel golem. You get it. Along the way we’ve got a gelatinous cube cleaning the place and some large ants running around moving coins to the proper vault. There’s an alien tentacle beast also, drawn to the treasure up your butt (oops, wrong adventure …) It’s there as a pressure valve in case he party abuses their new treasure chest home. You just make a bunch of them invade when the party gets uppity after the adventure is over and they are abusing the place.
There is the usual problem here, with treasure. How to make it a cool place with dreams of avarice, while retaining the level limit shit. “r. Despite the vast amount of gold (walls, floor, ceiling, etc.) covering this room, including the golden liquid of the stream, attempts to chip, collect, and leave with the gold (besides the coins) will disappear if it leaves the room.” So, that’s how you do it. I’m never a fan of this. Maybe just do a 1e thing and give them a level and close to the next one. I did this once at level one, it worked fine.
Interactivity here is … off. A few things to fight. Talk to the dragon. One very obvious and blatant non-subtle riddle. This is not an adventure/magic item t o haunt the players for years to come with riddles, mysteries, and unexplained areas beyond their reach
Descriptions are … straight forward. “14. Bed Chambers ? Simple rooms with small bed, foot locker, small table, chair, and a candle.” This is, herpes, the worst of them. It’s not clear to me why this is even here. Otherwise, in other rooms, an attempt is made. The opening room begins with “The liberation of light from the open chest, reveals the top of two ominous hooded stone statues flanking a claustrophobic 30 foot stairway leading down” SO, I get what is being trie for here. But the liberation of light thing is purple and the actual description, two statues flanking stairs down, is descriptive rather than evocative. And, all of the room descriptions are this more of this workmanlike variety. I understand that evocative writing is hard, but, also, it’s worth it and is what really makes an area come alive. Which benefits both the DM and the players.
Ultimately this is more of a Magic Item With COmplications than it is a dungeon. And, as a dungeon, it is a bit too staid. Mystery and wonder would have gon a long way here. Things to unravel for years to come. And towering descriptions for the players to revel in. Alas, it was not to be.
This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is seven pages long. Which means you get to see the entire dungeon. Great preview!