By Masters of Evil Self Published OSE "Low Levels"
A Sphinx sits proudly in the sands of the desert, constructed in honour of the forgotten potentates who once ruled the lands in time immemorial. From the abandoned camp and scaffold, it would seem either graverobbers or archaeologists were recently here, but where have they gone and what lies within the bowels of the Sphinx?
This seventeen page adventure presents a small egyptian themed tomb with thirteen rooms in nine pages. Dry, with some sloppy wording and poor interactivity, but also committing no cardinal sins.
There’s just not much here to go on. I usually try and mention a few nice things about an adventure, something I thought it did well or a concept that it had that was interesting, even if it didn’t actually pan out … and I’m having trouble doing that with this one. It’s just kind of … there. As if both the highs and lows were smoothed out. There is this concept of a Ushabti. That’s a statue like thing that moves from room to room. If you’re in the room with it then you get a glimpse in to the room in the underworld. That’s something that has been done before in myriad ways … from the underworld and fy realm and so on. There’s not really much to it though. You get maybe a secret passage revealed. Otherwise it’s just more window dressing for the room you’re in. Window dressing that you can’t control, since its governed by the status thing and its random movements. Not really puzzle tool or anything like that. And the statue dude thing is immune to all damage but fucks you up if you mess with it. So … yeah. There’s just not much going on with this feature.
And the rest of it is … meh?
“The air is heavy, pregnant with a thousand years of decay …” Ok, so, heavy is good. I might even be able to stomach pregnant, as a sense of anticipation. But the thousand years of decay bit? We’re bumping up against getting purple. In other places we get text that tells us that skeletons are “undying guardians animated by the power of the alter!” Ok, so, yes, that’s what a skeleton is, an undying guardian. And there’s no need to tell us that they are powered by the power of the alter, especially since there’s no indication that we can destroy or alter it in order to put them to rest. It’s just an explanation for why the skeletons are coming to life. There’s no actual gameable content in the phrasing. In another place we’re told that there is a golden sarcophagus, plated with gold plate … and no worth placed upon it. You can’t tell me the entire room is made of platinum and then not tell me how much the party gets when they scrape the metal off to sell it. And, traditionally, we also roll for wanderers when counting grains of sand on the beach.
Things that look like rea-daloud end with “the door in the west wall is stuck” so, clearly, not read-aloud. And yet that standsin opposition to the rest of the text in that (the first para in each room) section that is worded like it’s an initial room description for the players. It’s just … nothing in this is well thought out and to the effect of it on the game.
I can’t point to any one thing that makes it stand out as bad. I can say, though, that it comes off as rather boring. Using words like “large” to describe things. The lack of evocative descriptions, in spite of some lapses in to purple prose. Not really much of interest to investigate. It’s all much like the real pyramids in Giza. Once you go inside it’s super anti-climactic. “Oh, a large room of rock.” Kind of like going in to an empty room made of cinderblock. Ok. I guess I’m here now. It’s not that they are devoid of anything, but they certainly FEEL like they are devoid of anything. Like the descriptions are all just a little plain.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $1. The preview is also nineteen pages, so you get to see everything.