I missed out on the whole Dungeon a Day concept, I wont bore you with the details, but I was one of those guys who had to scan over convention reports with a sense of loss as I read through articles referring to a favored room here, or legendary dungeon whatsit there….yeah, it sucked….BUT NO MORE!!!!!!! Super Genius Games, you know, those guys who own the rights to all that material, have released the first PDF from the Dungeon a Day archives. I’m going to venture a guess that this is in fact an experiment on their part, to see how much interest it generates, to determine if this imprint might be added to their line or not. So, let’s see what we get out of the 32 pages, shall we?
Losing 3 pages to ads, 1 to the OGL, we are left with 28 pages. Give one up for the classic partial cover that SGG has turned into their trademark look and feel, and 4 to full page cartography for GM and player maps, and we are down to 23 pages detailing this very wicked tomb. Formatting follows the classic SGG three column standard, with embedded artwork and cartography. The overall look and feel of this product puts one in the mindset of running a tomb lost on a desert world, the pages done in a gradient fade from a red page topper down to white by the bottom of the page. Artwork is both original and stock, and for the most part is good to fair.
The adventure comes stocked with bookmarks and links to map locations and stat blocks throughout the text. And where as the links are extremely handy and cool, visually they are really clunky looking, and actually take away from the look and feel of the product. Would of rather seen them as a different colored text, or even a more subtle “button” than the text in box that was done. It is distracting enough it actually makes some of the text not appear to line up with the other words in a line. Points for linking everything, but perhaps a more subtle visual in the next product.
Now…we all know this is an adventure….so, GM’s eyes only from this point on…and just because I know how sneaky players are, I’m still keeping the spoilers to a minimum.
So, Desert world created by Spell crafter with more power than most Gods..check…find one self “transported” to godforsaken environment, landing in front of huge pyramid…check…and before the Stargate jokes start, I’ll stop, lol. Make no mistake, this adventure was written from the idea that a very powerful crafter of the magical arts created for himself a very unique and deadly tomb. There will be touches throughout to remind players of the years of vastness he spanned, and the fact that his home world was not there’s. If the players spend some time investigating the large statues before entering the pyramid, they may get lucky enough to discover a room that serves many purposes, giving them the potential to survive the “welcome” mat in front of the pyramid’s doors, as well as infusing an understanding of the language of our long dead host. There is also the religious symbology present here that leads one to wonder a few things about whether this is supposed to be a hint towards Alak Ammur’s homeworld. From there the players will undoubtedly begin their climb up the steps to the pyramids entrance, being subjected to a “rain” of lightning upon reaching the top that could in fact end a weaker character, if your dice are feeling good that day.
Any attempts to retreat down the stairs at this point, or any point for that matter, brings a gargantuan cross between a lizard and a bird of prey, quickly changing the idea of most players to get back inside. The first guardians within are a pair of stone golems who manifest as large stone arms that “float” through the floor of the initial hallway. With an inner sanctum where things are hidden in plain sight, an actual temple to magic (yes, this guy worshiped magic as priests worship deities) guarded by a summoned Cornugon Devil, and an altar that acts like a magic item swap meet. OK, that’s just two rooms, literally. This place has coolness just oozing out of each room, but of course, when it was originally designed, it was done one room per day, and there were to be no days where you got ye old empty room. Seeing a collection put together like this, and realizing the immense amount of challenges that face a playgroup, makes you appreciate the original design that much more.
Alak Ammur’s actual remains lie secure under a dome of metal and glass awaiting a group smart enough to figure out how to get to him without animating the shadows adorning the walls of his resting chamber. Assuming they actually manage to get to the remains alive, the group is set to be rewarded with Starmilk, literally fluids harvested from stars themselves that convey SR and DR. But alas, this delve is far from over, as the remains of our host fade away, only to reappear elsewhere within the tomb.
It is about here that we learn that Alak Ammur is not, in the truest of senses, dead. His soul is in safe keeping, while his body was interred, and attended by three of his closest disciples, whom the party shall be meeting in spectral form. It’s about here in the adventure that the party will learn that they in fact are going to be integral in the reawakening of their host, and this may or may not be a good thing for them, depending upon when they first encounter the spirit of Alak Ammur, and what they have already accomplished. On the good side of things, as this adventure is written, Alak Ammur really has no interest in the adventurers after awakening, and is more than happy to leave and let them be on their way, assuming they can get themselves to the legendary magical portal he has tucked in the basement, guarded by a bound astral deva…yup, no problem at all.
Now, having read through this adventure, and already making preliminary phone calls to get together a group of veterans to gather for a day of Tomb cracking, I can say this is a well done adventure, with a lot of potential fun. I will say however, there are a few choices in design style that really annoyed me. Case in point, standing outside Alak Ammur’s treasury, the two guardians (appearing as skeletal humanoids resting on thrones) literally speak to the group telling them “The treasure’s in there”, and “Don’t go in unless your a mage, otherwise you’ll die”….So, he’s powerful enough to have created an entire world to house his remains, but still hires scab labor too stupid to keep their mouths shut? Or, better yet, the magic altar from the temple to magic has words carved into its surface telling you that if you remembered to steal a certain ring, you’re gonna get a goodie….OK, so I paraphrased, but the point I’m trying to make here is, super all powerful practically godlike wizard…am doubting he had to leave cheat sheet notes to remind him to wear a freaking ring when he handled the altar. Sometimes a player gimme flat out ruins an entire situation. Come on, let’s not insult our player’s intelligence here folks.
As said, I’ve already assembled my crew for this weekend, and will be breaking out the Dwarven Forge pieces…the adventure is solid, the concept is way cool, and as a first up to bat to see if the idea will fly, I’m going to say I hope so. I hope so because I want there to be a chance to fix what was wrong with this one, to make the next one better, and so forth.
So, the pros…really cool adventure concept, plenty of cartography to please GMs and Players, small maps sections throughout adventure to correspond to room text, linkable sections of the PDF for statblocks and map locations.
And the cons….large unwieldy link “buttons” that just look horrible, and a few grammatical hiccups like missing instances of words, such as ….”he placed his spirit a special receptacle…” between finding a few occasions of this type of editorial mistake, those link buttons, and of course the Chatty Kathy undead guardians (who might as well of been pointing and going Ooh OOH Gold over here!!) I’m dinging a full star off of the rating, leaving us with a four star rating.