A 5th Edition Mini-Dungeon adventure for 4-6 level 9-10 PCs
The Underworld houses strange and unpleasant communities, and the ruins of two temple complexes are a perfect example of religious hubris coming before a fall. Two traditions devoted to bloody sacrifi ce and unwilling death – one lawful, one chaotic – found this remote cavern an ideal place to practice their beliefs AND constant, petty one-upmanship, far from interfering good-doers. But a malignantly wicked elf, devoid of distraction from his evil intent, played the followers against each other until all were slaughtered. However, he didn’t reckon on some senior members becoming powerful undead intent on wiping him and each other out. He’s now stuck in a “neutral zone”. The PCs walk into this three-way standoff . This encounter is a stiff challenge for the su ggested levels. The party will need to set individuals against others to succeed.
Mini-Dungeons are single page, double sided adventures for 5th Edition which are setting agnostic and are easily inserted anywhere in your campaign.
An Endzeitgeist.com review
This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains…*drumroll* a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg’s included as well!
Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
It is well-known that the underdark houses some of the most malignant, vile beings and cults – and in a particular cavern, two rival cults engaged in a constant one-upmanship of “more evil than thou” – one cult was lawful, the other chaotic – and both were thoroughly vile. Alas, in a surprising twist, they did not attempt to eradicate each other, at least not until a particularly nasty elf killer happened upon the cults. While he managed to eradicate both cults, step by step, he did not, stupidly, I might add, account for evil cultist leaders rising as the living dead. Well, guess what they did? While he got away with his life and is sustained for now by the spoon he owns, the complex still represents a three-way standoff. As the module notes, this extended encounter/sidetrek area is a brutal challenge – and indeed, the pdf makes excellent use of PFRPG’s vast bestiary and the tactics of the creatures herein are surprisingly detailed for the pdf’s brevity. In order to triumph here, PCs are most likely required to make use of the still very much palpable hostility between all those evildoers…
(As an aside, this may just be me, but this mini-dungeon really struck me as a perfect fit for e.g. conflict between Tsathoggua and Orcus/as a side-area for Rappan Athuk or similar complexes.)
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!! The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!
Stephen Yeardley knows how to write mini-dungeons; I am a huge fan of his big adventures as well as the small ones and this one is amazing due to its focus on pure functionality – we get a volatile, extended encounter-situation and ignite the powder-keg once more by adding PCs. The module can be slotted easily into just about any context. Chris Harris’ 5e-conversion is solid and manages to convey the general set-up well. However, the 5e-version suffers from some system-immanent shortcomings: The main-appeal of the PFRPG-version lies in the creative and amazing adversaries chosen, highlighting some really cool monsters. 5e has, as of now, a more limited creature array available, and this, alas, shows in the pdf – the enemies encountered, in contrast, are pretty vanilla, depriving the module of what made it outstanding in PFRPG. It’s still a good adventure, but it is less remarkable in this version. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
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