By Thilo Graf
This module from Rocks Fall Games is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? When a distraught, whimpering man bursts into the “Blind Basilisk”, the barkeep and PCs can console the poor man, whose stuttering speech-impediment made the guards not take him serious: He is a gravedigger and saw somebody/something dig up graves. The trail leads the PCs to “THE SPOOKY HOUSE BY THE HUGE OAK TREE”[sic! – layout is in all-caps] and yes, it remains as ill-defined as its generic name suggests. Taking a ladder down, the PCs can trigger an arrow trap before they meet their first adversary – a minotaur-woman with a bloody meat-claver! Now kudos where kudos are due – I didn’t see that one coming! The dungeon, packed earth lined with planks, also evokes a rustic and quite claustrophobic atmosphere and the books and other traps, while nothing to write home about (a burning hands-variation of “I prepared explosive runes today”, for example), are ok as well, though a tad bit mediocre. Finally, once they have braved a skeletal champion, ghouls etc., the PCs may find a dark priest and his co-conspirators and end the threat.
Editing is quite good, I didn’t notice any glaring mistakes. Formatting is sometimes non-standard, which e.g. bloats the priest’s statblock to over one page in spite of the precious few options he has. Layout…well, I’m not going to repeat myself. This layout has to DIE. It’s horrible and I hope Rocks Fall Games will soon get a substitute that doesn’t suck that much. If you want a longer ramble on what is wrong with it, read one of my first Rocks Fall Games-reviews. The module is also not bookmarked, which is a further no-go. The cartography serves its purpose, though anything but beautiful and the fact that each combat encounter gets a miniature map is nice. Though, much like other Rocks Fall-modules, the NPCs are painfully passive, the dungeon serving only as a backdrop without any real rules-repercussions.
Which is doubly painful since the first (VERY DEADLY) encounter of the module and the dungeon’s look per se create a feeling of claustrophobia after the generic intro that could have easily been developed into a VERY creepy horror-module, with parts of the dungeon collapsing, foes bursting from the walls etc. Instead, the opposition remains static as always, waiting to be slaughtered. It also is problematic that apart from the first encounter and ghouls (all waiting conveniently in one room so the fighter can tank the door) remain the worst threats, with the “bosses” falling way behind. Also: Motivations for the impetus of the module are hinted at, but not developed.
In the end, this is a sketchy module that had a great idea for a dungeon and one flash of coolness before sinking into the murk of generalness once again. However, what this module shows unlike the other Rocks Fall Games modules I’ve read so far, is that there is potential buried here. Once this abomination of a layout has been killed and once generic names and locales have been dealt, if they can make their villains believable (Why did the construct this dungeon? Stuff it with a library? Where do the undead come from? Why do they work together? How did they get a minotaur unobserved into the house, which I presume is next to or not that far from the village?), then we could actually get good modules. While not a total trainwreck, this unfortunately remains close to one – my final verdict thus clocking in at 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 for the purpose of this platform.
Adventures in Awesfur – The Graverobbers’ Larder is available from: