This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 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 and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! The dungeon’s number-less version of the map does come with iterations sans the deceptive “S” denoting secret doors, but the secret rooms have not been retouched/covered, so players will still know where to look…but then again, 2 bucks for print, 1 buck for pdf.
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.
This mini-dungeon depicts, surprise, the ruined council chambers, sunk by an odd cataclysm, and as such, does sport a massive dome, wherein magical riddles can be found (quite a few, actually!) as well as the suffocated, now undead remains of the tragedy. Rooms that provided for the heating and cooling add a nice sense of the magical society that inhabited these halls, while surprisingly interesting items (a ring that melts in warm climates, for example and duplicates boots of the winterlands!) complement a nice mini-crawl. That being said, the 5e-iteration does sport one aspect I am not that happy with – the pdf’s hyperlinks are not always that consistent and e.g. the pink rhomboid ioun stone found, would probably be better off called Fortitude ioun stone – having to read the entry for the item-class is a bit tedious. Not a big complaint, mind you, just something I noticed. Also, as a very rare magic item, it may be a bit soon to dump such a potent treasure in the PC’s lap.
The one structural downside of this module would be the lack of an explanation for ingress beyond finding the opening in the dome’s ceiling – while it makes sense, the people herein died from lack of oxygen. Breaking through would have been the icing on the cake – and making the long isolation and thus gathered gasses additional hazards that could have further improved a pretty impressive mini-module.
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 nice to have, but I wished it came with covered up secret rooms. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!
Jonathan G. Nelson knows how to craft truly unique, alive cultures and this knack for indirect storytelling even translates to this exceedingly limited format – pretty impressive! With the exception of the nitpicks mentioned above, this module should be considered a great example for a short, sweet sidetrek. Kyle Crider did a nice job translating the dungeon and while this may not be perfect, it is a worthwhile file. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
You can get this cool mini-dungeon here on OBS!