May 232017
 

5E Mini-Dungeon: Shrine of the Earth Barons (5e)

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 doesn’t sport any deceptive trap icons or traps – kudos!

 

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.

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Still here?

All right!

 

The PCs find a capstone that opens to a dome that once housed a cabal of gnomish earth elementalists, now obliterated by a staff of power’s breaking by a fanatical adversary. Now what’s rather awesome, the dungeon does sport moving teleportation vortexes as well as deadly golems and earth-themed adversaries, often with interesting reskins to add a further sense of unique identity. Less awesome: It should be noted that the treasure for this mini-dungeon contains two ioun stones, one of which is legendary…which may be a bit much for the level…and it should be noted that they are not named for the benefits conveys, but for their shape, which may require reading the description. If you’re as picky as I am, that may annoy you slightly.

 

If PCs are capable, they’ll also score two manuals of golems. Speaking of which: Iron Golem adversary. That’s challenge 16. Don’t get me wrong – that’s beatable by a well-coordinated group…but it’s also very, very lethal and chances are that the PCs may not even be able to harm this monster!

 

Conclusion:

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 pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!

 

Stephen Yeardley delivers a concise, golem/earth-themed mini-dungeon I loved in its original iteration. Unfortunately, Kyle Crider did not translate it that well to 5e this time around. The balance of monsters is off and makes this a brutal meat-grinder that will curbstomp all but the hardiest of groups. Moreover, the pdf wastes precious space by noting “CLs” -which do not exist per se: 5e cares about the caster’s level in some cases (cantrips, for example), but is more occupied with actual spellslots used…which renders these relics puzzling at best.

 

The hyperlinks don’t work all – while the material can be found on the Open 5e SRD, only a few of the hyperlinks actually point where they should, detracting from the go-play aspect.

 

As a whole, this module has suffered quite a bit in translation – and while I still like components of it, I consider it to be problematic. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to in dubio pro reo.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

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