Alternate Dungeons: Alchemist’s Laboratory
This installment of the Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
What is this series? Well, in a nutshell, Alternate Dungeons is a series of brief, flexible pdfs that allow you to reskin dungeons to sport unique themes, supplemented by both fluff and crunch: Crawling through a fey-ish forest (with open skies) or exploring other exotic locales allows for a more diverse and rewarding experience and these handy helpers supplement the GM in the endeavor to spice up his/her campaign with such options.
As always, we begin the pdf with peculiarities of the respective dungeon to consider – this time providing the potentially lethal, healing-impeding alchemical waste (awesome and SO going to use the hell out of this scaling hazard for my games!) and both heat sources and ventilation as well as maintenance are covered – absolutely awesome section here!
Conversely, from airflow to contaminants up to corrosive compounds and yes, explosives and mutagens, the hazards provided are extensive and mechanically diverse and awesome and the same level of detail is provided in the great sacking the dungeon section, which covers plundering the place for documents and precious metals. Of course, such a place is defined in no small part via the dressing provided and the table that covers it does sport unique things galore: Furnaces with slots and trays, coils of hair hanging from the ceiling and electricity arcs cover both the wondrous basics and here and there even add small pieces of crunch to the fray.
At the same time, the pdf does, in one instance, fall a bit short of this level of awesomeness, namely with the sample denizen/suggested creature section that is pretty uninteresting and universally the default you’d expect to see. Where the pdf once again comes into its own is, obviously, with the trap-section: From classic traps and hazards to asbestos dust, invasive tumors or Midas touch-style Golden Touch-afflictions or dweomersinks and arcane reactions, this once again elevates this one to the highest echelons. Better yet, the 3 sample adventure hooks provided are truly creative and ooze style and flair, ending the book on a high note.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions: One intended for the printer and one for screen-use – kudos!
Nicholas Wasko delivers perhaps the very best Alternate Dungeon so far: With ample of creative hazards and challenges, unique afflictions and downright inspired dressing, this is, to me, the best installment of the series so far: It oozes style, sports a ton of awesome scavenging potential (particularly for the brevity and low price!) and made me immediately come up with multiple modules – which is the sign of a great resource of this type. In fact, were it not for the less inspired array of sample creatures suggested, I’d have awarded this status as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015; instead, I’ll “only” award this well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval as well as my personal recommendation to get this gem ASAP – whether you’re going for scifantasy, steampunk or old-school alchemy, this one WILL deliver and enhance your game!
You can also support Raging Swan press by joining their patreon and receiving a kind of subscription – here’s the link!