EZG reviews Dungeon Dressing: Fiendish Traps I
This unconventional installment of the Dungeon Dressing-series is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice on reading statblocks, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so what do we get?
Well, the first trap, the Die (at EL 3) is brilliant – a cube with each side being tiled and blasting foes with various deadly effects, alternating the tiles that spray forth from the walls and ceiling – including a pass-code to get past the trap as well as graphical representations of each side of the cube and a verse to help solving this puzzle-trap -as well as extensive pieces of information to disable the trap the hard way via sabotaging the complex mechanisms behind the room. We also get scaling advice to EL 2 and 4.
The second trap is no true trap per se, but rather more of an encounter – the shop of Pedamare, a scrupulous advanced invisible stalker who seeks to cheat his “customers” out of their money without handing them items and while his sales tactics and deceptive nature as well as the list of what’s for sale etc. make for an interesting encounter, at least to me, the shoppe is not a true trap – in spite of the cool terrain features. El is btw. 9 with scaling for +/-1 provided.
The third entry is once again brilliant – Unbalanced Mortality is a corridor that is balanced like a see-saw that has its weight determined not by weight, but by the weight of sin (or rather, lack thereof!) – hence increasing the chance of good creatures dropping from the tilting corridor, which btw. also comes with full rules for holding on for different angles – neat. Especially when adding the Alkyrait accuser devil to the fray. Again, EL 6 with +/-1 scaling information is provided. But why can’t the devil increase the trap’s tilting? Seriously, this creature screams “I can make this more lethal” – but remains an relatively bland added combat-component.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan’s two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one for print-use. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Author David Posener knows how to create evil traps – and he does: Twice. Two of the traps herein are pure gold and actually fun and great examples of trap design. The thing is – the third isn’t. It’s a social encounter and while I applaud the notion of non-lethal, unconventional traps – it’s not a trap. And not an inspired one at that, but rather one that would require the PCs to be rather stupid to fall afoul of. Honestly, its inclusion imho is jarring, diminishing the overall appeal of the pdf and wasting 2 of the pdf’s pages. This would kick in at full 5 stars – but the second “trap” imho drags the product slightly down and the unrealized additional complication in the final trap also is a minor blemish. And usually I still wouldn’t mind – but at this short length, every component has to hit home as hard and awesome as the first trap – and they don’t. Hence, I’m looking forward to improvement in a sequel and settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.