Mini-Dungeon: Heart of the Sacred Dawn
This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.
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.
In ages long gone, the lord of dragons Tenebrash was vanquished by the order of sacred dawn with the help of an ancient relic, the lucespel. Now, evil has returned to the lands of mortals and it is up to the heroes to find and secure the lucespel within the confines of the now ruined temple-keep of the order of sacred dawn. The deity once in command of the artifact remains purposefully obscure and can be considered to be a great placeholder for deities from Saranrae to Latander or Arden. Within these sacred halls, only the mightiest of heroes have a chance to prove their mettle – to do so, they must defeat exceedingly powerful knights turned to spirit of adoration. The ruins also sport a riddle that requires the PCs to collect certain words, which prove to be the answer to a simple riddle. When solved a templated great black wyrm dread ghost still stands between the PCs and triumph…oh, and that one downright sadistic trap…that, RAW, is even triggered when the correct key has been taken, which *may* be an oversight. 3 x Power Word: Kill at CL 20 is nasty and probably should not be triggered when the correct key is used. Similarly, that should be a trap or at least a haunt; the pdf has a tough option for legendary rogues to bypass the boss fight, but not to find and disarm the killer-magic…which could result in some complaining. Beyond these secured portals, the artifact beckons – though its exact powers are left for the GM to decide.
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, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!
Justin Andrew Mason’s Heart of the Sacred Dawn is a mini-dungeon we can *really* use. Why? Simple: We don’t have a lot of quality high-level material. The added requirements of high-level gameplay are tough to master and conversely, this pdf doesn’t have the space to provide elaborate notes on the certainty of teleportation et al. That being said, the challenges are flavorful and diverse, with the kill-trap’s trigger in either case being my one true structural gripe beyond wishing that the exploration required some more uses of high-level tricks and abilities. Apart from the combat challenges and overkill-kinda-trap, the module could be handled by lower level PCs as well.
How to rate this? Well, while not perfect, this constitutes a fun diversion for high-level PCs and in the hand of a good GM, this can be a pretty cool insertion. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this nice high-level module here on OBS!