Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: The Tomb of Rakoss The Undying

The Tomb of Rakoss The Undying is the first published adventure by Mischief, Inc.


Once again, I was pointed to this pay what you want adventure by Tenkar.

Description:
Rakoss was a great wizard of ages past who served the Emperor of Maere. Tales tell of his prowess as a military strategist, but they also tell of his fall. It is said that although he won campaign after campaign for his emperor, just one failure earned the wrath of his master. The Emperor had Rakoss, his generals, strategists and personal guard sealed in a tomb somewhere in the Ganlaw Mountains, and cursed them.

Who knows what treasure was buried with Rakoss and his retinue, or what horrors remain to test any who might enter the tomb. Certainly only a brave few would dare seek out the final resting place of Rakoss, and even fewer can survive the terrors of The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying!

The Tomb of Rakoss the Undying" is a challenging adventure for 3-6 characters of level 4 to 6.

Review:
I'm afraid I was taken in by the great cover art, and the price. I was really looking forward to reading an adventure that wasn't an intro level adventure. And it's true, this isn't an intro level adventure, but it sure reads like one.

The introduction on the first page describes things that someone running an adventure for 4-6th level characters should probably know already, including the fact that a good aligned cleric would be useful, and that there are some creatures that are only able to be harmed by magic weapons.

Then the introductions talks about how one of the writers goals is to present an OSR Compatible adventure, and it sort of is. It most closely resembles a stripped down 3.x, pretty close to Microlite 20 (M20). This isn't bad, but I don't understand what benefit is to spending half a page explaining their own style rather than just picking one of the already easy to convert systems out there like S&W or LL or ACKS or DD or any of the other retroclones.


Adventure Background, Getting the Players Involved, The Default Narrative, and Alternate Plot Hooks take up the next 2 pages, very little of which actually impacts the adventurers at all.

Finally we get to the start of the adventure. The tomb is located a fortnight's journey from anywhere, and in that entire time there is only one encounter a day out from the tomb. It's a literal example of No random encounters

The tomb itself has a number of ongoing effects, including the fact that the place is freezing. So if your adventurers weren't prepped for really cold weather, they either have to suffer the effects, or go back to town and back to get their coats and mittens.

The layout of the map is very linear. The treasure seems really random and large. There's a spell book with 1st-5th level spells. Presuming there's a 6th level wizard in the party, they're only casting 3rd level spells.  About half the monsters picked are overpowered for this level of adventure: Stone Golem (8HD), Flesh Golem (10HD), Mummies*2 (7HD), Demons*3 (7HD), and a Manticore (9HD)? Really? 

Overall it's a very professional looking package, with a very amateur adventure inside that's bound to be a TPK for all but the largest and most experienced parties.

7 comments:

  1. What's wrong with monsters in a dungeon that are too tough for the adventurers to kill? Monsters are not necessarily there to be killed by the party, and knowing when to run and/or sneak through without a fight is a useful player skill! That said, you might be surprised how easily a group of 4th-6th level characters can eliminate high-HD monsters. (Though demons can potentially be _really_ tough even for a much higher level group. Not sure which ones they use there.)

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    1. I absolutely believe that dungeons should have all sorts of tough monsters, some of which are too tough for PCs to face. What I see as an issue in this example is that it's a small dungeon with a large number of powerful monsters, and there aren't a lot of places for PCs to run to.

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    2. The adventure was tested with several groups of different experience levels. Not one resulted in a TPK, or even anything approaching that. Still we appreciate the review, and will try to take something positive away from it.

      Feel free to join us at http://www.mischiefinc.net. You can question the author there if you wish. Also Bob explains something of his intent behind the module in our interview on the THAC0 Podcast at http://http://www.thacopodcast.com/?p=292.

      Cheers!

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    3. A group of 5 strangers played Rakoss this past weekend at GASP Con in Pittsburgh, running 6 characters. They made the mistake of opening too many doors and were forced to encounter areas 3, 6 and 7 simultaneously. They survived, and all 6 characters completed the entire adventure with only one rest in the supply storage room. A great time was had by all! Pics will be posted as soon as I get time to create a page and slideshow for them.

      Cheers!

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    4. Alex,

      I'm going to give Rakoss a try at Charm City Games Day next month. Did you use pre-gens at GASP? If so, I'd love to use the same ones when I run it.

      Cheers,
      David

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    5. David,

      I know my partner Bob has those pre-gens somewhere. Let me ask him for them again. They are in Castles & Crusades format, so some conversion may be necessary for what ever system you are using. We had been tossing around the idea of posting them as a Freebie on the Rakoss product page, so my best advice is to check there occasionally to see if they have been posted.

      Thanks,
      Alex

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  2. Thanks for the "heads up."

    As a smaller dungeon, there should be more low level encounters and -- as you imply -- only one, or maybe two, higher level encounters and even those should offer plenty of room to run away. A small dungeon makes it too easy to trap the players and deliver a TPK.

    Which I hate as an "option."

    Small dungeon? High level Monsters? Give the players room to run.

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