Monday, March 19, 2012

Barrowmaze Review

My hardcover copy of Barrowmaze arrived on Saturday. I skimmed through it Saturday evening and a more detailed read on Sunday. My decision to get the hardcover was probably over-kill for a 84-page book, but I like things to last and the glossy finish should repel spilled liquids better than a soft-cover book. The layout and typesetting reminded me of the module Keep on the Borderlands. Monster names are listed in bold, making it stand out better, and the names of magic items are italicized.

The book is written by Greg Gillespie of the Discourse and Dragons blog. It details a sprawling megadungeon of burial crypts and tombs beneath a series of burial mounds in a swampy region. There are 188 keyed areas on the maps, but many rooms are subdivided into numerous crypts, thus there are way more than 188 rooms.

The book contains several new magic items, two new spells, several new monsters which have artwork and stats at the back of the book, random tables to flesh out details of the dungeon, some pregen henchmen and hirelings and PCs as well.

The artwork throughout the book is done in the old school style, and it compliments the setting of the book very well.

Being that the dungeon is set in burial crypts, there are A LOT of undead here. Players running Cleric characters should shine brightly here, but they will find their Turn Undead abilities slightly hampered due to the influence of several cults of evil death dieties. There are several new undead monsters that will throw a few curve-balls at experienced players. That is not to say that all the monsters in the dungeon are undead, however.

One aspect of the exploration and plundering of the burial crypts is that many rooms have burial alcoves and niches set into the walls. It takes time to search them, and well you should, for there can be treasure to be found. The risk is that you may have a random encounter with a wandering monster the longer it takes to search. There is a simple system presented on how many of these alcoves can be searched before a encounter check is made. If there is treasure, it is listed, but as a sum total. This gave me the impression that everything must be searched to get all the treasure listed, but nowhere is it explained how much of that treasure you get if say you only searched half or a quarter of the alcoves.

Besides this minor quibble, I liked the adventure and hope to run it soon.

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