Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Review: Tombstones of Terror
Tombstones of Terror is written and illustrated by veteran adventure writer +Dylan Hartwell. This is a fantasy adventure using Labyrinth Lords ruleset and for character levels 7th thru 14th. This review is based off the print version of the adventure. Dylan also has a PDF version available. The print format is a cardstock cover and he uses every bit of space in the 28 pages and inside covers.
Dylan, as I mentioned above, did the illustrations for this adventure like he's done with all his previous offerings. The image above graces the cover and I think sets the creepy tone. His pictures, with their heavy grays and blacks, have always had a creepy look which is perfect for Tombstones of Terror.
The overall goal of the adventure is to lift the curse that is consuming a the town of Brot. The curse, of course, seems to centered around the town's graveyard. Simple enough plot, bad things happening. Adventures asked to stop the bad thing. Find bad thing. Stop it. Everyone happy until next bad thing.
But this is a Dylan Hartwell adventure so it ain't easy. He's got the adventure broken into seven different mini adventures. Within these adventures there are puzzles and original bad guys. It could take months of in-game time to find the correct answers to the puzzles. If you know Dylan's blog, Digital Orc, you know he loves his puzzles and these are good ones. Difficult enough to require thought and ingenuity, but easy enough that a party will not get frustrated and walk away. Also, I don't believe Dylan has ever used a 'canned' critter. He creates original creatures to throw at the adventurers. So the party cannot assume the power level of their opponent by its name.
Now each of the adventure parts has a main bad dude. And I think this is one of the shining spots in this adventure. These guys are bad. I could easy pluck them from the pages and place them in my campaign to use as a villain. Each one has an angle/theme the players must figure out and eventually defeat.
In the back half of the adventure are the maps and room descriptions. The layout is very friendly to use in game. Descriptions on the left page, map is on the right. So there is no page flipping. And here's another thing I like about Dylan's adventures, they all interact. Well the later ones interact with the earlier adventures. I like it when I see a reference to the Veiled Invocation or the Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz.
Overall, this is a great adventure that can be used as a whole or could easy be used in sections, taking a couple of the tombs and running them on their own would be more than enough for a night of adventure. I think this is Dylan's smartest and strongest adventure so far. I like all the elements he infused which enhances the playability and over fun of the adventure. Oh, and almost forgot, there can be an alternate ending if you wish. The option is deadly, but I like it.
I high recommend the adventure. I think it's fantastic. And better yet, if you ever get a chance to have Dylan run you through one of his adventures, do it. It is obvious the guy loves DMing and puts a lot of himself into his work. And man, do I wish I had some his energy.
You can buy a print copy of Tombstones of Terror at his Digital Orc blog. He has a video where he goes through the adventure so you can see what it looks like. I love that idea and wish I did something like that, but no doubt all anyone would see is me dropping the camera as I turned pages. The print version will run you $4.99, the price includes the shipping and the awesome.
And of course there is a PDF option over at RPGNow for $3.99. Like me, Dylan is a gamer dude who pretty much reinvests his profits, and then some, back into other cool gaming products.
Please check out his latest adventure. It is excellent.