|The Lower Mine by "Aaron Palsmier"|
copyright Goodman Games
Who is it For?
4 to 6 third level characters, no class or race recommendations, but a dwarf or two would be fun.
The Story **1/2
The story itself is unremarkable. A lost Dwarven mine and an outcast Dwarf of sorts in search of its treasures and its redemption. Where the story rises above the norm is in what befell the ancient lost Dwarves who once mined its veins and the evil that now haunts its chambers. Just enough of a weird twist on the curse motif to be interestingly Lovecraftian. But I must say, the finale lacks a bit of punch for me. Almost too contrived, but could be easily tweaked by a creative DM. After-hooks are not plentiful, but are present if the party either chooses to investigate the actual mines--something that will require a bit of tweaking--or to seek the lost homeland halls of the clan which once built and mined the Knuckle's confines.
Art & Layout ***
The layout is not bad. fairly straightforward, but not as fifth edition as Fey Sisters. I do not consider this to be a bad thing. New monster stat blocks are contained inline with the text, so there is no flipping back and forth. Same thing with magic items.There are 16 pages, not including the front and back covers, which are not used. There are four black and white pictures, about 3" by 5" relatively old school in tone. I have made my opinion known on the cover art style of these adventures. Not my style, but well done. The map is on the last page, slightly inconvenient--why can't more module designers take a clue from AD&D and place maps on an unattached cardstock cover. So much more convenient.
There are fifteen basic areas to be explored in the adventure if you count the outside of the mine entrance. Of course a DM with some time on her hands could design a nearby village, or detail the wilderness journey by which the characters arrive at the mine's entrance. The game could easily be played in a night, maybe four hours of gaming. There are some interesting expansion possibilities that could make the adventure longer, but they aren't required. And though it isn't detailed in the adventure, a DM could easily spread the curse that befell the the mine's older inhabitants to the characters--something I would likely introduce into play if I were to DM. As a dungeon crawl it's straight forward in terms of complexity. The last encounter has a sort of deus ex machina that has to be pulled off if the players are to survive the last onrush of cursed, deep dwelling foes. Again, I'm not sure I like this, especially if their NPC ally has to yell at them to trigger the event. It seems too contrived. I would like to contemplate a way in which this could be avoided, and the players have to be creative in actually cleansing the mine.
Neat Newness **
Not much here to speak of. If it wasn't for the cool nature of the curse and it's possibilities I might give this a one star. There are a couple of lackluster magic items, and a new background with feature and characteristics. They also include what they call a new sub-race, but I don;t see it. It's almost more like a background--but whatever. There are two nice new creatures, but they are related to effects of the curse--which is the real gem of neat newness in this adventure.
I actually like dungeon crawls. I prefer them in fact. So maybe I'm a bit hard on them. They are relatively easy to design as opposed to political or wilderness adventures. But they are hard to design well. This isn't a bad one. It's just not too remarkable. But I can see several ways in which a DM could twist and mold this foundation into something quite memorable. If you choose to do so, have fun with it!