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Saturday 19 April 2014

RPGPundit Reviews: Pyramid of the Dragon

This is a review of “Pyramid of the Dragon” an adventure module, ostensibly for Labyrinth Lord (but really usable for any D&D-variant), intended to be played by 4-6 characters of levels 5-7.  Its written by Peter Spahn, published by Small Niche Games.  This is a 28 page softcover (I am, as always, reviewing the print edition), with a colour cover featuring a nice illustration of two dragons fighting each other, and black and white interiors. Being relatively no-thrills, its only interior illustrations are regional and “dungeon” (actually pyramid) maps.

Now, as always with modules I want to be kind of careful of what I talk about: I don’t want to give away any “spoilers” that could mess up a group’s fun.  On the other hand, I want to be detailed enough that people will get what’s good or bad about the adventure.  In the case of Pyramid of the Dragon, I’d say this adventure is fairly good, containing both tried-and-true elements and some things that are a bit unusual.  I don’t think its quite as great as “blood moon rising” (the other Spahn module I reviewed) but its still well worth looking at.

In terms of placing, the adventure is very much generic enough that you could easily place it in any standard fantasy world; the adventure starts out “in media res” so its set up that it can work as though the start of the adventure appears as if it were a random encounter while on the road in an area called the “border hills” (replace with hills of your choice, obviously).

The picture on the cover is not just some kind of unrelated show-piece; rather, this adventure actually starts (and because that’s the start I think its safe from spoilers) with the PCs witnessing a fight between two dragons (a pretty impressive beginning, in my book).  There’s a slightly scripted part in this, though even there the author allows for options (for example, the PCs madly insisting on participating in the fight), but from this point the adventure evolves into a kind of semi-sandbox.  Great pains are taken to making the choices as open as possible; rather than just railroading the PCs from one place to another. The overall content of the adventure can be broadly divided into three parts: the fight with the dragon and its aftermath, a trip to find a ruined elemental temple occupied by degenerate frog-men (that alone already made me like this adventure that little bit extra!), and then a third part involving the hunt for an extremely powerful artifact.

Both the overland and “dungeon” parts of this adventure are fairly good; the content rewards careful rather than reckless play on the part of PCs. The temple, while far from the most exciting dungeon I’d ever witnessed is good for some solid adventuring.  Having run this adventure in a highly-modified fashion for my Albion game, I can say that its not impossible to complete the whole thing in a single session, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have completed it in no more than three sessions unless the players are really dragging their feet or something weird is going on. The adventure includes stats for a few new magic items and monsters (and a couple of spells that are potentially new to Labyrinth Lord, apparently, even though they have actually been around for a long time elsewhere).

I can say that this adventure has a lot of the typical Spahn attention-to-detail, and would certainly provide a nice break from more standard dungeon-crawling fare for anyone running an old-school game. Quite a solid product, as far as adventures go.


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(originally posted March 5, 2013; on the old blog)

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