Some of my favourite D&D/RPG products came from Kickstarter campaigns and from the DM’s Guild. I also ran White Plume Mountain with my party and it was the most fun we had in that campaign, so I am slap bang in the middle of the target market for a follow on from that adventure. In the Dungeon of the Wizard Lord Keraptis should therefore push multiple buttons for me. Kickstarter quality at a DM’s Guild price.
Sadly, in fact almost tragically, it fails miserably.
Now, I must say in it’s defence, the whole thing – hardcover – cost £8. Not a large sum of money in Kickstarter terms for sure. However, the quality of the end product fails even to justify that. I’ve been more than happy to part with more than £8 on DM’s Guild before, and receive only a PDF, so where does it go wrong?
Now, I like a hardcover RPG book. Adventures, core books, supplements. I just love hardback books. I’ve just never encountered a hardback book as unexciting as this. It’s actually a hardcover Word document and nobody really wants a hardcover Word document. The artwork and formatting are largely uninspired and cliparty. Dull.
If the quality of the adventure was good then that might excuse it but it is just so sadly lacking that I don’t know where to begin. The adventure is so uninspiring and sloppily finished that it’s virtually unusable. As a DM, I’m used to filling in gaps, but in this case rooms are so poorly described that the DM is left to fill in a chasm. In one case, 9 rooms in a row have the same description! A single line which reads “Fish which may or may not attack”.
The whole situation is made worse by the poor quality of the handdrawn maps. We live in an age where mapping tools like Dungeon Fog abound. How hard would it have been to make a decent map? It’s not that I have a dislike for handdrawn maps. I love Dyson Logos work. I just want a map that’s more or less legible.
To some extent, I have to give the author some wriggle room here. By all accounts he’s had a hard time healthwise and that has no doubt contributed to the incomplete, rushed nature of the finished product. I also understand that this was meant to be a modern take on an old adventure he’d written back in the 1980s. Sadly, it feels stuck in a time warp. It doesn’t feel like it’s been improved or upgraded for 5e. It’s simply been converted to a hardback Word document and that’s it. Once you cross the line into selling a commercial product there’s a world of difference between creating something with a retro feel and just pasting scans of maps you drew in 1983 into a Word document.
The only vaguely redeeming feature of this product is the fact that it’s in hardback. The more I look at this book though, the more that just feels like putting lipstick on a pig. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we’re all guilty of writing hurried, badly thrown together adventures of our own, but that’s not why people buy pre-written adventures. They buy them because they want something better. Something exciting. Something they don’t have to sit down with a highlighter pen and improve before they can even remotely think of using it.
I am a 40 something DM/GM located in Scotland. In 2016, I rediscovered the joys of tabletop role-playing games. This blog documents my journey back into the fold.