The Tome Ep 89: Dragora’s Dungeon
Dragora's Dungeon is an adventure from Goodman Games. It's good to get back into the old school reviewing mode again, but I would still love to get reviews from listeners for the show. If you are interested don't forget to swing by the forums or email me.
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And I want to hear what you look for in a published adventure (and we have a thread about if I should do adventure reviews one at a time or several at once with a similar theme) over at the Forums.
Module reviews are a terrific idea for a tight podcast, but the Web’s clogged with reviews by people who’ve only read a module. Dragora’s Dungeon receives a lot of positive reviews from people who’ve read it, not played it, and they miss the shortcomings. For the most part, you’ve missed them, too.
For the Chatty DM, the gelatinous cube turned out to be a real drag in actual play: “The Cube promptly ‘ate’ 4 out of the 6 PCs by engulfing and dazing them, putting a serious dent in the group’s fun factor.”
Run them first!
This is absolutely fantastic advice and I completely agree and wish that I could do it.
However, if I took it the show would, in it’s over two year history, only have two adventure reviews. My gaming group meets every other week and I do a lot of Play By Email gaming. If I ran the modules in PBEM it would take over a year to finish them. If I did them all in my regular group it would still take half a year and it would honestly sort of ruin my campaign.
So the best I can offer is a read through by an experienced DM/player who has run more than his share of modules in his days. I recognized the potential for a bad deal with the cube in Dragora’s Dungeon, for example, but that level of deadliness is sort of what the module writers were going for. But I should have made a special note of it in the recording as a warning.
That said, I did run Isle of the Sea Drake, reviewed in this episode, albeit modified to work for 4th level instead of 1st.
All that said, if there are any adventure reviews for modules that you’ve run I’d be more than happy to have you on as a guest reviewer for those episodes.
Hah, I play even less frequently and don’t have a lot of time to tweak modules — hence the high premium on reviews based on play.experience. Maybe once I finish playing Dragora’s Dungeon I could do a quick audio thing for your subscribers.
Dangerous encounters are fine, but the gelatinous cube turned out to be a buzz kill for most of the Chatty DM’s players.
I’m committed to Dragora’s Dungeon now that I’ve started it and can’t jury rig a replacement. There’s plenty of crunch, atmosphere and physical description. But PCs are expected to leverage the “multi-layered plots” of the Zai-Kin against them, and you’ll find little to work with.
Also, incidentally …
- How are there living drakes in that ancient way station? - How are there corpses in the trapped spider room? - Why wouldn’t Dragora use her pool of scrying to locate the PCs and target them with wave after wave of warriors? - Where is the repository of material that she’s racing to learn? Or where has she been excavating? - Where is the orb the PCs must destroy to cancel the Parhok sleep ritual? Without it, if (when) Dragora escapes, the sleep can’t be dispelled.
That’s not an exhaustive list of head scratchers, so the adventure has that distinctive deadline odor.
On the plus side, it’s cinematic gold. It really just needs another couple of days of work and a web supplement at Goodman Games.
Good points and good questions. I think the short answer is (based on my discussions with the author): “This is supposed to be an adventure for an advanced DM who can fill in those gaps. If you can’t do that then try a DCC adventure.”
There is some value to that sort of answer. Some of these questions are beyond the scope of this adventure and can easily be answered in the next adventure done by the DM.
Some of them are needed in order to achieve plot (although I think I pointed out some of these failings myself).
And some of them are probably a problem that results from deadline and wanting to be first on the block to publish a 4e adventure.
There is a careful balance that the Master Dungeons are trying to walk. On one hand, make it for advanced DMs which means you don’t have to figure out everything (like how to get the PCs to use the politics of the Zain-Kin) but on the other hand, don’t let that be an excuse to be lazy and incomplete (forgetting to mention how to break the sleep spell).
If I were Goodman, there would be a Dragora part 2 heading back into the dungeon, finding the repository of magic, dealing with the ape people, and giving clues on where to find Dragora next.
But I’m not sure if they are interested in creating adventure paths, ala Pathfinder.
I agree it’s up to DMs to position Dragora’s motivations in the context of their campaigns. And it’s up to players and the DM to role play. But it’s the responsibility of Harley et. al to provide the faction motivations. The Zai-Kin are a vacuum-packed culture, cut off from time, with no motivation “hooks” to a campaign’s local history or culture.