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Thread: The Forge of Fury
Saturday, 7th April, 2001, 05:00 AM #1
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
The Forge of Fury is an adventure for four 3rd level characters which takes them to 5th level. From personal experience, it also runs well with three characters of that power level - as long as one is of a fighter class.
The Forge is self-admittedly, and unabashedly, a dungeoncrawl. It will be reviewed as such. The rating above, and the review to follow, makes the assumption that the group in question is looking for an adventure in this genre. In other words, if you're looking for grand story or political intrigue, stop reading now.
Now, as dungeoncrawls go, the Forge of Fury is an outstanding example of how a well-executed one might look. The dungeon in question is, in fact, Khundrukar, a ruined dwarven stronghold - located beneath a mountain known as the Stone Tooth . In what is quite a novel approach, the Tooth features several entrances into the mountain, the less obvious of which reward thinking groups who bother to survey the area before charging inside.
The inside of the stronghold is divided into five areas, each of which is significantly different from the others and presents its own, unique challenges. The first is the Mountain Door is a highly defendable deathtrap of an entrance, inhabited by a tribe of orcs with no love for intruders.
The Mountain Door will highlight the fact that this is very much a thinking man's dungeoncrawl. Unlike the examples of this genre which make it infamous, rushing in with longswords set to kill will get the party nowhere (except perhaps into a shallow grave). Careful planning and a tactical mind frame are plentifully rewarded. A sidebar is helpfully provided for groups who take a less refined approach.
The other thing that jumps out at you as you read this section, and those that follow, is the sheer adaptability of this adventure to any given party. The author wisely accents the strengths of pen n' paper dungeoncrawls in comparison to their computerised alternatives, providing plenty of problems but leaving the solutions up to the players and their characters.
An illustration: The entrance to the Mountain Door is a ledge guarded by two orcs, with an archer gallery inside the entrance providing backup. A party with a thief, ranger or monk with move silently (or even a magician with a sleep spell) can take these two down without alerting the gallery, or simply sneak past them. On the other hand, the party with a charismatic leader with bluff and a magician with an alter self can talk their way in. Or the clever fighter with bull rush can charge them of the ledge on which they stand, allowing the rest of the party to make a dash for the entrance. And, given the D20 experience system, all these are equally rewarded. The possibilities are, in a word, endless.
This trend of allowing for a number of different party compositions, and resulting solutions, continues throughout the adventure which take the players through the huge, natural caverns of the Glitterhame, the deadly waters of the flooded storage area that is the Sinkhole, the dwarven halls themselves, known as The Foundry, and the Black Lake, which is home to the main adversary of the dungeon - a young black dragon. Even the oft-neglected nature skills and knowledge of the ranger and druid could save the lives of the party, as some of the deadliest traps of Khundrukar are features of its natural environment. Which is not to say the mechanical and magical traps left by the dwarves won't keep the party thief or mage busy.
As far as difficulty levels are concerned, the dungeon presents a variety of dangers and should be ample challenge, but by no means impossible, for any party. It is, however, particularly nasty in spots (a roper, a wight and a young black dragon with *nasty* tactics being the main offenders). To be fair, most of these are discussed in various sidebars and the Gm is alerted to their danger to the party but their presence nonetheless makes this a very harsh adventure in places.
The party is well-rewarded for their efforts, however, with the standard assortment of coinage and valuable nick-nacks which have inexplicably inhabited D&D dungeons since the dawn of time. The dungeon is not, however, a Monty-haul by any stretch of imagination. The party should come out of the dwarven complex with one +1 (or, for one lucky individual, +2) weapon or the mage-equivalent, which isn't too bad for 5th levellers. None of the treasure is particularly unique, however, which is the one weakness of the adventure. It would have been nice to see some unusual magic items rather than the usual +1 haul.
A bonus for newer Gms: The adventure was obviously written with someone who didn't know every nuance of the rules (and, with a system this new, who does?) And at several points sidebars give advice as to how to handle certain situations and reminders regarding certain situations and rules which a Gm may forget to apply in the ‘heat of the moment'. The writing, in general, is easy to read and the descriptive components are adequate in conveying the tone of the dungeon. Also, the statistics for monsters are provided in the appendix, meaning the main body of the text is easy to navigate and not cluttered by statistics boxes.
However, there are a few problems. the hooks into the adventure are all pretty poor. This wasn't a big issue for me as I adapted the thing into a campaign and I haven't reduced the overall score because of this (as I usually would) as dungeoncrawls aren't really story-oriented. Also, for whatever reason, the writer was obviously referring to slightly different maps to those provided with the module so sometimes the text refers to ‘danger zones' which aren't on the maps. This is a slight, but occasionally annoying, discrepancy.
Speaking of the maps, they're provided inside the covers and are drop dead gorgeous, not to mention very surveyable, practical and (most importantly) photocopiable. Copying them to hand them to your party (in case you're foregoing the map-as-you-go option) isn't really practical as ‘danger areas' for traps and secret doors are indicated. If you're blessed with a scanner through (as I happen to be) scanning them in and just removing or hiding these is a pretty simple matter. The cover is a well-painted action scene and a great prelude to the climatic encounter with the black. The interior art is sparse but does depict a few scenes where flashing the image to the players could be useful to convey the feel of these areas.
In conclusion, Forge of Fury is a superbly designed, well written and adequately illustrated adventure which will adapt well to almost any party. However, be sure to realise this glowing review is only a result of the fact that I'm reviewing the book in the context of a dungeoncrawl. If your group breaks out in hives when you mention dungeons, this is probably one to stay away from.
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Saturday, 7th April, 2001, 05:00 AM #2
I can only echo what Altin said. This is an excellent adventure with a few quirks. In one spot, one of my characters almost lost his life (-9hp) to a common throw rug. :)
Monday, 23rd April, 2001, 05:00 AM #3
Novice (Lvl 1)
I quite liked the begining of this adventure and liked the end almost as much. The middle I found boring, gutted it, and replaced it with something of my own making.
Now, this hardly seams the begining of 4/5 review but the very fact that I was able to do so, and still run a seamless adventure without a great deal of effort, speaks to the quality of this product which squarely falls into the old category of adventure "module", or in this case several modules, from which to make a very good dungeon crawl.
Dungeon crawl it is, without any attempt on development of plot, NPCs or a desire to give roleplaying opportunities to the PCs. What it does deliver, and very well, are tactical challenges. It describes several combat situations in which only good team work and quick thinking can save PC's from superior enemy. Two that I liked particularily are the first one - the siege like combat with a tribe of Orcs in the abandoned Dwarven cavern and final one - against a small Black dragon in the terrain that is more suited to the creature then the PC's. Both are remembered with fondness and (deserved) pride by my players which alone makes this adventure worthwile for me.
Interior artwork is not that great but overall layaout is up to the best WotC standards, maps are excellent and easly accessible and all information needed to run the opposition to the PC's in combat (somewhat challenging due to the rather tactical nature of the encounters) is easy to find.
Overall I can say that this adventure, together with sunless citadel does as good a job as possible within the dungeon crawl genre.
Tuesday, 1st May, 2001, 05:00 AM #4
Novice (Lvl 1)
Beware! This review contains major spoilers.
This is the 2nd core adventure for D&D3e by WotC. It is designed for four 3rd-level characters.
Presentation: The front cover features a dragon attacking adventurers crossing a broken bridge – full of a sense of movement and small detail, this is my favourite cover of the first four core adventures. The back cover has a short introduction toand overview of the adventure. The internal art is black & white, of mediocre quality. The page count is 32. 9/10 of the page is text, the rest a runic border. The text is clear and readable. The inside front cover has two good top-down maps - The Mountain Door and The Glitterhame, whilst the back inside cover has maps of the same quality showing The Sinkhole, The Foundry and The Black Lake. The maps have a useful key and are laid out in 5’-square mode. The first page contains credits and contents.
The Story: The dungeon is an abandoned dwarven stronghold called The Glitterhame, now inhabited by various monsters. The characters are offered three standard hooks – a map, kill the orc bandits, or a nobleman pays the PCs to retrieve legendary dwarven blades from the abandoned stronghold. This idea of the dwarven swords is used as the standard for the introduction. The next two pages give an overview of the outside of the mountain under which Glitterhame lies, with a possible encounter with an orc patrol. The next 5 pages are dedicated to entering The Mountain Door, giving options for defensive tactics by the orcs (and ogre) who now live in this area of dwarf-carved rooms and caves. There are also a few traps to keep the players on their toes. Beyond ‘The Mountain Door’ lies The Glitterhame itself, a large cave area now inhabited by a tribe of troglodytes. Over the next 5 pages, this area is detailed with some sidebars warning DMs that some of the encounters can be deadly to low-level PCs and how to deal with this. The next section covers The Sinkhole, a partially underwater area, in three pages, which may include a deadly encounter with a roper. The next six pages detail The Foundry, the old dwarven forge area. Duergar warriors have infiltrated this area, which is also plagued by various undead and animated objects. The section ends with an encounter with an imprisoned succubus, who needs the PCs to escape her binding. The final two pages of the adventure deal with The Black Lake, the lair of a Black Dragon, who can be negotiated with, if the characters value their lives above their belongings. A Conclusion outlines finishing the adventure and a future possibility for adventure in a duergar city suggested by the module. The last 3 pages contain detailed statistics for the monsters and NPCs.
The High Points: This is a traditional dungeon hack, exemplifying Third Edition’s ‘back to the dungeon’ motto. If you like lots of different monsters to slay, traps to puzzle out and dozens of rooms to explore, this is the module for you. The text contains good discussion of tactics for most of the monsters and NPCs, and useful rules are highlighted for the DMs attention all the way through. There are also opportunities for roleplaying later in the module, notably in negotiating passage through the duergar area, with the succubus, and possibly the dragon. The descriptions evoke the abandoned dwarven stronghold well, and the boxed text in general I thought to be good.
The Low Points: This is a traditional dungeon hack, exemplifying Third Edition’s ‘back to the dungeon’ motto! If you like plenty of opportunities for roleplaying, with well-developed PCs and a complex plot, avoid this module like the Yellow Mold. The adventure background, the setting and the dungeon hack have all been done before, and they’ve been done better (and worse) than this. The treasure is mainly gold, jewels, scrolls and potions – there is nothing very imaginative here. Though the text states it clearly for the DMs attention, several of the encounters are deadly if the players choose to enter combat - the stated aim is to get players to realise that sometimes their character should avoid encounters. My experience is that players find this out the hard way.
Conclusion: This module is solid and organised with well-detailed tactics and defence options. However, the module suffers from a total lack of NPC depth, a bland setting and shallow plot. If you like traditional dungeon hacks, you'll like it. I don't and my rating reflects the fact that compared to many other d20 offerings, this lacks creativity and depth.
Friday, 4th May, 2001, 05:00 AM #5
Forge of Fury is a great dungeon adventure for low to mid level characters who want to experience something more exciting and more dangerous than kobolds and giant rats. The rewards are greater as are the dangers . . . this represented by the fact that the party can take on Duergar, a Roper, and then a Black Dragon at the conclusion of this 3rd to 5th level dungeon crawl.
The one thing that sticks out over and over in this adventure comes from my players who continued throughout the game to say the same thing over and over. This adventure has some real 1st edition DnD flavor to it! Down into the under earth, abandoned dwarven citidales, underdark growths, gray dwarves, sunken rivers that take you through cracks in the cavern walls and over waterfalls to deep dark places and treasures.
As in the Sunless Citidale, I did not like the cartoony art or the lack of art in general. One of the things I expect when I pay for a premade adventure in maps, story, NPC's, and ART! You get great maps, a few nice villain NPC's (the Trog Sorcerer in particular was nasty and fun), some great story behind a ton of possible exploration, dungoeoneering, and adventure . . . and about 5 panels of small cartoony ary in black and white. Dynamic is not the word I would use here.
Anyway, in closing, I liked the Forge of Fury better than the Sunless Citidale (another preceeding dungeon crawl) due to the first editon feel, the tougher challenges, the many maps, rooms, and caverns, and finally the big black dragon at the end! I would definately recommmend this to new DM's or old DM's trying to get a hold of 3rd Edition DnD!
Arreon, Lord of the Dragon Slayers
Thursday, 5th July, 2001, 05:00 AM #6
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Both as a follow-up to the Sunless Citadel and as a stand-alone this adventure lacks the most important part of any published dungeon: A really compelling reason to be there, and to stay!
If my party hadn't included a zealous dwarf paladin, I don't think I would have used it. I had to work hard to develop a compelling plot around this dungeon. I even left about half of it out just to keep down the number of times I had to say "you come to another door..."
The mixture of monsters was interesting, but really lacking in cohesiveness. My advice is to either avoid this adventure or gut it and rebuild it. I played the orcs for all they were worth by having them set up a ambush in which they attacked in successively more powerful waves from multiple directions. This worked wonders and added a great deal of excitment as the weakened party fled an angry ogre.
Unfortunately this adventure needs a lot of work, so it might not be worth the $15.
Sunday, 26th August, 2001, 05:00 AM #7
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Before you read this review, answer this question:
Do you/and or your party enjoy dungeon crawls?
If you answered "No", then please stop reading now, as this review (and this product), will be a complete waste of your time. If you can't recognize a product for what it is, and not only what you desire from it, then STOP reading.
With the above statement out of the way, the review will continue (and I guess since you're still reading, you must have answered "Yes" ). ;)
The Forge of Fury (FoF), is a dungeon delve for low, to mid-level characters. You're introduced to a piece of dwarven history (always a nice subject), the Glitterhame. It appeas that a great dwarven smith with a hatred of orcs set up residence here long ago (and was later slain by said orcs). Apparently, his skills at the forge were superior than most, but the orcs that slew him and his fellows were more generous than the norm, leaving the precious prizes lay where they will. (Thus, one of the possible hooks for PC-involvement.)
One thing that should be noted about this game, is the difficulty factor. If you have an inexperienced party, then you may wish to lower some of the challenges that they're going to encounter. The enemies in the Forge of Fury, are not mindless automations, standing limply by to be slaughtered. They are real, fleshed-out evils that the party must exercise brains combined with brawn to defeat.
One of the best aspects of FoF, is the fact that it is not littered with game mechanical errors, or poor editing. The challenge entering the Glitterhame is well-balanced, and the rewards at the end of the adventure are enjoyable and fair.
All in all, the FoF is an excellent dungeon adventure, complete with classic elements (jellies, duergar, dragon, excellent traps, etc.).
If you have a spare $10 bill (or equivalent), enjoy dungeon crawls, and love a true challenge, then rush to your local hobby store and pick up Forge of Fury today!
Friday, 2nd November, 2001, 05:00 AM #8
"Dungeon crawl"... the term brings to mind the monotonous opening of doors, the endless bashing of enemies, the repetitious spot checks, listen checks, open locks checks, search checks. It takes a certain something to elevate a dungeon crawl beyond the mediocre; a solid ecology that makes sense and feels almost enveloping, denizens who aren’t just guarding the treasure chest in the corner but are fighting with a real purpose, a dungeon with a past... and a potential future. If players are going to enjoy a few sessions worth of dank caverns, dusty skeletons and icky beasties they’re going to need these elements as a part of the adventure. "The Forge of Fury" by Richard Baker provides DMs with a dungeon filled with dynamic terrain to serve as battlegrounds, appropriately corresponding fauna (and flora, actually) and NPCs who truly believe in the necessity of their presence. It is, overall, about as good as dungeon crawls get. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same affliction so many other like-minded modules have been diagnosed with down through the ages: what are the PCs doing there in the first place?
The DM will have a bit of work to do if he is going to entice the players into purging the legendary dwarven hall of the evil creatures that have taken up residence. One idea provided by the module is to have a local nobleman approach the party and offer them a hefty sum of money to delve into the stronghold and recover a small number of finely crafted blades forged by a renowned blacksmith. Unless players truly enjoy lengthy, combat-heavy spelunking expeditions and their characters have a vested interest in uncovering every single blade, however, rational explanations of why the party would venture into the deeper, more challenging areas of the dungeon are few and far between. The more sinister opponents in the lower levels of the dungeon are designed to surprise the PCs, which is great if the players have decided that their motivation for the delve is the attainment of glory/adventure/gold. If their characters are motivated by other things the DM is put in the position of having to fumble awkwardly for this adventure’s validity.
That is not to say finding the motivation is impossible, or once accomplished not worth it. If by hook or crook the DM can lure the PCs into the caverns known as ‘The Glittterhame’, the action and excitement provided should be well worth the scant bit of additional effort. The tactical information given for each encounter is very well written, taking into account the monster’s intelligence, eating habits, effectiveness, and so on. PCs will encounter a wide variety of beasts with all manner of special qualities, helping to infuse some life into the search/listen routine of door-to-door dungeoneering. Once the safety conscious tedium is at an end, each encounter offers up balanced combat with inventive circumstances that seem appropriate to the natural inclinations of each particular monster or foe. Baker deftly applies the 3E mechanics to environmental factors such as a low ceiling while fighting a tribe of troglodytes, a patch of loose rock a pair of gricks attack from or a creaky old bridge some poor PC might have to cross under fire from orcish archers. Baker has populated his dungeon with more than mindless brutes gaurding a treasure; the challenges the PCs will face are nuanced enough to be entertaining, even if they keep on having to bust down doors to get to them.
If your party isn’t the type who enjoys a day or evening spent hunkered down around a table of miniatures and graph paper while eating pizza, then ‘The Forge of Fury’ will not appeal to you at all. There really is no inherent reason why the party should feel inclined to romp around the detailed and richly constructed halls and caverns; Richard Baker has left that up to the DM, choosing instead to focus on crafting an adventure forged less of sound... and more of fury.
Tuesday, 1st January, 2002, 05:00 AM #9
The Forge of Fury
This is the second adventure in the Adventure Path concept-eight adventures strategically designed to hit the "highlights" of the Third Edition rules and bring characters from 1st through 20th level.
Monday, 29th July, 2002, 05:00 AM #10
This review is for The Forge of Fury by Richard Baker and published by Wizards of the Coast. This is the second module produced by Wizards and is designed for 3rd level characters.
Where Wizards’ first adventure (The Sunless Citadel) lacked a certain substance, The Forge of Fury delivers, as a module should. In this story, the characters will face a wide range of diverse opponents that actually have a valid reason behind their existence in this dungeon. The party must defeat orcs, troglodytes, duergar, undead, animated objects, and ultimately, a black dragon.
I disagree with the use of dragons in low level adventures, but yet we have seen two now (The Sunless Citadel being the first) where the party must deal with a dragon at some level. Dragons are supposed to represent the ultimate in monster opponents and should not be used frequently. To Mr. Baker’s credit, however, this dragon (while young) should be able to wipe the floor with the PC’s unless they plan their strategy carefully. It is an encounter that only the wisest and shrewdest should survive. I must make this point that if characters battle a dragon in every adventure, then the “mystique” of a dragon will be lost quickly.
The general storyline is well put together and contains several viable adventure hooks to start the scenario moving. The design of the dungeon itself is good as are the traps contained within. It appears that it will be standard practice for Wizards to have an appendix containing all of the statistics for the encounters, NPCs, magic items, etc. rather than including them with the pertinent section of the module. I dislike the need to flip back and forth numerous times just for stats.
Despite the quirks, overall this is a good module that has some of that “classic” dungeon crawl feel to it. I hope that the next few modules in this series continue to show the level of improvement seen when contrasting the first two that Wizards has published. Is the adventure worth the $9.95 price tag? In this case, yes - but it would be better served at $7.95.
To see the graded evaluation of this product, go to The Critic's Corner at www.d20zines.com.