I enjoy running adventures and it pleases me to be able to run the Dungeon Crawl Classics right along with the Necromancer ones. When one does that the difference in the approach to the writing and creation of the modules really comes into view. The DCC are usually shorter and a little easier to run with little prep time. The Necromancer ones however are more in-depth with a greater back story and they venture away from typical D&D in more creative fashions. For instance the DCC will usually have a good amount of standard creatures in them. The Necromancer ones have created monsters to fit the modules and use their own Tome of Horrors to pull out a lot of creatures people are not going to be as familiar with. While both lines are very well done I am finding I enjoy the creativity and depth of the Necromancer modules a bit more though I will continue to use both.

The Diamond Fortress is an adventure by Necromancer and disrupted through Kenzer. It can be found as a PDF or in hardcopy. The module is about fifty pages long and designed for character of eleventh through thirteenth levels. The book marks could have been better done and included the specific rooms and each monster and NPC in the back of the book. That would have made it a lot easier to go from room description to the creature stat blocks that are all collected in the back of the book. There was a lot of shuffling of papers around as referenced a few different places in the book for each encounter. While a bit of a pain it was one of the few problems I had with running the adventure.

This review will have spoilers in it so please do not read on if you are going to be a player in the module!!!

The adventure is set up so the players can stumble on it or they can come seeking the place out and be there at the right time. The module starts with a high level wizard elf ghost appearing to the group and warning them of what is going to happen. He gives a little backstory but he withholds some info because he has an agenda. He wants his amulet that he lost and he wants the PCs to get it for him. This is the first part of the module and then he warns of the Diamond Fortress that is coming back in a few days time and the great evil that will be in it. But until the Castle reappears no one is really going to believe the PCs. There is a village of wilderness people and there is a lot of fun role playing that can be had here as the group fills in details about the ruins of the castle and how it disappeared many many years ago. They can also learn about the orc and ogre bandits who have the Amulet though that is not well known. It should be easy with the magic of these level character to get a few good hints as to who has the amulet.

The bandits are tough being orcs and ogres at first with class levels but with some well placed spells the party should handle them with some ease. They have the numbers and if melee combat happens the party could be in trouble. But my group was able to control the battle field with entangle and other spells like that and just rain death on the bandits. I do like that the module says the bandits will break and run if the PCs gain the upper hand. Every now and then it is nice to have things run from the PCs. It makes them feel good.

The meat of the bandit adventure part is in some caves. There is a Dragon Horse’s children captured by the bandits and in the caves and that hook can also be used to get the PC involved or get them to the bandits. The Dragon Horse can help the PCs latter in the adventure though my PCs did not need that aid. There are some nasty fights in the caves if one is not careful. There is a thesselgorgon that really confused my group as they had no idea what it was. That is one of the things I like about the Necromancer modules. They have plenty of monsters the PCs will not know about and it helps to even make a high level party feel a bit worried and off their game. There is a roper some great green slime traps and other nastiness in here the Bandits have befriended. They have a high level Ranger so it becomes plausible to have these seemingly random assortments of creatures in there. The leader is a particularly tough Ogre Magi with class levels that really can make the final fight deadly. There does seem to be a good amount of treasure especially magical arms and armor the bandits are equipped with.

The party then should have a few days to recoup and possible prepare for the arrival of the Castle. There is a bit of role playing with the town, the Dragon Horses, the ghost elf wizard if the PCs want to. Nothing is specifically spelled out in the module but the foundation is laid in the earlier parts for a DM to do so.

The castle appears on the ruins and it is like a great diamond. It is now made entirely of crystal and the landscape around the castle is slowly being turned into this crystal stuff. The module seems to think most PCs will wait a few days and has actions that the demons in the castle will be taking. I do not see any good advantage for the PCs to wait and my own PCs were ready to go as soon as the thing appeared. Crossing over the crystal does have a risk of the PCs turning into crystal petrifaction. A few bad fort saves and if the PCs are not ready to deal with it could be problematic. Anyone that fails the save also has a chance to be turned into a Crystal like creature. There is a template that would be added and the character would still be playable. We had it happen to one of the PCs dog. The template is not too bad except for the speed gets reduced to ten feet. That can really be a problem and is a bigger concern then the Dex loss. The character though will get stronger, get a natural armor bonus, and might gain some spell like abilities. I did feel the template with a LA of +2 was a little tough for character to find them inheriting with out much choice. I would have liked to have seen some ways once the adventure was over for the PCs to get rid of the template.

I really like the set up of the Crystal and the history of this castle getting trapped on the elemental plan of Crystal and now coming back to reform the world. Inside the castle though just lost some of that feel and was a little too much of a dungeon crawl. There are some tough and interesting encounters. They have some good light based encounters I would have liked to have seen more of. There is an error with two rooms labeled nineteen in the descriptions in the PDF that can be a little confusing if the DM does not catch it before hand.

It is not all a kill or be killed adventure though as the main goal is to stop this place of making crystal of everything. To do that some specific crystals must be destroyed and a room that is not on this plane of existence must be found. I liked that as a solution to this problem and would have liked to seen a little more problem solving along those lines.

The Diamond Fortress is a creative module that will change players. Like many Necromancer modules it can be a bit on the deadly side and has a very well thought out back story. But the adventure itself could be a bit more polished in some areas an d I like stat blocks with the encounters so I do not have to flip to different sections of the book for one encounter. It was nicer to have it as a PDF for that reason though.