Saturday, 24th February, 2007, 07:07 PM #1
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Dungeon Crawl Classics #12.5:The Iron Crypt of the Heretics
Iron Crypt of the Heretics is a sequel to the module the Blackguard’s Revenge. It is not necessary though to have that module or to even have run to get a lot of use and a lot of fun out of the Iron Crypt of the Heretics. This is another module I ran and so the review will reflect things that happened as we played through the module. The re view will also contain many spoilers so if you are going to be a player in the module or think that reading this might ruin your own fun or the fun of others; please do not read it. All you would need to know is the module is tricky, deadly, and there are some placed that the group could easily not get past.
Iron Crypt of the Heretics is number 12.5 in the dungeon crawl classic product line. It is written by Harley Stroh and the module is not all that big at only twenty four pages long. The book is well laid out with great art and maps. It like most of the modules in the series also has some very cool player handouts. The module does have pre generated characters in it and that is something I do not see all that often in the new modules. The PDF of the adventure is nicely book marked and has the same quality as the printed version.
The adventure is site based and very deadly. It is for character of eleventh through thirteenth level has a very old school feel to it. The players can just come across it as a place they discover, be lead here by the Paladins from the Dungeon Crawl Classic 12: Blackguard’s Revenge, or learn about it through rumor, story, or one of many other ways. There is great evil kept in the crypt and it quite possibly will have turned into something the players will not expect.
The players come to the place in winter. The first miner obstacle is a semi frozen river that comes out of the mountain the crypt is built into. Getting across for players of this level should be really easy but if they try to walk across they could be swimming in near freezing water. On the other side is the door to the crypt flanked by two large stone statues that everyone knows will come alive at some point. To the left is an old destroyed abbey that was really small maybe a room at the most. There they can find a dead body and a partially obscured in blood note that foreshadows something really bad is going on. There is a concealed door that leads to some treasure and a written hint. If the group can decipher it they will have a really easy time with one of the obstacles. If not they could easily never get by it. There will be more on that later.
The doors to the crypt are locked and someone picking the lock could get their hand stuck as the statues do of course come to life. It turned out to be a harder battle though the party did wonder with the door open they just didn’t go in the crypt where the statues could not follow. The first set of obstacles involves some statues and weapons. These do not come above but the weapons need to be removed and place in their proper spots on other statues. The statues can be recognized with a knowledge religion check and it would be a great time to have famous knights from the past be honored and part of the puzzle. Basically two statues of famous knights known to sue a certain type of weapon have to be found and the weapon placed in their hand. It is not quite that easy. First there is a bridge to a center platform that has to be navigated. Once at the center platform the PCs need to be able to move the bridge using gears to have the bridge connect to places they want to go. Of course a fly spell makes this really easy. There are also wights in the room that can drop down on the PCs but once again a fly spell could have the wights dropping 300ft to their doom and the PCs will have little to worry about there. The two statues the PCs need to find are beyond some deadly traps though not the worst the dungeon has to offer.
Once that potential log jam is gotten by the players have their second one to deal with. A Statue with a magic mouth asks them what they pray for. There are two archways exiting the room each with an answer and each of them wrong. They lead to even more deadly room traps. The right answer is in the concealed room of the abbey. If they found and deciphered that this will be really erasy and if not like my players they could try guessing for a very long time.
This takes them to the main complex of the crypt. There is a library with an animated spell book that lops spells at them, and some other books and carpets that will cause them all sorts of problems. There is a prison with on lone dead dude that can easily lead to further adventures but has little use in the module. There is a room of five skulls that looks more complex then it really is. The tough part of that room is there is a sixth skull behind a secret door elsewhere and if they don’t find that they can not unlock the actual crypt. The main area also seems to have been hit by an earth quake. There is a ravine leading out of the place the players can explore. On way takes them to gigantic ooze in an anti magic field that can really be super tough. But it is easily avoidable. The other ways has them fight some driders and leads them to the river. Now while the map does not actually connect this river with the river out front is seems to me one leads to the other. A smart party could then have just gone up the river and arrived using the back door and skipped many of the traps and heart ache. The driders have slaves that are digging into the actual crypt so if the group just finishes that and it is not hard to do so they can also by pass the skull room and never need to figure that out.
In the crypt are more Driders and a great black egg like thing of nothing. It is pure concentrated evil and it is growing with ever bit of violent act that goes on around it. There are books in the library that warn of such a thing being created with too much evil and also the idea the violence even for the sake of good only causes more violence. I found the ideas of those and a few other things in the library some of the best parts of the module. To destroy the Ebon Egg, as that is what the thing is called, one can be destroyed with a extra dimensional space or a warhammer of cancellation. There is an item of each in the module though the warhammer is not easy to find.
The module can leave the group scratching their head as to what this is especially if they do not take the time to read books. Even with the knowledge they might not put it all together. The river entrance seems like something that the module should have addressed. There are a few points that the party can easily be defeated though not through a TPK. I can see that being frustrating to some players. It is a harder module and not one that everyone will survive.
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