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Wednesday, 4th February, 2009, 06:38 AM #1
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Dungeon Crawl Classics 54: Forges of the Mountain King
Forges of the Mountain King is another one of Goodman Games entry points for 4e. By the adventure’s end, players should be third level. There are brief notes on scaling the adventure down for smaller groups or up for groups with higher level players or more players than the standard. Written by the prolific Harley Stroh, Forges cover comes from Eric Lofgren and the interior art is handled by Doug Kovacs.
The adventure does take notice of 4e’s flare for using numerous skill checks in working with the environment. For example, that cover piece of an ogre battling two adventurers is something that happens in the adventure proper. And like in the adventure proper, there is a chance of being knocked down and out. There are numerous tests to jump over various pits and failing bridges. There are skill checks aplenty for perception and trap finding.
Like some of the other Dungeon Crawl Classics for 4e, it suffers a little in the edition switch over. Mostly this is not making the maps large enough to handle the encounters as rewritten and some of the monsters may need to be scaled depending on how well your party has put itself together. I believe that this thread, Goodman Games • View topic - Forges of the Mountain King: errata needed? , covers most of those issues. In addition, giving the adventure a read through or three wouldn’t hurt either. The maps is a multi-optioned thing and doesn’t force the players down one particular chute. They have a few options in how they move through the dungeon.
And that’s important to note. While Sellswords was a ‘micro’ dungeon and took place in a limited environment, Forges is a full out dungeon. There are multiple races working under one faction, that of the Mountain King. There are orcs, goblins, gnolls, and undead. There are cults of evil dwarves alongside mad spellcasting dwarves, each with their own agenda. Add to this the various traps in the tombs that the players may discover and you’ve got an adventure that a party without a rogue, and without a lot of tactical sense may be doomed by.
The nice thing about the dwarves though, is that the author didn’t go for the easy fix. He didn’t make them some variant off shot race of dwarves. Rather these are just a group of dwarves who follow evil paths. Some of them with a cult that might even appeal to warrior types that may not at first appear to be evil. Things like this make the game more than just pointing out the generic evil target.
One of the hallmarks of the DCC line are the handouts. This book doesn’t skip with three different ones. Like the other first forays into 4e, this book includes something a little special in the form of Fat Dragon 3-D counters. Four full pages of counters that you assemble and pop onto the table when needed. Note that not only are most of these good for this adventure, but several are general enough that you should be able to use them with multiple adventurers. In addition to the models themselves, there are instructions. This makes it easier to put together the pillars and barrels while getting an idea of what the treasure chests and dungeon door will look like before you cut them out.
While not labeled, the models are pretty self-obvious if you read the book. For example, the dwarf with the weird beard and wings? Area 1-24, “the statue depicts a fierce dwarf with a beard of writhing tentacles and a pair of leathern bat wings.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that is going there. For safety sake though, I made copies and printed extras because I’ve got the clumsy finger disease.
While it’s not mechanically perfect and needs a good read through or three, I find the same true of WoTC first offering so I’m willing to give Goodman slack in that future efforts will be better in the mechanical and mapping side and the future awesomeness, like that of the handouts and solid price, 40 pages with full color models for $14.99, will remain intact.
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