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D&D 5E Mud Sorcerer's Tomb - Crappy adventure? Or CrappiEST adventure?

It's 2 am and I just finished running the D&D Next playtest adventure for some friends.

Wizards, I cannot fathom why you decided the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb should be used to playtest and show off your new rules. It is a stupid, stupid adventure.

Have you seen Cube? It's a bizarre movie with horrible traps that kill people. It's like the Tomb of Horrors, intended to kill you, so challenging that you feel prestige in surviving it.

Have you seen Cube 2: Hypercube? It's a pointless movie where weird things happen for no reason, which occasionally kill people, but you don't care. That's the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb: nonsensical, badly designed, not challenging, and a poor way to have people test your rules.

One of my players nailed the issue, I think. He called this The Troll Dungeon. "Oh, you were clever and found a secret key, then figured out where to use the key. Look, you found treasure: a necklace of strangulation! Oh, you went down this hallway that seems to serve no purpose, but there's a big glass wall holding back a bunch of water, so you decide to break it to see what's inside? There's nothing inside at all. That whole area was pointless."

And, I mean, it's not even high-quality death traps. The water doesn't drown you; it does 10 damage and floods the room to a depth of 5 feet.

Don't get me wrong. We had a good time. But it was because we were laughing at the dungeon. There's no time pressure, no memorable antagonists, no dynamic combats, and - for a playtest - no gratification. I mean maybe if this was part of an ongoing campaign it would feel interesting to get heaps of treasure like all those scrolls and potions the party never needed to touch, but how many playtesters do you think give a damn? The reward needs to be the story and the experience of playing, not imaginary doodads that they'll never use.

Wizards, please, c'mon guys. Grognardism should not be a replacement for game design. You seemed to proudly announce that this adventure was based on one from the early 80s. The horrid E.T. video game also game out from the early 80s. Neither is any good. There are quality adventures out there, and I'm sure there are plenty of adventure writers who'd gladly write a D&D Next module for you to include in your future playtests.
 

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FireLance

Legend
One of my players nailed the issue, I think. He called this The Troll Dungeon. "Oh, you were clever and found a secret key, then figured out where to use the key. Look, you found treasure: a necklace of strangulation! Oh, you went down this hallway that seems to serve no purpose, but there's a big glass wall holding back a bunch of water, so you decide to break it to see what's inside? There's nothing inside at all. That whole area was pointless."
It sounds to me like a caricature of Old School play and Exploration play designed by someone who doesn't like Old School play and Exploration play. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a fan of Old School play and Exploration play myself. :p
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Have you seen Cube? It's a bizarre movie with horrible traps that kill people. It's like the Tomb of Horrors, intended to kill you, so challenging that you feel prestige in surviving it.

Have you seen Cube 2: Hypercube? It's a pointless movie where weird things happen for no reason, which occasionally kill people, but you don't care. That's the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb: nonsensical, badly designed, not challenging, and a poor way to have people test your rules.

BWAH-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!

I've seen both- plus Cube Zero- and if MST is like Hypercube, then probably the only person meant to enjoy it is the DM. I mean, I enjoyed Hypercube, but it was kind of like making a dungeon by using your favorite randomizer and Grimtooth's traps...
 

Wycen

Explorer
I always here, or maybe read, that the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb is a good adventure. Or maybe "classic". Is it just this version? I did see it waiting to be downloaded with the latest stuff, but since I don't have a group playing it, didn't bother.
 

Monsters - 3 stone golems in a room. They just hit you with fists and do nothing interesting.

2 giant mummies in a room. They just hit you with fists.

A hag. She can turn invisible and disguise herself, but once in combat she just hits you with claws.

A wraith. It didn't get to act because the party beat its initiative, damaged it a bit, and then the cleric turned it.

A cleric with an acid theme. She's sitting in a casket, and the whole party beats her initiative. She gets a chance to cast one spell, then dies.

All these encounters are spaced out, never interact, never really have any sort of mobility.
 

FireLance

Legend
Monsters - 3 stone golems in a room. They just hit you with fists and do nothing interesting.

2 giant mummies in a room. They just hit you with fists.

A hag. She can turn invisible and disguise herself, but once in combat she just hits you with claws.

A wraith. It didn't get to act because the party beat its initiative, damaged it a bit, and then the cleric turned it.

A cleric with an acid theme. She's sitting in a casket, and the whole party beats her initiative. She gets a chance to cast one spell, then dies.

All these encounters are spaced out, never interact, never really have any sort of mobility.
On the other hand, all the fights were over pretty quickly, which fixes one of the main problems with 4e, right? ;)
 

Danzauker

Adventurer
Actually, I know I'm a minority, but the worst adventure I have read so far is Tomb of Horrors.

I think it fits your description of Hypercube perfectly.

Then, I haven't had the time to read Mad Sorcerer so far, so my" worst 10 ever" list could change. :)
 




delericho

Legend
Strange. I'd always heard high praise of Mud Sorcerer's Tomb.

Dungeon #116, in the "30 Greatest D&D Adventures of all Time" has a separate countdown of the top 10 Dungeon adventures, and rates MST as #1. Having read neither the original nor the playtest version, I have no idea how this latest version compares, though. :)
 

Hussar

Legend
To be honest, trap dungeons are often like this. Pretty random string of events with little tying them together. I think a lot of it comes from how the DM frames the adventure. If I go in thinking that this is going to be, say, Caves of Chaos, then I'm going to be very disappointed. OTOH, if you go in with a sort of Rubic's Cube mentality, it can be a lot of fun.

For me, I loathe this sort of gotcha thing with a passion, so, I don't think this is a good adventure for me.
 

KidSnide

Adventurer
I think WotC is trying to release playtest adventures to cover the classic adventure "genres." They started with dungeon exploration with Caves of Chaos and then did wilderness exploration with Isle of Dread. I think they just wanted to do a Tomb of Horrors style game, but felt that they had redone Tomb of Horrors so recently that they needed a different example of the genre.

Unfortunately, the "trap-filled nightmare" genre is small and there aren't many good examples. (Some argue there aren't any.)

But, yes, Mud Sorcerer's Tomb isn't a good adventure. The genre itself is problematic, since -- by its own terms -- there is no time pressure or active adversary. So to make it work, the puzzles and traps have to be really really good. Mud Sorcerer's Tomb has some good ideas in it, but there is far too much that is arbitrary or nonsensical.

-KS
 

Wycen

Explorer
So, to be clear, there are 3 MST versions. The original, a "return to" 3.5 version, and this 5E version. I've only read the 3.5 version, but I don't remember anything about design, just the flavor bits. Perhaps it is the flavor bits, probably missing from a playtest, that make it great to many people.
 



jrowland

First Post
If anyone has read "Necropolis" by Gygax (the original for Mythus or the 3E version) or Desert of Desolation, you know what a *GOOD* trap dungeon would look like. Mud Sorcerers Tomb, is similar to Tomb of Horrors not only in that its deadly and pointless, but it is also unfinished. There is supposed to be a lot of surrounding fluff that was simply "assumed" DMs would flesh. MST is NOT a dungeon crawl. Neither is Tomb of Horrors. They are meant to be solved, over time, with many forays, research, perhaps "side" adventures.

MST has a dead language...learning that language can be an adventure itself.

MST represents the barest bones of a dungeon. Approach it from a 1E mindset for best results.
 

The playtest version of MST won't unlock once you're inside until you make it to the end. And you cannot teleport out.

I'll admit, I just ran it as written. But even if there was a story surrounding it, the actual challenge of the dungeon is lacking.
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
I've been rereading the 2e & 3.5 Dungeon Magazine versions over again in preparation for an upcoming playtest session. There are problems with the design in this case (like locking players inside, probably making the time limiting factor being food & supplies), but the Tomb-style adventure module is hardly a genre unknown to D&D. I haven't read the D&Dn conversion yet, but I don't think they even have rules for water or earth much less mud. Without detailed environmental rules modules like this could be turned into meaningless dice rolls. It's not just an issue with the module, but the game design as it stands.
 


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