The Crypt of St. Bethesda

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This is the only one of AEG's products I've tried, and I only bought it because it caught my eye and was cheap. Only a couple of dollars to you Americans out there.

The adventure is very simple - a map, a description of each room, and a basic plot hook. It's a small dungeon crawl at its most basic level. It's most useful function is as an emergency filler - and in that capacity, it does a good job. If you have to run a session and you have nothing planned or prepared, or if the group suddenly goes off on a tangent, a tiny product like this can be a lifesaver.

Admittedly, it's nothing that you could not whip up yourself in half an hour - but it's designed for those without that spare half hour. And at this price, you can't go far wrong.
 

Simon Collins

Explorer
Beware! This review contains major spoilers.

This is the seventh booster adventure by AEG. It is designed for five to eight characters of level 2-4. It costs $2.49.

Production and Presentation: This module is 16 pages but each page is only ½ the width of an A4 page. The front (soft)cover features poor colour artwork, the back cover features an introduction for the players to the adventure. There are several pieces of basic black & white internal artwork, and the central pages contain a basic map of the catacombs beneath St. Bethesda’s cathedral, sufficient to run the adventure (this one has a scale!). The final page and the inside back cover contains OGL bumpf. The inside front cover contains advertising. In addition, one of the pages contains a space for notes (i.e. a wasted page).

The Story: The PCs discover a corpse on the streets of the town they are staying in. Shortly after, the town guards arrive - ready to arrest the PCs. A trail of slime leads from the corpse to a series of rooms below an abandoned church. Along with monsters including some ghouls, a giant spider and some bandits, a Wormwraith - a new monster composed of a hive-mind bundle of sentient lavender worms that invade corpses and animate them - lurk below. The heroes disturbed the Wormwraith as it sought to pass on in seed-form to another victim before it’s present host collapsed. The guard force the PCs (one way or another) to investigate the trail.

The High Points: The main monster, the Wormwraith, is an interesting idea and the town setting is a good one – other than that, there is little else to set this adventure apart.

The Low Points: Though the intro begins with action, the players may feel a bit railroaded into exploring the Wormwraith’s lair. The rest of the lair is standard fare with little in the way of new ideas and minimal information on roleplaying the NPCs. The wasted ‘Notes’ page annoyed me as it could have been used to expand the available information.

Conclusion: I have to give this bland module a Poor rating, though it nearly got an Average rating due to the main protagonist. Of the first seven AEG modules, this is the worst to my mind.
 

thundershot

Explorer
Warning! Spoilers Below! Read at your own risk!

This adventure started out great, and to be honest, when I read it the first time, I thought my players would have a tough time. Alas...

GOOD: Great beginning. The PC's are accused of murder, even though the obvious signs that they DIDN'T do it is sitting right there. All they've got to do is find the killer, and they're home free.

BAD: When the Carrion Crawler on the cover gives the PCs more trouble than the "boss" at the end, there's something seriously wrong. It looked good on paper, but my party just smeared the wormwraith at the end. The poor guy didn't have a prayer. Also, the text in the book indicates that the guards are supposed to accuse the PCs of murder, while the evidence of little pink WORMS was sitting in front of them. Oh well...

OTHER NOTES: As with all of my AEG modules, I'm planning on expanding on this one a bit. A new Wormwraith will appear, only this time maybe with some character levels to back him/her up. In case anyone's wondering, I'm taking nearly all of the AEG modules and turning them into a huge campaign world of my own. I kinda doubt the PCs will be returning to this town, though...
 
I realize that these instant adventures face limitations in space, but if I spend money for a pre-generated adventure, there are certain things I want.
1) Art: The map is clear and readable. and two other small pictures are included. Not much, but OK.
2) Boxed-Text: You know what I mean, the graphic verbal descriptions that are supposed to imbue the proper mood for the players.
The text in this adventure is OK, but not award winning. One small discrepency between the text and the map in encounter 4.
3) Role-playing: Some, it works best in a large (10,000+), seedy city.
4) Smart NPC's: By this I mean, are their motivations and actions reasonable, or has the writer had them do something stupid so that there will be an adventure? All of the character motivations make sense, but you are left wondering about what the architect of room 8 was thinking when he designed it.
5) Goodies: New items and/or monsters. One of each, both of which are worth adding to most campaigns.

Overall, the adventure is worth a 3/5 since it doesn't scale easily and still make sense, but its great value (only $2.49) causes me to give it a 4/5.
 
Okay, goggles on, because this is going to get ugly.

This module turned me off to the whole AEG line of products. Now, I'm given to understand that there are some good ones out there. Unfortunately, I still have a bad taste in my mouth. All this after I had bought 6 of their short adventures before running one.

The initial plot hook of the module sets the tone for the rest of it. The PCs witness a murder (or hear one in an alley) and rush over to apprehend the villain. The villain has escaped, leaving a trail of purplish worms. Why does it leave worm spores everywhere? I'm not sure, because none are present once it gets to its hideout. Maybe the murdering creature decided to cover his tracks AFTER he got to the disused crypt. Except there is dust and signs of no use everywhere...did he fly or levitate to his room at the back of the dungeon? Again, not sure. Whatever.

Anyway, the PCs are FORCED to go in after him, because the city guard shows up and accuses them of the murder. What happens if they try to use reason with the city guard? The guard says the only way they'll believe they didn't do it is if they go after the purplish worm trail. So the players, sensing they are "destined" to go on this quest, begrudgingly trudge into the basement of the abandoned St. Bethesda church. Which, by the way, is remarkably easy to get into. You'd figure that in a busy sector of the town, some kids would've gotten into the place earlier and disturbed all the rotten furniture and dust, but I guess not?

Anyway, the PCs get in, and have to go through anywhere from 4 to 9 rooms to get to the bad guy's lair. Each room has some different villain. For example, there are a few very large spiders holed up in one room. I guess the Ghouls in the next room share their pickins from the graveyard with the spiders? Oh yeah, and the disused church above apparently serves as a garbage dump, because there's a room where garbage has been constantly dumped from above to form kind of a miniature "city dump" where a Carrion Crawler is apparently shacked up. Yep, the big church upstairs is the city dump, or maybe some homeless (and messy) dwarves and halflings have set up a little shanty town inside the building?

Finally, they get to the back room, where said baddy is "regenerating" in this large coffin. Okay, so the magical restoring coffin is a pretty cool magic item and a great idea. But this bad guy is worthless! The party is to be 2nd level, and this guy ought to have a threat rating of 1, because he is so weak. To compensate, I gave him a few extra feats (and changed others that didn't make sense for him to have) and added an acidic damage to his attacks (+1d8 acid damage per hit). However, there's one of him, dealing out two attacks per round, with an AC of somewhere around 13 or so? (I don't have the module with me) and about 20 or so hit points (which I boosted to 35 to make it a little harder). So the 5 party members gather around him, because he doesn't come out of his coffin until the PCs get close, and beat the living hell out of him. End of module.

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I was pissed at the end of the module. I shouldn't have run it, but I thought I could pull it off. Maybe a more experienced, creative DM than me could get it to work (I've been DMing for 13 years off and on, but I am probably not the most creative DM). One of the players actually said after the module that if she went through any more like that, she was going to retire her character in protest. All in good fun of course, but her point was made.

Feel free to shred me for my bad taste and negative review. I'll keep the goggles on just in case.
 
The party happens upon a gruesomely murdered corpse, worms already feasting on the recently deceased. With impeccable timing the city guard arrives and accuses the group of the crime. The only way out is through a basement grate and into the underbelly of the city. Do they have the fortitude to search the depths for the real killers without becoming worm food themselves?
For 5-8 characters of levels 2-4
 

Rune

Once A Fool
How are we seeing reviews from before EN World was rebooted in 2002? I thought everything from the older boards was gone forever.
 

Advertisement

Top