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Dungeon – November 2005

November 4, 2005

Dungeon’s November issue is a series of confrontations. While confronting situations and creatures is a staple of D&D, November’s issue seems to be a deliberate attempt to ensure that player characters deal with the heart of a matter.

“Shut-In” is a disturbing murder mystery for low level characters. A brutal series of murders in a rich part of a large city draws in the PCs as investigators under hire from the city guard. The Slicer, the murderer at large, was caught but managed to escape and take up his bloody work again. Catching the villain is of top priority, and making sure he lands back behind bars will net the participating characters a lot of goodwill with the wealthy of the city. The ending has a nice twist to it, and while it’s not an adventure I’d probably run it seems like a well written (very different) adventure for a low level group.

“The Champion’s Belt” is a tremendous addition to the Age of Worms adventure path. In it, the PCs become gladiators in a grand championship and investigate one of the participants in the plot to bring about the villain’s goals. Every fight in the gladiatorial combat is detailed, and they’re unique challenges that you’d be unlikely to face outside of a colosseum. The confrontation at the end of the chapter is simply amazing, a campaign defining event that your players would be talking about for years afterwards. While some of the early adventures in the path left me wanting, the series has begun to really take off in terms of quality.

“The Fireplace Level” is the capper to the three-part Vampires of Waterdeep adventure set. The first (vampire werewolf using) adventure was a chase sequence, and the second was an old skool dungeon crawl in Undermountain. The finale is another dungeon crawl in the Undermountain complex, but there’s nothing old skool about this one. The small complex actually exists both on the material and ethereal plane, with a complex combination of uniquely places creatures and templated standard critters. The climactic final encounter with the villain of the series takes place here, and the Vampire Lord of Waterdeep is an accomplished combatant with a number of unique abilities.

Useful articles on Winging it as a DM, some quick fantasy tavners, and details on non-horse travel arrangements in a fantasy setting round out the issue. The Winging It article is especially good, detailing ways to deal with unexpected moves on the part of the party. “Someone kicks in the door” is the best plot device ever, by the way.

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