This was originally reviewed on the Open Gaming Network.
We take products and review them, intending to give the reader the best chance of evaluating whether this particular release is for them.
There is, of course, a scoring system, similar to that used elsewhere, in a 5-star rating, which we have determined as follows:
1 – Bad
2 – Mediocre
3 – Decent
4 – Good
5 * – Excellent
The following review is an OPINION piece and only reflects the opinion and tastes (because ultimately, all reviews will be based on personal taste) of the reviewer.
That disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with the show!
This week we give you…
Publisher: Goodman Games
Author: Harley Stroh (conversion by Daniel J. Bishop)
Cover Artist: Clyde Caldwell
System: Dungeon Crawl Classics
Page count: 28 ( 1 page cover, 1 page map, 1 page interior cover and credits, 22 pages of content, 1 full page artwork and 1 other map, 1 back interior cover and 1 page back cover).
Before we start, I have to confess that this is an older title, as it felt as if there’s been a bit too much Pathfinder and Starfinder being reviewed lately, so I went a little left-field for something else, hence an oldie but goody, Dragora’s Dungeon.
As usual for adventures, I’ll be trying to avoid spoilers, even though this adventure is several years old. If you want spoilers, I’m sure you can find them elsewhere.
First, we have a look at the cover, which is a frankly gorgeous piece by Clyde Caldwell. I do have a weakness for his artwork because I find it to be vibrant and alive, and especially his dragons are just appealing. Perhaps it is the “old-school” feel, that draws me in. Regardless, Clyde has a talent for both dragons and the female form, and the scantily-clad warrior woman on the cover of this adventure cannot be anyone other than the Dragora mentioned in the title of the adventure. The cover itself, with the warrior woman, the dragon, the treasure chest and the castle looking walls in the back, puts me in mind of a dungeon crawl, which, HEY, it’s the name of the system, so mission accomplished there.
Strangely enough, I don’t find there to be that much actual DUNGEON crawling in the adventure. That said however, there’s an encounter in an inn to set things off (classic entry, though I fail to understand why you’d allow a saving throw on such a plot point, in a game where it’spelled out that things will not always be fair (minor spoiler: the spell being used is supposed to be able to affect nations, so why would it not affect this small group of adventurers?)
The PCs are then led on a romp through the wilderness until they find a rift, that they can climb into. Said rift contains a number of encounters as well as an entrance to a Forgotten Jungle, which makes for a nice change of scenery and a cool hop from one area to another. Later though, it takes them to a Forgotten City, and I have to admit that I’d have liked to have seen one of them named something else since it’s kind of implied that they’re both forgotten and lost to time. Regardless though, it’s an old-school staple to use that sort of name, so I won’t complain too much.
Eventually, the PCs enter this forgotten city and end up in a fight with Dragora and the dragon on the front cover (who is, in fact, her lover). Quite nice to see a female BBEG, as I’d semi-expected it to be the dragon who was manipulating her. It was a nice surprise to realize that SHE was, in fact, the one using the dragon, and the one in charge.
And so we come to the conclusion:
I really liked this read. The maps are gorgeously hand-drawn, even if they at times seem a bit busy, and the cover makes me wish that it was available as a poster size. The adventure itself flows quite well, but it does become a bit too much like rail-roading at times. I suspect that’s a matter of taste though, since this is an adventure with a number of years on it, and we’re looking at it through the eyes of a reader in 2017, where we have become used to open solutions being the norm.
I cannot stress too much, however, how HARD this adventure will be, if your players are not careful. It is designed for level 1, but the end boss (Dragora) is level 5, and she has a dragon. That’s some serious opposition right there, even if she will flee if the PCs put up a competent attack. That said, if you’re planning on running this adventure, your players should have their wits about them. This is old-school at it’s finest. If you run into a trap, you are likely to DIE.
And here’s the verdict, I’m going to give this 5-stars. I really enjoyed this little read, but that 5-star comes with a caveat. Had this been for Pathfinder or modern 5e, I likely would have rated it around 3, but because Dungeon Crawl Classics is SPECIFICALLY designed to give you that old-school feel, and because this adventure delivers just that, it rates much higher. If you’re looking at this, as a gamer who wants a more modern experience, you need to look elsewhere for your fix.
For the old-schoolers out there though, this is just the thing.