||There comes a time in every story arch?s life that an epic adventure is sought to bring about a proper climax. Dungeon Crawl Classics 30: Vault of the Dragon Kings is such an adventure.
Vault of the Dragon Kings is one of Goodman Games premium adventures. It is noticeably bigger at 132 pages, well bookmarked and complete with artwork, blueprint maps and plenty of player handouts. I?ve quipped in previous Dungeon Crawl classic reviews about the lack of handouts, apparently they were saving them all up for here.
The suggested level is between 10th through 12th, though I am taking my 14th level party through it and, unmodified, they are having a tough time with it (insert evil laugh track here). Seriously, if you are running this adventure tournament style and do not mind a high death count (or TPK) then you can run it at 10th, else I would suggest this as challenging for a 13th through 15th level group.
Again this is a Goodman?s premium adventure and they have certainly pulled out all the stops. The adventure is designed for the company?s big Gencon tournament and is complete with the team?s names, scores and deaths. Thus my advice in the previous paragraph.
The plot of the adventure is very intricate for a dungeon crawl. A silver dragon with good intentions goes on a quest to find information on his ancestors, the dragon kings. He is manipulated and overwhelmed by the ghost of an evil red dragon, Sunscreech. But the PCs do not know this. As a matter of fact, they believe that the four dragon kings are the ones whom are at fault. The dungeon is designed to provide clues that could lead to both hypothesis?s and there is quite a bit of mystery solving to find the truth.
Vault of the Dragon Kings contains the usual heavy combat action you would expect from Goodman games, but there are also a great deal more puzzles. The adventure does not bash you over the head with the puzzles, forcing players to become Rubik?s cube players though, and failure usually results in a combat as opposed to instant death. Most of the almost 30 encounters are very creative and go beyond the typical obligatory fight scene. Many combats can be avoided through puzzle solving, trap finding or role playing. The descriptions put you in the middle of the dungeon, yet leave enough room to add your own flavor. The plot is tight, but again, allows you to still add your own pizzazz.
For the DM
This adventure is complete. It has the right amount of puzzles, traps and monsters and with the different types of encounters, your players will not be bogged down by one meaningless combat after another, instead they will be rewarded for using their 3.5 knowledge and wits.
The last encounter is one of the most amazing encounters I have seen. A fight with the incredibly powerful possessed silver dragon that tests the players intelligence more so than their character stats.
A small tidbit I wished they?d add to their other adventures is the predetermined rolls. Most of the rolls a DM would make, from damage to random rolls are already predetermined, allowing the DM to move quickly through a game as opposed to rolling continuously. I know a lot of DMs would not like this, but it would be a nice aid for the few whom want to skip out on some rolls.
The Iron Word
Vault of the Dragon Kings is one of the best adventures produced in the Dungeon Crawl Classics series. It is the kind of adventure that makes me mad I did not sign up for it at Gencon. If you are looking for a climatic adventure, and do not want a very lengthy boring Dungeon crawl, Vault of the Dragon Kings will win you over. The rooms are very detailed, the puzzles are inquisitive but not overbearing and the unique amount of combat is amazing.
LIKED: - the detail is pretty descriptive. The rooms come out at you.
- the predetermined rolls are nice if you want to skip some rolls
- there are plenty of handouts and unique monsters. There are also some really cool monsters.
- The balance of he adventure is perfect. Not once has my party seemed bored.
DISLIKED: - It is designed for a tournament and is a bit too lethal at points. Not a 10th level adventure unless you want plenty of dead PCs (read the list in the front of the book. I would actually suggest 12th or higher.
- I was a bit confused why the ghosts of the Dragon Kings are usually not ghost dragons.
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[5 of 5 Stars!]