Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Mini Review: Beneath the Ruins

I just received my copy of "Beneath the Ruins", written by Alex Fotinakes, and published by Geof McKinney.

Contents:
1 bright orange detachable cover with dungeon maps on the inside
3 pages intro
11 pages room descriptions
2 pages monster / treasure descriptions

Random Thoughts in No Particular Order:

This module is awesome.

It comes in a totally practical format, which I absolutely love. The tall booklet orientation works really well -- it feels great to hold and read. It really has a gorgeously usable feel to it.

The page count is also delightfully low, which is a major plus point in my mind. I can never be bothered to read and comprehend longer than about 30 pages for an adventure, so Beneath the Ruins really hits the mark.

Apart from the maps inside the cover, the module is completely free of artwork. Of course, I love cool artwork as much as anyone, but the decision to go art-free was a shrewd one, and works great. It serves, in my mind, to increase the pragmatic feel of the module, and to maximise the content within the small number of pages.

As Geof says:

"These are not works of art. They are utilitarian modules meant to be inflicted upon your players."

Totally.

How about this then:

"Every monster, every magic power, and every magic spell is a unique and never-before-seen creation of the author. No orcs, fireballs, or +1 swords will be found within."

That's part of Geof's description / mission statement for his Psychedelic Fantasies line of modules, of which this is the first. A very cool sentiment indeed, and one which I find myself moving more and more towards in my own creations. With this in mind, though, one thing I couldn't help noticing was that some (well at least one) of the totally unique creations do verge on being simply renamed standards. I suppose this is extremely difficult to avoid, in the genre of D&D adventures where so much has already been done. The specific example from Beneath the Ruins which I'm thinking of is the room guarded by "cursed corpses". Yes, you can guess what those are. I suppose perhaps the intention is that the act of giving them a different name increases the likelihood of the referee improvising unique details about them, rather than just saying "6 zombies" directly to the players.

In terms of the content of the module, it's top notch dungeon weirdness. The room descriptions are short enough to be eminently readable, while really packing in interesting details.

Before buying this module, I was totally convinced by the simple, pragmatic format but high weirdness marketing on the Psychedelic Fantasies blog, and now I've actually got the thing in my hands I'm even more convinced.

An awesome D&D accessory, and one which I can't wait to use. I've already got it placed in a map for my upcoming Dreamlands campaign.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. It's cool to see someone taking a different approach to modules. Thanks for the review, I've been curious about this one!

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