1/13/2013

Frugal GM Review: The Brewmaster's Tomb

Treasure Awaits: The Brewmaster's Tomb
This is another free item from DriveThruRPG that I've picked up and decided to review.

Adventures can be quite hard to review, especially in cases like this where I am not familiar with the game system.  I was sorely tempted to simply delete the file and move on to something else, but there was a reason I decided to download this offering from Precis Intermedia.


At first I thought maybe it was just my familiarity with some of their paper miniatures, but it quickly dawned on me that it was simply some of the awesome design elements of this adventure.

This is a solo dungeon, which means to me not so much that it is designed for one player, but it is possible to run this adventure without having a GM.  The way the dungeon is laid out there is a small table for every room listing a look-up reference for traps, creatures, foraging for loot, and foraging for doors.  When the players get to the room, they can read the description, look up some information from the tables and negotiate obstacles and decide how to proceed.  It is a brilliant idea that I think home GMs could copy as a "hip-pocket" adventure that their players could run in the off chance everybody shows but the GM.

While I really like the game mechanics, I think the execution could have come off a bit cleaner.

Each room is simply represented by a square with the room number inside and smaller numbers outside to indicate where doors to other rooms would be located.  The complete map at the end is also made of small squares, but there are some corridors shown as well.  A couple of corridors are marked and briefly described like rooms, but some are not.  I really think the rooms could be described a bit better  since there isn't a GM to arbitrate and elaborate between the brief visuals, text, and what the players might want to know.

There is a page of background flavor text that seems to contradict itself right off the bat.  The story is that there is a newly-discovered Dwarven tomb and that the Dwarves are looking for it in order to seal it up and there are Gnomes also looking to plunder it. The party has been hired to get there and loot it first and are given a map.  Ok, I get that someone has found this tomb and made a map.  Plausible....no problems there.

The very first room has lit lamps in it....should be a big clue that the party isn't alone.  Some of the "creatures" actions encountered later on don't make a lot of sense, especially when viewed in the context of the backstory.  Some of the rooms' descriptions, as brief as they are, seemed a bit off for a place that has been hidden away for (presumably) centuries.

Treasure Awaits: The Brewmaster's Tomb Four Stars from the Frugal GM
Since I'm not a player of Ancient Odysseys Treasure Awaits, I cannot judge the adventure in relation to the game.  From a more general RPG perspective I do think it could be improved some, but the coolest thing about this particular game aid is the novel (at least to me) ideas for creating a GM-free dungeon adventure.

That alone brings this product up a star from where I would have otherwise placed it.