I realized I had missed a session in there where I introduced a big dungeon. It is not really a mega-dungeon, more like a kilo-dungeon or a hecto-dungeon, since it only have five levels and not that many rooms. It's The Tomb of Abysthor, a 3.X adventure put together by Necromancer many years ago.
Abysthor has been sitting on my giant bookshelf of RPG stuff for a long time, probably picked up at a Half Price Books since I don't usually buy published adventures, even fantasy ones. On the whole I don't particularly care for them. It means internalizing a lot of data that I didn't create, meaning I have to almost translate it over into WQRobb data in the process, and stuff gets lost that way. It also means it isn't my style of gaming, which is really the case in Abysthor.
But, the last two weeks have been eight different kinds of miserable for me, and that translated into both a lot of time and energy being spent elsewhere and just not really feeling the "come up with a fantasy adventure" mojo. So, pre-published adventure.
Necromancer's byline is "1st Edition Feel, 3rd Edition Rules" which means that much of the adventure is a bit of a meat-grinder of traps, puzzles that are traps, monsters, and incredibly lethal boss monsters. What's interesting to me is that several pieces of the dungeon are inaccessible unless you are a Lawful Good paladin or cleric of their home-grown deities. But the roleplaying aspects of the dungeon are largely involving making deals with Chaotic Evil NPC's. So you can sort of go one route or the other, I guess.
That's not to say Abysthor doesn't have its strengths. The "cleanse the tomb of evil cultists that have set up shop there" has a sort of classic vibe that resonates well with new D&D players. The set-up is not a "8 bit" dungeon (by that I mean the graph-paper layout of 90 degree angled hallways, etc. It does have its weakness (at least they are weaknesses in my opinion, your mileage may vary). The puzzles, most of which come in the upper levels, are very difficult to solve and require a good working knowledge of the (third edition) rules. Upper levels are also inhabited by such bland monsters as skeletons, giant rats, and stirges. Yawn. I also can't figure out if this dungeon is also just a Monty Haul of treasure or if that was a third edition thing, but I had to dial all that stuff down before it wrecked by campaign.
Now that the group is into the mid-levels, the adventure it hitting its stride. I'm really ready for the multiple crises of my life to settle down a bit so I can again put some time into doing my kind of story, though.
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