Thursday, 6 January 2011

Review: The Dungeon of the Demon Mage


Andy Holmes is a staple in Tunnels & Trolls adventures and one of my personal favourite writers along with Dr Sid Orpin and Ken St. Andre himself. He is known for solo books such as Dark Harbour, Wytches and the immense Castle Death, as well as a bunch of GM advenutures, many of which are free on his site.

The Dungeon of the Demon Mage is definitely one of the more difficult solos he's produced for 5th edition, earning it a Tavern Rating of 'Tough' over at Hobgoblin's Tavern. The story goes that the Demon-Mage, Tsothximek (what a name), who resides in his rotting crypt with his demons and undead nasties, has apparently returned from the Netherworld and is wreaking all kinds of havoc. This news has alerted the Council of Mages in the city of Gull, who all thought that the Demon-Mage was nicely sealed in to his home by spells put in place by a wizard called Biorom. However, delvers see an opportunity to get their grubby hands on some phat lewt before the Demon-Mage destroys the crypt and releases himself upon the world -after all, there is untold treasure down in that crypt. So, you decide to brave the hellish nightmares that lay ahead to grab yourself a fortune in the Dungeon of the Demon Mage.

As with most solo dungeon crawls it's advised that you draw a map out as you explore this wretched crypt, since it's more than likely you're going to get lost. The adventure is for a single delver level 1-6, but if you think you're going to get through with a common kindred of a low level then you are in for a face full of death. It's not advisable to bring your campaign character into this dungeon unless he or she is pretty damned good. Warriors are definitely recommended but since there is a magic matrix in the book then you can take a wizard in too. You will see what I mean when you come across the random encounters, which are all pretty deadly. Take the Giant Tomb Beetle for example. On the surface an MR10 monster is a pushover, but you then read on to discover that you roll 2d6 too see how many there are and that they all attack at the same time! Yikes. The Tomb Guardian is also a bitch to defeat, since it has an MR30 but CON of 60 and you die instantly if you fail a L2SR on LK when you're hit by it.

The dungeon itself has some really memorable moments such as the Titan that can score 20d6 hits on you if you're not quick enough, or being taken to a demon realm where you remain for as many years as your level +1, losing charisma and gaining strength every year you are trapped there. Although you will eventually emerge, you won't be the same person as when you went in. You'll be a twisted, ugly creature, and if you spend more than 10 years in the demonic realm you become a demon yourself.

If you ever reach the final battle with the Demon-Mage then you're in for a tough fight. Not only does he have a massive monster rating, he gets stronger depending on your level. Not only that, he'll be chucking spells at you and trying to push you into a pool while he fights you. It's insane.

The Dungeon of the Demon-Mage is a deadly but fun dungeon romp with some great moments. The cover artwork by Simon Lee Tranter is very nice, as can be expected by the guy. All I can say is: newbies need not apply.

4 stars