Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Tomb of Baron Gharoth review


I despise this solo adventure. I don't mean to say it's bad because it's absolutely not - in fact it's a fantastic book. No, I hate it because it killed my favourite character that I've been levelling for some time: Mogwrath the Dwarf.

If I were standing up I would have fallen to my knees and screamed "NOOO!" to the thundering skies. But in reflection this was a really good way for my beloved Dwarf to perish: at the hands of a well-written and entertaining solo adventure.

Dan Hembree of Lone Delver Games is a relatively fresh face in the Tunnels and Trolls world but he has already got a handful of great solos on the market. They're all high quality and sport lovely full-colour cover art as well as some nice pictures, though most of them public domain, throughout the books.

The Tomb of Baron Gharoth is a good old-fashioned dungeon-crawler, as you delve deep into a vast crypt in search of a family heirloom that was buried with the malicious and vain Baron Gharoth. The promise of 5000gp as a reward plus the stuff you could potentially find in the tomb is enough to forgive the fact that if you run away from the task at hand you'll be swiftly turned into a crossbow pincushion by some bodyguards.

The tomb is, of course, crawling with undead - zombies and skeletons are the flavour of the week here but the random encounter table throws up one or two non-undead thingies. The chart itself is interesting because rather than just listing the monster you have to fight the die roll corresponds with a paragraph you must go to. This is great for creating a good narrative, but bad for losing your page - so use a bookmark!

Fights are well paced and structured, getting more difficult the closer to the big bad you get. The zombies on the upper level are a doddle but when you get to the skeleton warriors in lamellar armour and carrying kite shields even tough delvers will be whittled down with spite damage.

I don't want to give anything away, but the final battle is a tad unfair and it was where my Dwarf met his fate just because he wasn't carrying a certain item. This really ticked me off to be honest, but hey, I should have done more exploration.

There are some stock dungeon traps here that I managed to avoid, but there are more subtle ones too that I was impressed with.

The Tomb of Baron Gharoth is a very well-written 7.x solo adventure for more experienced delvers. The fights are intense and there's a lot of loot to grab if you explore, but I feel that the boss conditions are a bit too strict and brutal. Overall, you should buy this.