Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Advanced Adventures #23: Down the Shadowvein Review—I Hope You Like Dwarves

Advanced Adventures #23 Down the Shadowvein by Joseph Browning

The first module in the Advanced Adventures line, The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom by Matthew Finch, is generally considered to be among the best modules the OSR has produced. It was essentially a cavern crawl, but at the end the PCs could decide to sail down an underground river, the Shadowvein. This module, Down the Shadowvein by Joseph Browning, describes what the PCs find if they choose to do so.

It's something of an underground hex crawl more than anything else, reminescent of the classic D1-D2, Descent Underneath the Earth, only much more geared for lower level characters (3-5 is the recommended level range). There is a large map of the caverns, on a mile scale, with some areas detailed in keyed entries. (Half the cave system in this product, half in the sequel, AA#24 Mouth of the Shadowvein).

Some of these keyed entries are relatively simple, but most are quite large, describing lairs or dungeons. The highlight is probably a dwarven hold and a mini-dungeon, The Snide Dungeon of the Mad Mage Hallach. Besides the keyed locations, there are random encounter tables.

Some new monsters are introduced, most notably a friendly variant of the bugbear called the Noja, who go around the underground trading with various races.

It features the usual layout in the AA line, somewhat mimicking the look of the old AD&D modules. The art is rather sparse though, only a few pieces, most of which are pretty generic.

Down the Shadowvein is tricky to review because  despite being 24 pages, it's essentially half a product. It's a decent value, especially if you want a very detailed description of a dwarf hold, it's also somewhat bland.

As a stand alone adventure, this gets a C, but the two Shadowvein adventures together would get an B+.

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