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The Gem Prison of Zardax
 
$7.77
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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The Gem Prison of Zardax
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The Gem Prison of Zardax
Publisher: Zzarchov Kowolski
by David R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2017 05:06:17

The adventure does what it says on the tin: the Gem Prison is a place to escape once you're in it, providing a break from more traditional dungeons. If that's what you're after, this is worth your time.

On first reading I quite liked it; having now run it, and while I still recommend it, I see a weakness I didn't at first.

The thing is quite clearly a puzzle dungeon, and just about any group will start writing down the room glyphs and trying to decode them. So far, so good, though it won't actually get them out of the dungeon.

But the fact that it's obviously a puzzle dungeon brings me to my biggest gripe. There's a puzzle in room 10 that, as written, isn't actually solvable. It was once, but was broken by previous adventurers. Which at the table is a giant waste. It's a timewaster and red herring in an adventure that's already encouraging the players to slow down, write down glyphs and solve puzzles. It adds nothing to the game except penalizing the players for playing along and trying to grapple with the dungeon. Nor is it even obvious how the puzzle was supposed to be solved before it was broken, which would have made the whole thing immediately salvageable at the table.

So that's one strike against it. I don't hold the single exit against it, given it's explicitly a prison, but consider warning your players in character that it is a prison before they go in rather than springing it on them. There are a couple of ways past that single exit and its guards, which I appreciate. There's also a notable treasure in there, that my players missed entirely in choosing not to fight a powerful foe, another grace note I appreciate.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Gem Prison of Zardax
Publisher: Zzarchov Kowolski
by Bevan A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2016 16:24:25

I purchased The Gem Prison of Zardax from a recommendation on an excellent puzzle dungeon, and it is billed as such: 'Puzzle adventure'. Overall the premise is interesting, but the puzzle aspect is a bit of a non event. There is but a single way out of the dungeon, and although some of the encounters are interesting, many are lacklustre. Scrap princess has some excellent art (if you are inclined towards that style), and in particular I really liked the mother in room 19- awesome. Only a few of the ideas resonated with me, and nothing significant here to mine for my own game. There are runes in each room that give clues as to the contents of each room, which is cool, but since there are no clues about how to use them or what each stands for, by the time the party has explored most of the rooms will be when they figure out what different aspects stand for, so they are a bit of a non-event. Format and content otherwise all good- 48 pages, great cover art (uncredited?). Overall Firmly average. This is a linear adventure hidden behind some randomness- Zzarchov Kowolski has a good reputation for interesting adventures, but not executed particularly well here. If you are looking for a different example of a puzzle dungeon with some chops, try Ex Libris in Dungeon#29. If you are looking for a non sequential linear extra dimensional trap for your PCs, Gem Prison of Zardax is definitely worth a look, just not suited to my purposes.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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