Previously, I've reviewed Peter's The Inn of Lost Heroes and Blood Moon Rising. I thought highly of both and when Peter sent me a copy of Pyramid of the Dragon for review, I knew I was in for a treat! Peter's design approach meshes perfectly with my own DMing style of giving the players 100% agency while a busy, bustling world revolves around them. As in his previous offerings, in Pyramid of the Dragon, our author strives to give DM's everything necessary to pull off this sort of in-depth Sandbox play within the limitations of a module.
The adventure begins with the Characters witnessing a Red and Black Dragon fighting overhead, culminating in the fall of the Black. Investigating the corpse will draw them right into the adventure, but if they're feeling cautious, the author provides another opportunity for the Adventurers to become involved.
Years ago, I saw a forum signature which read "Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are Crunchy and Taste Good with Ketchup!" If the players become involved, they will indeed find themselves meddling in the affairs of Dragons! The two appearing at the beginning of the module were fighting over a powerful magical item and the Red is not the only Dragon still alive, who has an interest in the MacGuffin.
The adventure will have the players travelling through a dangerous swamp, then to an ancient, non-human city, where they'll have to deal with both current inhabitants and a visitor. The Pyramid referred to in the title hosts traps and monsters which are neatly arranged. It's short, as dungeons go, but well thought-out and I liked it. A visit to human civilization will most likely be called for, as well. The party will meet all sorts of interesting folk, like Snakes, Rot Grub, corpses, a rival NPC party and may indeed find themselves fighting their first Dragon!
As in previous Small Niche modules, there's a very useful mix of planned and random events/encounters, with plenty of activity and the kind of attention to detail, which really helps bring everything to life! Our author excels at those little touches that add depth, verisimilitude and atmosphere to encounters and sites and as one DM to another, I really appreciate how Peter's mind works and his approach to adventure design.
The black dragon Narratch was gravely injured, but not quite dead when it crashed to earth. As night began to fall, a flock of stirges settled onto the dying dragon’s body and started feeding on its blood. The stirges feed until morning. If disturbed by excessive light or sound, they take to the air and attack.
Not content to give us a static, black-dragon corpse, Peter adds some life and dynamism to the Adventurers world. There's more Action within that one little scene as well, but I don't want to give away too much. Connections, tie-ins and interactions between the various elements of the adventure create a gestalt, providing the DM with a rich piece of material, with which to work.
The text is two columned. I didn't notice any typos, though there's a minor formatting issue in the last sentence of page 20, which doesn't effect legibility or comprehension in any way. The maps are rather simple, no frills affairs, but serviceable. Aside from the cover and page borders, there's no other art in the module, which is my only (minor) complaint. I'd like a little art strewn about the text.
As with Peter's earlier modules, close attention and repeated readings will be required of the DM. But, if you're willing to put some work into Pyramid of the Dragon, I think it will play out beautifully! Opportunities for further development are also present, as the Characters might find themselves becoming further embroiled in the "affairs of Dragons."
As usual with reviews, I could go further in-depth, but am loathe to do so, for fear of giving away the author's show. Buy this! I recommend it quite whole-heartily and will be printing-out my copy with an eye towards running Pyramid of the Dragon!