What do you need to know?
The Cliff-Lair of Heeter is an old school location-based module for low-level characters. It’s compatible with OD&D or similar retro-clones and suitable for 4-10 player characters.
A local tale whispers of a strange sorcerer who has dwelt in the cliffs and crags for centuries. During that time, savage lightning has illumined the skies and valleys, seemingly at the bidding of this enigmatic figure. More recently there have been even more bizarre stories. Horses stolen by blue-skinned men for unseemly purposes — disrupting trade and traumatising travellers. You have heard these disturbing stories, whether they be founded in truth or fiction. But one question remains: will you brave the journey to the crags?
For those interested, here’s an Actual Play report using Whitehack: http://dieheart.net/ap-heeter-wh/
I received a free PDF copy for reviewing purposes. Please be warned that the review contains spoilers!
What do you get?
The download contains a full-color PDF and a print-friendly PDF. The normal version has pretty watercolor-styled backgrounds but they are not nice to your printer, so it’s very neat to have a print-friendly version. Well done.
The PDF has a total of 12 pages including cover. It contains a simple map on which the module is based on. Again, this is nicely colored. Furthermore, there is a funny illustration of the name-giving Heeter, an alien from another dimension. The illustration is crude but charming.
There is an introductory page with adventure background, mechanical notes and information on how to integrate this into an ongoing campaign. The page also includes the map, this time in a smaller format. It consists of 12 rooms. The adventure takes place at a fortress-like lair on a cliff.
It’s of interest that the adventure has science-fiction elements (Heeter is a “humanoid creature from an unknown dimension”) which might not suit every (fantasy) campaign.
The inclusion of a “Denizen Schedule” is interesting. Heeter has a group of blue-skinned henchmen called Gignoks and there are also some prisoners. The schedule explains where and when the creatures are likely to be encountered.
Creature/s encountered: 4 Gignok cooks, Location: #4 Kitchen, Time: 5am, 12pm, 5pm
The rooms are explained in a succinct way, so the information is at the fingertips of the GM while running this game. Items that can be found by the players are grouped by bullet points. Most of the stuff is typical fantasy loot (everyday cooking utensils, a book of symbols (400 gp), 5 blue stones, valued at 200 gp etc.).
I prefer the spartan style but if you like flavorful prose in your modules this might not be for you.
Some rooms could be made more interesting by including props that provide cover etc. but that’s up to the Referee and not necessarily part of the provided descriptions.
Altogether, the adventure is pretty deadly for low-level characters and the declaration that this is for 4-10 (!) PCs indicates that, too. If the players are not careful, they can easily fall prey to the lair’s denizens.
Heeter himself is quite an impressive foe. He has his goons at his disposal and can also cast some spells (i.e. Charm Person, Invisibility, Lightning Bolt).
There are different ways to get to where Heeter resides. The Referee decides where he is located based on the timeframe. But if the players are clever, they might be able to surprise Heeter by using secret doors, by charming their way in or other means. While not everything on the map is of circular design, there are several ways on how the players can proceed.
The Cliff-Lair of Heeter is an excellent location-based and fun module for old-school games. It’s a challenging romp for low-level characters. The writing style is dense and to the point. I’m positively surprised by the watercolor style of the PDF and welcome the addition of a print-friendly download. Definitely worth the 2 dollars.