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Barrowmaze Complete 5e $35.00
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
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Barrowmaze Complete 5e
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Barrowmaze Complete 5e
Publisher: Greg Gillespie
by Stephen A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/24/2019 02:17:41

Just fantastic. I was introduce to Greg's work as a PC in his The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia campaign run by a seasoned old-school DM at a local game store in Houston, Texas. After a single four-hour session (which ended with half the party dying,) I was hooked. I've since enjoyed the thrill of high-stakes D&D and wanting to DM something similar to it myself (without spoiling Archaia for me as a PC,) I was recommended this product: Barrowmaze.

I've run several sessions (one reaching over 7 hours long) and the players love plundering mounds, trying to survive in the trap-ridden Barrowmaze while making it back to the village of Helix with lore to share with the local Wizard, and exploring the larger region which is rich with gameplay opportunities. PCs can easily spend all the time they want exploring the region with interesting sites and events, without ever touching (what I think is the real meat of the game) the Barrowmaze.

I'm very impressed with the large amount of content presented in ~250 pages and love how Barrowmaze facilitates player-choice with an open-world environment. PCs do not feel railroaded or uninterested in a forced plotline, because they choose what they want to engage with and uncover both the story/history of the region - and - make up their own story as they go.

10/10 for content. 7/10 for hardcover book quality (I understand the publisher is separate from the Author) 5/5 Stars :)

Thank you!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Barrowmaze Complete 5e
Publisher: Greg Gillespie
by Michael F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2019 02:58:41

After hearing about this product on one of my podcast feeds, and watching a video review on youtube, I was excited to buy this product as I was in the market for a new 'megadungeon' to spring on my players. We were playing 5th edition and this product seemed like it would fit the bill. I'm writing a review of my impression of the product, as currently there don't seem to be any unbiased reviews. At the time of this writing, there is one glowing 5 star, and one sharply negative 1 star, which would seem to be confusing to other potential purchasers in my opinion.

My review specifically of the 5e conversion of the product, and not the original Labyrinth Lord version.

The Good- The content is very good, and sticks closely to the overall theme and story. The encounters are creative, the traps are devilish, and I'm sure the experience for my players will be memorable. In addition to the megadungeon, it includes new spells, magic items, monsters, gods, rival adventurers, a small town with NPCs for the heroes to use as a home base, and some info on the surrounding area- a TON of meat here. There is lots of artwork, including a set of illustrations to show the players, like in the old classic modules like Tomb of Horrors. The OSR influence is huge, in design and intent of the product, and I personally think its great. Well, the women at my table will be less than thrilled with the inclusion of a brothel in the starting town, but I'm not sure if I can knock off a full star for that. C'mon! There is even a random generator for creating additional barrows to explore! Overall for the content- 5 stars.

The Bad- Simply put the 5e conversion is not that great. In some areas its fine, but in other areas, its clearly lacking. The 'conversion' hews very closely to the old school style of play, so many of the 'errors' in conversion (maybe error is too harsh, design decisions instead?) are simply hold overs from the older style of play. But this could cause major problems for DMs expecting something closer to the current ruleset/philosophy of 5e. There are conversion issues in nearly all aspects of the book, and a potential DM needs to be aware to proceed with caution! It might work fine at your table as is, or you may need to do some adjusting, I just want to you be aware of the issues.

Here are a few examples so you know what I mean:

Numerous 'instant death' effects, ranging from no-save bottomless pits, save-or-die poison effects on monsters and most traps. 'Save of Suck' mechanics are not really prevalent part of the current system.

Most modifiers affecting play through new spells, specific encounters, or setting are giving in a +/-number format, no use of the advantage/disadvantage mechanic

No mention of which classes can use the new spells. Wizard? Cleric? What about Bards? No idea. Some are found in spellbooks, but others are found on scrolls so...a clear oversight on this one.

Pregenerated characters don't have starting occupations, and so don't have all the skills they'd normally have. Speaking of- they include a wizard, 2 clerics, 2 fighters, and a paladin. Maybe someone would want to play a Rogue in a trapfilled dungeon?

There are random treasure tables that refer to Labyrith Lord core rule charts. Oops.

The new gods don't specify what cleric domains are used.

The spells could have used some more editing and testing. Some are weak, some are unneccessary duplicates of existing spells, some are waaay overpowered. (a 2nd level no-save AOE incapacitation effect? No thanks! Not for MY players!)

There is way way way too much gold and magic treasure for a typical 5e adventure, including some very powerful items guarded by very weak monsters.

Monsters that are just... versions of an existing monster Why not use the existing one? (I'm looking at you "massive" scorpion, "brown" pudding, and giant vulture)

Overall, I'm not surprised by some of these issues, they seem to be more based on sticking with the LL version of the adventure (hmm this monster had a +3 greatsword, so I guess in this version the same monster will have a +3 greatsword too!) But you have to be careful with this type of conversion, as the editions don't exactly match up with how things play, if you know what I mean. But I was disappointed to find so many issues that I'll need to consider, but on the whole not unfixable - 3 stars

The Ugly- Its a $35 .pdf. Thats a steep price for an electronic product, and I'm sure that has people nervous about buying. But small print publishers have to get paid too! So... ??? stars

Overall, I'd give this product 4 stars, while there are issues with the conversion there is just so much good stuff here I think my players will have fun exploring the Barrowmaze, even if I have to change some of the spells and pull back on the loot. Hope the review helps, and GAME ON!

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Barrowmaze Complete 5e
Publisher: Greg Gillespie
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/02/2018 18:15:41

BarrowMaze offers a massive amount of clever and creative content that will keep a gaming group engaged for years. The guide is comprehensive and offers a lot of detailed guidance while still giving the GM the room to adapt and change as necessary without getting bogged down in details. Not only can the book as written be played and replayed (because of the changing nature of the dungeon using the random encounter tables) over a long time for a very extended campaign, but parts of it can easily be dropped into your own existing campaign or used as a foundation to build your own unique megadungeon. It also does not need to be played straight through, while there is a very interesting backstory and campaign arc with various competing factions that can be followed to the final encounter, players can raid various parts of the dungeon in-between other adventures. This is an excellent product! And, while it may be a bit more expensive of a game supplement, it is worth the money for the amount of content and replayable activity it offers. Finally, I would like to address one comment from another reviewer who gave this campaign a ridiculously low rating because of the minor omission of a random dungeon restocking table--you can use your own random table, you can use the other random restocking tables, and the actual missing table (all 5 lines of it) is as follows:

For every room the players visit roll on this table: Restock (1d6) 1 - Monster 2 - Monster & Treasure 3 to 6 - Empty (1in6 chance of hidden treasure)

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Barrowmaze Complete 5e
Publisher: Greg Gillespie
by Daniel W. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/27/2018 10:33:03

I want to preface this review by saying that this is not intended to be a critique of the original megadungeon, written by Greg Gillespie, which from what I hear is an exellent product. It's also not meant to reflect negatively on DTRPG who have been very helpful during my expereince with this particular version of Barrowmaze. I alsp want it noted that the reason I'm wirting this is as a warning for all 5e GMs who might be interested int his particular product, since the faults of the product are quite hard to notice, unless you actively search the web (or scour the discussion page on this website) for info before buying the book/PDF. If you still want to but this, please, buy the original Labyrinth Lord version and just wing some conversions yourself.

Now, I was introduced to this product through Questing Beast's review of it, and it immediately chekced all the right boxes for me: osr, megadungeon, AND it has a DnD 5e version, which is bascily the only RPG I can find people to play around here. So, I jumped at the chance to buy it right away; both the PDF and the hardcover book. I then procceded to call my gaming buddies and prepare them for this epic new adventure I had just gotten for them.

I usually wait untill I've received the physical book to read the RPG stuff I buy these days, since I prefer a physical book... but I was curious to see some of the new monster stats and spells, so I skimmed the PDF version to get a taste of teh OSR goodness that was in store for me. This is where everything I had hoped was there was confirmed; the awesome art, the cool mosnters and weird spells. It was lovely. However, i soon discoverd a quite significant discrepancy; see, the book calls for the GM to use something called the dungeon restock table, a random table, to restock the dungeon when the players leave the dungeon to resupply. However, I couldn't find it anywhere in the pdf; not in the index or in the random tables part of the book. I assumed that one had to use the random monster tables and such, but to my astonishment I learned, thorugh a bit of googling, that the original Labyrinth Lord version of the book indeed had a distinct dungeon restock table to use. Double checking with Questing Beast video, you can actually see the index of the LL version, and it is clearly listed in the index.

This left an incredibly sour taste in my mouth; here I was, paying a premium price for a product, and because the conversion job had been done seemingly poorly by Rogue Comet, it was an incomplete one at that. That just didn't sit right with me. Worst of all, I haven't been able to find any coments from either RC og Gillispie as to a reason for why this table, that the book stresses is incredibly important for the adventure to fucntion as intended, was left out of the 5e version. To clarify, the 5e version still REFRENCES the table, and states how important it is, but it isin't included (on page 20)!

So, I did what any consumer should do in this situation; I contacted DtRPG and asked for a refund, which I'm happy to report that they were willing to give me.

Sad part is, all I want is to be able to give money for this product; it is what I've been looking for for a while. But, on principle, I refuse to buy a product that is incomplete, and as such can't in good conscious give money for this book. Could I make my own restock table? Most likely, but that is not the point of this; the point is that I'm not so desperart as to pay for something that is lacking crucial features, stated by the product itself. It's quite embarissing really. I will be linking this review on reddit and other places, so as to warn others that they shoudln't pick this up unless the product is fixed, or at the very least an official comment is made which explains this issue.

I hope that I one day will be able to rewrite this, in a more positive light, for a product that hopefully gets the fixes it so obviously needs and desrves. And if these fixes are coming, you can bet that I will be making a new order.

UPDATE: So, I've been in contact with RC. This is their email response:

Hi Daniel, I alerted Greg Gillespie (the book's author) about this issue a year ago. He had taken over maintaining the product after the Kickstarter was over and owns all rights to the book, so only he can address this issue at this point (I can't legally change anything and don't have access to the DriveThruRPG product page and books source files; only Greg does).

-- Stan

So it seems that the only person who can fix this issue is Greg Gillespie. I've tried contacting him through this products discussion board, since I can't find any other way of contacting him.

[1 of 5 Stars!]
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