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!