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Rappan Athuk (5e)
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Maxwell L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/01/2023 21:55:46


If you're like me, you're looking at this book after googling "5e mega dungeon" and seeing people raving about Rappan Athuk. I'm here to stop you from making the same mistake I did and buying this book.

A lot of criticisms of Rappan Athuk stem from its reputation as a highly fatal, old-school, dungeon crawler. That will not be the focus of my criticism. My criticism is based on the fact that, even if you are a fan of that particular genre of adventure, this book is full of issues.

Issues listed in order of severity from least to most offensive: Makes reference to mechanics from older editions of D&D. ("Make a perception check to see this trap." We have passive perception now.) Enemy tactics and builds based on rules that no longer exist. (The strategy of several boss enemies rely on the effects of multiple spells occuring at once. With the concentration mechanic in 5e, this is no longer possible.) Enemy stats in the bestiary do not match stats in the main book. (In the main book and enemies ability is triggered when characters see it and avoided with a DC 18 Wis save. In the bestiary, the ability takes an action to use and is avoided with a DC 13 charisma save.) Enemies brought over from older editions that no longer work in 5e ("This room has four ogres in it." The room is not big enough to fit four ogres. "These spectres will likely kill several players." Spectres are no longer CR 7. They are CR 1/4.) The previous issues combined with the smug attitude of some of the writers. ("The rakhshasa's plan is actually quite clever..." the writer then proceeds to describe the rakhshasa doing several impossible things in one turn. Which is countered by a PC walking foreward 5 feet.) Advertising ("This portal goes to the mountains of so-and-so, detailed in our other books available here!")

Other issues that may vary according to taste, but upset my players to no end: Lack of description of some rooms. ("The tomb is empty. This should fill your players with terror." No it shouldn't. We have had no knowledge of anything about this tomb and undead are everywhere.) Instructions saying to lie to the players. ("This room looks highly unstable. No sane dwarf would enter this room." The room is perfectly stable.) Having a feces elemental. A level with hundreds of thousands of ghouls that is only described as "a level with hundreds of thousands of ghouls." Everything is worth more gold than it should be. Which is fine until you remember that spell components have a set gold price. Random deaths that are impossible to spot. This is especially bad when you consider previous issues. If your party has spent the last hour fighting harmless spiders, then sees three trolls around a corner, it is not their fault for being lulled into a false sense of security. This is expecially true when the trolls are several orders of magnitute stronger than the ones detailed in the monster manual.

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Rappan Athuk (5e)
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