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Fighting Fantasy - Deathtrap Dungeon $15.00 $7.50
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Fighting Fantasy - Deathtrap Dungeon
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Fighting Fantasy - Deathtrap Dungeon
Publisher: Greywood Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/29/2009 12:17:58

The book begins by explaining its history: the adventure was originally published as a solo gamebook in 1983 by Ian Livingstone, and has now been converted into a standard Dungeons & Dragons adventure suitable for a Dungeon Master and either one 8th-level character or a group of 6th-level ones (4 pregenerated ones are provided). While designed as a stand-alone one-off adventure, it would be possible to integrate it into a campaign... as the premise is that someone has built a 'test' dungeon and encourages people to try their luck in it, all you need do is allocate the role of the builder to some suitable individual in your campaign world and decide where he put it.

Speaking of 'luck' the next couple of pages are devoted to an addition to the rules, basically as the original gamebooks made extensive use of luck a set of luck rules for the D20 ruleset have been devised. It's something you'll either embrace wholeheartedly or decide not to be bothered with, it could - if you like it - add a distinctive spin to your whole campaign, while if you do not care for it, leaving it out will not make a significant difference to the adventure. This is standard text in all the 'Fighting Fantasy' D20 books.

Back to this book. The adventure starts with a bit of background for the DM and a 'read aloud' introduction for the characters - naturally if you have integrated this into your campaign you will have to amend this as appropriate, but there is sufficient here to make sense if you are playing a one-off. This is dungeon-delving as spectator sport, probably the best approach to take with this kind of 'dungeon-as-test.' The whole thing is quite coherently presented but it is very, very easy - as the designer intended - for characters to come to grief. It is very much a case of having to correctly deduce what you are supposed to do, and which items are important and which should be left alone... and most of the time there is no way to tell until it's too late! Such dungeons are very much a matter of taste whichever side of the DM's screen you are sitting: they can be highly enjoyable or so boring that characters look for ways to kill themselves so as to end the game... this one has the potential to be highly enjoyable provided that you enjoy the artificiality of a dungeon that's there to serve purely as a test of skill.

While it is intended to be run for either one character or a small party, several of the descriptions and encounters are aimed at a single person so a read-through beforehand and some thought about how to accommodate a group is advised for DMs playing with a party of characters.For example, without giving too much away there is a quizmaster type who asks riddles, but although he has taken precautions so that he only has one 'contestant' at a time, he only has one riddle! So if you have several characters, make sure you have some more, or take the player whose character is being quizzed out of earshot of the other players.

Dungeon completed, there are several new monsters - some of which will prove useful additions to your collection - and some new magic items. These all appear in the dungeon, but are given a complete write-up here, of particular use if you decide to use them elsewhere in your campaign. Talking of campaigns, there are notes about the city of Fang here, should you decide to include not just the Deathtrap Dungeon but its location in your campaign world, as well as notes for scaling the dungeon should you wish to run it at a higher or lower level than written.

Unless you want to amend the final room, I would recommend that this be used as a one-off adventure, or for a single character. That said, if you enjoy puzzle/test dungeons, this is a fine example!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fighting Fantasy - Deathtrap Dungeon
Publisher: Greywood Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2009 11:42:51

Greywood Publishing struck gold when they decided to mine the treasure troves of adventures left behind by the previously defunct fighting fantasy game. Published in the 80s, the fighting fantasy games were one shot RPGs in a box. The complete adventures were like the Decent of their time. Greywood Publishing has acquired the rights to remake the games, and, if Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon is any indication, 3.5 fans have a wonderful new source of adventures to replace the other publishers that have abandoned the system.

Deathtrap Dungeon is an almost perfectly designed adventure, combining puzzles, combat and role playing in a tight dungeon setting. There are 50 encounters in the entire adventure as well as a half-dozen new monsters. Unlike most adaptations from that era, the dungeon was not compacted full of encounters. There was a variety of little brainteaser to test a party. There are little riddles that guide the PCs along, traps that require more than just a simple disable device roll and combat that relied on paying attention more so than hoping to roll high.

Deathtrap Dungeon almost achieves perfection, but stumbles in a few minor places. The transformation form box dungeon to D&D 3.5 is done well in most places, but there are some stat blocks and encounters that were mistranslated into 3.0. The most irritating thing was the books waste of pages on trying to include a luck ability for players. Luck in games is like religion at the game table. You do not talk about it because every DM has a different opinion on how to do it. Plus its completely unnecessary for running the adventure.

There was also an issue in a bit too much hand holding as to how to solve the final puzzle. There is a great little riddle at the beginning that tells the party how to do it. But the writer felt the need to hammer it into the PCs heads a lot by having two NPCs drill the same information into the PCs.

The last little flaw about the book is its supposed design for only one player. I say supposed because the adventure can easily be adapted for a 6th or 5th level party.

For the DM Deathtrap does a great job with traps. My favorite was the Pole trap, which required a couple of skills to complete, but did not diminish the rogues trap prowess.

The Iron Word When one of the big publishers high-tailed it out of the 3.5 adventure writing business, I wondered who would step up to fill the void. Greywood’s reviving of the classic series is a sign they are stepping up to the challenge. These adventures not only include the adventure, but give access to the myriad of wonderfully rendered artwork, easy to print and play maps and outstanding handouts for the game. If you wanted to play this on the go, there are also pre-gens developed as well. Despite a handful of minor problems, this is one of the most balanced adventures I have read in some time.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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