Why Review a Free Product?
It will still cost you some time to read and some ink to print if you choose. I'd like to know if it's worth it and I thought someone else might as well. I will not hesitate to spoil the adventure (SPOILER ALERT).
This is a 6 page PDF that I printed out myself. It's got a few illustrations that look for hand drawn but in a good way, reminding me of the old "Judges Guild" type products. Not sure the Egyptian "bull horn" quite works though. It's a got a hieroglyphic banner down the left side of 5 of the pages, which is quite effective. The title font also does a good job of setting the pseudo-Egyptian tone of the piece.
This interested me because I'm looking specifically for "Sword & Sorcery" style adventures (rather than D&D Fantasy adventures) and I'd like to spend as little money as possible. I also have several "lost cities" areas in my campaign I'd like to fill up.
The adventure starts with a merchant offering to sell the party a treasure map or take them to the location. Not the most interesting adventure beginning but it works.
Each paragraph in the adventure is numbered and corresponds (accurately I might add) to an excellent map on page 2. It's kind of a 3/4 overhead map that seems to be pretty well thought out and even has a direction arrow on it. The numbers are in their own font which gives it a certain look.
The adventure is written for D&D/OSR with one-line stat blocks in parenthesis and familiar spell names. It's a little high in coinage, but also has some not so obvious treasure as well. I appreciate that.
The dungeon is an abandoned city in the desert but it actually has a suitable reason for ending up like this. It's filled (but not stuffed) with genre appropriate monsters. Nothing too weird (like a Manticore in a dungeon).
One rather odd denizen are "Mites", humanoids that have an illustration that make them look like Goblins. I don't necessarily like adventures to add new humanoid species to my worlds, but I also like the fact that they are NOT goblins (that's just lazy), so it evens out.
I don't know what they are doing here or what they eat, but I'm not real worried about it.
On page 3 appear to be small advertisements for other games ("550 Below and 6 Feet from Hell" and "Tribulation of the Dead"). This is small and innocuous so it doesn’t bother me like some of the "6 pages with 2 pages off ads" free products I've seen.
Some of the things are a little too "on-the-nose" however. "Ra-Ramzes" as a name shows a little less imagination that I like.
One of the 'keys' to success seems to require a Genie which seems like it doesn't fit very well with the Egyptian theme.
The illustrations show particular creature in the adventure and are both evocative and convenient.
It even includes a simple board game that plays a part in the adventure.
It doesn't say what happens if the PCs are turned into slaves however, and I'd kind of like to know that.
It has two fierce enemies that could easily become the enemies of the players and the players have a nice option on which of their sides to choose.
One potential end to the adventure has some a rather miraculous outcome that could certainly influence the campaign, so I'd be careful where I placed this dungeon, but I can't help smiling at the thought that this simple dungeon crawl could change the political landscape!
I was very impressed with this product. This is at least the equivalent of the best dungeon adventures that appeared in newsprint fanzines at the time and has a lot of little clever bits and puzzles to it that make it more interesting than the usual deep hole filled with monsters. Since it also meshes pretty closely with the Sword & Sorcery style I'm currently looking for I was especially pleased.
The attention to little details is impressive and this does not seem like it was just 'spewed from the GMs notes'. The illustrations, use of fonts, layout are all very well done.
It was put together as an adventure ready to run with minimal effort.
It's not perfect. There are no page numbers. There are silly misspellings ("clews" and "summing the genie"). Even a free product should not be excused for these types of errors.
Should I Check Out Their Other Products?
Absolutely. If there other products (free or not) are this good, I'll definitely be looking at them closely myself.
[4 of 5 Stars!]