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.
[4 of 5 Stars!]