Wednesday, 25 January 2017

[REVIEW] Tukram’s Tomb

[REVIEW] Tukram’s Tomb
by Davide Pignedoli
Published by Daimon Games

Tukram's Tomb
A brief first-level adventure featuring the tomb of a barbarian warlord; one of several, better than some, but falling short of its potential. It wastes no time on an introduction, not that it needs any – there is a tomb in the wilderness, and there are adventures and treasures to be had. Two villages and a wilderness section round out the action; all of them treated in an abstract, cursory fashion – a nameless home base with rumours, a ruined wilderness site, and a random encounter table you can roll on twice. This is basic, not very interesting despite the beginnings of a style that could set the mood and encourage some pre-dungeon action.

The tomb itself, while very small at 17 keyed areas, is more interesting. It has a sense of place and history, with a real barbarian feel. Etruscans? Celts repurposing a Roman ruin? Somewhere in that vicinity. It is not mentioned, but the map has the impression of being based on a real structure. It feels timeworn, and the encounters bear this out – some of the traps don’t work, some of the puzzles have changed due to the passage of time. It feels like proper tomb-robbing archaeology. Unfortunately, the writing is all too verbose and the content is all too brief. You don’t really get to do much before it ends (or does it?). There are two possible climactic encounters; both neat in their subversion of adventurer expectations, but neither of them too challenging. Nothing really delivers on the implicit promise that you are entering a deadly and odd place. It is too first-level. The right first-level adventure is a third-level one, or one that feels like it, that drives home the vulnerability of beginning adventurers.

There are things here which feel right – the ravages of time, beasts and vegetation; grave goods and some interesting magic. Map sections are repeated through the text so you don’t have to flip back and forth. It is clear the author can write. But this is really a 5-page scenario (map included) in a 22-page package, it has some structural weaknesses, and it ends before it could really get interesting. It is listed as a beta, and may see improvement. As it is, we go back to the first sentence.

Rating: ** / *****

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