This free web-enhancement to the city of mages is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1/2 page editorial, leaving 7 1/2 pages of content, so let's check this one out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players, please jump to the conclusion.
Still here? This latest little supplement from Headless Hydra Games features essentially a mini-dungeon, the ominous ruins. Legends of a breed of elven giants and a legendary centaur-civilization in the primal woods of Ossindrillion abound and these little ruins actually represent the true ruins that may prove or disprove the validity of the thesis. The part of the ruins that is detailed herein is above ground, 3 levels long, provides 15 rooms/locations and turns out to be challenging - rust monsters, invisible stalkers, army ant swarms and worse have made the place their home. The best part about the ruin-exploration, though, at least in my opinion, is how languages and deciphering ancient scripts is made a rather intriguing, complex task that can actually bring excitement to the game. While here, it is via skill checks, I look forward to seeing Headless Hydra Games come up with more complex rules, as announced on their blog.
The potential to actually decipher the ancient script in the ruins (potentially even IRL would be a great idea for a longer adventure, perhaps even with glyphs or a full cipher...) enhances the excitement of finding ancient scripts can add a sense of wonder to an exploration, that, while certainly not bad, would otherwise not be half as intriguing. Once the PCs have found their prize, perhaps a map of ancient magical gates, the short sojourn ends, leaving us wanting more and opening some neat options and hooks for the DM to develop.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a full color, beautiful version of the HHG-layout and the two pieces of b/w-artworks and 2 pages of b/w-maps are of a higher quality than one would expect from any free pdf. The pdf does not come with bookmarks, but at this length, that's ok. The content and writing of this mini-adventure/location are very good and concise, though not as enticing as in Gallery of Dreams. Nevertheless, The Ruins is well worth the space on your HD and giving this away for free makes getting this pdf essentially a no-brainer: A neat little location, some fun with linguistics and coherent enemies make this a 5 star-pdf.