Wizards have always have been a problem,but there are some that are completely bat crap insane who cause problems. This adventure is about one of those wizards, Tranzar is the type who demands the attention of adventurers. With wonderful artwork by Joe Johnson and maps by the magical pen of Dyson Logos this is an adventure that pits your party against a wizard whose made a pact with a demonic tree. I kid you not and it only get's worse from there. If you like Hellboy and the Evil Dead films then this adventure is going to be right up your alley. This adventure clocks in at forty four pages of delicious old school fun and a devilish romp through the imagination of Mr.Johnston.
The dungeon here is a living, breathing, horror filled pit of OSR adventure that drips with atmosphere and weirdness while accessing some of the deeper viberational weirdness of stuff that many other adventures miss. Here the 80's vibe is online but not not in a way that echoes some long lost nostalgia but in a very solid and fun way that makes your PC's think or die.
This is a straight up Labyrinth Lord Compatible game adventure with nice maps and a well drawn set of maps and features that ties the whole product together in such a way as to make it easily accessible for the DM. Everything from random plant life hazards to weird dungeon dressing is clearly laid out. Here's where the whole thing shines like a diamond, the cave complex of Tranzar is fantastic adventure location and there are clearly defined reasons for the party of adventurers to be together in point of fact four of them. The adventure reminds me at once of some of the best part's of 80's fantasy films without the stupid bits, the adventure has a nice assortment of random tables in certain areas. And this is an adventure that makes the PC's think or die horrid deaths of doom. Right off the bat, I love the graphic presentation of the elements of the adventure the visual tone of the product is kept throughout and its a very well done bit on the author and designer's part. The NPC's throughout the product are very well done and have motives of their own. The set up is different without being too alien and going far afield from the rest of the adventure. The traps in this adventure are different, dangerous, and at times lethal if played with wrong. On a whole the dungeon elements and NPC's should never be underestimated at all by either the DM or the party of adventurers.
Tranzar's Redoubt has lots of interesting trappings scattered throughout that make it a really nice addition for a sword and sorcery style of game. I can see adapting this adventure to any number of retroclone style clones. The amount of spit and polish that went into this adventure shows. But is it worth the purchase price? At two dollars the answer is a simple yes, the module accesses many of the tropes of the 80's but does so in such a way as not to be stupid, tiresome, or dumb. This is a smart, cagey, and at times whimsical adventure that can be easily played in one sitting or with a bit of baiting can be stretched over a couple of sessions. In point of fact I can see using some of the elements in this one in other adventurers. I wonder if this will be last we see of Tranzar? Well only time will tell but if your adventurers are lucky then he will meet his end completely.
Parts of this adventure reminded me of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Technically this adventure could be used as a cross adventure with Mutant Future's Mazes and Mutants campaign option. With a bit of adapting the adventure location could be used as the focus for a rather twisted and strange campaign side option for Mutant Future. A few things to pay attention to first off is the level of the PC's, this adventure while designed for levels four to six could easily challenge higher level PC's because of the clever bits and encounters. If the party plays this one wrong there are a few TPK points in this adventure. The encounters have not only a back story to them but a mini history at times that reminds me of early TSR modules mixed with a midnight Saturday evening movie. Joe Robertson and co. did a bang up job with this adventure marking well the old school influences while fusing their own energy throughout the product. The ideas in this module are fresh but a word on treasure and relics in this one, your going to have to scale this adventure to the party and retroclone system of your choice. This adventure would also make a fine addition to the Lamentations of the Flame Princess line, the weird pulpy elements are solidly well done and the value for this module is clear. This adventure set's a pretty high bench mark for those DM's looking for something new, different, well done, with lots of play value. Taskboy Games continues its solid performance and edge in retroclone adventures. A definite four out of five for this great old school beast of an adventure! Very well done and a great value for the money!
Eric F Sword and Stitchery blog
[5 of 5 Stars!]