||?Dungeon Crawl Classics #11 ? The Dragonfiend Pact? is a 20 page pdf 2nd level adventure for the d20 system published by Goodman Games. It has always been the goal of the dungeon crawl classic line to provide you with an adventure that:
a) doesn?t waste your time with long winded speeches.
b) aren?t set in a weird campaign setting.
c) have Npcs that are meant to be killed.
Essentially, they should remind you off adventures like B3, and not FRC2, if you are old enough to know what product have those codes. It should be ?a 100% dungeon crawl, with monsters you know, traps you know, and secret doors you know must be there.? So how does the 11th entry in this long running series fair?
The story revolves around a series of robberies in a small town and an even deeper political power struggle for control of the town. The module is broken up into essentially two sections, the first details a secret area underground connected to the town?s well. It is to this well that the thief is thought to have escaped. The second part of the module details another lair, this time belonging to the Dragonfiend of the products title. This section of the adventure can only be reached through the use of specialty magic items designed to facilitate the adventure (plot device).
For being a self-confessed dungeon crawl, the module presents a lot of variety in the types of encounters offered. As this is a low level module and the PCs do need some specialty equipment to have a good chance of success, a number of helpful incidental items have been planted in the adventure to give the PCs an even chance at success even at some of the harder encounters. There are a good mix of monster battles, secret doors, traps and an encoded message to decipher (I think my group pieced it together in 30 minutes of dedicated study; I have never seen them so determined to solve a puzzle.) The challenges range from 1 through 6, presenting a fairly wide range but as I stated earlier tools necessary to overcome the harder challenges have be interspersed into the adventure. These tools (like masterwork silver daggers) are inserted in a natural way and seem to fit in natural, instead of some modules that have pedestals with glowing artefact (geez, I wonder if we need the uber magic sword to win) or other contrived solutions. My players found the adventure challenging at some parts but felt that overall it was a very balanced game.
Overall this is a really strong, really cheap, adventure from Goodman Games that hits a lot of their design targets. However, it?s the ?weird campaign? setting that this adventure fails on. As you?ve I?m sure the product description you know that, ?the heroes must shrink themselves with potions of improved reduce person and explore a series of dangerous rat warrens where their prey is larger than they are!? This leads to some really interesting gameplay in the second half of the module but to my group it also felt awkward.
By taking these potions, the characters are reduced to Tiny or Diminutive size which alters the player character?s weapon damage, attack bonus, and skill modifiers. Although this was clearly laid out and easy to follow, it was very time consuming and required many adjustments to our character sheet. This stopped the flow of the game and disrupted the module for me. My suggestion would be to not adjust the character?s statistics, but instead use some planning time and scale the monster?s up appropriately, that way the game won?t stall out here. (So Badgers would go up 2 size categories to large) This will create more work for you the DM, but its your prep work out of game instead of in game time lost.
LIKED: Cheap, Cheap, Cheap
Nice mix of monsters, traps, secret doors, and a nice cryptography puzzle
Shh!!! don't tell Goodman Games, although all NPCs with stats are meant to be killed, there are a good number of unstatted NPC that could partake in excellent non-combat encounters. We actually interact with many NPCs at length and found it helpful. (Even though not necessary)
DISLIKED: Size altering mechanics complicated enough that when applied to players at the table, it will likely wreck the flow of the adventure.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[4 of 5 Stars!]