||Maze of Screaming Silence is a 100 page d20 pdf adventure product. Originally this adventure was released by MonkeyGod Enterprises, and is now released in pdf form by Highmoon Media Productions under the MonkeyGod Presents line of products. Maze of Screaming Silence is both a d20 adventure and a city supplement, with the City of the Damned being detailed quite extensively in the text of the product. This adventure is written for the 3e rules, and is suitable for characters of 3rd or 4th level. The contents, as the disclaimer for this product indicates, is for mature audiences only.
The product comes as a single, fully bookmarked pdf file complete with an extensive table of contents. No print version of the product is supplied. Artwork within the pdf is good black-and-white work, some of which depicts graphic violence (severed heads in a pool of blood, for example) and is one of the reasons behind the mature audiences disclaimer. There's an ample supply of artwork within the pages of the pdf that enhance the feel of the macabre, yet often humorous content. Writing and editing is good, though the writing style is rather informal and filled with several flippant remarks that probably don't do the adventure or its content any justice. It's difficult to set a theme based on the 'mature' content when the adventure is filled with remarks that undermine it. Nevertheless, these can easily be ignored despite them occasionally being off-putting. Several maps are provided, all which are clear and easy to read, although more maps would've been useful for some of the locations presented in the City of the Damned and surroundings. As mentioned already, this adventure is for the 3e ruleset, and as such the numerous stat blocks use the format of this ruleset.
Maze of Screaming Silence starts by presenting and overview of the adventure, and provides a handy table summarizing the ELs of the various encounters within the product. The adventure is largely a PC driven one, in the sense that once the adventurers arrive in the City of the Damned, the gateway to the maze, they are largely left to their own devices as there are no 'events' in the adventure. What the PCs do and get up to is entirely up to them, and what they make of this adventure is again entirely up to the PCs. The City of the Damned is detailed enough that there is plenty to do and experience before actually hitting the maze and attempting to survive it. The product presents essentially two ways in which to run the adventure - the first by using an overriding plot arc that is presented, and the second merely for the challenge of the maze itself. I'd certainly recommend the former, as it's more interesting and presents more motivation and roleplaying opportunities for the players than the latter.
The adventure is set near a remote outpost of the Empire of the Yagga Kong, a brutal group of people that live high in the mountains of the Wall of the World. Full details are provided on the history of these people, the origins of the maze, the culture and society of the Yagga Kong, and generally enough for any DM to allow the PCs to experience a new and certainly unique mountain culture. Given that the PCs are travelling high in the mountains, they'll need to cope with numerous environmental factors such as cold and thin air for which rules are provided and summarized.
The introduction to the adventure is a dream sequence involving multiple players, the end result of which leads the players to an oracle and from there admittedly very vaguely to the Yagga Kong. I liked how this sequence was presented, although in the old end it could've been more succinct in leading the players to the Yagga Kong and the City of the Damned. The main body of the adventure beyond the introductory sequence, deals with the City of the Damned and several locations within the vicinity of this location. There the PCs can do whatever they wish, and generally, considering the sense of humour of the Yagga Kong, how they wish as well. The Yaggo Kong are not adverse to killing slaves, for example, and PCs will be get to know people that collect decapitated heads and even teeth.
The City of the Damned is presented in two sections detailing typical encounters in the city (day and night), and site-based locations for the important parts of the city (more town-sized, despite the name). PCs should find this an interesting experience, and certainly one to remember if played right. Creative DMs will have a field day running these encounters and locations, and should be able to instil a sense of danger and dread in the PCs as they pass through the city. Almost a dozen encounters for days and nights are presented, as well as a dozen different locations that each provide an interesting roleplaying experience. The City of the Damned is well detailed and an interesting place, and should be easy to insert as a strange city in another remote corner of a campaign setting.
The Maze of Screaming Silence itself was quite disappointing. Given that the adventure has the maze's name as title, it was actually a rather small part of the adventure, a very short part of the adventure, and certainly in the end nothing to really write home about. Unless the PCs spend a lot of time in the City of the Damned, the maze is quite quick to get through and handle, despite the presence of the Thing in the Maze. It is also rather surprising to find that only once every century, as the module tells us, the maze is actually beaten. If one considers the maze and the City of the Damned as two different parts of adventure, the City of the Damned far outstrips the maze in terms of enjoyment and potential for roleplaying.
The adventure provides ample advice on how to conclude the plot presented that draws the PCs to the lands of the Yagga Kong. DMs will find this a good ending, although may potentially wish to do more with it. The adventure and location offer a lot of potential for expansion. The latter parts of the pdf present numerous appendices which include detailed NPC statistics for the various NPCs in the adventure, and advice on scaling the adventure for higher level parties. The statistics of the NPCs are, however, also included in the text of the adventure, which means you annoyingly get them twice within the product.
Maze of Screaming Silence certainly presents a different kind of adventure experience in the City of the Damned and the Yagga Kong. The maze itself is disappointing in that it's short, not terribly unique, and could certainly have done with some interesting elements to make it live up to the name the adventure paints it as to be. The City of the Damned is a richly interesting and devilishly vile place, although in a sense has a lot of 'overkill'. It is possible that adventurers will quickly grow used to or bored with the ways of the Yagga Kong. Overall, though, an enjoyable experience for a short adventure that shouldn't take longer than a session or two to complete, depending on the involvement of the players.
LIKED: The City of the Damned is an interesting place with lots of options for players to explore and take part in. The Yagga Kong are an interesting people and should provide for unique interaction between PCs and their culture. The adventure does well at presenting something different that should be an enjoyable experience for both DMs and players. Presentation and artwork was very good.
DISLIKED: The product contains double stat blocks in that stat block are presented in the text and in the appendices. The informal tone of writing in the adventure can be off-putting in places is you wish to establish a proper theme to the City of the Damned. The maze itself was disappointing in its originality, creativity and length. One or two minor editing errors, but nothing significant.
[3 of 5 Stars!]