The Goblins of the Shining Eye
Review by Steve Gustafson
From time to time, you run into a design that contains great insights into the human condition. One that has a lesson for us all, wise words for our times.
The lesson of this design is simple: there are monsters out there. We must invade their lairs, and kill them. But when we do, we get to take their treasures. It is hard to imagine anything that speaks more eloquently to current events.
This is a short in terms of dungeon count, fairly long in terms of play, design. An unhacked design, it supplies a town, a forest, and a warren of caverns to wander through. Your goal is simple: eliminate the goblin tribe that habits the warrens, and take their treasure back to town to claim your rewards.
The game is mostly well designed for what it sets out to be: an unpretentious dungeon crawl. Combats are difficult to the point of being unbalanced, especially for the level 1 characters supplied. I imported some level 5 characters, and even they were fortunate to make it back to town with one party member still conscious. A thief and a ranger are absolutely essential in this game, as is the Finding Traps spell. You will really need to marshall your spells, because there are many combats, and miles to go before you can rest again.
The chief virtue of the design is the wise use it makes of KazKeith's goblin art packs. Different types of goblins appear, armed with different weapons and possessing different powers. The coordination between combat icon and monster power is good. I have used those goblins myself, and they're really good.
Minor annoyances: all the shops in the town are unmarked, and undistinguished from the commoners' houses. There are a number of goblin guardposts and traps that reappear after you fought or disarmed them the first time. It is difficult to tell when you have done all you need to do in the dungeons.
Verdict: a solid first effort in vanilla FRUA.