Author Topic: REVIEW: Game45: Trouble Below (by Ray Dyer)  (Read 176 times)

Offline hans

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REVIEW: Game45: Trouble Below (by Ray Dyer)
« on: March 29, 2017, 10:26:56 PM »
Another of the ten! entries into the One-Week Challenge (http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=3429.0) by Ray Dyer, Game45: Trouble Below worthily continues the "Thunder Rift" campaign. 

The adventure starts with an entertaining exchange between two NPCs, which soon leads the PCs on their own to explore and defend sections of a Dwarf stronghold that have been overrun by Goblins.

These sections present quite a challenging maze, with lots of secret doors to find.  So far as I could notice, there were no places to rest, so even though most of the fights are against measly Goblins, it would be a mistake to get too careless. 

Indeed, there are some greater dangers that are intrinsic to the maze, itself.  I found some spores that I blundered into to be quite deadly (requiring reloading a saved game, so save often!). 

Besides the Goblins, there are also a couple of tougher opponents to contend with.  Two from a particularly rare class of monster led to one delightfully challenging duel.    :icon_blackeye: :whip2:

In deference to the ownership rights of the friendly Dwarves to whom the stronghold belongs, this is no treasure hunt, so don't expect too much in the way of booty.

The new pieces of art & music were very nice, as always. 

I only noticed one typo: "...I shall me most disappointed if you disturb a tomb unnecessarily."  Me that as it may...

Thanks for another fun time at the ol' Thunder Rift, Ray!   ;D

Offline Kaz-Keith

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Re: REVIEW: Game45: Trouble Below (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2017, 08:03:05 PM »
 * This review follows the designer's advise to run the Thunder Rift series (along with game07: B10 Assault on Raven's Ruin) in a particular order.

 * Party rolled: Human female Paladin LG, Dwarf male Cleric LN, Centaur male Ranger NG, Gnome female Magic-User NN, Halfelf male Cleric/Magic-User CG, Halfling male Thief CN -- Ray's Realm allows such racial classing as part of the adventuring package and encourages his Realm players to mix in as many races and classes so as to enjoy the breadth and depth of any given adventure... so's I dids!

 A word about the Thunder Rift modules: these adventures were created in 1992 (when some of us were youngers just starting to explore the game) and were meant to be a sandbox of sorts for DMs and players both new to the game.  They allowed for a lot of modification and were interconnected only by threads, to be filled and fleshed out by the DM running things, adaptable to any of the gameworlds.  As such, there is ample opportunity for Ray to put his Realmstamp upon them, which I am pleased to find to be the case.  I didn't think I would recall as much as I did about the wilderness spread of the adventures, but it didn't affect my play of them in the least.  Ray's done the project a fine service in his importation to the Realm, with custom music and graphics detailing each design individually. On to it, then!


 Fresh from our training (and subsequent playing about with our shiny new items (!) and spells, my party decided warm... or at least stable... weather was called for and we steered ourselves back towards Kleine.

 There was something going on in the town, and what we mistook for a local festival turned out to be a rare visit from the dwarven kingdom that lay to the far west.  Adventurers were being sought after, and... well... you can probably guess who volunteered.  Our dwarven cleric was thrilled to act as liaison between the party and the delegates but, when we finally arrived a the hall of the dwarven king, the real thrills began.  Trouble was afoot, and it was a familiar enemy.  Could our party descend into the corridors below and put an end to the threat?  Would our party's thief be able to refrain from helping himself to anything not nailed down and pocket-sized?  Time would tell...

 The adventure here is a good one, and as another reviewer has noted is actually not going to be nearly as lucrative as others in the series not to mention hosting the first deathtrap I've encountered so far: it's a 20d20 if you fail your save... so save and save again.  :D  There is much to love still like the characterisations of the dwarven peoples (both living and dead) and the bagpipes music was awesomely fitting.  The true rewards here are those that only a sharp-eyed party will find, including a place to rest, so be diligent.  The introduction and the finale here had me chuckling, especially so with the king.  A few unexpected enemies can pop up... along with specific rewards for those who are vigilant.  Without an overhead map, the halls can quickly become confusing:  just remember that the entire place is laid out like a giant square, and depending on your choices at the beginning you'll start in one of the four corners of that square.  Get your bearings in this way and you'll have no problems exploring.  Loved the descriptions, Ray: it was the little details that really brought the place to life for me.

  **after a brief rumination at the ending, in which we received a bonus reward ;) ,we repaired to the halls of clang-n-din for some training (our centaur fellow finally realised level 4 along with Redfeather, our halfelf cleric/magic-user, and our paladin) and [R]emoved each pc for copy-pasting into the save directory of our next adventure.

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: Game45: Trouble Below (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2017, 12:37:25 PM »
I think this was my least favorite Thunder Rift design so far, although it was still fun to play through. But I can't lose the feeling that I might have missed something. The underkeep wasn't as easy to navigate without getting lost, and with all the secret doors, me running around in circles, and the dwarven king's admonition not to be too nosy in his domain, it's perfectly possible that I overlooked some encounters. For instance, I don't remember that deathtrap or the spores that hans and Keith mentioned above. And I never really found out much that I didn't know yet about the black sheep of the dwarven family who supposedly dabbled in black magic before his disappearance. It sounded like you might run into him at some point, but I never did.

So in the end, apart from one or two unique encounters, it was just clearing out a dungeon full of goblins and vermin again, who were so easily defeated that I didn't even notice that there was no place to rest in the design. I never had the need for finding one ... And despite all my efforts not to touch anything the dwarven king didn't want me to touch, I still managed to disgruntle him a bit by stumbling into his treasury via a secret door and not backing out immediately. But I swear I didn't mean to touch anything!  :angel:

Something else I noticed: It seems that in Game45 Ray broke what I (erroneously?) thought an unwritten rule in his designs so far, and that is that unusual walls are almost always a point of interest that you can examine. Here there were several wall signs, mantles/alcoves, desks etc. that didn't have any text event attached to them, while the secret doors were in spots that you could only find by searching every single piece of nondescript wall. I was also a little surprised and disappointed that this hacked design doesn't use a custom frame, but that's just nitpicking. It's a nicely done Thunder Rift design anyway, I just happened to like the ones preceding it a little better.