I was wanting to move onto doing some more crunch conversions, but I have a backlog of play reports that I want to get out. I’ve been doing much more playing than crunch work recently, and that is a good thing. Sure, I get more hits with my crunch, and it can also be collected to DM’s Guild products. This blog also serves my gaming group’s history, and that part requires the attention at this point.
I’ve almost always run published adventures. My creativity lacks the spark to come up with an idea to make a new creation, but I am good at taking something someone else wrote and changing it to fit my own purposes. As you no doubt seen, I like to pull from disparate sources to base my games on. I am going to do something a bit different this time. I’m not going with a play report, just a review of the product. I feel that a play report would give too many spoilers to the adventure.
Crypt of Memory is a D&D 5e Adventure for a 5th level party set in the World of Farland. The adventure itself is genre neutral, though, and quite easily drops into whatever location you want.
I will start out by saying that I like Farland quite a bit. A dark world ruled by evil. Plenty of 5e crunch available on the website as well. I’ve pretty much lifted the Herbs and Herbalism rules wholesale for use at my table, though I’ve added other herbs and concoctions from around the interwebs.
The adventure starts off simply enough, with a single hook. The players are in a seedy town and witness an old dwarf being mugged in broad daylight. If rescued, the dwarf rewards the party with the object that the muggers were after, the map to the Crypt of Lazaghan, an ancient dwarf burial site.
The journey to the Crypt is straightforward as well. It’s a week’s journey, and a random encounter chart is provided. Once at the location, finding the entrance is not so easy, and requires a successful Nature or Survival skill check.
Upon entering the Crypt, you are presented with the obligatory undead encounter, though this one has a twist. A checkerboard floor with part of the grid magically trapped, and the zombies make use of the Shove action to push characters into the trap.
After this things start to get really interesting. The next chamber has two main doors, one leading to the treasure, and the other to certain death. A riddle on the wall explains the rules to making the correct choice, with six other doors leading to clues to solve the puzzle.
Each of the six clues lead to a featureless room that leads to a flashback of Lazaghan’s life. I like the way the flashbacks are worded, so that each player imagines themselves in Lazaghan’s shoes, while their companions are imagined as other dwarves. That way each player feels like the “star” of the flashback.
Each of the six flashbacks start the same way, “You see a bare stone room with a single stone sarcophagus at the far end. Then the scene suddenly changes. You find yourself…”. While it gets repetitive, my players found it somewhat fun, reciting along with the narrative on the fourth, fifth, and sixth rooms. It ended up as as an inside joke by session’s end, and is one of the lasting memories of this adventure.
Each of the flashbacks involves a milestone in Lazaghan’s life, which the players had to solve. Succeed and you get the clue, fail and a wraith rises from the sarcophagus in the empty room who you have to overcome…who gives you the clue when you defeat it.
The six milestones provide a nice mix of challenges. Two combats, two mini skill challenges, a wrestling match, and a straight up riddle to solve. My players love riddles, and one of the two fights proved memorable. The wresting match and skill challenges gave each of the three characters I ran through an opportunity to shine and fell right into their strengths. Each player really got a chance to shine while collecting their clues.
The clues make solving the puzzle easy, though it requires the correct organizing of the clues, which all my players put their heads together to solve. With the correct solution, they chose the door that led to Lazaghan’s sarcophagus. Once there, they find that Lazaghan is one of the restless undead, a new creature provided, a memory wraith. Lazaghan can be fought, but this adventure also provides a great role-playing opportunity. Lazaghan starts with a short monologue, which lets the players “talk him down” using the knowledge they gained in the flashbacks. My player’s did, and Lazaghan found peace with their answer, and allowed them to take his treasure.
The loot is appropriate to 5e’s scale. A decent amount of coins and gems, a potion, and a battleaxe +1. I expanded upon Lazaghan’s Axe using the tables in the treasure section of the DMG, rounding it out and making it unique. Tulgasora now wields this axe in Eska.
Some further hooks are provided in the “Concluding the Adventure” section, if players are wanting to look for ruins of things they learned about in the flashbacks.
Crypt of Memory was a good length for a single session of play. Fills and afternoon or evening perfectly. A nice mix of challenges to overcome, hitting the Three Pillars of Play, socialization, exploration, and combat. Everyone in my group felt like they had a chance to shine.
It was easy to run. Layout was good. Fit the standard two column with boxed text format. Instead of monster stats, it provides a page number in the Monster Manual for reference. The artwork is minimal, and the cover is generic to all of the Farland Adventures. The book ends with a nice collection of maps to the adventure, as well as a player handout for the clues.
The only real drawback was that it was a railroad. Not much player agency to how the adventure proceeds. It is a small enough location that it doesn’t really matter, though. Also the fact that you got the clue if you succeeded in the challenge or not was a bit cheesy. If I were to run it again, I wouldn’t give up the clue if the party had to fight the wraith. The challenges are easy enough that they will have most of the clues, and maybe having to guess at one or two will only heighten the tension, and not detract from the game.
Overall we had a great time playing Crypt of Memory.