RK2 Evil Wizards in a Cave by Johnstone Metzger has the tagline “A short adventure module for Dungeon World and Labyrinth Lord”. It provides interesting hooks to a short adventure as well as a regional sandbox to keep the adventures going.
This review is based on an advance copy of the Portable Document Format (PDF 📖) that I requested from Johnstone Metzger.
Minor Spoilers Ahead
I’m trying to keep this adventure review from delving into the adventure contents.
There is a very early move that I quote which may provide more information than you want to know. It ain’t much but some people will do anything to avoid spoilers.
I appreciate that Johnstone Metzger gives attention to the adventure hooks. In total, he provides five hooks. Two hooks are about rumors. Three hooks are about being hired for jobs.
Each of the 3 job related hooks describe the employer, and ask you to roll some dice to determine the status of your employment. Below is an example of one of those hooks:
If you were sent by the Church of Law to aid the Tellurine Monastery, roll 2d6+WIS.
- On a 10+, they have sent a relic-finder with you.
This is a magical, single-chain thurible that will indicate whether or not a powerful arcane object is located within two miles of the direction you are facing, when you suspend it in front of you with one hand.
It pulls forward gently if it senses another magical item, but does not indicate its type or nature.
It must be returned to the church after the helmet is returned to the monastery.
- On a 7+, the church has also offered you a reward of 500 coins to solve the monastery’s problems.
- On a miss, this mission is your last chance to atone for your crimes and transgressions.
If you do not retrieve the helmet, you will be excommunicated permanently.
For those of you coming from Labyrinth Lord, this could be a new structure for a starting hook. For those of you coming from Dungeon World, this is the rather familiar “Love Letter” format seen in the various Apocalypse World Engine games.
I am a particular fan of this opening hook, as both the 10+ and 6- key things up for further adventures.
A Monk’s Life
The Tellurine Monastery is a , a potential home base for the region. Brief details about its history, industry (beer and cheese), and their current need. We then have fuller details of the monastic fortress and its layout.
Included are maps of the surrounding region, the Tullerine Monastery, and the caves below. And as with any location in an Role Playing Game (RPG 📖) supplement there are a few things going.
I particularly like that each many of the rooms have a paragraph description with an important word or small phrase bolded for ease of scanability.
Provided within a Monk’s Life are a few dual stat characters. These characters each have a rich background, tactics, a Dungeon World stat block, and a Labrynth Lord stat block.
In my opinion, some of the Dungeon World stat blocks are a bit lacking; There could’ve been a few more interesting moves. But compensating for that are the more generic tactics listed beforehand; Afterall this is a dual system adventure. These provide enough to more than easily make a custom Game Master (GM 📖) move on the fly.
As called out in the above move, the church’s helmet is missing;
And the thieving wizards have nefarious plans for it.
The adventure calls out a timeline, but leaves the timing up to the GM to implement. Here I wish Johnstone Metzger would stretch a bit more and give a Dungeon World style breakdown of the danger of letting the timeline slip. Its adequate what is given, but I would have loved to see his take on the danger.
The thieving wizards are given similar treatment as the characters in a Monk’s Life section; background, tactics, Dungeon World stat block, and Labrynth Lord stat blocks.
Following the above details is a brief section on the thieving wizards hideout and corresponding map.
And then comes what I consider to be one of my favorite parts of the adventure.
The Dubious Experiments!
Not to go into too many details, but these thieving wizards haven’t been idle.
There are a handful of monsters, with non-standard backgrounds, each with their own stat blocks.
To the Sandbox
The starting hooks, monk’s life, and thieving wizards sections provide enough for the skeleton for the adventure; A rich sandbox is the backdrop for this adventure. Below are a few interesting, though not too “spoiley” locations in the sandbox.
0105 There is a famous cave located in the hills here, known primarily for the weird stalactites that seem to have faces in them, and the healing waters that drip from them.
0602 There is a cemetery here that belongs to the Palace Plantation.
There is a 1 in 6 chance that a grave contains a gold ring or other small piece of jewellery, worth no more than a dozen coins.
0801 There is an ancient bridge next to the river here, but it is so old that even if it wasn’t broken and crumbling, it would still not span the river, because the river has moved since it was built. The two worn ends both sit on the same side of the river now.
0205 A young man is out taking a walk through the hills the first time the Player Characters (PCs 📖) travel through here. His name is Petar Magnusson, and he is a student from Nornfell University. He chanced to see the striking red striations in the hills here, and noticed that there are also holes in the ground about big enough for a person to crawl into. Since his is studying alchemy, geology, and stonecrafting specifically, he is very curious about the strange colouring and would like to know more.
Some of the hexes are significantly more detailed, providing a rough outline for a possible side-trek or further development to the region.
As is customary with Johnstone Metzger’s work, he provides a fantastic enumeration of the attribution of art (all public domain), maps (created by Johnstone himself), and game licenses (Creative Commons for Dungeon World and the Labrynth Lord Trademark License 1.2).
All of the font’s are available under the SIL Open Font License.
And best of all, Johnstone Metzger release the text of this adventure under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
To Buy or Not to Buy
Buy this adventure if you enjoy a human(oid) centric adventure involving some mystery and social interactions; Or if you enjoy a sandbox adventure. Also consider buying this if you are interested in seeing how you might bridge your other written adventures from one system to another.
Don’t buy it if you want a dungeon crawl. While there are caves and dungeons these are not exhaustive but instead small areas for exploration. Don’t buy if you are looking for high flying fantastic adventure with loads of monsters and piles of treasure.