This was originally written as a tournament module for Gen Con Indy 2005, and so comes complete with scoring information and pre-generated characters... so it's ideal if you are looking for a one-off adventure or happen to need an adventure to run at a games convention. Or, of course, you can run it with an existing party as part of your ongoing campaign... however the results from when it was played at Gen Con make grim reading in terms of survival rates!
The adventure itself concerns an upstart dragon called Myrkjartan who has raided the ancient and long-undisturbed Vault of the Dragon Kings in a bid to establish the rule of dragonkind (or at least, himself) over all sentient beings. There's plenty of background material to get your teeth into, covering the original Dragon Kings and the vault they built when they realised that their days were numbered, and how their passing gave rise to the multiplicity of dragon types found in the world today... and how Myrkjartan is not quite the villain he appears. Maybe. There are notes on how to involve the party - and just as importantly, notes on what they don't know! There are also notes on particular features of many of the traps in the Vault, of the perils of adventuring at high altitude, and of the mammoth scale the Vault is built to, seeing as it was made by and for dragons.
The adventure comes in three parts, corresponding to the three rounds of a tournament game. Throughout, there is plenty of help and direction for the DM, with sidebars reminding of applicable game mechanics as well as detailed room descriptions and notes for every encounter. There are some complex traps that will take smarts as well as brawn to circumvent. They look reasonably straightforward when you have notes on how to defeat them in front of you, but may well prove a lot harder for the party to deal with. There are hints provided, but will the party recognise them for what they are?
It's a tough and challenging adventure with both traps and combats a-plenty, but there are opportunities to interact with at least some of those encountered in the Vault... but the conversation might get cut short if tempers become short. There's a lot here, including some new monsters, spells, templates and other items. The pre-generated characters are provided as dense blocks of text, you'd better transcribe them onto character sheets if you intend to use them. There are some player handouts, to let them see what their characters see in certain situations, potentially helpful especially with the traps.
It's well presented, well laid out, and oh, so very challenging. A good adventure for groups who like high stakes, difficult challenges for both mind and body, and who are not afraid to lose a few characters along the way. Have fun!
Return to Vault of the Dragon Kings page.
Reviewed: 17 September 2018