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Old School: The Grinding Gear

The Grinding Gear

Adventuring by its very nature is not a safe profession, and individual characters cannot be certain of a high life expectancy... yet this adventure comes with a 'health warning' that while perhaps not fatal it could at best prove to be an exercise in futility. Previous visitors have apparently felt themselves lucky to get out alive, unrewarded and rather hungry; while others are reported to have starved to death! Yet when you read it through from the safety of the GM's side of the screen, it's logical with every facet there for a reason... ones which astute characters ought to be able to figure out for themselves if they only paid attention to everything that you say.

The whole thing hangs together beautifully, and while it is in effect a 'puzzle dungeon' it has been created deliberately to be one. It's difficult to say any more without giving secrets away - always the reviewer's challenge but more so in this case!

Everything is described clearly so that even a novice GM should find it relatively straightforward to run. For those who do like background, everything is explained including the underlying rationale and intentions behind each feature of this crawl... the players may never find these out, but it is always satisfying to know that things are there on purpose, and the only things that are random are ones intended to be so. It means, too, that those who are firm about maintaining an 'alternate reality' that works can still get to use this sort of adventure without cracking their reality and making it less believable.

It is good to have a low-level crawl that will exercise the brain and the sword-arm alike, with internal consistency and the potential to run in but an evening - so if your regular game does not readily accommodate puzzle dungeons, you can run it as a one-off. Because once you've read it, you will be itching to run it and see how the players you know measure up!

Return to The Grinding Gear page.

Reviewed: 27 March 2010