Looking Over Dungeon Delve: Bahamut's Shame


It's still just cover art

Premise

During a war between religions, followers of one faith made a weapon of mass destruction that even they were mostly reluctant to use, which turned out to be smart because it corrupted those who went ahead with employing it. The weapon was sealed away until a group of roving demons found out where it is and decided to dig it up.


Good

The third idea for expanding the adventure involves coming up with a haunted workroom for the weapon’s construction. That’s an intriguing concept, as is the option to have various other (possibly forbidden) weapons in there as well.


The surrender condition for the magi in area 1 is welcome.


The divine sanctum in area 2 is a cool feature that ties in well with the complex being a containment structure.


The noble’s phantom image ability is an interesting take on how to handle the classic mirror image/displacement defensive magic.


Expensive friezes are a nice monetary treasure in and of themselves, let alone compared to the boring treasures in most of this book.


Salvageable

The hook is mostly brilliant, except for the part where it’s missing any actual interaction with the party. I suppose it’s implied that they should hear rumors of the lost weapon and/or the roving demons, though I think it’d be more interesting if the demons employed the party to retrieve the weapon for them.


The maulers’ stat block is strange in having two different abilities for attacks that can be made only while charging which are identical except for one knocking the target prone while the other moves the target 10’. Why not have just one ability that gives a choice between those effects?


The basic idea of the skill challenge in area 2 is good, but the structure needs more rework than most to be playable because it has no actual margin for error as written, and I don’t think still getting to advance with a penalty on a failure is adequate compensation.


As ever, the destroyers’ and reaper’s auras should have flavorful descriptions when they cause detectable effects.


If the magic item in area 3 could be used the concordant, the concordant should be using it.


Bad

The first idea for expanding the adventure gets no quarter for having two encounters instead of one, especially when the second is back to being one additional encounter.


The magi’s soul mantle ability is the sort of finicky nonsense that’s prone to getting overlooked in actual play.


The boxed text for the insight check in area 2 is incredibly worthless.


For all the big talk about what a terrible weapon the Eye of Eradication was, it’s substantially less of a threat than the reaper that controls it. Its damage is high, sure, but it can only affect a single target, while the reaper can do the same amount on hit to 32 squares every round (sure, the reaper lacks the ongoing damage, but given how much area it attacks, it should easily be hitting at least two PCs per round for much higher overall damage). Using another noble (with its at-will forced movement) instead of the reaper would’ve let the Eye have the spotlight instead of being a secondary annoyance.


There’s no clear reason why the teleportation device in area 3 would reverse its operation if the Eye is destroyed. It should work with a skill check, as the teleportation out of area 2 did.


Overall

The encounter design for this adventure is rather curious; the first two encounters place a lot of emphasis on forced movement effects (tying them into one another more closely than the creature selections would suggest), but then the third puts more emphasis on pressuring the PCs to manage their positioning against a pair of glorified-if-potent mobile persistent damage zones despite immobilizing and dazing effects. It’s sort of like putting a hockey player through breakaway offense drills during practice and then expecting them to play goaltender during penalty shots.


Aside from that, there is a general lack of flavor to this adventure despite the strong premise and a couple of features that act differently depending on the interacting character’s faith. Uninspiring environments, uninspiring creature selection, and each area being one large arena with a frill or two on the outside leaves the whole thing feeling bland. This isn’t too hard to address with some reskinning and fleshing out details, but it’s disappointing that Merwin didn’t offer more on that front after doing good work in previous adventures like Caverns of Demise.


There are obvious ways to tie in greater context on the front end, but the adventure is lacking much potential for lasting consequences unless the party can make use of the Eye (or other sealed weapons, if the idea of adding a workshop is used), which isn’t the case as-written. At least the overall blandness does make it flexible to reskin/replace creatures as desired.


All in all, it got off to a good start, but it ended up feeling like filler in the end. The Eye’s mechanics were also a major letdown, so it doesn’t pay off the set-up, either. There’s a decent foundation for making something good in here, but it takes considerable effort to realize that potential.

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