Looking Over Dungeon Delve: Last Will and Testament


It's still just cover art

Premise

The party receives a surprise invitation to a will reading that ends up getting crashed by demons.


Good

While the actual ideas for expanding the adventure are all just an additional encounter, I like that the preface to those ideas bringing up questions about who the decedent was and why powerful entities from beyond would be interested in their death.


Having crowds of panicking people as viable targets in area 1 is a nice touch.


The chasme’s stat block is a nice upgrade of the claw fighters from The Raiders’ Hideout as a more powerful high-mobility melee shock trooper, now with flight, conditions for triggering additional damage, and a disabling ability.


The spitter gaining more attacks as it comes closer to death is a good way to heighten the tension of the fight over time instead of the usual pattern to combat where one side jumps out to a big early lead and the other tries to claw back as it goes on.


Closing portals is one of my favorite uses for skill challenges (or rather my generic minigame), and the one shown here is great for (a) presenting a choice between prioritizing closing the portal (to reduce the spitter’s damage) or fighting the spitter (to reduce its lifespan) and (b) having a failure penalty that can repeat sensibly.


Salvageable

The hook hypes up the decedent as the greater scholar, explorer, and collector of antiquities in the region. I’d change that to something more fitting of the setting, if necessary, though I would keep it as someone who wouldn’t have a clear connection to demons.


While I appreciate that the sewage has an actual negative effect here, unlike in Poisoned Shadows, simply doing damage is the most boring effect it could’ve been. I know non-HP threats like disease or stat damage were mostly designed out of 4E, but this is a situation where they’d be better than simple damage.


Having the portal empower the spitter is a fine way of indicating a link between the two in an unobtrusive way, but it only works if there’s some flavor description to go along with it (a billow of energy from the portal sticks to the spitter like an aura, the spitter’s attacks cause bolts to lance out from the portal towards its targets, a reflection of the portal is visible inside the spitter’s mouths, etc.).


Bad

The ideas for expanding the adventure are all just a single additional encounter.


Anything but the barest description in area 1 should make it obvious that the flaming zombies came up the sewer grate (it’s even said explicitly in the boxed text), so the Insight check to find the way to area 2 is completely unnecessary.


I’m not sure why the tactics section mentions that the harriers’ tongue lash will daze the target “if at least three [harriers] hit” when their stat block applies the daze effect on every tongue lash hit.


There is zero chance that sunlight coming through sewer grates will light the entirety of area 2 without a ridiculous number of grates. People tend to underestimate how dark a confined space gets.


The 15’-high ceiling in the sewers feels entirely gamist.


The bridges over the sewage being easy to move with a push makes no sense.


Dealing more damage to demons while standing in the sewage in area 3 feels entirely gamist.


Overall

While this isn’t one of my favorite adventures in this book, it does have a fair bit going for it. The premise is unusual, memorable, and pushes the GM to fit the adventure into some greater context. The encounters all have very different feels (fighting a mid-sized group amidst panicked mobs in area 1, dealing with a large ambush in area 2, and a strong single entity that gains power over time in area 3), and while there aren’t any real traps (the movable bridges are a joke), the portal in area 3 can bring something exciting to the mix for players who aren’t all about combat.


On the other hand, there is limited flexibility for changing the creatures since the portal all but necessitates using beings from another realm and there are few alternatives to something hydra-like for area 3 without reworking the spitter entirely. As usual, the Absurdly Spacious Sewer is something I dislike (though, also as usual, it can be replaced fairly easily with more sensible surroundings). The opportunities for parley, stealth, or any other non-combat approaches are almost non-existent as-written. The flaming zombies are an oddball inclusion that was clearly just to take advantage of the immolith’s vigor of the grave ability. I don’t think any of the downsides are dealbreakers individually (though I would at least consider having the immolith try to parley instead of going straight into combat), but taken together, they do constrain how freely this adventure can be used.


All in all, this is a cool adventure that juxtaposes mundane and weird experiences in a way reminiscent of pulp literature. It won’t fit in everywhere, but in situations where it can fit, it’s pretty good.

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