Looking Over Dungeon Delve: Orc Stronghold
Some orcs are crashing the local lord’s stronghold.
The various interpersonal situations between the various orc groups that stop them from reinforcing each other gives some roleplay fodder.
The random dead prisoner with a ruby in the hollow heel of a bit provides a potential jumping-off point for adding flavor to the adventure and/or tying it into greater context.
Though rather minor, the interactivity with the beds in the barracks is a neat touch.
The sidebar advice to give some feedback on the flow of a fight while describing the results of attacks is good.
I don’t understand why the orc in the tower in area 1 would have a candle. The region the orc is looking out on has bright illumination, and the orc extinguishes the candle if anyone tries to enter the tower. I’d get rid of it.
Having a lever that has to be thrown to arm a pit trap is a reasonable way of having a pit trap in an area that gets regular traffic. Having that pit trap in a banquet hall, however, is senseless. I’d get rid of it.
There should be some indication of the eye’s aura (it makes a grandiose statement when activating the aura, the orcs affected by the aura act frenzied, a beat of bloody drums fills the PCs’ ears while they’re in its area of effect, etc.) so that it doesn’t feel capricious.
I can understand leaving behind the money that it stashed, but the eye should be using the magic item that it concealed in the pantry, given that it starts the encounter hiding in the pantry.
The cauldron should present an obstacle to movement and should offer cover.
The chieftain’s aura is the sort of thing that’s likely to be overlooked in actual play. I’d get rid of the bloodied requirement and make it just add +1 damage to all melee attacks (or even get rid of the aura entirely and add the extra damage into each creature’s base stats).
In reading from the adventure’s title to the end of the intro, this place has been called a stronghold, a keep, and a home, and it’s composed of a prison, a banquet hall, and a barracks. It’s hard to imagine how this could feel any more slapdash.
The first idea for expanding the adventure is to add “a small system of caves” under a pit trap where the party will not find anything unless they “explore or remain in the caves for a long time”? Now, I will give the benefit of the doubt that the “for a long time” clause is meant to go only with “remain” and not with “explore”, but even so, what is this half-assed nonsense?
This is an extremely bland adventure. It seems more annoying than enjoyable, there are multiple gamist oddities, none of the creatures feel particularly interesting (the eye comes the closest, I suppose, but that’s only because everything else is a glorified basic attacker), and aside from the dead prisoner, it makes no real attempt to actually back up being a stronghold that had belonged to someone else before the orcs crashed the place (presumably recently). Perhaps the worst part is that it isn’t even bad, since that could at least give some inspiration from trying to fix it; it’s just plain and forgettable.
All in all, the boring name is rather indicative of the adventure’s quality. This is obvious filler.