I’m not really doing a review of this classic egyptian-themed D&D module (by Tracy and Laura Hickman), there’s plenty of them out there , I’ll just highlight a few things that stood out for me as I read it.
The first thing I did mentionned in the title of this post, the premise is an unusual one, the dungeon’s « owner » actually wants you to succeed! For his sins in life and foremost his vanity, the Pharaoh has brought a curse upon himself: he cannot enter the afterlife unless someone steal his most prized possessions. The irony is that of course, before he was cursed, he did took the utmost care to make his pyramid theft-proof!
Another major selling point for this module is the actual design of the lair. It’s archeologically sound. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch… Of course, there’s D&d nonsensical magic afoot but… It’s as near a realistic lair/tomb as a D&D adventure can achieve, I think. For example, there’s a « Plundered Tomb » level to fool would-be defilers into thinking they’re too late. There’s also some few nice instances of verticality in the navigation of the lair that is often neglected with most dungeons. All in all, it’s very well done.
There’s 2 non-hostile factions. The Thunes Dervishes want to protect the sanctity of the Pyramid and won’t allow defiling (looting) around them. At the same time, their leader is missing and is somewhere in the tomb. They could help the PCs, if those talk smoothly, but they’ll turned against them fast if they act as PCs are wont to do… And then there’s the bandits, who’ve had enough of the pyramid and just wish to get out. They’ll take the PCs help if offered, but they could well succumb to greed if they see any wealth brashly displayed. Interesting.
Some more random things:
- There’s a kind of magic healing water supply at the Temple (the entrance of the pyramid). In typical rpg fashion it is specified that the healing water loses its beneficial properties outside of the pyramid’s perimeter. Obviously to foil some players’ idiotic money scheme, I mean, I can clearly see something like: « let’s haul gallons and gallons of this water outta here, set a shop in town and we’ll be rich, nevermind the treasures! » A few years ago I had a player who loved these kind of gimmicks even if it meant, y’know, ditching the actual adventure part.
- I’m not a fan of silliness (unless it’s my own brand) in purchased adventures. In Pharaoh, you can find a chest (trapped) full of old used orc socks. First, orcs have socks? Second, really? Orc socks in a chest? And there’s also exploding pineapples and oh! Prit the Gnome who digs tunnels with only his spoon! Sigh
- I like the weak, but unkillable Chabang (mud) Men. The PCs can’t hack & slash away this sort of trouble and have to be clever about it.
- The BBE (Big Bad Evil), Munafiq the power-hungry High-Priest – of course he’s now undead- is unnecessary. If I ran this adventure, I would refurbish him so he’d be a more subtle encounter.