Sunday, January 31, 2016

Commentary On Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity Adventure By Mark Taormino Kickstarter Updates

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity adventure had a Kickstarter back in October of 2015 and since then he's been quietly working on the module. Well I've seen some of the artwork he's been posting on the Villains of the Undercity adventure page on Facebook  Mark Taormino is one of a handful of OSR author's whose Kickstarters I follow and actively love. He's delivered the goods time and again with his last two Kickstater adventures including the "The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen" and "The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn"
The plot is like something that a renegade game  company might have come up with but no its actually Mark's own twisted brand of old school mayhem. He's got a devilish sense of humor and wily weirdness to his writing which players at my table over the years have learned to dread or enjoy in equal turns. The plot goes something like this;"Danger lurks at every corner of the small coastal city of Las Farporte. The locals insist people are being abducted in the night and taken into into the bowels of the rumored "Undercity Dungeon" below. A lone survivor managed to escape and give some information before dying in your arms: “Secret door... Tavern of the Wiley Wench... The password is... the password is... Ugh!” You and your brave team of adventurers have decided to investigate these rumors, plunder the dungeon and destroy the dreaded "Villains of the Undercity!" Oh but first loot the body, of course. He won't mind... he's dead."

Now artist Joshua L. Burnett has released a few new art pieces for the upcoming module via the adventure's Facebook group. According to Joshua; " Here is the final piece completed by artist Joshua Burnett for the back cover of Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity! I wanted an incredible iconic style homage to the back cover of Tomb of Horrors and Joshua nailed it! Alan will colorize it soon as I get closer to completing the module."  I'm really looking forward to the colorized version of the artwork.

Villains of the Undercity is going to be easily adaptable to any number of old school systems; "This module is designed for character levels 1-3 and can be played with the OSRIC(tm) system or easily adapted to AD&D, D&D 1e to 5e, Pathfinder, D20 System, Labyrinth Lord, BFRPG, Swords & Wizardry, Warrior & Wizards, etc or any fantasy role playing system you may want to use it with under the Open Gaming License v1.0a!"  Some of the recent updates have been pretty interesting and its nice to see a lower level OSR style title from Maximum Mayhem Dungeons. The previous modules were brutal and just because this one might rank in as a lower level that might be any different in this adventure making this one a possible go to adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics as well. According to the author; "
A few quick updates... I should have updates for you every week from here on out.
Art: Here is a work in progress from Chuck Bowman. It is one of the encounters in the module where a few Bugbears are having a bit of a BBQ dinner with a hapless adventurer! I do have a couple more custom art pieces that I will be commissioning before the end as well.
Writing: I have all the basic encounters written now and I am working through them with improvements and tweaks. I am targeting being the layout phase in about two-three weeks.
Maps: There will be two maps. Alan will start on the first one soon, and the second one will be available soon after that.
Testing: I should be able to start testing some of the encounters by the end of this week with some of the play testers." This looks like a great old school module that can act as both a stepping stone into a campaign or a mini campaign itself. I'd be leaning towards Villains of the Undercity  being one of the latter. With nasty pieces of work like Bluto the Strongman  making an appearance in the adventure.

The author also has a habit of slipping in Lovecraftian and horror elements where you might least expect it and with a sly sense of humor about it. Secret Machines of the Star Spawn had eight new and pretty nasty monstrous horrors in it. And while the module had some funny bits, it was as lethal and cunning a module I've seen. Villains of the Undercity won't be any exception in that regards. Not when you have things like this horror, The Bonebane Warrior just waiting to tear your PC's apart.

Then stuff like this thing appeared on the Kickstarter and I was pretty much sold on it. So do I think that this is going to be worth the wait and effort? In a word yes and in spades, I've used other  Maximum Mayhem Dungeons products with Labyrth Lord games, Lamentations of the Flame Princess with some conversions and many other OSR gaming systems and they've never failed to deliver the goods. I've got The Hanging Coffins Of The Vampire Queen and the Secret Machines of the Star Spawn  adventures  as evidence for Mark's efforts as quality products to back that statement.

So what does all of this mean? Well it means that in the near future we're going to see a brand new OSR module birth itself and you'll be experiencing a new beginning module with the focus for a lower tier quality crawl among some very dangerous old school dungeon territory. I'm really looking forward to the Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #3: Villains of the Undercity Adventure

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