Sunday, March 3, 2019

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Mail Call & OSR Review of The Palace of the Dragon Princess By Mark Taormino From Dark Wizard Games

Saturday's mail call consisted of a lovely white envelop with a really fantastic surprise! The latest entry from Mark Taormino's  Dark Wizard Games. The kickstarter happened June 10, 2018 & leaped ahead at a galloping pace & now I've got this fantastic envelop in hand. Mark knows how to pack his stuff right! Dark Wizard Games is a straight up OSR outfit & their adventures often fit the perfect parameters of old school campaigning while firmly being grounded in the present!

Mark Taormino has a history on delivering quality products & fun malevolent adventures. His adventures can easily be back slotted into an existing campaign without over clocking your own campaign world. I'll let him explain in this video from his successful  kickstarter.

The adventure plot is one part reverse high level adventure & one part inspired insanity; "Once upon a time the kingdom of Thorin Vale was prosperous and benevolent but fell on dark times with the death of the King. A new hope was rising as his only daughter, the Princess was set to marry the King's bravest royal knight restoring the kingdom to ultimate power. However on the wedding day, the evil Dragon Maelfesto attacked the castle by surprise and swiftly took control! The serpent drove everyone out and took the princess captive in the caverns below, wickedly enchanting the palace! The groom went in with a party of rescuers to save her but never returned. Riches beyond your wildest imagination will be gained for the ones who save the fair maiden, defeat the wicked beast and return alive from the Palace of the Dragon's Princess!"

Make no mistake that this is a deadly & high level adventure with all of the right parts & pieces for a party of level 8-12 PC's with axes to grind & coin on their minds. They'll be at the mercy of some of the most dangerous NPC's & monsters that they've encountered.

"The Wedding" artwork by Brian McCranie. The Wedding of Princess Francesca and the Evil Knight she didn't want to marry. Hmmm, somebody seems more interested in the ultimate magical power the Unification Rings will bring himself and kingdom more than his bride!

Taormino's writing is concise & the module's descriptions are up to the usual Dark Wizard standards here.  Dark Wizard Games always brings the old school strangeness & cleverness to the table with over-the-top monster encounters, outrageous magic, nasty  NPCs, traps, puzzles. The physical book is a really solid quality with the layout being right up there with other old school modules.  Palace of the Dragon Princess delivers ; 

40 Pages saddle stitched, 40 Encounters, a Removeable Cover with 2 Blue Maps,1 Fortress Map and 1 Underground Map plus 2 New Monsters & 4 Pre-Generated Characters to begin play with.
So not only are there PC's ready to go at the appropriate level but their perfectly suited for the module!  Not only that but they could with a bit of work be used as a rival set of adventurers if the players have their own PC's.

Since Palace of the Dragon Princess is meant for  use with OSRIC or adapt to 1st Ed AD&D, 5e, DCC, Pathfinder, D20, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, & many other old school Dungeons & Dragons simulations I could see this being dragged & dropped right into Mystara.  The kingdom of Thorin Vale could well be a minor kingdom in the  Grand Duchy of Karameikos. The puesdo European flavor of the Thorin Vale kingdom which has all of the hallmarks of this Mystara mainstay. 

The evil dragon cult has lots of possibilities beyond those presented in the  Palace of the Dragon Princess & could be used to represent far more ranging dangers then those simply presented in the module. The Dragon Maelfesto  has motive, timing, & real reasons for turning the castle into an adventure location. They've got all of the hallmarks of a continuing threat & the DM is advised to keep the master of the cult two steps ahead of the PC's & in fact continue to use him after the adventure ends as a reoccurring villain.

The Master" artwork by Brian McCranie really brings Dragos the  Dragos the evil Cleric / Magic-User cult leader to life & captures the malevolence of the NPC. He's excellently written & has lots of life beyond Palace of the Dragon Princess. There's lots of opportunity for the PC's to carve out their own place in the world of  the kingdom of  Thorin Vale but they're going to have a  lot on their collective plates & to deal with. While tongue is firmly in cheek in 
Mark Taormino's  Dark Wizard Games's Palace of the Dragon Princess the module never descends into stupidity & nor talks down to the dungeon master or his or her player's PC's. This is a deadly little romp of a high level module with lots of interesting NPC's, excellent artwork,nasty adventure locations, & lots of room for the PC's to make a difference in the world of Thorin Vale if they survive!

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