Sometimes It Is All Worthwhile

Running your own games company can be a difficult process but it is worth it when a reader goes above and beyond the call of duty. Such as with this review of Gold Strike!, part of our Open Playtest.

The review and feedback is from Andrew and came via a comment on the Gold Strike! page. The detail and nature of the Andrew’s comments are everything I could ask for and shows the power of getting draft / beta versions out as soon as possible.

Overall, this was a very solid adventure. Party composition: ranger 3/fighter 2, monk 5, cleric 5, wizard 5.

The mine carts were a blast. The party failed their last check and I had great fun describing the crash and the resulting destruction.

I feel like there is insufficient reason for the miners in the lower camp to not have escaped. I inferred from the difficulty finding the lower camp that the miners may have tried to find their way back, but got lost. I played up the confusing, repetitive, and dangerous route to the base camp so that the miners’ confinement felt more real. The random encounters for this section are very good. The dwarf ghosts encounter spooked them pretty well.

The npcs were pretty well fleshed out for unimportant people. It was easy to role play them. Love the “itchy balls” comment. “Everyone I know has beards. Crazy old coot.” got a laugh from the players.

The lemure fight was fun, it was nice to give the impression of a devil horde streaming to the attack. I feel the caves the lemures in could have been a bit more fleshed out, perhaps with some relics of the ancient civilization such as pot shards and arrow heads.

In the junction between areas 8 and 9, I added a pool of water that the PCs had to submerge to get through. I don’t feel like there’s enough drainage here to leech all that water away swiftly. Significant pooling made it more realistic for me and scared the players when they thought they’d have to continue underwater. The wet, treacherous slope in area 9 was a real PITA for the pcs to climb up, and it was a great roleplaying opportunity as they bickered and whined about the climb.

The Cave of bones was pretty epic. When Bonski attacked, my bloodthirsty PCs chased him around and around the room, setting off traps and getting shot. After awhile they smartened up and headed for a corner to get their backs against a wall. From there, the monk struck out solo to find Bonski, deflecting his arrows and eventually cornering him before beating him to death. This fight depleted most of the cleric’s healing spells, which made the temple fight a lot harder. Badanistrax killed the party’s wizard before he went down.

The survivors exited via the goat path. I’m not sure about the path, it seems an awfully convenient way to say “see ya, dungeon” but the players were very relieved to not have to get back through areas 8 and 9. The ranger was a little upset that he didn’t find the goat path earlier when searching the plateau. The orcs were no challenge at all for the players, and the fight was awfully one-sided. Highlights include the monk throwing orc mooks down the mine shaft.

Overall, a very solid adventure. Usually when I run somebody else’s work, I edit the crap out of it. I ran this as-is besides the changes I mentioned, and it flowed really well. I like the layout of the material, it’s logically presented and easy to read. The sidebars were helpful, and I really like seeing the DCs for various actions called out without having to search through the text.

Lastly, here’s the remainder of the typos I found:
page 26 “you realises they are bones”, should be “realize”
page 26 “because of the evil all around this gave, is unknown but he has appointed himself”. The comma should come after unknown
page 27 “(In Undercommon, the Derro will say: You are not one of the chosen. You will not pass.) Not technically a typo but shouldn’t be in the read-aloud text
page 27 “some great magic must of been at work here”. Should be “must have”
page 27 “It almost seems like the a building” Strike “the”
page 27 “more like a gapping mouth” I think it should be “gaping”
page 28 “Badanistrax was so feint” “Faint”

Thanks for allowing us to playtest this! A great time was had by all.

Thank you Andrew for taking the time to play the adventure and give such useful feedback.