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Reviews - Siege of Durgam's Folly
 
by Matthew Pook


Siege of Durgam's Folly cover Title: G1 - The Siege of Durgam's Folly
Publisher: Necromancer Games
Written by Mike Mearls
Illustrated by Brain LeBlanc
Price: $9.95

There are two things that strike you first about G1: The Siege of Durgam's Folly, a d20 System adventure from Necromancer Games. The first is the price -- which is not to say that $9.95 is necessarily a bad price. Yet when you consider that this is for thirty-two pages, and comes soon after the release of Necromancer's M1: Prisoners of the Maze by Robert Kuntz, which was forty-eight pages long and only a single dollar more in price, you have to wonder about the company's pricing policy. The second thing that you notice is the plot of this adventure, which is designed for a party of four to six characters of fifth to eighth level each:

Contact has been lost with a frontier outpost where one of our most important scientists has been conducting research into a new means of defence involving computer science and robotics. Your squad of colonial marines have been assigned to investigate and evaluate the situation before making a report back
Hold on, this is a d20 System D&D adventure, which means that I have got the completely wrong genre, haven't I? Well, yes and no. This is a D&D d20 adventure, but the plot outline is not a million miles off target.

Let the spoilers commence!
The characters have been hired (or assigned, depending on the character) to help guard a caravan ferrying important materials to the famous frontier fort of Durgam's Folly. There, the noted wizard and artificer Theodocious has been working to create a better and cheaper means of defending the frontier. Yet as the caravan draws closer to its destination, it becomes clear that not all is as it should be. First the party discovers an empty village that shows signs of violent attack, and then the caravan is attacked by a hungry Roc, while strange mechanical beasts lurk in the forest's edge. All this takes place in the adventure's first of three acts.

The truth is that the wizard has devised a new means of defence - a mechanical means. He has created not a handful of golems, but a potential army of clockwork-powered mini-golems that are not only easier to construct, but also to maintain and control. Unfortunately -- and there just had to be an unfortunately -- the clockwork brain that Theodocious has constructed to control the new golems has been infected by an ancient evil. Now it is working to its own ends, rather than obeying its maker.

Most recently, the clockwork brain has recruited a band of ogres, led by an Ogre Magi. It was they that carried out the physical takeover of the fort and attacked the village that the party finds empty. With this large ogre band inside the fortress and the range of clockwork-driven constructs that the brain has built, The Siege of Durgam's Folly is a tough adventure, especially for lower level characters. A direct assault is bound to get even the higher level characters into difficulty, so the best method of resolving the situation becomes stealth -- detailed in the second act. Entering the dungeon below the fort, where Theodocious has his workshop, is detailed in the third and final act. The clockwork brain and all of its constructs are themselves described and given full statistics in the adventure's appendix.

The production values for Durgam's Folly have certainly been improved in terms of the maps. Not only do they come with a key explaining the symbols used, but they are far more clearly drawn than in many of the releases from Necromancer Games of late. Brain LeBlanc provides both the external and internal art. His depiction of the ogre band and its blue Ogre Magi leader on the front cover makes me wonder why he is not allowed to do more covers. His internal illustrations are even better; done in very dark tones, they really capture the horrific nature of some of the encounters to be found in this adventure. It's a pity that the mechanics in the d20 System are not up to conveying this horror.

In terms of typography and layout, the adventure is not quite perfect. In particular, it does look rather odd if the header for a room description is found right at the bottom of one page and the actual room description is found on the page over. It looks even more absurd if there is plenty of space at the end of the chapter to move the header onto the next page!

The feel of this adventure does break from Necromancer Games' company motto of "Third Edition Rules, First Edition Feel." Certainly the tone here is one that is rather dark, and left me wondering if this should have been written with White Wolf's licenced Ravenloft setting in mind instead. Alternatively, the dark and gritty feel of this adventure, plus the mechanistic nature of its main opponents, mean that it could be run in the Iron Kingdoms setting published by Privateer Press. That said, if the party does not put an end to the clockwork brain and its minions, then there is potential for it to become an entertaining long term threat that a referee can add to their game.

The author would like to thank Roj at Wayland's Forge for his assistance


 

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