by Matthew Pook
Title: G1 - The Siege of Durgam's Folly
Publisher: Necromancer Games
Written by Mike Mearls
Illustrated by Brain LeBlanc
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