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Reviews - Jade Magi Sewer Crawl
 
by Greg Kessler


Jade Magi cover Jade Magi Sewer Crawl
By Christopher Colon
Published by MonkeyGod Enterprises

Here are the basics: Jade Magi Sewer Crawl is a seventy-page adventure for a combination of four to six characters of 4th to 7th level. The adventure's arriving in stores as we speak.

Making a great oriental adventure seems to be one of the most difficult tasks in all of game design (just ask TSR, they nearly went out of business and never could do it). Adventuring just seems easily suited to medieval Europe, even with all of the potential in the East. Beyond the seminal Bushido, I have seen few really impressive oriental scenarios or game systems. Jade Magi Sewer Crawl seeks to change that with a rip snorting good time of adventure. Set in a fictional Oriental village in the Dragon Empire (based loosely on China), Jade Magi is truly an old school crawl.

To start things out, a party of battle hardened adventurers' rolls into a town that has been beset by evil (the old plot lines work the best). Characters are pressed upon to deal with the aforementioned evil in a quick and efficient manner (though from experience we know that won't happen). As a result of this unknown evil, the sewer system has been turned into the Galapagos of cryptozoology (you think Darwin was surprised by a giant turtle? Try hand to hand combat with a giant cockroach), and the resulting beasts are beginning to feed on the gentle inhabitants of Blue Silk Village. Adventurers will discover that the sewer system is enormous and offers all kinds of perils.

Several plot points have been added that spice up the underground. Adventurers can expect to meet up with some long snoozing bad guys who will take exception to the party's prescence in the sewer. MonkeyGod has included a new hitch to the sewer crawl: the substance that invaded the sewer and gave rise to the giant creatures also works like airborne toxin that eats cloth, rusts armor and ruins weapons. For every four rounds the party spends underground, they run the risk of forfeiting their equipment to the sewer.

What makes this adventure a bit different from most sewer or dungeon crawls is the political intrigue aspect. This mission is not as easy as killing some monsters and collecting the gratitude of the town. There are political forces, of varying influence, that have control over rewards and information. Decisions that characters make when entering the town can have a profound influence over what kind of money they collect and whether or not they get rescued when the mission goes to hell.

One advantage of the no-frills plot line in Jade Magi is that this adventure can be easily slipped into any existing campaign. Even with the all the political machinations events flow seamlessly and lend themselves to adaptations. For all you GM scavengers out there, Jade Magi is just the right size and scope to offer a nice diversion from a long running scenario. Additionally, Monkeygod has provided GMs with a great town that they can use as a base. It would be easy to make Blue Silk Village a party's home base and send them on adventures to far away lands (it's always nice to have a home the characters can crash at).

For all the lip service that WotC has given to getting back to basics and dungeon crawls, this adventure from MonkeyGod really delivers. A majority of the recent WotC adventures have been badly conceived and full of plot holes, making for less than enjoyable reads and even more annoying gaming sessions. Jade Magi gives you a basic storyline with all kinds of opportunities to slay fell creatures and other fun stuff. This is what Dungeons & Dragons is supposed to be.

The best thing that I can say about this adventure is that it really has the feel and play of classic TSR and Judges Guild stuff (oddly enough the name reminded me of the Michael Stackpole Tunnels and Trolls solo dungeon, Sewers of Oblivion). Jade Magi will be a treat for any gaming group looking for some fun.


 

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