Hidden in the remote southern range of the World’s Edge Mountains lies a mysterious necropolis known in legend as the Tomb of the Iron Medusa. When the last heir of the dungeon’s long-dead noble builders hires the PCs to explore the forlorn and deadly site in search of evidence that may clear his family name, the intrepid heroes soon find themselves in over their heads. For the Tomb of the Iron Medusa does not give up its secrets lightly, and the dangerous truths that lie within its ancient, trap-laden crypts may have been hidden for very good reasons indeed.
Written by fan-favorite author Mike Shel, Tomb of the Iron Medusa features an expansive necropolis of crypts and tombs, all guarded by devious traps, strange puzzles, fiendish monsters, bizarre creatures, and the undead remnants of a once-powerful aristocracy.
Tomb of the Iron Medusa is an adventure for 14th-level characters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest RPG. In addition to the adventure, this volume also features a brand-new monster and a fully detailed borderland inn that can serve as a place to begin the adventure, or as a roadside tavern in any fantasy world.
Written by Mike Shel
Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes new monsters, treasure, and a fully detailed bonus location that can be used as part of the adventure or in any other game!
There's an old adage that goes "what's old is new" and Tomb of the Iron Medusa fits that like a glove. I'll be honest: I'm an old-school gamer and a sucker for dungeon crawls, but having played them so many times for so many years has made me somewhat fickle. There are many dungeon crawls out there, both good and bad, but only a few that are truly great. Unless its great, I usually wont GM it. See what I mean? Fickle.
Mike Shel's Tomb of the Iron Medusa is a great dungeon crawl. It takes an old-fashioned setting (a trap-laden tomb) and makes it fresh,exciting, and fun again. It breathes a lot of new life into old ideas without relying on convoluted plots, mandatory events/encounters or tons of filler. Mike Shel is an excellent writer who keeps it simple. Unlike some writers that try to shoehorn too much story/adventure around the game mechanics, he lets game crunch work around his ideas and his writing style has a certain sophistication that is rarely seen, making the adventure both more believable and immersive.
The backstory, which involves a disgraced aristocratic family under a curse,is intriguing and sets the stage for the PCs to investigate the tomb. As the party progresses, they will have to deal with an assortment of challenging puzzles, traps, and monsters while unraveling important pieces of story that could affect an entire kingdom (which can easily be placed in any fantasy game world.) Some of the monster encounters are quite tough, but not overly so. Personally, I prefer a module where certain encounters are a little tougher, rather than easier, on a high level party. Also, while the tomb itself is self-contained, there are various ways to explore it so the PCs are not necessarily on a set linear path. Indeed, they may even encounter the "final boss" near the beginning - depending where they go. As the party continues, more of the story behind the fate of the cursed family is weaved into the adventure and the transitions between narrative and active playing are seamless. Some may balk at some of the story moments, but I thought they were really well done. More importantly, the story is kept interesting from start to finish and ultimately gives the players the freedom to decide their destiny, which is always a sign of good adventure design.
The module presentation is good, but not great. Compared to other adventures of the Pathfinder Module line its about the same, although the artwork has improved lately. I thought the illustrations really helped capture the mood and atmoshere of the adventure. The maps are nicely done too, clear and easy to read - nothing too complicated.
Whether run as a quick dungeon crawl or fitted into a much larger campaign, Tomb of the Iron Medusa is an excellent adventure. Its great to see Mike Shel back and I look forward to more from him in the future.
The title says it all. This adventure has a lot of background and the players should be exposed to it relatively easily. There is a lot of work done to set-up the why and how of the place, everything fits and makes sense when one looks at it.
The encounters could indeed be pretty tough, but with all the various barriers, keys and other teleporting devices, it seems natural to move one room at the time, without falling prey to boring dungeon mechanics. Despite being a tomb complex, i.e. predictable ghosts and undead, the place has a lot of history and the adventure flow rewards inquisitive players.
I especially liked the notes at the beginning that allow the GM to change the motivation for the players to go and visit the place, so as to adapt to a particular party. I like Taldor and the author has done a great job crafting a story befitting this region of Golarion, the greatness of an old Taldor family, its fall from grace and amazingly a potentially setting shattering revelation!
Great art and pretty decent maps, well written, great design, interesting story, all in all, an excellent standalone adventure that brings a welcome change to the run of “pretty decent but not that great” adventures of late.
As Gm this module is very well organized... The monsters are a decent strength when you are running in to them one at a time. I can see it getting really bad with a time crunch of if they are resting and decide to stay the night and someone comes back, it can get really hairy... I will not spoil it for you...
If you use the Haunt Mechanics out of the GM guide you can add some real horror factor to this module. It is far from a hack and slash and forces the characters to play a their character to the fullest.
I definitely recommend this to anyone running the Carrion Crown Adventuring Path.
I'm usually not a big fan of standalone modules. I kind of hate them, to be honest. They try to introduce the story as if it were a novel, or are set in beautiful and distant locations my campaign will never go to. TotIM doesn't really fall into that trap-- because, well, TotIM feels like it was written to be included a campaign. The adventure is in the tomb, not outside of it, and it's easily editable and insertable into almost any game with just minor tweaks.
The encounters in the book are all very well varied. What similar creatures the PCs encounter have their own interesting points and aren't at all duplicates. The art is good looking, and the cartography is amazingly detailed and just nice to look at. I recognized Jared Blando's cartography work from the Haunting of Harrowstone immediately, and can recommend that if you're a map fan, his maps are very good looking.
As for story, I'd say that the story in the module is fairly well encapsulated and open to improvisation, which is a good thing. Take it or leave it, it only takes up about six pages total in the entire book. The module contains a constant theme of problem solving and puzzle situations that starts from area A all the way to the last page. None of the puzzles are "beyond" the PCs or require them to know obscure facts, which is a big plus. The rooms and locations are just as interesting as some of the encounters, and a lot of detail went into minutiae in the module, which added a fantastic amount of flavor.
Things of concern: The treasure in the module is far and beyond what a normal 14th level party would be able to find. I'm glad that, for once, a module writer wasn't afraid to give the world to the PCs, but some GMs may have an issue with a character obtaining a 75,000gp magic item. My other concern is that the climax of the module is heavily reliant on a "cutscene" mechanic I wasn't too pleased with, but recognized the necessity of it as a storytelling tool.
This module is very solid. I'm impressed. I think this module will fit very nicely into Carrion Crown.
As a MapTool GM, I've subscribed to Pathfinder Modules primarily for digital assets (maps, art) I can use in my own campaigns. I've read Tomb of the Iron Medusa, but I don't intend to run it as-is. I've broken my review down into sections that I hope will be more informative, but my overall rating is not an average of the section ratings.
Tomb of the Iron Medusa has a compelling story about a noble line cursed by its diabolism. Many elements are reminiscent of Poe or Lovecraft. The scene-setting text and dialog are both well written and I will be using them (mostly) without modification, which is quite rare in my experience.
The module does resort to "cut scenes" near the end, which is ordinarily an automatic demerit. In this case though, they are compelling scenes and well written enough that I would actually use them as-is, but only if the PCs had an active interest in the background of that noble family; for example, if it had been set up earlier in the campaign, or had obvious later consequences.
As a module for 14th level PCs, it may need more heroic plot hooks — a simple proposition by a merchant prince with a hidden agenda is offered, but 14th level characters are likely to be nonchalant about such errands. Luckily, matters of national importance are simmering beneath the lid, so it shouldn't take a GM much effort to hook the PCs if they've had any exposure to royalty during the campaign.
The actual flow of the adventure feels very much like a video-game level, and that's not entirely a bad thing. Many of the obstacles will require key retrieval, sometimes involving a search for objects from far-flung rooms. This is an alright device to use once in a while, but I worry that my players would become sarcastic about it before the end.
As a module for 14th level PCs, perhaps there should have been more discussion of how mid-to-high level spells will interact with the adventure design. I understand that page-count limits such discussions, but the module reads like a great lower-level adventure with big numbers, it doesn't quite account for higher level divinations and encounter-bypassing spells. There is no soft timer built into the plot, which I consider a requirement for parties with high level casters; I would need to add one myself.
The interior character art is not mind-blowing (to me), but far from unprofessional. Many of the pieces are re-usable too, which is of value to me as a MapTool GM.
Spoilered by Request:
The smug noble headshot, undead noble lady, ghost pirate, and demi-serpent medusa
illustrations I shall mirthfully place into my Resource Library for later reuse.
Maps 3/5 (quality 4/5, VTT utility 2/5)
Jared Blando's style always leaves me with mixed opinions. I love the intricate designs that grace his maps, although I feel the nordic runes he uses are not always a great fit for the subject matter. The maps are clear and accurate, but they are also highly schematic. That may be an asset to some GMs, but I am subscribed to Pathfinder Modules so that I get a constant influx of detailed of full-color maps. As such, I prefer Rob Lazarretti's illustrative map style, although I am positive that I can put these maps to work in a VTT with a little added effort. Evocative elements like the over-turned carriage are a must for my MapTool needs.
Overall, a good module, I'm very glad to own it. I'll definitely be putting some of the digital assets to work as well.