Grave Undertakings: The Tomb of Caragthax the Reaver (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Add to Cart
In this old school dungeon crawl, the characters stumble upon the forgotten cairn of a long dead butcher of ages past. Caragthax’s malignance in life has not kept him well in death, and both he and his former companions hungrily await retribution against those who try discovering the secrets sealed away in his tomb and for those who foolishly disturb his millennia of rest.
True to form, TPK Games delivers a unique and fun challenge that your players will not soon forget. As one of the favorite convention games we have run, our fans demanded this to be released.
You asked for it—your players can blame us.
TPK Games presents the Grave Undertakings product line, a series of short adventures that are designed to test your player’s abilities and provide an exciting challenge for players of all calibers. Grave Undertakings are small adventures that can easily be inserted as exciting and memorable additions to any game. The events and encounters are scaled for the GM so they can accommodate a variety of player levels to this adventure instead of only one.
Included in the adventure are 3 sets of stat blocks for challenges within a range of levels, full color cartography, unique TPK Games open content, treasure and other unique rewards! In addition, the adventures are intended to be simple for a GM to run, with plot hooks to easily insert your players into the action. In addition, all of the rules are hyperlinked to the d20pfsrd.com website for ease of reference. A printer-friendly black and white version is also bundled for those that wish to print out the adventure.
Don’t let your players rest in peace, put them on the defensive with a Grave Undertaking today!
In short, the Tomb of Caragthax the Reaver provides an interesting, if short, adventure, easy to insert into almost any campaign.
The adventure has three different plot hooks that allow it to be put into almost any campaign. The first one, which to me feels the most natural and the way the adventure is geared toward using, offers all a good adventuring party needs: a poor, lost girl, a town in need, and a gold reward. The other two allow the adventure to be slipped in between two destinations in the main campaign. No matter the hook, the PCs end up at a cairn, complete with descriptions, checks and their DCs and information, and even a couple of simple maps for the DM to envision for any other description needed.
The trapped entrance is great and creative, and the crypt thing waiting at the bottom to split the party is a well-thought out ambush. The tactics and play-by-play sections lay out exactly what the enemies will do given a number of circumstances, including if any of the players resist the Teleportation Burst.
The little girl provides a surprising, if dark, twist. Players used to rushing in to aid the weak and the poor may find that this little girl is no longer weak, nor on their side.
The last few pages at the end contain stat blocks for all the monsters in the encounter, conveniently scaled for three encounter levels (3-4, 5, and 6-7) so DMs can easily change the difficulty level of the encounters with ease depending on the party. In addition, just about anything a DM would need to look up is linked to d20pfsrd, making it easy for DMs who use computers to instantly have the information at the ready instead of having to hunt through various books for the information.
All in all, the Tomb of Caragthax is solidly-written, easy to prepare, and fun to run, both for the DM and for players.
TPK Games has created a supply for an interesting need many GM’s have to face: drag and drop game supplements. Without getting into any spoilers, allow me to go a little more in-depth into what this adventure has to offer:
-Clean, well, edited, nicely laid-out adventure booklet of twenty pages, including illustrations, maps, and a new magic item property!
-A well-presented sliding-scale challenge system for the core mechanics around the encounters within the adventure
-A self-contained monstrous ecosphere which can easily be worked into any existing campaign setting or string of adventures.
-A couple of adventure hooks (which add a good deal of flavor in resolution)
The challenge level is appropriate, and there is even some unique monster ability finagling. I would highly recommend this module to GM’s looking to populate an area in their campaign world with a nifty encounter, and, possibly, build up on some of the baseline info in the module to create extra flavor in your campaign. Additionally, a GM looking to fill a gaming slot evening quickly with something that is not boring boilerplate, and not some random-generation encounter could do well with this module. I’d say twenty minutes prep to read and familiarize, and maybe ten minutes to put your “custom finish” on it.
I could very easily see this module used as a directional placekeeper in a campaign that has just broken thread - ancient crypts are great for that, and this one offers some characters/situations that could be built up on with very little work - one of the _benefits_ is that the framework is there for you to flesh out, without the need to rewrite everything to fit your world.
Good value for the price, and good game for the value. I would have loved to see some more plot hooks, and perhaps a couple more traps in the mix, but, overall, quite satisfying!
This first adventure module by TPK Games, this pdf is 20 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 16 pages of content for this adventure.
This being an adventure review, it contains
Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.
Still here? All right!
Grave Undertakings are designed to be hard and this one clocks in at 3 tombstones, so expect a challenge here - The PCs get recruited by a town to find a missing girl, stumble across the adventure etc. - 3 adventure hooks are provided and they all have in common that, via some way or another, they'll lead to PCs to the entrance of a burial cairn. A mini-map is provided for the top of the cairn, which makes for a nice service. The cairn is unfortunately the final resting place of Caragthax, a vile warlord who had his treacherous lieutenants buried alive alongside himself.
The cairn is a deathtrap indeed - the stairs down are greased and once the PCs arrive in a heap, a special crypt thing with faster teleportation abilities than usual will try to split the party: The cairn is round and the tombs of the 7 buried lieutenants are aligned in a concentric ring around the central hall. Each of the minor tombs features a locked stone door as well as a ghoulish inhabitant who wants to eat the now separated PCs - one of the tombs includes the now undead girl instead of the original ghoul, if you're using that angle and are in for some dark twist, that is. After hopefully defeating their foes/escaping to the central room (arcanists will be especially hard-pressed to survive in close quarters against the ghouls), they'll have to face off against the tricky crypt thing, now supported by the remaining ghouls and, after defeating the undead, the rising Caragthax. Once the undead reaver has found final death at their hands, the PCs have completed this grave undertaking. The cairn gets a nice one-page map.
It should be noted that 6 pages of stats are provided, two each devoted to an array of foes - CR 4, 5 and 6 are covered, offering diverse challenges and taking the annoying work of adjusting stats off your hand - nice! It's great to see 3 variations of the ghouls, the crypt thing and Cragathax, but on the other hand, this service costs some space. The pdf also includes 3 house rule suggestions as well as a new magic item quality to protect the undead against channel-bombs. Information on treasure for the individual encounters as well as XP is also provided.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to the mostly b/w, red-accented 2-column standard we already know from TPK games. The cover artwork is awesome and the interior art is nice as well. Additionally, the pdf comes with an extra 18-page printer-friendly b/w-version. If you choose to run the scenario via laptop, you have another advantage - in the tradition of TPK games, each and every skill, qualities, types, templates applied etc. - every rules component beyond the absolute basics is hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.
Mechanically, there is nothing wrong with this adventure - its stats are as far I could tell, rock-solid and the respective builds and set-up are well-conceived and deadly - this is not a scenario for the faint of heart. Additionally, the presentation is professional. However, I do have a gripe with this grave undertaking, namely that its origin as a convention scenario is readily apparent - apart from a plot hook that can be at best considered a flimsy pretense, this is a hack-fest. Which in itself would not be bad.
What is problematic, though, is that this whole adventure is essentially one drawn-out encounter with 3 phases - one-on-one encounter, showdown with foes and rejoined party, then the boss. That's it. The sub-areas of the cairn get no boxed text or individual flavor and although it is mentioned that Caragthax had his lieutenants buried in opulence, not much is left or detailed in the adventure. In fact, we get no individual information for the sub-cairns. This simply is not an adventure, but rather an encounter - a well-written one with some skill-checks leading up to it, but there is no plot to speak of. No development in the dungeon. No exploration. Just one single non-combat hazard, a trap. That's it. For 5 bucks, that's simply not enough. Seeing that Frog God Games has longer ADVENTURES for the same price, as does Raging Swan, and that the price of Pathfinder Society Scenarios is lower, we have a problem here:
The average PF-society scenario is longer, has more story and features more encounters. Granted, presentation, mechanics, etc. are all at the top of the game, but in the end Caragthax at best offers you one till half a session of fun (my PCs would complete this in 2 hours) bashing in the faces of undead in a cairn until either they or your PCs have bit the dust. I really like the premise of the Grave Undertakings-line. I like the artwork. I like the hyperlinks, rock solid mechanics etc.
But content-wise, this simply is not enough. For 2 or 3 bucks, I'd give this one a 3.5 or 4 star-rating, but for 5 bucks this is overpriced and offers not enough content. UNLESS you are specifically looking for a plug and play convention scenario or a single hard encounter. If you're looking for the latter, this might be 4 stars. For everyone else, though, the sojourn into Caragthax's abode will fall short of their expectations and its own potential. My final verdict will be 2 stars, as it does not deserve the punishment of a one-star rating.
Grave Undertakings: The Tomb of Caragthax The Reaver by TPK Games is a 20 page plug and play adventure. This series of modules starting with this one is TPK's way of providing a DM with a single small location equipped with a Big Bad Evil Guy and appropriate detail to help a DM who might need a quick adventure to fill in for a night.
We have a glorious front page artwork detailing the BBEG himself Caragthax who was trapped in his own tomb after trapping all his "loyal" henchmen with him. Following the usual details and generous plothooks to help motivate the players into why they should or could want to go in there (take a hint they don't) we get our small 9 room dungeon with scalable monsters and tactics on how to use them. TPK not only gives you a way to use this for higher or lower PCs but you get all the stats predone for you. Less work that I as a DM have to do the better. All the feats, abilities, spells, magic items have links to D20PFSRD so you don't have to hunt down what those items mean, it's all there for you only a click away.
In the Extras section we have one of my new favorite house rules: Natural Ones give Attacks of Opportunity and 20s=Auto Crit. I've used these exclusively over the course of a few games and they work out rather well and speed up lengthy combat. Does it make combat more "swingy"? Sure, but once you read the reasoning for it, yes it makes sense.
Overall this is a solid drop in adventure with good thought out monsters, generous and smart monster tactics, and a clean layout. The two things I did not like were the outdoor maps as they were rather generic and the multitude of fonts which caused my eyes to roam back over and reread subsections again.