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Storage Vault of Alantes (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 3 ratings)

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Three-room dungeons are a great resource for GMs who are crunched for time or whose players have moved in a direction their carefully laid plans did not account for. In either case the dungeon is small enough to implement quickly, but has enough content to entertain the players with combat and plot.

This Storage Vault of Alantes is designed for 3 to 4 characters of 3rd to 4th level.

Littering the lands of Al-Nar are the buried vaults of the once powerful wizard Alantes Bin-Shir. These vaults are said to hold magical items of great importance; or in most cases, magical 'junk' that Alantes could not bring himself to part with. In his time, Alantes was considered to be very eccentric, even by other senile, potion-swilling wizards; alienists of much later times would refer to his 'eccentricity' as a compulsion brought on by an 'unfulfilled' childhood.

In any case, these vaults lay largely undisturbed due to Alantes’ crafty nature in devising locks and traps, as well as his poor memory regarding which vault he put what magical item in. In one particular vault lays a miracle fruit that is said to bring youth to the old, and health to the sick. This particular vault is home to numerous traps as well as many other dangers, waiting for hapless adventurers to arrive and fall prey to them.

Written by Ian C. Hagan with art by Richard Chaplin and Cartography by Justin Hernandez.

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 3 ratings)

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Cool sidetrek with minor hick-ups

****( )

This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial and 1 page SRD, leaving 7 pages of content, so let's check out this 3-room dungeon!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS, so potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? Ok! Alantes was a weird fellow, even for a wizard - supposedly mad and eccentric, the mage dabbled in biomancy and other strange pursuits and is rumored to have constructed several hidden storage vaults. This takes the PCs to one of them, in which a fabled golden apple, supposedly being able to restore one's youth, lies.

Konwledge DCs to get additional information on the fabled apple and some myths are included in the deal and, with a bit of foreshadowing, a DM can easily insert these prior to the adventure, making it more rewarding, as there are two "Press 3 buttons in the correct sequence"-puzzles/traps guarding the vault and separating 2 of its rooms. While a rogue could still disarm them the traditional way, solving the puzzle in the case of the second one is much more rewarding. Why the first of the 3-button-puzzle features no way for the PCs to find out the solution, I don't know. The inside of the vault is covered in elaborately-crafted high-reliefs and provides the first combat challenge, a gray ooze cleverly hidden in the scenery. The true climax of this short delve, though, is the new creature - The Golden Apple Guardian (CR 4). An utterly disturbing magical plant emitting hallucination-inducing pollen and featuring deadly spores comes with not only cool signature abilities (one is optional for evil DMs like yours truly!), but also with a beautiful b/w-artwork by Richard Chaplin, a weakness to exploit and an option to get the apple without killing the deadly plant. However, making the plant immobile is a downer - PCs will snipe it till it's dead. Several trapped boxes and full stats for the apple are also included for your convenience.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though something is a bit awkward with the read-aloud text in the module and I'm not sure whether that was intentional or not: The read-aloud text features sentences like "According to the information the party received...", which feels a bit odd and is not something I'd encourage, as it detracts from the otherwise very good writing of Ian C. Hagan. Layout adheres to HHG's 2-column standard and features a beautiful b/w-illustration as well as a nice piece of isometric, full-color cartography by Justin Hernandez. The pdf is fully bookmarked. I did like this little, very affordable adventure, which provides you with an awesome sidetrek for less than a buck. However, as mentioned, there are some minor blemishes that keep me from going all out on this one: First being the lack of options to pass the first puzzle and secondly, the inconsistent quality in the fluff-text. As written, this is still a very interesting sidetrek for a very fair price and thus I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.
Endzeitgeist out.


*****

The Storage Vault of Alantes from Headless Hydra Games, is a perfect one nighter, a way to handle your party turning left, when you spent all week planning for them to turn right. In short, it's a perfect fill in for those nights when your plans have fallen apart. But, to leave it there would be a disservice, as this small unassuming mini dungeon is in all reality quite capable of sparking a much larger, and more developed adventure.

Alantes, the dottering old wizard who's vault your players will be raiding was not known for his memory, and had a tendency to create forget where he put things, and by things, I mean everything. It is hinted that he has built a multitude of these micro dungeons and vaults, they simply have been forgotten to time. This particular one houses a golden apple rumored to have the power to heal, and return youth to those who eat it. A handful of options are given to entice your players, one being rather amusing and involving a stolen goat (OK, I thought is was funny).

I guess, I really should point out at this stage....THIS IS AN ADVENTURE!!! If you are a player looking for spoilers, I will be telling your GM on you...go on, I see you trying to hide behind the closet door....OUT.............ok, just us GM's here? Good, now continuing............

With 10 pages (3 given up to Cover, OGL and credits), this mini dungeon actually comes through with a solid little design. The 3 rooms is questionable though, as the first room is a well entrance and then the climb down. The cartography is fantastic, a full color iso map being a nice change of pace from the typical bird's eye view mapping. Filled with puzzle traps, this adventure lends itself more towards a thinking group in my opinion, and that's a good thing. Not everything should be solved by breaking down the door, although if your players are dead set on doing just that, the stats are given to allow them to.

With two monster encounters, one with a grey ooze, and the other with a new creature of a plantlike nature, a playgroup of 3rd - 4th level characters should be able to handle this adventure with little danger of death, unless of course they insist on not working through the puzzle traps with intelligence, lol.

As an extremely affordable mini-adventure this product excels, between the excellent cartography (yes, I am a sucker for maps), and the new creature (horrible name, cool critter) complete with illustration, I can see this entertaining a playgroup for a one off evening as it is written. I can also see a GM using this as a jumping point to further expand upon the storyline introduced here, and as such, this takes on the life of more than just an adventure, but possibly a hook as well. Giving this one a 5 star stamp of approval, as it more than succeeded in what it set out to accomplish.


A set piece as fun as it is interesting

****( )

I’ve always been on the proverbial fence about “set pieces” – small locations that are written apart from any greater context, allowing them to be dropped into a campaign as a sort of mini-adventure location. In some instances they’re a lot of fun; a quick little adventure that’s easy for the GM and fun for the players. That can be difficult to pull off, however, as they need to have enough context to make sense unto themselves but not so much that they feel too “heavy” to be dropped into an ongoing game. Likewise, they need to have enough of a challenge to be worthwhile, but not so much that they become a killer encounter.

Happily, as far as set pieces go, Headless Hydra Games’s Storage Vaults of Alantes is one of the better ones.

The book’s technical presentation is strong. Having only ten pages (really just over seven, given the cover, credits page, and OGL), you’d think the book wouldn’t be too concerned with how it’s put together – not so. Full nested bookmarks are here, a pleasant surprise, and copy and paste is enabled.

The book has borders along the top and bottom, along with alternating sides, of each page. There’s only a single interior illustration, a black and white image of the new monster found here. The preceding statement is notwithstanding the map, which was actually quite a treat, visually. Done in full color, it’s presented in an unusual, but not unpleasant, isometric style. I’m quite surprised by how well it makes this sort of map work – for a larger area, this perspective would quickly become cumbersome, but here it’s actually very nice to look at. I should also mention that it takes the details of the area descriptions into account; images described as being on the walls can be seen here, which only contribute to the map’s charm.

For a dungeon with only three rooms (more like two, in all honesty), there’s a surprising amount of flavor text here. There’s a background given for why this particular vault was constructed and why it holds the treasures it does. There’s also a motivation given for the PCs to go looking for it (although I found it slightly silly, as well as a bit too vague for my tastes – if the Sultan’s son has been cursed by a witch, why aren’t normal magical remedies working? Perhaps I’m over-thinking such a minor background detail, however), and a sidebar covers what the PCs know about this vault’s particular treasure. The sidebar struck me as slightly odd, as it segues into why the treasure is here in the first place – given that there’s nothing to lead the PCs to this being the treasure’s location in the first place (the scenario makes a lot more sense, I think, if it’s something you have the PCs just happen to stumble onto), this seems somewhat unnecessary.

For a location that has only three rooms – or, more specifically, one hidden entrance and two underground chambers – the more specificity each location has, the better. For the most part, this book does a good job of presenting a large number of details for each location, particularly as the two doors between the three rooms are each set with a puzzle-lock and trap combination.

It’s in regards to these traps where I felt that the book fell down the most. The issue isn’t that the traps are bad; quite the contrary, they’re quite good. The problem is that this is really the same trap, done twice. In the first case, there’s really no good way besides guessing to solve it, which strikes me as slightly unfair. The second iteration of the trap is somewhat less punishing, as there’s a clue given.

There were also some additional details that I felt could have been provided. For example, the last door notes its break DC, but what about simple hardness and hit points? There’s no description of light sources in the main underground chamber, so is it pitch black? A lot was done here to approach these challenges in multiple ways, but while it covered a lot of ground, it could have provided us with more.

My last complaint about the book is with the new monster found at the dungeon’s end. The author made the critical mistake of giving it a movement rate of 0 feet, something that insofar as I’m aware most plant monsters don’t have in the Pathfinder RPG – this is because it encourages the PCs to (once they realize the nature of the threat) back up and pepper it with ranged weapons and spells until it dies. It’s a critical flaw in an otherwise excellently-designed monster.

Of course, there are a few other surprises to be found in the vault, as it houses more than just one treasure. There’s also a suggestion for what to do if you want to have this be the first part of a larger series of adventures, but that, to paraphrase an old axiom, is a tale for another product…

Overall, I thought that this was a very well-done set piece. It had its flaws, both in design (a knock spell can bypass a significant portion of the challenges here) and in presentation (the same trap twice), but it hits far more often than it misses. The traps are designed to be more than just stat blocks, and the manner of overcoming them requires intuitive thinking by the players, and not just their PCs. Likewise, the creature encounters look like a lot of fun (just give the last monster a movement rate), and nicely counterbalance the use of traps. And of course, the treasure at the end makes it all worthwhile. Whether you want to start a new chapter in your campaign, or just want to take a side trek for an evening, you’ll have fun looting the Storage Vault of Alantes.





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