All Stars Take On the Mega Dungeon (PFRPG) PDF

3.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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Four amazing authors, four fantastic adventures!

Four of the RPG Industry's brightest stars have each written an adventure compatible with the Gaming Paper Adventures: Mega Dungeon 1.

  • Ed Greenwood's “Lost Coins and Flying Bones”: Many years ago a group of merchant traders met a very sticky end. Rumor have circulated for decades about the wealth and magic held within the traders' storage cellars below the city. You have learned the location of the only entrance to those cellars. What does it contain? Goods, wealth, magic? Will you live long enough to find out? An adventure for a 5th to 6th level party.
  • Monte Cook's “Temple of the Half-Born”: Asked for help by a strange old man, you travel underneath a massive cemetery to investigate and root out the evil that lurks below. Delve deep into the temple to meet demons, hybrid ghouls, cadaverous projects gone wrong, and the mastermind behind it all. This is an adventure for 7th or 8th level characters.
  • Steven Schend's “Keep Away From the Borderlands!”: It has been two nights since Corith's Watch, a holy night that occurs only once every 120 years. The full moon glowed blue and strange things happened. People have disappeared. Blue fires rage across the wilderness. Some people have not been heard from since that night, including the guards at the local watch post. You have been hired to investigate what happened at the keep! A first level adventure.
  • Brian Cortijo's “Arena of Souls”: You've been abducted! Fight your way through the arena and find a way to escape. Beware! You start out weaponless and imprisoned. The tiefling priest warden is more than he seems; he is providing entertainment for perverse locals and the arena has an even more sinister purpose. Time for a jailbreak! An adventure for 3rd or 4th level characters.

All Stars take on the Mega Dungeon is a collection of four adventures by Ed Greenwood, Monte Cook, Steven Schend, and Brian Cortijo with stunning artwork by Joel Biske and Dan Houser. This adventure is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Gaming Paper Adventures: Mega-Dungeon 1.

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3.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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Good Idea, Bad Execution

2/5

When i first heard of this, i was excited, and waited quite a while to get a copy, and sadly it turned out to be not worth the wait.

I really like the Adventures Map from Gaming Paper, and i really love the idea of them putting out full maps to go along with adventures, so i really really wanted to like this one ... but the adventures are just plain bad.

The first one i think from my point of view has to do with the main boss. To avoid spoilers i wont name the main boss, but i just dont find that type of creature interesting. Now i know I could easily replace it with any other creature with very little change in the adventure, but the adventure itself was a bit boring.

The second and third adventures both had one annoying problem ... the rooms on the map are not numbered, they just correspond with the map location numbers and not the actual adventure room numbers, so that makes for a lot of annoying page flipping when they refer to one room number, then you have to find that room number to see what map location it is and then flip back to the map page to see which it was.

That said, the second adventure would be unplayable in most groups as is. Most groups i have played or GM'd would not be obedient arena fighters and the adventure just does not account for that.

The third adventure would be ok, if not for the descriptions... quoted directly from source, and no spoilers "southernmost ten-foot-stretch of the east wall of the easternmost north-side" ... Too much talk like that, which could easily be solved by having it placed as an icon on the map. Also this adventure has a main boss that is way overpowered for the adventure and it never explains why. If the PC's are the level they are supposed to be, they stand no chance against a creature of that CR. More than double the PC's level is a bit much to tackle.

The last adventure was just not interesting to me. It eludes to a new campaign setting, and not knowing what they are referring to a lot of the time is a bit annoying.


Good anthology, but I'd take Citadel of Pain over this any day

4/5

This adventure compilation for Gaming Paper's Mega Dungeon map pack is 62 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 55 pages of content.

This anthology provides for takes on the mega-dungeon, i.e. for configurations of the some of the components of the map pack. It should be noted that each configuration results in a small dungeon and that they cannot be pieced together to create a huge dungeon - essentially, the 4 dungeons are completely separate from each other. If you're on the fence about the map-pack, you should know that while the pack facilitates running these adventures, it's not a requirement. That being out of the way, we'll delve into the adventures and this, being an adventure review, from here on contains
SPOILERS.

Potential players might want to skip to the conclusion.
...
Still here? All right!

Monte Cook is the first with his dreadful Temple of the Half-Born, which some of you might remember from Ptolus -this is no reprint, though, but a completely original take on the concept introduced - essentially, the dungeon is populated by several deadly half-formed fleshy, cadaverous abominations under the control of a dread fleshformer who makes for a surprisingly hard foe - the creature turns out to belong to a race of humanoid outsiders, who are rather hard to kill... I'm not one of the Monte Cook fanboys. I really like some of his designs, but I also own books that I did not enjoy. This short adventure, though, captures what is great about his writing when it works - one of his excellent works and even better when you have a Ptolus tie-in. Level 7-8 characters wil definitely remember their sojourn into the temple...

The next all-star would then be Brian Cortijo, who abducts us (quite literally!) to the Arena of Souls - a subterranean arena where individuals have to fight for their lives for the amusement of depraved individuals of all species. While the premise of the adventure is cool, it uses a mechanic that not all groups will be comfortable with - namely the fact that the lvl 3-4 PCs are abducted and stripped of their gear to fight in the arena. The battles in the arena are another potential problem that remains unresolved - I know for example that my players would flat-out refuse to fight for the depraved audience of the arena, even if it meant their death. The possibility of the PCs attacking with the audience is also not covered. The escape attempt and subsequent defeat of their captors (with a rather climatic final fight) rocks, but the limitations and possible loopholes in the plot that accompany this kind of scenario makes it a tad bit more problematic than it necessarily has to be.

Ed Greenwood is next up and has a rather interesting scenario - a once great smuggler/merchant guild has fallen some years ago, and while the guild is gone, several of their huge assets remain to be found. Against the backdrop of cool smuggling tactics (alone how the gold is concealed is pure genius), the lvl 5-6 PCs finally find the secret complex which harbored the guild's treasure. This makes the adventure rather high on the treasure's side, but also means that the PCs will be hard-pressed indeed to battle their way through the complex: The new inhabitants belong to the most disturbing variety and act and fight SMART. Really smart. Environment stacked against the PCs, intelligent adversaries, smart spell-selection. I can see this complex become the tomb of more than one group of hapless (or greedy!) adventurers. Combine that with frightening scare-tactics and the fact that the PCs have no easy way out of the complex and you're in for a deadly, claustrophobic, well-written adventure. My favorite of the bunch, to be honest.

The final take on the mega-dungeon by Steven Schend is entitled "Keep away from the Borderlands" as a nice nod for all the grognards out there and centers on a border keep (Captain obvious is obvious today.) that has failed to respond to inquiries for some days. The adventure is unique in that is uses the maps of the map-pack not to provide the framework for a subterranean complex, but rather for aforementioned keep. The adventure is intended for 1st-level characters and starts off by the PCs witnessing a suicide by one of the guards who jumps to his death. Blue fires have haunted the keep ever since a holy day has passed and the PCs are up for a mystery: Some of the soldiers have raped silent temple maidens and subsequently got punished by a dread curse that was brought upon the keep as divine punishment by a splinter sect of the moon god. The fact that a relative of a local lord is involved with the crimes (and the lycanthropy-inducing curse) further complicates things, as does the (largely obliterated) strike squad that was supposed to get him out.
The now-cursed fortress hence includes the remains of the guards (some of which now lycanthropes), undead, some of the religious knights hell-bent on retribution and the remains of the strike-team. The adventure is interesting due to the coverage of the consequences the survival of individual NPCs have as well as due to the plethora of conflicting agendas - unfortunately to the point where the respective plot-lines get a bit muddy: The players will have a hard time figuring out just what the hell is going on in the fortress. The adventure also presumes a certain political landscape (and a belief) that makes the adventure feel rather setting-specific - while this works in favor of the adventure with regards to flavor, it can also be considered detrimental with regards to the plug-and-play potential of the adventure. When all's said and done, the final installment of the All-star compilation felt as if it was intended for a longer module and had some parts cut that would have made the adventure truly outstanding. As written, it requires some work on part of the DM as the nature of a dungeon map used to represent a keep makes close-reading the individual entries a requirement, as there seem to be some minor discrepancies.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I only noticed 2 minor formatting glitches (words in italics, for example). Layout adheres to a clear b/w-two-column standard and the pdf features extensive bookmarks. The b/w-artwork is nothing to write home about, unfortunately. It should also be noted, that due to space-concerns, only the bare minimum of statblock-information is printed herein, but that is not a reason to detract from the final score. What does fracture into my final score, though, are the problems I encountered with the second and fourth adventure: While both are good adventures, the second involves two angles some groups will have problems with, namely being captured and fighting for an evil audience. The fourth, while making for an interesting mystery-scenario, somewhat felt a bit shoehorned to me in that it felt more like a campaign-setting specific adventure that has been cut down to fit into the available space. That being said, even with these gripes, the first and third adventure alone are worth the low asking price and the 2 adventures I had problems with still remain good adventures, though they are not exactly stellar. With the epic Citadel of Pain, one of my most favorite adventures of this year, this adventure-anthology has rather big foot-steps to step into and while the scenarios herein are excellent to good in quality, the whole anthology feels like it falls just short of being stellar. For the low price, you should check out the 4 adventures, especially if you already own the AWESOME Citadel of Pain. My final verdict will be a good 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


3.5 star review, well written but 2 need a little work

4/5

Mega Dungeon All Star by Gaming Paper

This product is 62 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, OGL, and ToC. (4 pages)

Temple of the Half-Born 7-8th level by Monte Cook (14 pages)
This is a old temple found under a secret entrance in a old crypt. So it could be placed in any location including within a city if one wanted too. It has a full page map. There is 16 encounters in this dungeon some are environmental, some traps and most monsters, plus a puzzle.

Arena of Souls 3-4th level by Brian Cortijo (12 pages)
The PC's are captured and looked up with in the arena. They are forced to fight in the arena for sport. Eventually they can make their escape their cell and then have to fight there way clear of the dungeon to freedom or just kill everything in it. There is 19 encounters including all the arena fights, traps, and encounters to fight their way to freedom.

Lost Coins and Flying Bones 5-6th level by Ed Greenwood (14 pages)
The PC's either hear of rumors of old labyrinths under the city that use to belong to a old merchant guild and decided to explore or they get hired to do so. There is 9 encounters with a large number of traps, some encounters have both monsters and traps. Rogues should have a real chance to shine in this adventure.

Keep Away from the Borderlands 1-2nd level by Steven Schend (15 pages)
Here the PC's are hired to go to a old keep and investigate it. There is 14 encounters with in the keep. The keep is built into the side of a mountain. The map could have been a bit more clear, it is hard to tell on the map at times what is closed off walls with out reading the location description and part of the map of the upper floor is slightly offset where the halls don't line up perfectly along quarterly cuts. There is some nice generic fluff details at the beginning you can either assign to places in the adventure or just roll randomly a totally of two groups of 8.

It ends with a ads and back cover. (3 pages)

Closing thoughts. The artwork is black and white and ranges from fair to ok. I didn't notice any obvious editing errors. Layout was pretty good. All four of the adventures are pretty well written. The first one is a nice set up with a nice mix of encounters. The second one is interesting but suffers from the problems of it requires the PC's to be captured and stripped of gear first before the adventure begins and not all groups like those kinds of adventures. The third one is pretty trap heavy with a nice little back story. The forth one is well done with some nice event encounters, but the map needed work on that one. Looks like the map was done by the same person for all 4 but the last one just isn't as well done as the first three. Perhaps because it is the only one that is not completely a underground dungeon.

I find this one very hard to rate, the 1st and 3rd adventures are pretty good, the 2nd one is well done but not sure how likely I am to use it. Perhaps if my PC's ever get captured I will have them end up there, but that would likely mean scaling it for what ever level they are. The 4th one I just had issues with the map that I would be half tempted to just use another map and move the encounters over so it is more clear. So they are all well written but two would take some work for me to use personally. I am going to give it a 3.5 star, I was tempted to go 4 and if the map was made more clear or redone for the 4th adventure I would raise my rating to a 4.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.



I am excited to announce that Monte Cook (one of the contributors to this collection of adventures) was interviewed by MTV! Yep, that MTV. Monte is hanging out with the cool kids. Well, he mentioned All Stars Take on the Mega Dungeon! Thanks Monte and congratulations.

Check it out:

http://geek-news.mtv.com/2011/09/06/dragoncon-2011-spotlight-on-rpg-legend- monte-cook/

Thanks
Erik Bauer


A link to a video all about "All Stars Take on the Mega Dungeon". Enjoy! http://youtu.be/Vx9f75I8hnk


Does this adventure pack require the Mega Dungeon product? And is Monte's adventure, by chance, set in Ptolus? (It sounds like it's set beneath the city's necropolis.)


Whizbang Dustyboots wrote:
Does this adventure pack require the Mega Dungeon product? And is Monte's adventure, by chance, set in Ptolus? (It sounds like it's set beneath the city's necropolis.)

It does not require the Map Pack. Although I recommend it for added coolness, of course.

Monte's adventure is, in fact, set in Ptolus.

Thanks for the question.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
That Gaming Paper Guy wrote:
Whizbang Dustyboots wrote:
Does this adventure pack require the Mega Dungeon product? And is Monte's adventure, by chance, set in Ptolus? (It sounds like it's set beneath the city's necropolis.)

It does not require the Map Pack. Although I recommend it for added coolness, of course.

Monte's adventure is, in fact, set in Ptolus.

Thanks for the question.

Wooot!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

reviewed.


Nice review, D_M! This one is also on my list of things to review. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was a little disappointed by this, I have to admit. Not by the product per se, I'm sure it's very good, but from the initial announcement and title I thought it was different writers tackling the same dungeon, ie, making it a megadungeon product. At that point it was going to be a must buy for me, but actually it's only 'the megadungeon' because it utilizes the Megadungeon map pack, which I found a little misleading. I was expecting something even more epic than the superb Citadel of Pain, not an unconnected series of short adventures.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Is this available or not? When I try and order it it says unavailable and I'm worried I'm going to end up with the PDF.

Dark Archive

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Nice review, D_M! This one is also on my list of things to review. :)

Yeah this was one of those I wanted to like it more cause it was well written but it had a couple of issues IMHO.

@theneofish yes this is not a mega dungeon but a collection of 4 mini dungeons that use the mega dungeon maps. I also thought the same thing when I got it. I that it was a 4 level mega dungeon with each level done by someone different. I honestly think i like the way they did it better, but I can see how people would get the wrong impression since I did.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Endzeitgeist wrote:
Nice review, D_M! This one is also on my list of things to review. :)

Yeah this was one of those I wanted to like it more cause it was well written but it had a couple of issues IMHO.

@theneofish yes this is not a mega dungeon but a collection of 4 mini dungeons that use the mega dungeon maps. I also thought the same thing when I got it. I that it was a 4 level mega dungeon with each level done by someone different. I honestly think i like the way they did it better, but I can see how people would get the wrong impression since I did.

And, you know, that's fair enough. There's probably as many - if not more - folks interested in seeing how the authors respond to the freedom of coming up with something completely fresh each time, rather than being limited to one big structure. I would still have preferred something at least interlinked though... I've got a lot of short adventures.

Ah well, perhaps next time. In the meantime, I've still got Citadel of Pain to finish reading.


theneofish wrote:
I was expecting something even more epic than the superb Citadel of Pain...

I'm pretty sure such an adventure will release the same day the FAA has to create special regulations for wing'd hogs! The same day hell orders a ski-lift! The same day Paizo releases the Gumbybarian adventure path!

All hail the reign of PAIN!

Um... pardon... sorry.

(Slips out the back)

Contributor

Steve Geddes wrote:
Is this available or not? When I try and order it it says unavailable and I'm worried I'm going to end up with the PDF.

It currently says the print/PDF bundle is available, so you should be able to order it. Try again please!


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Is this available or not? When I try and order it it says unavailable and I'm worried I'm going to end up with the PDF.
It currently says the print/PDF bundle is available, so you should be able to order it. Try again please!

It's still doing weird things for me. At the 'Confirm Order Stage' I see the following (it's just cut and paste, so the formatting is a little weird..):

Quote:

Digital Purchases

• All Stars take on the Mega Dungeon (PFRPG) Print/PDF Bundle
Gaming Paper
The PDF will be added to your downloads immediately upon purchase. 1 @ $14.99 $12.74

Shipments

Shipment # 1
Should ship from our warehouse within 2 to 6 business days. • All Stars take on the Mega Dungeon (PFRPG) Print Edition
Gaming Paper
Unavailable 1

I often struggle in understanding the store messages - but this seems to suggest I'll get the digital content but that the physical product is unavailable.

Should I just press on regardless?


Liz Courts wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Is this available or not? When I try and order it it says unavailable and I'm worried I'm going to end up with the PDF.
It currently says the print/PDF bundle is available, so you should be able to order it. Try again please!

I don't think it is shipping yet. I ordered this several weeks ago and it hasn't shipped yet. Do you have any estimate?

Contributor

The print product was doing some wonky things on the backend of things here, and everything should be good to go, and older orders should ship out as expected. Steve, if you have any further issues placing an order for this, please let me know!


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
The print product was doing some wonky things on the backend of things here, and everything should be good to go, and older orders should ship out as expected. Steve, if you have any further issues placing an order for this, please let me know!

No worries Liz, thanks. I'll go ahead with the order.

I presume it's all sorted, nonetheless I posted here as the print issue is still listing as unavailable to me, just FYI.

Cheers


Reviewed here, on DTRPG, RPGaggression and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!


Thanks for the review Endzeitgeist!


You're welcome! I really liked your first offering and look forward to seeing more from Gaming Paper!


This may be the wrong place to ask, but is Ed Greenwood an experienced PFRPG player/GM? Or did he come up with the idea and get someone else to translate it into PFRPG terms?


I can't tell you if he is an experienced Pathfinder Role Player or Gm. I can tell you he is an experienced Pathfinder Role Playing Game adventure designer. He did the entire adventure himself. It required very very little work to get it ready for the All Stars Book. He is a GREAT guy.


That Gaming Paper Guy wrote:
I can't tell you if he is an experienced Pathfinder Role Player or Gm. I can tell you he is an experienced Pathfinder Role Playing Game adventure designer. He did the entire adventure himself. It required very very little work to get it ready for the All Stars Book. He is a GREAT guy.

Cool! For some reason, I thought that all the real old-time D&D writers were still mulling over whether to allow Unearthed Arcana in their home campaigns and didn't have time for anything more recent. ;-)


I plan on running Ed Greenwood's adventure for my party of 6 5th level characters (who are on the cusp of 6th level). Although I will probably tone down the final encounter a bit ... while I don't mind killing characters I think the CR 14 enemy will be too deadly if I play him to his capabilities. I figure reducing him a couple of levels and adjusting gear appropriately should do it.

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