Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Barrowmaze is Awesome

Barrowmaze Complete Indiegogo Project deserves your support. I have run Barrowmaze I and II (the basis of Barrowmaze Complete) in my home campaign. It was some of the most DM fun I've had. Here are some of the reasons Barrowmaze is great fun, great inspiration and a great purchase.

WARNING: Although, I tried to be vague there are still slight spoilers below. Nothing more than hitting locals up for a rumor or two would provide.

Barrowmaze Complete includes custom minis!

Unique Creatures

I guess pretty much every module / product has it's own selection of unique monsters. I really liked several. The Barrow Harpies, The Flagstone, Gemstone and esp Runic Golem (who leave behind runic tablets which may bestow boon or bane on those brave enough to read them), and the special servants / creations of the two human factions of Orcus and Set. All well suited for and reinforcing the flavor of Barrowmaze.

Great Stories

Some of Barrowmaze's numerous tombs are unmarked and semi-generic. But, most have a backstory and many are whole interelated tomb complexes. From the simple, mummy stuck guarding treasure he doesn't really care about, or husband and wife being buried together. To the primeval hunter / hero where PC's are pitted against his famous "hunts" or the epic elemental tomb complex or chosen special resting place.

Some "stories" are fleshed out. Others are just hinted at. Allowing a creative DM to work his ideas into Barrowmaze. Also simplifying or even inspiring links to the greater campaign world. This is the type of flavor that immerses players and makes the dungeon seem like an ancient, living, "real" place.

Get Rich or Die Tryin!
Little Rule Systems

Barrowmaze has several of what I call little rule systems. A few paragraphs, probably a table, that detail some aspect of exploring the dungeon. From excavating barrow mounds and bashing up bricked up walls. To converting canopitic jars into healing salves or searching for grave goods. And the several page "create a barrowmound" appendix.

All add flavor and provide guidance to a DM on how to run Barrowmaze. Individually, they are fun chrome. Taken together they develop the atmosphere of the mounds through play. (rather than the pages and pages of exposition by "your guide" that got common with modern, i.e. 2ed and on, products. I bought an adventure not a freaking novella!)  Gotta dig up the entrance? Mounds are old! Knock down wall? Mounds are large, with separate areas and did whoever lay these bricks want to keep something out or something in? These little touches have inspired me to create similar systems for other dungeons and my campaign locations such as the "Big City".

Dynamic Factions

The differences between potentially boring hack & slash dungeon crawl and a proper mega-dungeon are two. 1) history and depth, covered above. 2) Factions. And not just orcs here and things that fight orcs over there. Factions with needs, goals, allies, enemies, story hooks, and most important; potential for player and referee exploitation. Based on the shenanigans that during actual play I can attest that Barrowmaze's factions are done right.

They are fleshed out just enough to be dynamic and inspirations. Not weighed down with complicated, easy to forget during play, structure or histories. Or worse, written up with a pre-determined plot that your players will never follow. To be sure Barrowmaze factions are meant to be taken and wielded by the DM. The fit this purpose well.

Compelling End Bosses

The "sub-bosses", leaders of factions, from what I remember have unique personalities. Although, I can't say much without spoilers about the big bad(s)? And my players haven't gotten there yet. They are a unique. Seem that they would be challenging for the players as well as for the DM (in a good way). 

Bring More Clerics!

In the end,

what makes Barrowmaze a great product is that it oozes with flavor and fun. Reading it you want to run it. You might think, "Oh, just another undead infested dungeon crawl". Until I psychically slap you upside the head, "You mean the best undead themed mega-dungeon of awesome". Really. 

I retconned a place to put Barrowmaze into my campaign and shamelessly encouraged players to go explore it. Because after reading through it I was that excited. It seems old, done concept; "undead and dungeons", oh my! But, somehow everything in it fresh and exciting.

Go get your copy now

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