The Vault of Darom Madar Review

A long time ago two merchant houses got into a fuss over selling the same products, and one took it upon himself to "eliminate the competition" (cue maniacal laughter). Literally. However, the other saw what was coming and did the sensible thing by gathering up all his shit and hiding it where it would be conveniently found when the plot felt it appropriate. Fortunately for the party, that time is now.

The Vault of Darom Madar is the heartwarming tale of a group of adventures robbing someone else's tomb for a cut of the personal gain. So, it's like most D&D adventures. It has has two major things going for it; the first is that it takes place in Dark Sun, and the second is that it's written by Aeryn "Blackdirge" Rudel (whose first name I can now correctly write without looking at it first). It's intended to take place directly after Sand Raiders (a short adventure included in the back of Dark Sun Campaign Setting), so there's some synergy to be had if you are one of "those guys" that actually runs the adventures out of the campaign books. If you don't, then who gives a fuck? This one's also for 1st-level characters.

This is the first time I've seen Aeryn venture out of the Chaos Scar, and he takes advantage of this freedom by dragging the party through several skill challenges and numerous combat encounters as they cross the desert in order to earn their treasure parcels. Many of the combat encounters involve bandits or assassins trying to jump your characters, which keeps with the whole survival-of-the-fittest theme, though for variety a few of the random encounters are all about flaunting the deadly fauna native to the wastes. I particularly like how the solo undead near the end of the adventure is designed; no double-attack or even reliable means to hit multiple targets, instead having the ability to do a recharging small AoE attack and when bloodied can potentially dominate targets, which is a method to work in those extra actions.

At any rate, it looks to be a great primer for people new to Dark Sun, as well as groups who've toured the sands before and want to quickly get back into Athas. Despite its meatier fare the adventure looks short enough to get through in a session or two and sets up future adventures by providing the party with a fresh new nemesis to fuck with them.


  1. Whenever one of my adventures is published, I always look forward to your review, Antioch. Whether or not you dig the adventure, I know two things: 1) your review will be an entertaining read and 2) it will contain copious and creative use of the word "fuck" (something that I find lacking in all other reviews). =]

    Thanks for another good one.


  2. Sadly I only managed to squeeze two in there. :-(

    I thoroughly enjoy the adventures you write; I only bothered with Chaos Scar because of Stick in the Mud, and with this one I can jump right into Dark Sun with minimal planning.

    As always, looking forward to the next one. I curious as to how you tackle paragon/epic tier adventures.

  3. Thanks, man. I should have a 5th-level Chaos Scar adventure in the next issue.

    Heh, I'm curious to see how I tackle paragon/epic level as well. =]


  4. The idea of using Perception and Thievery to crack a code really made no sense to me; I made it Arcana and History (though what I _really_ wanted to do was work up an actual code for the players to crack; unfortunately I didn't have time).

    Though perhaps I shouldn't be talking; I obviously don't know how to run skill challenges properly. It always seems awkward and contrived, even though (or perhaps because?) I don't really do it by the rules, trying to make it more natural and organic.

    I'll post a link to the session logs for this adventure here when it's up if anybody cares...

  5. I would be interested in posting it on the actual site when you are done, if you would like. Perhaps I should do a post on my skill challenge experiences/how I would do it? The short of it is that I find they work best when you do not declare one, and simply state the situation and how the players want to about it.

    For example, you could say something like, "the thief is rapidly disappearing into the crowd, what do you do?" If someone chases him, you can have them make an Endurance check, followed by an Athletics or Intimidate check when you explain that there is a lot of people in the way (to push past or yell at them to get out of the way).


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