Posted by : David Guyll August 26, 2011


Adventures that I actually like in Dungeon are few and far between, and I honestly was not expecting anything good this month. Thankfully Daniel Marthalar stepped up to the plate with The Gauntylgrym Gambita low-level adventure in which the heroes discover that the Ashmadai--a cult that worships Asmodeus--have potentially found a way into Gauntlgrym, which I am told is a legendary dwarf city that has been lost for thousands of years. It follows hot on the heels of the release of Neverwinter Campaign Setting, which along with Lost Crown of Neverwinter should not only keep your group occupied for about half of their heroic career, but should provide a solid foundation for wrapping the rest of it up as well.

The basic backstory is that duergar, drow, and aberrants were fighting for control of Gauntlgrym, one thing lead to another, and the duergar found themselves with a nasty case of "oozes and slimes". Rather than go through the presumably lengthy and laborious process of safe removal, they decided to cut their losses by literally blowing up the tunnels where the oozes had spread to. This in turn had the unintended effect of giving the oozes easy access to the surface, making it Neverwinter's problem, who dispatched scouts to figure out where the problem was coming from; a big-ass hole in the ground that with the proper political spin became both a "potential road to Gauntlgrym" and Ashmadai camp ground.

The STD's of dungeons.
Despite the odd hiccup of only the Ashmadai setting up kip near a monster-spewing pit, this adventure has a good deal of variety in terms of monsters and terrain; cultists, devils, spiders, duergar, and slimes are confronted in rickety lifts over a great pit, on top of a toppled dwarf statue, a hall of web-strewn statues, and more. I like that despite the focus on the Ashmadai and oozes that the author managed to squeeze in alternative entries without it seeming like they were shoehorned in just to spice things up. Finally as with Evard's Shadow, I was also very pleased with how skill challenges were plotted and handled; the skill explanations make them easier to work into the narrative, and group checks prevent only specific characters from attempting specific skills, but reduce the chance of an almost immediate failure by unskilled party members.

This shit wouldn't happen if the rogue
could just spam Stealth rolls.
All things considered this is an excellent adventure for DMs looking to run content out of Neverwinter Campaign Setting, especially if your campaign is centered around the Ashmadai, Abolethic Sovereignty, and/or Gauntlgrym. It gives you enough direction to get the party into the lost city, but leaves it up to you where you want to go, greatly expanding its usability beyond the factions mentioned. If you are not running in Forgotten Realms? Well, it works well enough as a template for an adventure with a focus on duergar, oozes, or dwarf cities.

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