The Tomb World of Alak Ammur
Publisher: Super Genius Games
Release Date: 03/06/2012
Get it here: DriveThruRpg.com
The Tomb World of Alak Ammur is an odd duck. It’s a pure dungeon crawl with very little story of character motivation and it’s way overpriced for what it is. Ten dollars for a thirty-two page PDF is a bit excessive in this day and age. It’s also laid out in landscape format instead of portrait, which makes flipping through this pdf, ESPECIALLY on an e-reader a pain in the neck to read. Add in a few typographical errors that can be found across Tomb World and you have to wonder who would be interested in such an adventure.
Well, the key is not in the publisher, but the designer. In the case of Tomb World, it’s Monte Cook who is best known for his work with Dungeons & Dragons. Monte’s work has always proven to be pretty popular with tabletop gamers, but I have to be honest in that this adventure just doesn’t feel like his previous work. There are several odd design choices ranging from really obvious hints to the player characters that shouldn’t be there one second to some very obscure bits the next. I honestly can’t say that I’d have fun running or playing this adventure, as it’s just not set up very well. Granted I am not a fan of a pure dungeon crawl unless it’s in video game format, but even so, the adventure just didn’t feel right from beginning to end. The layout, the encounters and even the bare bits of story you find in this all felt slapped together.
Out of the thirty-two pages, three are ads, one is legal mumbo jumbo, four are maps and the remaining twenty four pages are text and art. I really liked the art in this adventure, especially the imposing cover image, but again, twenty-four pages for ten dollars is a bit extreme in this day and age when you can easily finder longer adventures for roughly three to five bucks that are of better quality to boot.
So the adventure itself revolves around players trying to enter the well…Tomb World of Alak Ammur. Truth in advertising it appears. It’s not really a world by any means. Just a fairly standard high level dungeon with special effects that sometimes happen within due to the creator of said “world” being an extremely high level spellcaster. The adventure suggests that you use the adventure as a continuation of a previous one. Maybe the characters need a magical artifact or a rare tome that just happens to be contained in the tomb, but that feels rather weak to me. You would pretty much have to set up two or three adventures to really make the Tomb World seem important to the characters and not just an adventure that was haphazardly thrown at them.
There are twelve rooms in the dungeon, each with its own puzzle and/or monster. Again, things are really bi-polar here as some of the ideas are really cool while others just seem both generic and out-of-place. After all, the Tomb World is where Alak Ammur’s spirit and flesh both rest, so while it makes sense to have things to protect from grave robbers, the particulars can be kind of weird. For example, if one leaves the pyramid, they are attacked by a lizard/raptor thingy. However, this doesn’t make sense as a trap or even a precaution as if people are leaving it’s either because a) they gae up trying to rob the tomb or b) they are there to help Alak Ammur resurrect, so then why have something guaranteed to attack his allies? Then the adventure will turn around and have a very creative use for golems and shadows. As a result the adventure feels really disjoined.
The adventure is written for 12th level characters, but the difficulty seems a bit high. Most of the DCs in the game are in the twenties (high twenties for the majority) and the Challenge Rating for a lot of creatures are mostly 13 through 16. You also have traps that do an insane amount of damage for the level characters are supposed to be at while playing this. Combine this with a few puzzles that can only be solved by luck rather than thinking and you have an adventure that will probably frustrate more gamers than not.
Now, a lot of the issues with The Tomb World of Alak Ammur can be explained by the fact it was part of the “Dungeon a Day” project where one room was made per day. So really, the adventure was as slapped together as it feels. Now “Dungeon a Day” was an interesting concept to see unfold, but as we can see here, the final product just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. I’m surprised that when all was said and done, the team behind it didn’t smooth things out or check to see how the full adventure worked one it was put together.
All in all The Tomb World of Alak Ammur is a bit of a disappointment. It’s way overpriced for what it is, there are several formatting and typographical issues and most importantly, the adventure feeled slapped together rather than a real adventure. If you and your group of players don’t mind a pure dungeon crawl without any real story of substance behind it, you might find this to be a challenge and interesting affair. For those that like story or role-playing over roll-playing, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere for a high level Pathfinder adventure. The end product of this venture should have been like Devestator or Voltron when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Instead, you get the RPG equivalent of a second rate flesh golem.