Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #3: The Treacherous Cobtraps (Dungeon Crawl Classics)
Publisher: Brave Halfling Publishing
Page Count: 12
Cost: $2.95 (PDF)/$5.95 (Physical)
Release Date: 03/08/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
I’ve really enjoyed the Appendix N Adventure Toolkits. They are short adventures that fit the Dungeon Crawl Classics line perfectly. I absolutely adored The Ruins of Ramat, and found The Vile Worm to be fun, albeit expensive in terms of the page count to dollar amount ratio. The Treacherous Cobtraps is no different. Three dollars is a lot for a twelve page adventure, especially when you consider that the covers, two full page pieces of art and the OGL contribute to that page count. That means there are only seven pages of content, which may dismay some readers of this review. Take heart though, as The Treacherous Cobtraps is a fine little adventure, and it boasts some incredible artwork by people like Steve Zieser, Andy Taylor, Mark Allen and Reece Ambrose. About the only thing missing, art-wise, are the awesome maps you usually find in first party (Goodman Games published) Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures. Instead of being included in the core PDF, it’s attached as a separate one. I’m not sure why Brave Halfling decided to go this route, as it’s far less convenient to have to go back and foth between two PDFS, especially on a tablet or e-reader, than it is to have just included this extra page in the core adventure PDF.
In The Treacherous Cobtraps, a team of eight to twelve Level 2 characters are hired by the town of Brandy Hollow to cleanse a forest of a strange race of giant malevolent spiders known as Stygian Orb Weavers. The adventuring party sets out, and what follows is a pretty simple hack and slash dungeon crawl. DCC does tend to put roll-playing before role-playing, and this adventure is no exception. It’s exceptionally light on story and the first sentence of the paragraph covered all there really is. Your players go into the woods, deal with three encounter locations rife with Stygian Orb Weavers, and if they make it out alive, they might be able to find some treasure and survivors from the spiders’ recent conquests.
Combat is surprisingly light for a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure too. As mentioned, there are only three locations in this adventure, and while each one has you slaying spiders, the amount of enemies is quite small for the massive size of the party. In most Dungeon Crawl Classics adventurers, the party size is so large because death is exceedingly common and players end up playing two or three characters each. Here it feels like you could go through the adventure with a party half the size of the suggested one. As well, you should be able to finish this adventure in one sitting, as it’s quite short, even compared to other Appendix N Adventure Toolkits. For a real DCC experience, you may want to increase the amount of monsters, as most players will find this adventure to be a cakewalk. Without a map or any real detailed description of the forest, it’s almost as if this is a Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure rather than a Dungeon Crawl Classics one.
Now you would think that, since the adventure is so short and slightly on the easy side, that I’d be giving this a thumb’s down, but that’s not the case. Unlike the previous two Appendix N Adventure Toolkits, The Treacherous Cobtraps comes with a lot of extra stuff. There is a system neutral version of the adventure in case you would like to run the Toolkit in something other than DCC. Say you want to try it in 4e or Swords & Wizardry – you have that option. It’s also art free, which is a bit of a bummer though, because the art really sells the piece. You also get an art-free variant of the DCC which is supposed to be for tablets, but the colour covers and the art didn’t bother my Kindle Fire at all, so I can’t see when or why I’d ever use this one. Still, it’s nice to have the option if, say, you only had a regular e-reader. There’s also a “Letter Text” version which has things laid out in a different format and font size, and is also missing the covers. Again, I’m not sure why they did this variant, but it’s nice to have four options open. Finally, there’s the map PDF I mentioned at the very beginning of the review. Again, it really should have been part of the adventure PDF(s) instead of a separate one, but at least the map is really gorgeous looking. Well, as gorgeous as art of a spooky forest filled with vile beasties trying to kill you can be.
All in all, for three dollars, you’re getting a decent short adventure along with four different versions of said adventure and a fifth PDF that is a map of the encounter areas. Once again, Brave Halfling Publishing does a nice job giving us a third party Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure for about the same cost of a comic book. The adventure isn’t going to wow any gamer that plays it, but it’s nice for a short hack and slash fest when you and your friends don’t have time for a longer or more detailed adventure.