Tabletop Review: Beneath the Dome Part One: Tombs of Green (Castles & Crusades)

Beneath the Dome Part One: Tombs of Green (Castles & Crusades)
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
Page Count: 10
Cost: $2.99/$9.99 (Subscription for all four in the series)
Release Date: 07/03/2013
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Beneath the Dome is Troll Lord Games’ second attempt to create an episodic adventure series for its Castles and Crusades line. The Adventures on the Powder River series consisted of five seven page short adventures, each for ninety-nine cents. I reviewed the first four adventures in the series (To the Damenheit Bridge, Thorns For Beer, River Walk and Golden Shingles) and found them to be all over the place in terms of quality, but I was happy to see a set of adventures for the system, or any system really, that were under a dollar and could more or less be played as stand alone or as one big story.

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the sticker price on this one. Sure, the Beneath the Dome series has a few more pages to the adventures, but is inflation so bad that the price for this concept of episodic adventures has tripled in just the past year? I can pick up full length Castles and Crusades adventures for the same price, and the subscription price merely knocks fifty cents off of each adventure. As well, for only a few cents more, you can get a full length adventure like The Goblins of Mount Shadow or the Dwarven Glory collection of adventures. I probably wouldn’t be heckling the price if we hadn’t just had a similar concept from Troll Lord last year for a fraction of the price, but it’s worth noting that the price is a bit exuberant compared to what has come before.

Tombs of Green is an interesting adventure designed for two to six characters between levels 1 and 5. This piece of information is in small print in the upper right hand corner of the legal text and credits page, so I’d forgive you for missing it. An entire town has been wiped out, and the PCs are called on to figure out what happened. Somehow, a nearby mountain appears to have been carved up without anyone noticing or hearing. The face of the mountain is now pale green, and a cave has opened up where once there was none. Approaching the cave causes PCs to be greeted by a calm rational orange person, who tries to get the characters to turn back. If they don’t… they are attacked by a horde of green zombies, who were once the villagers of the destroyed town! From there players investigate the cave, and things turn into a basic dungeon crawl. So you have a standard hook with some unusual creatures and a small dungeon. It’s an okay story to play through in a single night, but the adventure doesn’t have a set ending, or even a real climax, which is a disappointment. You just kind of go through the dungeon, kill things, and then leave. There’s no explanation as to why the town was attacked or even who the enemies are. My guess is that these bits have been saved for a later adventure, which is fine in terms of the collection, but as a standalone, there’s very little for the Castle Keeper to flesh this thing out with in terms of character development or motive.

Now, that’s not to say I only have negative things to say about Tombs of Green. I loved a lot of the encounters in the adventure. The zombie dragon was a lot of fun, as were the hilariously cursed magic items one can find in the dungeon. Living statues and an animated sword are also memorable encounters your players will have a blast with. Basically, if your friends are just looking for hack and slash goodness, Tombs of Green will be a lot of fun, but if you’re looking for story and depth, this probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a Castles & Crusades adventure.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the art by Peter Bradley in this adventure. The cover to Tombs of Green is exceptionally striking, and there’s something about it that made me want to pick up this adventure, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the adventure AT ALL. The interior art is quite nice too, and C&C fans will enjoy adding it to their collection just for that.

All in all, we’ll give Tombs of Green a thumbs in the middle. The combat is fun, but the plot is lacking. It’s shaping up to be a better quality affair than Adventures on the Powder River, but I think the large price increase from last year’s episodic adventures may turn away those hoping for a similar cost in this collection.



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