Adventure Reviews

I want to take a break from designing games and try my hand at writing some adventures. To that end I’ve been playing as many adventures as I can get my hands on!

What follows are my thoughts on some of those adventures. Not all of these adventures are good. But they are all interesting in some way or another. Enjoy!

Oh! And unlike my Game Reviews, I’ve played or run all of these adventures.

Table of Contents

Tower of the Stargazer


PDF: $6 / Print: $12

Written by James Edward Raggi IV

Designed for Lamentations of the Flame Princess

A mysterious black stone tower shrouded in lightening promises incredible mysteries and dangerous secrets…

I’ve never run an adventure that presented players with so many THINGS in it. Buttons, levers, strange contraptions and experiments abound. Many of the devices are described in detail, allowing players to experiment and discover their function.

The near-absence of monsters does not diminish this adventure in the slightest. In fact I’ve never seen an adventure maintain this kind of tension and engagement without regular monster encounters! Stargazer provides interesting rooms time and time again.

If you enjoy seeing your players slowly puzzle their way through a strange locale, you can’t do much better than Tower of the Stargazer.

Tower of the Black Pearl


PDF: $7 / Print: $10

Written by Harley Stroh

Designed for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Once every 10 years the tides get low enough to reveal the top of an ancient submerged tower…

What’s cool about this adventure is that the tower is underwater; so the party enters at the top and slowly works their way down. Once they trigger an event near the end of the adventure the tower starts to fill with water, and it’s a race back up to the top!

Even if they make it through the tower, the stolen treasure is a powerful magical artifact that draws the attention of powerful entities. When I ran this, we had more trouble trying to sell the Pearl than we did getting it.

My favorite room is filled with candles, each representing a Hero. Players can interact with these candles, even finding their own brightly burning flames. If they go out for any reason, the equivalent heroes perish. I love to present level 1 players with opportunities to influence the world in serious ways.

It’s a really solid adventure set along the coast, and whenever my players get a hankering for swashbuckling, this is where we start.

Sea Queen Escapes


PDF: $7 / Print: $10

Written by Harley Stroh

Designed for Dungeon Crawl Classics

The characters begin to receive dreams about a trapped princess beneath the sea. If only someone could help her…

What’s interesting about this adventure is that it’s split into several small phases, each one like it’s own mini-dungeon. Since the dreams continue until the adventure is resolved, it works well as filler between a larger campaign. I usually mix it in with Tower of the Black Pearl.

Each phase is excellent and thematic; a solid mixture of puzzles and combat. Players go from exploring a seaside cavern, to delving inside a turtle, and finally an ancient underwater prison.

Even better, once the adventure concludes the players are thanked by an underwater race and invited to visit. A simple hex-crawl is included and could form the bones of many more adventures.

Tomb of the Serpent Kings


Written by Skerples

Designed for OSR systems

Recently uncovered, this tunnel underground may be the fabled tomb of the long-dead Serpent Kings!

I wish I had discovered this adventure earlier in my gaming career. Written as a teaching dungeon, Serpent Kings attempts to instruct your players on all of the traditional things found in a dungeon crawl.

Each room is designed with a lesson in mind, helpfully called out for the GM to read. “This room teaches you that dungeons have patterns that can be exploited.” “This room teaches you that dangers can often be avoided.” And so on.

If you are a new GM, or if you have new players, this is my number 1 recommended starting adventure.

Hot Springs Island


Player Guide PDF: $15 / Print: $40

GM Book PDF: $15 / Print: $60

Written by Jacob Hurst

Completely system neutral

Hot Springs Island, a new adventure from Jacob Hurst, is alive.

I don’t mean the books are alive, although they look sharp enough to cut somebody. I mean the fictional island feels like a living, breathing, screaming place. There are adventures out there with better stories, more interesting puzzles, or stranger creatures. But no adventure bleeds like Hot Springs Island. Read More…

Sailors on a Starless Sea


PDF: $7 / Print: $20

Written by Harley Stroh

Designed for Dungeon Crawl Classics

You awake to find your village burning. In your panic to put out the flames, it takes a few hours before you realize that only your small group remains…

This adventure is built as a “Funnel”. Each player generates 3-4 low-level villagers and you run this large group of characters through a dangerous meat-grinder adventure. Any characters that survive gain a level and pick a “real” class.

What’s neat about this adventure is how quickly things escalate. Villagers start out just looking for their friends and family, but by the end of this 4-hour adventure they are preventing the return of an ancient Dread Lord.

It’s also a nice way to keep the “My village burned down, so I became a Hero” backstory without it being a cliche. It unites the party with a common backstory and gives them feeling of place in this world. A fantastic way to start a DCC campaign.

Servants of the Cinder Queen


PDF: $4

Written by Jason Lutes

Designed for Dungeon World

A volcano cult is attempting to summon an ancient evil, endangering the innocent town below…

Built for Dungeon World, Cinder Queen is remarkable for it’s adventure structure. Each room/area is not described in detail but with impressions.

Here’s a traditional room description:

“This large room is ringed with torches along the edge with a deep pool in the southwest corner. Every few hours a priest comes in and feeds the dangerous creature living in the pool. One of the torches near the water can be wielded as a Rod of Flame.”

compared to Cinder Queen:


  • Ringed with Torches
  • Deep pool with dangerous creature


  • One torch is actually a Rod of Flame

When players enter the room, roll 2d6:

  • On a 10+ the priest is here, but is intensely distracted with feeding the creature
  • On a 7-9 the priest is not here
  • On a 6- the priest is just about to enter the room

Not only does this make each room easy to grasp, it gives the GM a lot of flexibility in how they describe the room. The layout in particular is really nice for referencing at the table.