Friday, November 29, 2013

Tommy's Take on The Shrine of St. Aleena

Small Niche Games has a new release for your adventuring fun, this time more of a straight forward dungeon crawl.

DISCLAIMER: A digital copy of this product was provided to me as a comp copy for review purposes. Affiliate links posted within this article may provide this blog with store credit to One Book Shelf, which may either be cashed out for funds or (more likely) be used to purchase more products for review on this blog.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The Shrine of St. Aleena is set in The Chronicles of Amherth campaign setting, and is designed to be used with the Labyrinth Lord RPG, but can be set in most fantasy settings and can be rejiggered for your favorite iteration of D&D, especially the older ones. It is designed for characters of 1st to 3rd level, and assumes a party of 3-6 characters, and assumes that you have at least one Lawful character in the mix. It is available in PDF for $4.95 from RPGNow.

This adventure is a bit of a departure from the norm for Small Niche Games. The horror elements that permeate their adventures is missing from here, and it is more of a dungeon crawl (while other adventures tend towards timed encounters and sandboxes).

The backstory for the adventure revolves around a Fighter and a Cleric who were thwarting the plans of an evil wizard known as The Infamous One. The Cleric, Aleena, sacrificed her life to save the Fighter and stop the Wizard, and years later has been Sainted. The Infamous One, still smarting over her interference, has sent a horde of goblins to sack her town and a nefarious creature to corrupt her temple.

How the party gets involved in the adventure is up to you, but a number of suggestions are provided (ranging from divine visions to just stumbling across the temple as the animal life bolts far away from it). There's also a rumor chart (one of which hints at a dragon, which might be enough to scare some people off), as well as a random encounter chart, a few of which can provide friendly NPCs for the party to ally with. Other encounters include a potentially troublesome encounter with an NPC who is trying to hide their identity, a pair of brigands who may opt to join the party (if only temporarily) if the PCs look too tough to rob, a Fighter who is now a shattered shell of his former self, and a zombie encounter that's not quite like your typical zombie encounter.

The dungeon crawl itself has a few deadly encounters, especially for low level types, including a few traps designed to put the hurt on Chaotic characters. The effects of the Corruption are felt all over the Shrine, in some cases even creating monsters for the party to deal with.

If the party is successful, they'll get a low level (but still impressive) holy weapon to fight evil with, as well as a new organization to ally with and likely some bad guys to hunt down when it's all said and done (like maybe the Wizard that started this whole mess).

WHAT WORKS: Top notch writing again, with Small Niche once more providing an exciting adventure with a strong backstory for low level parties. It manages to be a Dungeon Crawl that kinda slaps the "murder hobo" mindset in the face.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: It's a little more "paint by numbers" than what you usually get from Small Niche, but that still means it's several steps ahead of a bog standard dungeon crawl.

CONCLUSION: There is one riddle in the adventure that is VERY D&D/Labyrinth Lord specific, which would make conversion to, say, Savage Worlds or DungeonWorld or something like that a bit more problematic. For my money, Inn of Lost Heroes is still the standard bearer for Small Niche adventures, but if you're in a dungeon crawl mood and you have a low level (heroic) party, The Shrine of St. Aleena will fit your needs nicely.