Review: DB6 Dwellers in the Darkness

Posted: 25 July 2012 in Reviews
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This 34-page document is the latest in the Haunted Highlands sequence for Castles & Crusades, and it introduces the Darkness, the setting’s answer to D&D‘s Underdark; a vast subterranean labyrinth of caves, hundreds of feet below the surface of the Duchy of Karbosk.

The title – Dwellers in the Darkness: Ulgarkur – suggests there is more to come in the Haunted Highlands sandbox. This book focuses on one particular area of the Darkness (damn, now I’ll have "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" playing in my head for the rest of this review) – the unholy city of Ulgakur. This is a sandbox within a sandbox; there’s no plot to follow, just a large and detailed location to explore.

Ulgakur is a former goblin stronghold, taken over a generation ago by one Lluvandron the Black, greater undead of this parish, and his mercenaries. As a result, the region is goblin-themed, with goblins, hobgoblins, orcs and so on prevalent throughout.

The module is essentially a city book. There’s a double-page spread of map, and 28 detailed locations, although only one has a floor plan (not that I mind, you don’t generally need them for city locations). These locations include include forts, barracks, wizards’ towers, pubs, a market, gladiatorial arenas, evil temples, and so on, each with about half a page of writeup and statistics for key inhabitants. Said inhabitants may include survivors of Crater of Umeshti or Deeper Darkness, if they escaped the PCs, so there may be old scores to settle.

The book also has a new character class, the Conjurer (a sort of demon-worshipping cleric/wizard hybrid); two new races, the Zavaguth (dark dwarves) and the Meshkuri (debased humans); and an assortment of new monsters and magic items.

Peter Bradley’s artwork continues to delight, but that by Casey Christofferson himself is not, I fear, up to the same standard. Better than mine, admittedly.

Rating: 2 out of 5. This is the only one of the pack I couldn’t see myself running, I’m afraid. That could be just me, but the idea of a goblin city doesn’t grab me.

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