Rather than start a new thread, I figured I'd keep the conversation going on this one. I picked up the Curse of the Khan
in PDF several weeks ago as it has been on my radar for sometime. Somewhere in all my games stuff I think I have the d20 versions of these in various formats (PDF & Print), but considering this was a compilation and re-write focused on C&C, it was a must buy for me. I read through the 1st two parts of the Curse and have now started on the 3rd (Dungeons of the Khan). As Bowbe mentions above it is indeed a Dungeon Crawl of epic proportions. I want to recommend it upfront as a crawl for mid to high level characters a it is in the S series, this makes a good culmination adventure for the players. I intend to get the print version soon (perhaps as part of the Columbus day sale 2012).
All right 'nuff said on all that. Now here are some of the challenges that I noticed for the adventure. There are some spoilers below so be aware as you read. Finally, I want to say again, I really like the adventure, I like the options, the NPCs, the feel of it and will recommend this (and intend to run it as well).
"PCs are invited to an Old Keep a top a windswept crag...After some searching the PCs find a hidden way that leads to them to the Entry Hall: Area 1 of the The Temple of the Khan."
Well big hand-wave and I left out a page or so of details from the back story. In summary, the PCs are given a mission by a king to investigate evil claims in the region. But there is no real detail, simply the PCs begin at the starting point for the adventure. Cool if you just want to get right into the action. . Though, likely the one page of background was for the CK to develop on their own, but I fell like the Trolls missed a great opportunity to add so much more to this adventure, fleshing it out with a lot of detail (YMMV, but I'm a fan detail).
Here are couple of points:
1. "Your king has asked you to intercede on his behalf and investigate the horrible claims made by people of the region, not the least of which are allegations of human sacrifice, and the kidnapping of families and children, demon worship, and much worse."
First how about offering location in Haunted Highlands setting for this adventure. Obviously it appears to be near a well the Crater of Umeshti, as that is how the big baddie - the Crawling Queen - was released into the world. Why not a wilderness map? Why not a specific Leige/King? What about a rumors list? Why not a few other wilderness locations like a Road House (Dirty Bowbe's or another), a few farmsteads with NPCs, bandit groups, etc.
2. "As the PCs proceed to The Temple of the Khan with all haste they find the region mostly deserted. No men at arms or knights patrol the land. Undead being stalk the halls of the Temple of the Khan, a fortress designed to keep evil in, rather than to guard against enemies without. The PCs find Lord Larek within his chambers where he mumbles of a madness in the deep that has driven him to this state."
Again, easy for a CK to develop, but here are some challenges. The region is mostly deserted, then how is that people of region are complaining about all the evil stuff. Adding a few farmsteads, and a town or village or two to a wilderness map, along with NPC lay out - ala Blacktooth Ridge would add to the intrigue. Obviously, A drop off of Men at Arms and knights would then suggest an increase in bandit activity and monster incursion. The Village or towns folk may be unable to reach anyone at the Keep and this would be great to see fleshed out as well. The Curse of the Crawling Queen, which is caused by the properties of the Weltering Crown causes anyone who dies withing a mile radius of the Weltering Crown rises as a wight or a ghast or if they leave the keep area, they will die within 24 hours and become ghast or wight. So the Undead incursion can be quite prolific in the area - depending on how far the Main Town/Village is from Lord Larek's keep. Having a few camps or locations of these creatures perhaps even graveyard that has now burst forth with Undead would be interesting as well. The problem with all this is, there is no specifics about the Curse until Lord Larek's lair. I figure mentioning it upfront in the notes for the adventure will help out. Further there is no mention of curse throughout the adventure or how to remove it until
3. "After some searching the PCs find a hidden way that leads them to the Entry Hall: Area 1 of the Temple of the Khan and the Halls of the Mad Lord."
Well, the entire structure of the Old Keep, atop a windswept Crag, along with the picture given for the keep on page 3 is hand-waved. I really wanted to have a fleshed out Keep the PCs have to search through, not just OK the PCs enter the keep and find a secret door to the dungeon. Lots of missed opportunity to have a multi-level upper works type layout to explore perhaps for a lower level party (4 to 6). Likely it would just be full of undead, but perhaps a necromancer hearing rumors of pages from the Black Libram, some kidnapped townsfolk, another party of adventurers, local bandits, human, gobbo, orc, hobgobs, etc. A diary of the mad Lord, a prisoner or two with a jailer, etc, and of course a wandering monster table.
Perhaps this could be an add on adventure called Larek's Keep: the Gateway to the Khan detailing all this stuff. Allright I think I about detailed that out. Next up some errata, style type stuff from what I've read so far.
4. Maps. For the Temple, and the rest of the adventure there are no naming conventions on maps to let the CK know which map is for what adventure. Instead we get "Drow Map Level 1" (which is for the Temple adventure)but nowhere in the text of the adventure does it say anything about Drow Maps. It is the same for the tomb and dungeon portions of the adventure, we get no name convention of the maps. Further, there is no key on any type on the maps that would help the CK to identify stuff on the map other than a room number. There are some notes "S ->" being one example. But no reference on that map for what that means. Traps are left out as well on the maps.
5. For the Temple of the Khan the map shows a bunch of doors like every 10 feet or so. But there is no real entry or explanation about them other than a brief mention of "Strong Wooden Doors:" detailing their hit points and Challenge level for opening. The problem is the doors are everywhere, and after reading the text, for some of the rooms - specifically 2. The Octagonal Room - they don't make sense. In the case of this room, the adventure text describes it as a chapel with high ceilings. But the room on the map has this room broken down into 20 ft rooms with doors on all four corners. But that does not match the description of the text. So some clarification is needed here - IMHO. Especially considering that all 4 levels have this door problem.
6. Dark Elf Gear. On page 5 we get a treasure entry that says, "The alien metal of the dark elf gear loses any magical properties if exposed to direct sunlight. Ok, but it doesn't say what stuff is made of this "alien metal." Is it just the chain shirt, is it the crossbow? is it the Rapier as well? Further, what wasn't there a "New Treasure" Chapter like there is a "New Monster" Chapter or "New Race" Chapter that could have explained this? The Detail on the Dark Elf Venom is good but again I think adding it in an appendix/chapter would have been helpful. The problem is further exasperated as there is no naming convention or consistent effect of the "Alien Metal". On page 14, we get "+1 chain shirt of Dark Elf Metal." Then throughout the various stats for Dark Elves in the adventure a +1 full plate, but is it Dark Elf or not, assumption is that is not Dark Elf metal, but I could be wrong. That is until page 15 when it says, "Note: All Dark Elf metallic equipment is crafted from Dark Elf metal, and instantly turns to dust when exposed to direct sunlight." Ok, so that conflicts with the initial entry of losing it's magical properties. so which is right? Is a mixture - since everything metal that dark elf has is Dark Elf metal, maybe it refers to just magical dark elf metal - which doesn't turn to dust, but instead loses its magical properties.
7. Vieda Partorch. In the stats for this NPC, which is a "She" it starts out as she but then is referred to repeatedly as a "he", "his" or "male".
8. Magic Item - Shield of St. Canor. Cool, like it, but then out of the blue we get this stat at the bottom, which isn't found in any of the other entries for the magical items - "Moderate Abjuration: CL 9th; Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Magic circle of protection from chaos; Price 9750 Weight 15lbs." This looks to be a hold over from the d20/OGL version.
9. Destruction or control of the Weltering Crown.
"If the PCs succeed, Yuggilv is defeated and the Weltering Crown may be cast into the Abyssal Nether and the Abyssal Gate closed to their world forever. " (page 16)
"The curse is lifted when the Weltering Crown is cast into the Abyss or a PC gains control over it." (page 19)
This is the first mention in the adventure as how to solve the adventure. It is a bit odd to see this here instead of at the beginning.
Note, I'll write more on this later with added errata, comments, and what not.