I received a review copy of Dungeon On A Dime issue 3: Blood In The Water. This is an open-ended adventure for Dungeons and Dragons 5e but easily used with other systems.
Right off the bat, I was struck by the quality of the print and art. It’s risoprinted on recycled paper and feels great and looks stunning. Except for a splash of red on the cover, it’s a duotone of black and green throughout. Feels like a workbook that is meant to be used. Which it is.
A brief intro to the adventure: two thieves stole a painting and hid out in a village. They get in a fight and one kills the other. The dead one comes back as a monster and is preventing the other thief from retrieving the painting. The monster’s presence is causing drought and extreme humidity. The village doesn’t know what’s going on but is in economic danger due to the drought.
There’s murder, vengeance, and mystery going on and you can drop the players into the middle of it. It provides hooks for getting PCs involved, they can be sent to recover the painting, sent to steal it again, friends of the murdered thief, etc.
It gives the Game Master a lot of tools. The NPC’s are very fleshed out. It even gives you acting tips for roleplaying each major character. The village is also fleshed out and maps and minis are provided. There are personality archetypes for different kinds of villagers, to help improvise an NPC. A guide for running combats at the main locations. A guide for countryside sensory descriptions. A cool section on using treasure as plot hooks for further adventures. There is A LOT in here.
It’s also very roleplay focused. You could get up to some murderhobo shenanigans of course but it’s not meant to be a hack n slash experience. To get the most out of it I think it would be best run as a mystery investigation with a focus on social interactions.
I generally find investigation adventures railroady, but this book lays everything out for the GM to react to the players. My favorite part is the investigations scenarios. There’s a collection of small two-paragraph encounters each with bullet points of what the players can learn in each situation. It’s such a clean and easy way to get a handle on what info you want them to discover. I’m definitely stealing that format.
I don’t really have any gripes about this book. At one point it calls for an (imo) unnecessary check for PCs to dig a hole. If they have a shovel I would never call for check for that. But that’s an easily ignored nitpick. This is offering a specific style of adventure. If your group really likes to get into character and role play social interaction I think this is a great adventure for that. It’s a different style of adventure than what I’m usually into (zany dungeoncrawls?) but it’s toolbox presentation really appeals to me and I’m definitely going to be using it in my games. It’s hard to overstate just how much content is packed in here. This is a very fleshed sandbox scenario and location.
For roughly $20 USD this is a great product with a lot of value. I’m looking forward to checking out some more issues of Dungeon On A Dime.