I was a backer of Center Stage Miniatures' Kickstarter to launch the company's Demons & Devils miniatures line and one of the bonus offerings was The Darkest Pit., a 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure for six to eight characters of 7th to 9th level. It consists of a cover, a map on the inside front cover, a table of contents, 5 pages of adventure, a page dedicated to a new monster, the Open Game License, the interior back cover (an ad for Pacesetter Games), and the back cover (an ad for Center Stage Miniatures). Theoretically, this adventure exists to whet your appetite for the CSM miniatures and Pacesetter's other adventures. It fails spectacularly in achieving both of these goals.
The adventurers have been hired to clear out demons and devils from a mine. The silver wards that contain the fiends are failing in four days. The big twist is that due to the silver ore, "magical forms of movement simply do not work...this includes any sort of teleportation, plane shifting, magical flight, levitation, etc." Magical flight and levitation are not normally grouped with plane shifting, but there's a reason for this -- the adventure liberally uses pit traps and climbing challenges that force characters to play the game a certain way. Or to put it another way, this is one of those adventures that punishes players by taking away the advantages they worked hard to earn.
That alone isn't necessarily a problem -- old school adventures often railroaded characters by taking away their magic -- but in combination with typos (cultists fire "shot bows"), piles of monsters (30 manes, 20 pit zombies, 10 ghouls), and a repeated stat block of aforementioned cultists who all have similar statistics, it feels like a rushed product.
The adventure isn't even consistent: despite the fact that "no summoning will work on this level of the prison" the Type V Demon will "summon the magic swords in locations 27 and 28." There's also an entire page dedicated to 1 HD pit zombies, which are like regular zombies only they're elves with less hit dice (that'd be 1) who gets three attacks inflicting 1d2/1d2/1d4. There are 20 of these things led by a pit fiend (natch), which means the DM will be rolling 60 attacks a round. Did I mention that one entire page of the adventure is dedicated to a the pit zombie, a monster that is highly unlikely to even hit 7th-level adventurers? It has a nice illustration to go with it.
The adventure does manage to include a Type I and II demon (they're arguing with each other in a room, which means they don't even warrant separate encounters), Types IV, V, and VI demons, a succubus, and a pit fiend, all miniatures that were in the Kickstarter. But the Kickstarter included just 3 manes; there were no ghouls or pit zombies. Would it have been so hard to include other monsters that were in the Kickstarter, like the hell hounds or lemures? Or how about some of the interesting named characters like The High Priestess of Darkness, Asmodeus' Daughter, or Baphomet?
This adventure feels like it was padded to accommodate a certain word count and it shows, best summed up by a room titled "The Coin": The room's description is "a single gold coin lies on the floor of this room." Seriously. That's it. It's a coin. In a room.
There are better free adventures available for download.
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