Wyvern Mountain Review
by Grant Howitt
Wyvern Mountain is a 4e-compatible adventure module for level 4 characters, published by Goodman Games.
Maybe I'm just not old-fashioned enough. I'm new to all this, you see - only started playing RPGs properly around 5 years ago, and I'm all but 23 years old - but somewhere along the line I missed out on the classic dungeoncrawl.
It might have been the GMs that I ended up with, back as a pimply first-year student at University; they weren't bothered with combat rules, especially, or trying to kill the party, or even really learning the rules or writing an adventure. Or turning up to the game.
My early experiences, then, weren't the hardcore combat trawls that everyone else sat through. We just sort of sat there and talked about elves for a while - and I'm sad to say that my GMing style hasn't really progressed past that.
So when I was asked to review Wyvern Mountain, one of the Dungeoncrawl Classics line from Goodman Games, it sounded like a challenge when lined up against the sort of things I normally consume in my day-to-day RPG reading.
It's a dungeoncrawl. It's a really good dungeoncrawl, but it's a dungeoncrawl. Hell, it said that on the front cover, no-one's surprised at that. There isn't any opportunity for social interaction, but the other two facets of roleplaying are very well covered indeed.
The combat is neatly paced - and all the monsters have stat blocks and tactical advice on the same page as their encounter. There's no flipping back and forth between books, which is a massive timesaver - you could quite happily run this with a PHB and nothing else. What starts as a scrum against a bunch of goblins and the odd aggro dwarf steadily grows into a weirder, more exciting, and downright epic series of combats suitable for lower-level characters.
In a tier full of kicking kobolds in the shins and running away from gnolls, it lets lower-level characters shine. Looking over the combats in this supplement, I'm convinced that it's perfect for new GMs and players - by the time you square off against the ultimate nemesis, you'll know your characters and their abilities well enough to take it down.
There's plenty of puzzle solving as well; and not just the standard "answer me these questions three" state of affairs, but a solid background of trickery and deceit. The lair of the Ice Queen has many secrets hidden within that can be found by determined or curious adventurers, and just breezing through everything at face value sidesteps a sizable part of the experience.
Of course, there's no social interaction (save begging the cleric to heal you after vargouilles have bitten your legs off) but that's sort of par for the course - it's just as the roleplayer I am, I find myself craving a chance for character development and the opportunity to talk rubbish for a while.
The book comes complete with handouts you can give to your players, maps of each location, and a tracking map you can show your players to see how far they are up the titular peak. While it's not my cup of tea, it's a satisfyingly written and produced book, and could suit a more traditional group down to the ground.
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