Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North is a DM’s Guild product with ten dungeons in the northern Sword Coast area. This is the fourth in a five part series of reviews. I will cover The Great Worm Caverns Rock by Christopher Walz and The Tomb of Mild Discomfort by Jason Bakos in this review. Each dungeon will receive its own standalone rating and I will also give an overall rating for the entire Storm King’s Barrows product upon completing the series.
If you want to read Part 1 of the review which covers Breve Heeros Onli! by George Sager and Geshmalig’s Tomb by Christian Eichorn you can find it here: http://www.nonzerosumgames.com/storm-kings-barrows-a-dms-guild-review-part-1/
Part 2 of the review contains Grotto of the Death Giant by Eddie Gioffre and Saving Barbadoo’s Mine by Matt Butler. You can find it here: http://www.nonzerosumgames.com/storm-kings-barrows-a-dms-guild-review-part-2/
Part 3 of the review contains Stone Giant’s Lost Rock by Micah Watt and The Barovian Book of the Dead by Andrew Dempz. You can find it here: http://www.nonzerosumgames.com/storm-kings-barrows-a-dms-guild-review-part-3/
Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North
Writer(s): Jason Bakos, Matt Butler, Andrew Dempz, Christian Eichhorn, David Flor, Edward Gioffre, Darren Parmenter, George Sager, Rob Twohy, Christopher Walz, and Micah Watt
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 135 pages
First things first. This review is of version 1.3 of the product so if there are any inconsistencies between any factual comments I make regarding Storm King’s Barrows and what you believe to be accurate, please ensure you are referencing the same version I am. Otherwise, please feel free to contact me! Additionally, this product comes with high-resolution maps for each adventure (.png format) as well as a Map of the North. All of these maps are also at the end of their respective adventures. And, finally, there is an ink-friendly version which you will want to take advantage of if you plan to print any of these adventures on your home printer as the background for the high-res PDF is sure to be an ink hog.
7. Storm King’s Barrows: The Great Worm Caverns by Christopher Walz
The Great Worm Caverns by Christopher Walz is another adventure in Storm King’s Barrows to give us some exposure to the Uthgardt barbarians (the first being Geshmalig’s Tomb by Christian Eichhorn). But this adventure focuses on a dying tribe’s nefarious chieftain, Wormblod. He’s as unlike the Battle Father as you could imagine. He is vile and he is greedy. Furthermore, he’s aligned with the white dragons. It gets worse, Wormblod’s tribesmen cannot pass into the afterlife and all too many are left to wander between life and death.
Under Wormblod’s leadership, The Great Worm tribe has atrophied and is only barely hanging on to its former glory. That legacy can still be saved but the heroes can act fast and decisively. Of course, preserving the legacy ultimately leads to the tribe’s dissolution before it can be further bastardized by a corrupt leader. They will need to brave their way into the Caverns battling frigid temperatures, perilous waters, undead, and even a zombie polar bear! If they’re skilled enough to survive all those nasty gnarlies then they get to face Winterhorn, an adult white dragon.
Originality (5 stars)
Whenever I think of a couatl I rarely think of anything other than some sort of a Mesoamerican setting (such as the jungles of Chult). But Chris has successfully pulled off a convincing arctic couatl. The species, extinct these days, was once a protector of the prehistoric humanoids of the north. Zombie polar bears and frozen echos (those spirits trapped between the living and the dead) are nice additions that breathe life into this adventure too. A victorious party will live to see the couatl seal off the Caverns with magical wards before fading away forever.
Writing (5 stars)
This is the third product I’ve read from Christopher Walz (see The Call of Atropus of you’re interest in a Lovecraftian adventure) and his writing nearly flawless. He is able to straddle the line between prose and technical writing without it feeling disjointed or awkward.
Production (4 stars)
The production of this entry is on par with the rest of the entries as I have stated in previous reviews. The maps are high quality, the formatting is intuitive. The Great Worm Caverns includes some art and a rare wondrous item which is really convenient tool to have in your arsenal!
Design (5 stars)
When it comes to design, I believe that one of Chris’s best strengths is his use of the environment that the characters are in. I love a good adventure that is as much a pressuring and unforgiving environment as it is a dungeon crawl. Chris gives us both in The Great Worm Caverns.
Cost (4 stars)
Storm King’s Barrows costs $14.95. It may seem prudent to take that price and divide by 10 to calculate the appropriate cost per adventure. However, I believe a more useful means is to go by page count. The Great Worm Caverns is 15 pages long. So this adventure has an allocated cost of $1.66. This is a great price for this adventure!
Overall Rating: 4.6 Stars
8. Storm King’s Barrows: The Tomb of Mild Discomfort by Jason Bakos
The Tomb of Mild Discomfort is every bit the silly nod to The Tomb of Horrors that the title suggests it is. Sometimes a good dungeon crawl is all you really need and that’s what Jason Bakos’s adventure is. Sure, there is enough background to provide the semblance of a story but sometimes, the dungeon is enough. Billed as “a thinking person’s adventure” by Gary Gygax, The Tomb of Horrors was designed to test the skill of expert players. The Tomb of Mild Discomfort has a slightly more humble, but no less important, goal: entertainment.
The demilich Acererak has created the Tomb after promising to do so for Queen Azaria (he did kill her so it’s the least he could do). Many know of Acererak’s sadistic side but there may be some who never realized he also had a sense of humor. It was the latter that drove him to create The Tomb of Mild Discomfort. While the players may not find any one particular thing all that deadly, this is still a challenging adventure. The adventure doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should the players. But I caution your thinking if you presume the adventure is a simple stroll through the park.
Note: you may want to own Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for this adventure. It’s not a must. But it would be helpful. However, you absolutely need a caster for this adventure!
Originality (4 stars)
Jason has done a great job reinterpreting Gygax’s death dungeon and created something that is fun and challenging at the same time. If you or your players choose, you could give the NPCs in this adventure larger roles in your campaign. I don’t know that I found them compelling enough that I’d die for them to make an appearance later but they certainly could be useful.
Writing (5 stars)
Jason is a competent writer. Describing rooms full of traps largely devoid of character interaction without devolving into a sterile and uninspired style is no easy task. This author gives his readers an easy read on what could otherwise have been a tedious and monotonous experience. Furthermore, he’s added enough humor to give the party a fun time.
Production (4 stars)
The production of this adventure follows the same format as all the others in Storm King’s Barrows. The production is solidly done with good maps and art included in the file and as external downloads.
Design (4 stars)
Even though it is a reinterpretation of a classic dungeon Jason has done well with his traps. I am particularly fond of Mitsos’ Skull. It reminds me of what it’s like to play with a kender in your party. Only this trap may be slightly easier to disarm. Where it may fall short for some players is in roleplay opportunities. It may be hard to smooth-talk your way out of a trapped ceiling or charm your way past a helmed horror.
Cost (4 stars)
The Tomb of Mild Discomfort is 12 pages long. So this adventure has an allocated cost of roughly $1.33. Its value far outweighs its cost (it’s a good deal!).
Overall Rating: 4.2 Stars
Thanks, Christian Eichhorn, for the review copy of Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North.