DMs Guild Review: The Amulet of Shavaka

A press copy of The Amulet of Shavaka was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Phil Beckwith
Published by: P.B. Publishing

DMs Guild ReviewOne theme I find lacking in the official Fifth Edition campaign books is a proper Arabian Nights adventure. I want mysterious deserts, dangerous tombs, exotic rituals, and forbidden threats.

The Amulet of Shavaka” is a self-contained one-shot dungeon that touches upon many of these themes. The 16-page adventure tasks the PCs with exploring a Mummy’s undead-filled tomb at the edge of a desert. It’s designed for a party of level 2 PCs (with adjustments for 1-3) with an estimated play time of 4-6 hours.

The story hook is as basic as they come. A character named Elel seeks out the PCs based on the stories he’s heard (though they’re level 2, how many famed stories can there be?). He’s been sent to retrieve an amulet from the Tomb of Shavaka and knows the location, but doesn’t want to go inside for reasons that will soon become clear.

Elel is a blank cipher, and there’s no information on his master or on the amulet itself, which is mostly a MacGuffin.

The adventure begins once the heroes enter the tomb. The Tomb of Shavakas consists of two levels and 14 rooms. There’s several locked doors, a few traps, and rooms full of zombies and skeletons. It’s a very straightforward dungeon. I realize that things can’t get too crazy for such a low level party, though there are a few neat story hooks and hazards.

One of the coolest features of the dungeon is triggered right at the entrance. A pressure plate in the opening hallway releases gas from the walls. Instead of doing any damage, however, the gas can cause the PCs to see hallucinations. These are manifested as nifty story moments when they enter each room on the first floor, not unlike the ghostly glimpses into the past from P.B. Publishing’s The Haunt.

Succumbing to the gas is a DC 13 CON saving throw while witnessing a ghostly scene is a DC 15 WIS saving throw. An entire full page of the adventure is devoted to describing these four immersive scenes that tell the story of Shavaka and the dark rituals that took place here.

These hallucinations are so good I would not want to leave them up to saving throws – I would use all of them. Maybe the initial saving throw would be okay as the odds that at least one PC would be affected is all you would need to stage the well-written scenes.

Other than that the dungeon mostly consists of moving room to room and killing a bunch of undead. There’s a room of skeletons, a room of zombies, a room with a zombie priest mini-boss, another room of skeletons. It’s very combat heavy, which is tricky for a one-shot as combat in D&D takes longer than anything else.

DMs Guild Review

It’s also important to note that every single one of the enemies are undead. Clerics, Paladins, and those with bludgeoning weapons and fire damage will fare much better than PCs who primarily use poison spells or any mind spells such as Sleep. It’s not a fault of the adventure but just something to keep in mind when deciding if you want to use this adventure for your party. It’s one thing to introduce a challenge, it’s another if one of your PCs feels completely useless.

On the second floor of the adventure, the PCs are harassed by Soul Locusts. Every time they enter a room there’s a 50% chance they’ll be attacked by these unique creatures, who attempt a Life Steal attack to reduce the PCs’ maximum HP and quickly escape to transfer it to the final boss.

It’s a neat idea. The locusts are very weak and would probably rarely actually execute this plan, but it does instill a sense of dread and power that lingers throughout the area.

The final boss fight is a little disappointing. The mummy Shavaka is just a normal mummy and there’s nothing particularly special about the boss room (are any players going to be surprised when the mummy springs to life? Hell no). I also never like when bosses are by themselves. No matter the challenge (to an extent), action economy always wins out.

DMs Guild ReviewOddly there’s a secret room just beyond which features two mummies with reduced hit points, but could make for an even more challenging fight given you have twice the actions. Depending on how my party was faring I would be very tempted to simply add these two mistress mummies to the final battle – or have Shavaka retreat and summon them.

A single loot chest offers a decent amount of loot, but the double traps just feel pointless and mean. By the time the PCs are looting it, the adventure is essentially over, and any damage done seems ancillary and anti-climactic.

The amulet itself isn’t given any kind of statblock or magic item denotation. It’s a MacGuffin that the PCs simply deliver to Elel for a tidy payout.

As a mini-dungeon crawl “The Amulet of Shavaka” is linear, relatively short, and easy to run. It’s a gauntlet of skeleton and zombie-slaying, with some optional story moments that I would absolutely employ.

Pros:

  • The King’s Story Hallucinations are well-written and a great way to immerse the PCs into the history and storyline of the tomb – don’t leave them up to a series of saving throws!
  • The Plague of Soul Locusts is a neat way to harass the PCs and slightly alter the balance of power between them and the final boss.

Cons:

  • The map is bare-bones black and white graph paper with little to no details.
  • The adventure has at least two pieces of information that could’ve used proper player handouts – the Ritual book (which is summarized instead of fully written) and the plaque with the passcode phrase to enter the boss room.
  • The final confrontation with Shavaka feels anti-climactic as written, just a single regular mummy in a regular room, and he doesn’t speak at all.

The Verdict: The Amulet of Shavaka provides an effective low-level dungeon crawl filled with a gauntlet of undead battles.

A press copy of The Amulet of Shavaka was provided for the purposes of this review.

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Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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