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Designed by: Ryan Durney and Christopher Rush
Tier 4 content (levels 16-20) on the DMs Guild isn’t exactly common. High level adventures are exceedingly difficult to balance, and are often the culmination of years-long campaigns rather than a self-contained adventure.
“Mirrors of the Abyss” tackles a high level adventure with an excessively detailed deathtrap dungeon in an abyssal domain run by a vulpine demon woman named Eshebala. Think “Tomb of Horrors” but with a lot more personality, a la carte chambered dungeon design, and over 260 pages of detailed information and beautiful original artwork.
The adventure is specifically designed to be a challenge for large groups of high level players. In order to challenge demi-god PC, you have to spirit them away to a demonic domain run by a fox-woman demon goddess. Her abyssal domain is known as Vulgarea, and features 22 chambers of hazardous death.
Each chamber contains a self-contained situation, whether a literal deathtrap involving a human cheese grater and slicing blades, a deadly river rapids ride through snakes and crushing skulls, or a question and answer session between a pair of philosophical kings. I was impressed with the variety and originality on display in each design, and the skill checks and monsters are suitably high level and dangerous.
No matter what the danger or challenge presented in each chamber, they’re given a huge amount of detail and information. Most chambers include upwards of seven or eight pages to fully detail, sometimes more. PCs are given several objects or things or areas to search, look for, and discover, and each has multiple progressive skill check, all that yield new information. This level of exploration is very welcoming, as otherwise the dungeon lacks proper exploration, since the PCs are shunted from chamber to chamber upon completion.
The advantage to this sectioned approach to dungeon design is that chambers can be added or eliminated per the whims of the DM. Don’t like the river of snakes? Get rid of it. Want to focus more on the heavier role-playing chambers? A solid third of the chambers feature large amounts of role-playing opportunities.
The artwork throughout the massive adventure is striking. Designer Ryan Durney’s professional artistry is on full display, and we’re treated to large 1-page and 2-page spreads of scenes ripped straight out of each chamber. The artwork helps set the stage and theme of each area, and many could be used as effective player handouts.
Unfortunately we’re not given any battle maps. For an adventure solely focused on a dungeon crawl, this feels especially egregious. Some of the beautiful artwork could double as visual aides for certain areas, like the snake river, art gallery, and room of falling leaves, but the adventure really needs proper grid maps to help dictate where everything is in each chamber (and to use for VTTs like Roll20).
At 260+ pages the amount of detailed information is staggering, including dozens of pages worth of treasure card handouts and tables, demonic lore, illustrated secrets and clues, and even a d100 table of possible harbinger forms for the exciting maze hunt in the final chamber.
A high level, sometimes excessively cruel deathtrap dungeon isn’t necessarily my cut of tea, but “Mirrors of the Abyss” is easily one of the most impressive packages I’ve ever seen on the DMs Guild.
- Incredibly detailed information, from lengthy descriptions to multiple investigative skill checks for lore and clues, and consequences for every success and failure.
- Dungeon chambers feature a variety of hazards, traps, monsters, role-playing, and puzzles.
- Chambers are self-contained, allowing you to pick and choose whichever chambers you like to craft your own custom deathtrap dungeon.
- Incredible 3D artwork throughout, showcasing various scenarios.
- An impressive d100 list of gods and demons that can hunt, hinder, or help the PCs in the hedge maze chamber.
- Lacks proper battle maps.
- Overly cruel and manipulative to the PCs, including forcing them to self-harm or harm one another, and seemingly non-consensual sexual encounters.
The Verdict: “Mirrors of the Abyss” is 260+ pages of challenging, high level deathtrap dungeon design with an almost overwhelming amount of detail, content, and artwork.
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