DMs Guild Review – Gloria’s Gambit

A first level adventure involving bandits, goblins, and a tomb belonging to a beer-loving dwarf.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Gloria’s Gambit: Dungeon Edition” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Dylan Hyatt

Gloria’s Gambit is the first (and first-level) adventure in the designer’s episodic Orbs of the Planes campaign, though can just as easily stand on its own as a classic low-level adventure featuring goblins, bandits, traps, and treasure.

Part one features an extensive backstory involving the Notch Blades, a bandit group led by a brother sister duo named Glorien and Gloria. Their latest haul resulted in a map of a dwarven tomb, but when they arrived, they were attacked by goblins. The brother was captured while the sister fell into a water pit that held a secret escape tunnel.

Gloria’s plan is to lure some adventurers out to the tomb, clear out the goblins, then ambush them with the surviving bandits and take all the loot. I always enjoy the accompanying NPC party member as a storytelling device, and the PCs are given several opportunities to discover she’s not telling the truth (though oddly, none of them involve the very obvious Insight check), and could even end up clearing out her bandit camp before venturing into Thorrof’s Mine.

The bulk of the adventure revolves around the mine-turned-tomb for a beer-loving dwarf, now occupied by goblins and their orc leader. If Gloria is leading the way, she will purposefully set off the pit trap in a hallway, dropping her into the water as goblin arrows start flying. She’ll escape while the PCs delve deeper into the dungeon, battling goblins and their rust monster pets.

Clever PCs will notice the goblins and their weapons and armor are covered in chalk from a nearby cavern, rendering them immune to the rust monsters’ signature eroding abilities.

The back half of the dungeon features a boss battle with the orc leader and a captured, about-to-be-hanged Glorien, as well as the tomb entrance, featuring a massive beer pit trap that requires numerous skill checks to hop around on floating barrels and avoid multiple levels of exhaustion from the potent suds.

That’s a lot of varied content for a level one dungeon! Thorrof’s Mine provides a solid combination of combat, exploration, and role-playing.

Unfortunately the adventure seemingly forgets about its sibling bandit leaders. There’s no proper resolution for either Glorien or Gloria (both think the other is dead!), even when the PCs assault the very small and mostly inconsequential bandit camp in the nearby forest.

dms guild review

The adventure includes what I can only describe as optional free DLC, an additional two levels to Thorrof’s Mine. The party can either return to town to get the new quest, or simply venture east, drop down a pit, battle beetles and myconids, and find a stone bridge spanning a chasm.

The goal is to destroy the bridge to prevent a drow incursion from the Underdark, including using a special Disintegrate spell scroll over a number of rounds while drow scouts advance.

These extra dungeon levels lack the strong story hook from the original but are fun to explore and provide several interesting combat scenarios. On the other hand, it’s an awful lot of content to throw at measly first level PCs.

As much as I like the adventure, the same can’t be said of the product’s presentation. While there is some included artwork, it’s extremely tiny – including the grid maps, which are embedded at about 25% page size. The pages are also in desperate need of more paragraph breaks, leading to large walls of texts that make reading more difficult than it should be, and dragging down an otherwise solid low-level adventure.

Pros:

  • Interesting NPCs with clever story twists.
  • Scaling skill checks.
  • Excellent low-level dungeon design.
  • Optional expanded dungeon.

Cons:

  • Maps are tiny and embedded in the text.
  • Unattractive layout.
  • No epilogue.

The Verdict: Gloria’s Gambit features a well-designed low-level dungeon crawl and interesting story hooks, though fails to end with a satisfying conclusion.

A review copy of “Gloria’s Gambit: Dungeon Edition” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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