DMs Guild Review – A Town Called Mud: The Haunted Mine

Defeat a deathlock in this Western-themed mini-adventure for level 4.

A review copy of “A Town Called Mud: The Haunted Mine” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Designed by: Benedict Hall

Westerns have a deep vein of colorful characters, familiar tropes, and fun settings and situations to mine from. A Town Called Mud: A Haunted Mine is a Western-inspired adventure for level 4 that doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

The 30-page adventure does indeed take place in a town called Mud, an old mining town that has recently fallen on hard times. Bandits have taken over a local farm, while the once-profitable mine is now a haven for undead zombies and specters.

The adventure is designed as a Western mixed with the Forgotten Realms, which is an intriguing set-up that had me excited from page one. There’s Rotgut, the surly half-orc bartender, Galen the dark elf (drow?) Sheriff and her deputy mastiff, and my favorite character, the cigar-chompin’, tough-talkin’ goblin merchant Satchel.

I love this town, but wanted more. We only get a few paper-thin characters and locations, along with two quests: defeat the local bandits, and clear out the undead-infested mines.

The mine is the main hook, but the bandits are much more enjoyable and appropriate to the genre. The DM has the option of attacking the party while on the road via ambush, and/or featuring a shoot-out at the bandits’ hideout.

Shoot-out? Yes, there are guns! The Dungeons Master’s Guide already includes variant firearm rules, with this adventure adding rudimentary pepperboxes.

The enemy gang is entwined with the deathlock who has taken over the mine, with half their gang raised as zombies, creating a fun Western scenario with a supernatural twist.

haunted mine pic

Unfortunately the Western theme mostly dissipates when we reach the titular mine. The haunted mine is a bog-standard dungeon crawl through a mostly linear cave.

The PCs are hounded by more zombies, with one optional room holding some opportunistic oozes. In the penultimate room, the mine foreman, whom we thought dead or missing, has actually been helping the deathlock in return for eternal life. He serves as the only social encounter in the mine, and not a particularly exciting one (more zombies).

The final boss chamber features a neat scenario, as the deathlock spends several rounds transferring its soul to a phylactery to become a full-fledged lich, while its homunculus flies around summoning skeletons by spreading teeth on the ground (a fun nod to Jason and the Argonauts?).

While every combat sequence features helpful sidebars of enemy tactics, the final battle gives me some concern. What if the players shove the deathlock out of its magic circle? What if they kill the very easily killable homunculus to stop the skeletal spawns? What if the PCs kick total ass here because a deathlock, even with a few skeletons, isn’t a big threat to a level 4 party?

I’m excited about using Westerns as genre-bending themes and settings for D&D adventures, but the main attraction in this adventure – the mine, fails to capitalize on these themes. It’s a solid enough undead dungeon crawl, but the first half of the adventure with the town and the gang is more thematic and enjoyable.

 Pros:

  • Option to skip chapter 1 with a summary for a faster-paced one-shot.
  • Enemy gang is half-zombies, and can be encountered via road ambush or at their hideout.
  • Suggested tactics for each combat encounter.
  • Western-themed layout and design.

Cons:

  • The mine devolves into a generic undead cave with an underdeveloped villain.

The Verdict: With the promise of a fun western theme, The Haunted Mine is a disappointingly straight-forward dungeon crawl that serves as a decent if unremarkable deathlock lair.

A review copy of “A Town Called Mud: The Haunted Mine” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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