DMs Guild Review – Tatarus: Journey into the Underworld

Explore the Underworld and help Persephone defeat Hades in this level 12 dungeon crawl.

A review copy of “Tatarus: Journey into the Underworld” 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: Elise Cretel

Greek Mythology can be considered the progenitor of the entire fantasy genre. The classic stories depict the original hero’s journey, with giant monsters, magical artifacts, and epic moments.

Tartarus: Journey Into the Underworld adapts the story of Persephone escaping from Hades and the Underworld into an effective one-shot dungeon crawl for 12th level parties.

At under 20 pages, the adventure is brief, and focused entirely on its 15-room dungeon crawl. The layout is gorgeous, however, featuring plenty of fantastic artwork, including a full color map of the dungeon drawn by Fernando Salvaterra. A separate zip file includes player versions of the map, multiple resolutions, and gridded and non-gridded versions. Yes!

The Introduction is the weakest element of the story; we get some backstory on Hades, Persephone, and her allies, but nothing about how or why the players are involved, or what brings them to the underwater entrance to Tartarus at Alcyonian Lake.

Thankfully things pick up once transported to Tartarus. The designer clearly knows their Greek Myths as we pay Charan to cross the Phlegethon River of magical fire and meet with Persephone, who aims to overthrow her captor Hades and rule the Underworld herself.

To accomplish this, she’ll need the player characters to touch three specific landmarks in Tartarus with their bloodied hands, then return to a chamber of petrified titan bodies to enact the ritual.

underworld entrance

The layout of the dungeon is sadly linear, with almost every room simply leading to the next one. Yet I loved the balance of combat and exploration, from battling giant magma mephits and titivilus to searching for three fate statues to unlock a magical treasure chest containing the powerful Shield of Artemis.

Once all three tasks are complete, Hades is summoned to the chamber, where Persephone, Kampe, and Hecate trap him with a cursed ring. From there the party has to withstand a battle with Cerberus (a gray render), the cyclops (hill giant), and Hecatoncheires (fire giant). Soon after, Hades himself transforms into a tentacled monstrosity (balhannoth).

I was very happy to see an appropriately epic final showdown as our heroes battle several giant monsters. Journey into the Underworld makes great use of many unique and terrifying Tier 3 creatures from Mordenakinen’s Tome of Foes. On the flip side, the designer doesn’t offer any alternative solutions in case DMs don’t own that supplement or don’t have access to it. MToF is listed as a requirement on the store page and in the introduction, but it would’ve been a nice touch.

Other than the awkward lack of adventure hooks in the intro, this may be one of my favorite adventures of the year. I’m biased towards loving Greek Mythology, and Tartarus: Journey into the Underworld absolutely nails the theme, storytelling, and epic battles that make that setting so compelling.

Pros:

  • Well-constructed dungeon with a solid balance of exploration, combat, and socializing.
  • Lovely full color dungeon map, including grid and gridless player versions.
  • Gorgeous layout filled with art, including focused slices of each area of the dungeon.
  • Utilizes unique and powerful monsters from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

Cons:

  • Lack of proper adventure hooks and narrative setup thrusts the DM (and the players) directly into the dungeon crawl.
  • No monster replacement suggestions if you don’t have access to Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

The Verdict: Featuring a well-designed, higher level dungeon crawl, Tartarus: Journey  Into the Underworld proves that Greek Mythology remains an excellent source of inspiration for heroic adventures.

A review copy of “Tatarus: Journey into the Underworld” 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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