After reading the first adventure in the Bleeding Edge series, Mansion of Shadows, I immediately picked up the second, titled Beyond the Towers. The title is a bit of a misnomer. There aren’t any towers involved; the title is in reference to the name of a mountain range featured in Mansion of Shadows. The prime story of this adventure centers on a researcher that has invested significant resources toward uncovering information about a small culture called the Hetepkans that died out thousands of years ago. An academic rival of his has not only paid a reptilian bandit to steal his findings and destroy his base of operations, but also convinced his lab assistant to sabotage his efforts as well. Enter the PCs. The first part of the adventure begins when the PCs and the researcher head into the swamp to check out the last rumored location of a ruin of a Hetepkan city. Thing go about as one might expect, except that the bandit that is out to steal the researcher’s work is camped nearby. His crew of lizardfolk is way too large for the PCs to simply charge at, which necessitates the need for the PCs to use guerilla tactics to wear their numbers down if they want to take them on. I think this might be something of a new experience for many gaming groups, as it forces them into something besides the average stand-up fight. Once the PCs arrive at the ruin, they discover that it’s actually a ziggurat that is covered by thousands of years of swamp growth. Once they find a way inside, it becomes something of a standard dungeon crawl, though if any of the bandit’s crew are still alive, they follow the PCs and hunt them through the corridors. After dealing with some traps and the general sort of creatures you’d expect in a millennia-old ziggaraut, the PCs come across enough treasure to make the researcher (and their coinpurses) quite happy. The majority of things I could say about this adventure are positive. Four new monstrous races are detailed. A new feat is presented. The adventure seems like a fun time for a group that’s being run by a competent DM. All that said, I do have one negative thing to point out. It seems to me that the author was trying to leave a lot of potential threads hanging throughout the adventure so that the DM could always come back afterward and use one of them as a starting point for a new adventure of his design. While I think that’s a fine idea in theory, what I ended up resulting in was a story that had several points that lead up to something, but then got left hanging. This is likely to be more of a DM issue than an issue for the players and might well be overlooked by readers that aren’t as anal as I am.
|Beyond the Towers|
|Author: W. Jason Peck||Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing|
|Publish Date: 2006||ISBN: 1-932442-70-7|
|Retail Price: $11.95|