NOTE: Joseph Goodman offered me a review copy of To Duel With Dragons to partly because I didn’t care much for Goodman Games’ first Iron Heroes adventure, Song of the Blade. I don’t think this biased my review, but I wanted to make full disclosure up front.
Krag was not happy. It had been nearly a month since he had been with a woman or drunk a good cup of mead and the shabby little hamlet that he and his companion had stumbled into did not offer much in the way of whoring or drinking. To make matters worse, his Kashite companion had been moaning in his sleep every night since they had escaped from that damned barrow. Krag vowed that from now on he would only fight things that bled…
To Duel With Dragons is an Adventure for Iron Heroes, the D20 variant RPG from Malhavoc Press. Designed for a party of 4th level PCs, the adventure is 64 pages long and divided into three chapters. The layout does a nice job of aping the Iron Heroes rulebook and the art is decent stuff. I especially liked the cover image. The maps are readable, but contain some repetitive elements.
Most D&D style adventures that I read can be neatly divided into either straight up dungeon crawls or a series of ‘plot driven’ set pieces. Duel falls into the ‘plot driven’ category, but there are several dungeon crawls that the PCs will have to fight their way through on the way to the adventure’s conclusion. With this style of adventure there is some necessary railroading, but I was happy to see that the adventure’s author, Matt Spengeler, does give the GM some sidebar advice about what to do if the players’ actions diverge from the expected.
I don’t want to give away too much of the actual plot, but the adventure starts out with the PCs performing a good deed for a little hamlet and then becoming involved in something much bigger. The bigger involves dragon graveyards, a horde of human warriors, a swamp filled with monsters and an ancient tomb. Fun for all!
Duel can be played with just the core Iron Heroes rulebook, but Mr. Spengler does include sidebars with various ‘zones’ at several places in the adventure using the rules from Mastering Iron Heroes. He also makes some suggestions for incorporating other rules from that book as well. He even includes some suggestions for slotting the adventure into the Swordlands campaign setting. In addition to the adventure, Duel has stats for three new monsters and one new template.
In my opinion, To Duel With Dragons is a much better Iron Heroes adventure than Goodman Games’ first release, Song of the Blade. It doesn’t look and smell like just another generic d20 adventure that has had the Iron Heroes brand stamped on it. I think the author tries hard to give Duel an epic, but gritty feel and this goes along way toward capturing the ‘feel’ of Iron Heroes.
I congratulate Joseph and Goodman Games on an excellent adventure. If this is any indication as to the quality of their future Iron Heroes releases, I lood forward to picking them up.