by Matthew Pook
The Pit of Loch-Durnan marked the entry of new publisher Mystic Eye Games
into the already burgeoning market for d20 supplements and scenarios.
Written for a group of four to six characters of second through fourth
levels, it is set within their campaign world, The Hunt: Rise of Evil, yet
is generic enough to be run in most settings.
Behind David Manuel's decent cover, The Pit of Loch-Durnan is a book with a
few problems. The basic layout is all right, but beset by the basic type of
typographical errors that can be picked up through the simple use of a
spellchecker. Oddly, the sidebars are placed at the bottom of the
page. The overall appearance of the book is gloomy, but the most striking
problems are to do with the profuse artwork and the maps. The interior
illustration can be best described as cartoon-like and amateurish. Nor is it
improved by the poor reproduction, as much of it has bitmapped quite
horridly. The book's maps, of which there are many, also suffer from this
problem. Whilst they can still be read and are thus at least serviceable,
they are, to be quite blunt, plain ugly. They also appear to have been
created using a piece of mapping software, but no details are given of the
So if the appearance of this book is not all that it should be, does this
carry over into the writing? Thankfully not, though it does deal with some
gruesome issues and perhaps should have carried a warning on the cover
rather than the disclaimer on the inside. The plot of The Pit of Loch-Durnan
has the party asked to come to the aid of the small village of Loch-Durnan.
This isolated community has a secret - it possesses a small, but working
gold mine, the Pit of the title. Recently the Pit has become infested with
goblins, preventing any mining and the characters are asked to clear them
[PLOT SPOILER ALERT]
Of course, nothing is as simple as this and both village and Pit hide a
great deal more. True, the Pit is invaded by goblins, but they are a welcome
addition as far as the villagers are concerned. Both they and the goblins
have become the corrupted servants of a minor demon, itself imprisoned
within a crystal in the Pit. The party only begins to discover this after
they are dumped into the mine, not knowing that they are to be fresh
converts for the demon. Getting out of the Pit involves getting past the
tribe of goblins. Thankfully, allies
are at hand, coming from unexpected quarters and with their aid and advice,
escape can be achieved. Actually, getting out is only half the task, as there are still the village
ringleaders to be found and dealt with.
[END OF PLOT SPOILER]
Overall, this is a decently plotted adventure with some problems in its
presentation. The authors have attempted to bring a gothic-horror feel to their
fantasy, but they have not been entirely successful. Primarily this is due to the
poor artwork and production values, which does nothing to evoke the kind of
atmosphere they want. Instead both art and writing comes across as unnecessarily
Further, the fact that the adventure is generic enough to slot into
almost any game is both a boon and a bane for The Pit of Loch-Durnan.
Making it suitable for any setting means that any referee can pick it up
and run it in the setting of their choice, whether purchased or
designed. Yet this negates the function the adventure should
be performing as the first scenario from Mystic Eye's campaign world, The
Hunt: Rise of Evil: introducing the setting.
The Pit of Loch-Durnan is not a total success as a first release. Yet I am
still reluctant to be quite so harsh to the initial book from a new company,
so I shall instead describe The Pit of Loch-Durnan as
being hampered by a number of teething problems. In its favour, it does
represent not unreasonable value for its price ($11.95 for 72-pages).
Likewise the plot is involving, and together with the length, this does
represent several sessions of game play.
The author would like to thank Roj at Wayland's Forge for his assistance