Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: U2 Danger at Dunwater

I always enjoyed the U-series of modules. This contains some serious (and series) spoilers.

For more reviews, please see my Reviews page.

U2 Danger at Dunwater

by Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull
TSR 1981
32 pages

U2 Danger at Dunwater is the second of the Saltmarsh trilogy. With a foe identified in U1, the PCs are sent off to deal with them.

U2 consists of a wilderness portion and a dungeon portion - plus, very likely, some heavy negotiations. The wilderness portion depends a lot on the PCs - they may go by boat or go overland. Overland is cheaper and more fraught with danger, by water is less dangerous but will cost money for a boat and crew.

The dungeon itself is well designed. There are multiple ways in - and the relatively strength of guards makes sense for those areas. There are multiple paths around the dungeon, and it is easy to trace lines from communal areas and living areas to rooms, kitchens, etc. It all makes reasonable sense and makes it feel more like entering a lair than a random monster pit.

Where U1 has a lot of explanation but it's all helpful, U2 repeats itself a lot. It spends wordcount in multiple sections explaining the main plot, the political divides in the lizard man camp, the political divides in the potential alliance members, and more. It could have been done once, more concisely. It's well-written, just over-written.

Its big flaw is that if the PCs figure out what's what, the adventure can end pretty abruptly. If they figure it out early enough, almost the whole adventure's text is set aside as you move on to U3.

Kudos to this adventure for putting a dragon in it. Seriously. How many people have played dungeons and dragons without interacting with a dragon? With them held off until later, with later meaning never? Well, there is one here and your 2nd level guys can deal with it.

War Stories

I ran this adventure once that I remember.

It was for my junior high school trio of gamers (JC, JA, JM) and their samurai (fighter), monk, and thief (eventually thief-acrobat, eventually dual-classed to magic-user). They took care of the bullywugs in a split second because two of the three had rolled up psionics (sigh) and both used Mind Blast. They decided it wasn't fun and never used their psionics powers ever again. They went on to fight the lizard men a bit and then talk to them. We didn't move on the U3 for some reason, possibly because I didn't have it yet. They loved the optional end fight, which we played out.

The flaw in U2 - you might need all of the details, you might need none of them - made playing with it tough. Unlike other modules, which when the players would read them they'd still need to deal with the actual fights and traps, this one hangs on "getting it." If you know, you pretty much kick the door down and say, "We come in peace!" and skip ahead. Since it was pretty routine when I was a kid to play with people who'd read the modules, this wasn't so useful of an adventure.

I never seriously looked at using this for GURPS, probably because of the way the GURPS games I started with U1 worked out - with total party kills. They never made it to the end of U1 nevermind to U2.

Overall: Well-written if a bit over-written. Interesting in the context of U1-U3, potentially a lot of fun with the right group, and has a well-detailed lair that can be repurposed.


  1. we played all the way through the 3rd module until an assault on the underwater fortress went awry. My brother's paladin sacrificed his character to let the party get away. Very memorable.

    1. I'll get a review of U3 up next. I only ran that once, that I remember, as a solo adventure for a thief. But it's a very, very cool module that gets less love than it deserves because it's all underwater.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...