Tonight I'm looking at All Stars Take on the Mega Dungeon. Now, everyone has their own opinions on who's a star adventure writer and who isn't, but I recognized 3 of the 4 names right off the bat, and 2 (if not all 3) are certainly starters on any adventure writers team I might assemble.
Now, the adventures within all use geomorphs that can be found in Gamin Paper's Mega Dungeon 1 release, but it's not required for play, as the dungeons are all mapped out in each adventure (and labeled if you did want to use the sheets with it).
Lets get to the meat of the matter: How do the 4 adventures stack up?
The first one we get is The Temple of the Half-Born by Monte Cook. Certainly the headliner. He's pulling this from his Ptolus setting and redesigning it. I have no idea how close in remains true to the original, and I'm not dragging the monster out to check. It's for 7th and 8th level characters. Monte seems very comfortable with the Pathfinder system (as well he should) and there are DC checks throughout the text. Undead heavy, but what do you expect for a dungeon under a temple? Four Tankards out of Five
Arena of Souls is the next in line. It's written by Brian Cortijo and is for characters of levels 3 and 4. The author's name doesn't ring a bell for me. Here's where it lost me: "PCs begin the adventure waking up alone in an unfamiliar setting, stripped of all of their possessions". Sorry, tapped out and moved on to the next adventure, as this screams "railroad" to me. No rating, as I stopped reading at the above point.
Alright, Ed Greenwood is the next author. He gives us Lost Coins and Flying Bones for 4th and 5th level characters. I happen to like Ed's work. He gives a rumor list and nice background material. Ed also gives very detailed encounter descriptions. It gave me an old school feel, but then any adventure that includes a Gibbering Mouther tends to do so for me. I'll give Ed Four Tankards out of Five.
Last but certainly not least, we get Keep Away From the Borderlands! by Steven Schend for beginning characters. Now, I'm going to quote Steven's opening paragraph, just to give you a feel for what follows:
As much as I’d love to make this a full homage to the early days of roleplaying, I won’t bother you with a “Welcome to the land of imaginations!” and all that. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve played in or run a roleplaying game before using one set of rules or another. You probably don’t need hand-holding to walk you through a dungeon or tell you how to prepare or use this material1. What you do need is a good old-fashioned starter adventure to get a new campaign rolling—and I hope this module !ts the bill for you.
How's that for getting you in the Old School mood? There is an implied, sandboxie setting that could be fit easily into nearly any larger setting. There's a rumor list, there's a Generic Dungeon Details list (I'm yoking this) and even a Generic Corpse Detail list. Some of the NPCs even have pre, current and post adventure status's written up for them and well as some post adventure hooks. It's an excellent starter adventure for new or experienced DMs. Five out of Five tankards. Heck, I'd even give Steve a "buyback" if he patronized the Tavern ;)
Overall, a very strong product. Even if you just used the 3 adventures I read, the cost to you would be 2.50 a piece. Consider the railroad a freebie thrown in with purchase ;)