This was originally written for The British Fantasy Society.
A town besieged by frightening subterranean creatures for reasons not fully understood. Players’ characters may be forced into action on behalf of the townsfolk, as well as to save their skin against a powerful, yet bizarre eldritch foe. This is no small feat, as a recent expedition underground uncovered ancient horrors, a threat that now seeks to push its way out from the depths. Do the players have what it takes to succeed in Conan: Shining Kingdoms – The Dwellers Below, a new release from publisher Modiphius.
This module offers a surprisingly large amount of content. It’s longer than a one-shot, but there are quite a few NPCs, creatures, and lore packed into this adventure. The challenge level is a bit high, but that’s not an issue. Not everything needs, or should be an introductory-level quest.
What’s more, this quest introduces great lore that can be reused in other sessions. The “slime god” is fantastic, and offers very interesting possibilities, as does the populated underground network of catacombs. The worldbuilding of this module is top-notch, especially for anyone that wants to dive back into the content, but doesn’t want to run the module again.
Dwellers Below can be split into an above-ground section and a below-ground section. Together they offer a robust challenge, but the village component felt kind of longish. The result is something that doesn’t necessarily fit cleanly into a single session but isn’t long enough to be a full campaign.
Is there a reason to make it such a point to fight to protect the town when the action is underground? There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but it could have been two one-shots. The final product is decent but ended up feeling a bit needlessly drawn out.
As a module, Dwellers Below offers a quality mission that can be dropped into almost any campaign. It’s a bit awkward because of its length, but there’s a lot in it. If a table has a group of PCs looking for a winnable, but difficult mission, this fits the bill.