review: Knowledge Illuminates

I'm already bored with marketing (which consisted of a blog post shared on G+ and posts to four forums). So on to other things.

Now that ASE2-3 is out the door I've got some time to read some of the gaming material I bought in the past few months - namely, Knowledge Illuminates and Barrowmaze.  Just finished KI, and just started BM - so I figure I'll toss out a review of KI, since there aren't many out there.

Completely coincidentally, Bryce at tenfootpole.org just reviewed KI as well...

Disclosure - I know the author, Tim Shorts, from a few sessions in Trey's Weird Adventures campaign earlier this year.

So, Knowledge Illuminates is a small lair-type dungeon, with 11 rooms. I like it quite a bit. The idea is that there's a box full o' demon, some of his minions got out in a wizard's lab, everyone dies, and eventually the party stumbles across the lair.  This is the only weak point - the hooks to find the wizard's lab aren't very strong. I'd toss them entirely and leave a treasure map somewhere instead.

The lair itself has a few monsters, and a LOT of magical loot for that room density. Treasure, btw, is using a silver standard - values are always referenced as "silver pieces".  It's a fairly old-school ratio of monsters to empty rooms - the dungeon is front-loaded with the monsters, so as you go deeper in it's all traps and learning the horrible history of the chest, and learning various bits of magical knowledge that can greatly increase your loot-haul, if the players pay enough attention.  The trap that slowly turns players into ghouls is particularly nice - I can see that causing a certain amount of heartache.

I would have liked to see the demon-locked-in-the-chest statted out and illustrated, in case the players go full stupid and let him out.

There's also a small wilderness area around the dungeon described. This stuff is mostly unrelated to the dungeon (except the hangman's tree, which has a nice payoff if you've read some books in the dungeon). As evidenced by the small amounts of treasure most encounters have, this is filler should the players go wandering afield - the real meat of this adventure is all underground.

Tim's got a chart at the back that shows how he doles out XP - it's more of rewards for certain accomplishments, instead of the straight xp-for-treasure. I'm too crusty and mean for that - you get your loot, and that's all the XP you'll be getting.

So it's a good 1st level dungeon, that can be run through in a single session.  If you're looking to get a copy, I believe there's a PDF up at rpgnow or you can order a hardcopy from Tim directly.


  1. Hey Pat, thanks for taking the time for the review. Much success to the new ASE. I believe they are printing my copy as I write this.

  2. Same. I ordered mine on Friday (ASE #1 as well). I've heard many good things, and am looking forward to seeing it in print.