Sinister Stone of Sakkara (SSS) is a well-written, very fun adventure with an excellently-designed dungeon structure. Nonetheless, it suffers from major usability issues and minor implementation issues. The usability issues could be remedied in Nethercity. The implementation issues are implementation-specific, so they may or may not be relevant in a new piece.
SSS aped the old TSR adventure design format very closely, which is cool, because “yay, nostalgia”. Unfortunately, TSR’s format is not good: it presents information in a cramped manner and often hides key details inside lengthy paragraphs. Two recent adventures have made impressive strides in information presentation: Forgive Us and Maze of the Blue Medusa; both can be used as inspiration for new works.
An illustrative example is the description of room 70 on page 50. It’s important that those six kobolds are distracted, but this detail is buried inside a lot of text, making it easy for the Judge to miss. Similarly, consider rooms 3 and 4 on page 39. A likely chain of events is that the party will enter room 3 and start a fight with the room 3 kobolds, and then more kobolds from room 4 will rush in as reinforcements. Unfortunately, this detail about the room 4 reinforcements is not given in room 3’s description. So it will go unnoticed unless the Judge has committed multiple room descriptions to memory.
One way to fix this is with better use of dungeon maps. In Maze of the Blue Medusa, the full dungeon map is divided into five-to-ten room subsectors. In the room writeups, each subsector map is reprinted right before its constituent rooms are described. The subsector maps are annotated with helpful information. Facts like the nearby room of reinforcements and the distracted status are examples of useful annotation content. It’s probably best to include both annotated and bare maps, so that you can use the latter as player handouts.
Another issue is the major NPC descriptions, which are mostly walls of text that are hard to parse on-the-fly. Justin Alexander presented a “Universal NPC Roleplaying Template” (http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/37916/roleplaying-games/universal-npc-roleplaying-template) that I think is much better-organized, but maybe there is a better alternative out there.
The implementation issues are less prominent and more subjective. While running SSS, I noticed two aspects that could have been expanded upon. First, the Lady Below has no timeline for her plans. She just sits around in the buried temple indefinitely instead of eventually making a move toward Turos Tem or another area. A classic use of a good timeline in a D&D adventure is Red Hand of Doom. In that adventure, the PCs have a fixed number of days to accomplish their goals before the hobgoblin army moves.
The second thing I noticed is that, throughout the dungeon, characters with Knowledge-type proficiencies may get extra flavor text read to them. That’s cool, and the text is well-written. But the flavor text never has any gameable consequences. If Knowledge (Ancient History) can suggest the locations of hidden areas or hint at how to avoid traps or something, it’s easier to justify taking instead of a more utilitarian proficiency like Healing III.
I notice that there’s also a supplement about Cyfaraun. I’m not sure how detailed it will be and what format it will use. I think that table-based approaches (e.g., Vornheim, Yoon-Suin) work better for describing cities than do list-and-keyed-map approaches (e.g., Red Hand of Doom, Ptolus). That is also a more subjective opinion.