The Vemora is the first scenario published for Forge Out Of Chaos by Mark Kibbe back in 1998. It retailed back then for $7.98 and consists of a 28-page staple-bound book with colour cover art (by Paul Butler) and some B&W interior art (by Mike Connelly & Don Garvey who worked on the original rulebook), including two maps and lots of drawings of rooms and enemies discovered during the scenario.
I must point out that this is a MUCH better PDF reproduction than the Forge Rulebook: no missing pages, clean images, only the two dungeon maps are slightly off-level.
The module features a detailed NPC and two new monsters (mutant animals, nothing special) and a small amount of information about the setting. The scenario is set in the realm of Hampton, where, nearly a century ago, High King Higmar ordered the construction of Thornburg Keep and its underground sanctuary to house a precious healing artifact, the Vemora. Then a plague arrived that proved resistant to all medicine and magic and Higmar ordered the evacuation of his stronghold. Since then, monsters have moved in to inhabit the underground levels (as they do!) as well as a couple of groups of marauding humanoids (Higmoni and Ghantu) looking for loot. The Vemora itself remains hidden and inviolate, deep underground.
Rumours of adventure bring the PCs to the village of Dunnerton. Recently, the monster known as a Cavasha attacked the village and blinded its defenders, including the Elder's son. The Elder wants the PCs to hike out to Thornburg Keep and retrieve the Vemora, to use its magic to heal his son. The cover of the book depicts the very Lovecraftian Cavasha attacking the village. It's an exciting scene, with villagers falling blinded after it uses its gaze power. Unfortunately, the Cavasha itself never features in the scenario, so this picture is a tease, really.
Dunnerton is sketched out in essential detail only. There's a Dwarven smith who will offer free armour and weapon repairs to PCs working for the Elder; a Sprite trader runs the store; the Drunken Dragon Inn offers lodgings and a brief rumour table; and there's a temple of Shalmar, Goddess of Healing and the priest, an Elf named Jacca Brone will accompany the party if they need a healer. His character sheet is provided in full along with some pointers for the GM to roleplay him.
The underground keep is only two levels, with about thirty rooms on each. Room descriptions are detailed and there's careful Referee advice about using skills like Plant ID and Tracking, giving out experience checks and likely monster reactions.
The dungeon has a lovely tone to it. There's a pleasant frisson to investigating a fallen stronghold, working out what each room originally was and gathering clues about the fates of the inhabitants. Some rooms have a spine-tingling quality when magical fires ignite to welcome newcomers for the first time in decades. The humanoid raiding party reveals itself thrugh tracks and ransacked rooms, so the PCs will deduce they are not alone in the complex. There is a smattering of simple unintelligent crittes to fend off and a coupe of more threatening monsters on each level, but nothing that should overwhelm a careful party, and it's possible to negotiate with the humanoids and even unite against a common foe.
Finding the Vemora involves tracking down three keys hidden across the site as well as discovering its vault in the Royal Chambers on the second level. A pit trap could deposit the whole party into the second level against their will and teleport arches could give the party access to the Royal Chambers right from the first level.
The map is cleverly constructed, with the first level radiating form a central spine of halls that give the players direct access to the Great Library, which houses a nasty monster but clues to recovering the Vemora. The second level has a donut-structure, with the Cell Block and Royal Chambers forming separate spurs. This sort of rational layout is fun to explore and can be exploited by tactically-minded players.
This is an exemplary tutorial dungeon for a novice group of players. Conversion to D&D is super-easy, barely an inconvenience. In fact, it has all the best features of Basic D&D Module B1 (In Search of the Unknown), while being tighter and more focused: the quest for the Vemora, and the collection of keys to unlock it, gives structure and purpose to the adventure, rather than aimless wandering.
The limitation of the scenario is that this is all it is. Exemplary tutorial dungeons are all very well, buteven back in 1998, the sort of dungeon adventure The Vemora provides was pretty dated: it might perfect the formula of In Search of the Unknown, but that means perfecting something already 20 years old at the time.
Nonetheless, some Referees will want to adapt this, dropping the Cavasha into the dungeon instead of those undead Magouls and doing a bit more with the plague mystery.
In conclusion, if you play any sort of OSR RPG or any iteration of D&D and come across a cheap copy of The Vemora, don't disdain it. It's a little gem of an introductory dungeon that provides the right balance of mystery solving, exploration, combat and a sense of wonder. There's a bunch of noob adventurers out there who will remember it fondly if they get a chance to cut their teeth on it.