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DDAL05-18 The Mysterious Isle (5e)
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/30/2017 00:05:00

Game design is an art onto itself, which means, game designers will sometimes make creative decisions that run counter to the conventional wisdom. This adventure is one of them. Let me explain.

Remember back when you DM'd level 1 characters? They were fighting goblins and kobolds, kobolds and goblins, on and on — and as the PCs advanced in levels, the goblins disappeared. Where did all the goblins go? Now they're fighting demons and dragons. Everything scales, so that everything is just the right amount of hard. The problem, of course, is that the characters never truly get to feel like badasses at the higher levels. (I mean, can you imagine Lost Mines of Phandelver for a level 17 character?) For most 5e players, this module will be their first taste of tier 4, and the game designer made a creative decision. Let's treat the players like the world-beaters they are. Yes, other reviewers will say DDAL05-18 is a cake walk, and they aren't wrong. But where they may see as a flaw, I see as a creative decision. In context of the MUCH HARDER DDAL05-19 "Eye of Xxiphu" that accompanies the "Mysterious Isle," it can almost be seen as a clever trap. Lure the players with a false sence of confidence, and then crush them. SPOILERS AHEAD, OF COURSE.

Part 1. Oh SEER, you minx, so good to see you again and again and again. As DMs, I know we play that tedious game in the first chapter where the players must ask the "right questions" to get the various bulleted information. But some of the stuff simply shouldn't be skipped. Of course, SEER will explain Xxiphu to them. Don't leave your players in the dark.

Here. Have a magic item. (Your players are going to love this.) SEER is giving away magic items because "the situation is so dire," and the players can each pick one. I totally get the metagame reason. Some tier 4 players got the short end of the stick when it came to magic items during their earlier adventures. A rogue has a +1 great sword he/she can't do anything with. A wizard ended up with all the wands, and it's just not as fun as it sounds. The paladin would really love a +3 shield, but never found one. Welcome to tier 4. Membership has its privileges.

Typo warning: Listed as Horn of Valhalla (Iron) on page 6, and listed as Horn of Valhalla (Bronze) on page 17. I'm assume since everything else is "Very Rare" that the author meant to give out the bronze one. But his mistake is your player's gain if you're feeling generous.

Warning: Please, please, please try to disuade your characters from a scenario where they ALL grab a Horn of Valhalla. Can you imagine a boss battle with 20d4+20 berserkers running around? I can, and it sounds horrible.

Flying on dragons. Sharing stories of past deeds. Cute.

Part 2.

On page 8, "We'd be disintegrated before getting to the isle." This is D&D. Do not use the word "disintegrate" unless you LITERALLY mean disintegrate. Your players are going to get tripped up on the idiomatic expression.

Two giant sharks. Yawn.

Magic disruption with limited teleportation seems to be a theme at higher levels in D&D.

Players can pick their poison: underwater, surface, or air, each with their own random encounter table — but ultimately, everything leads to the underwater. And the underwater aspects of this campaign get tedious for both players and DMs.

Part 3.

Wonko the Magnificent, the visions and confusion, elemental portals, purple crystals formed by a manifestation of the Far Realm (?!)... it's all pretty cool — and can be potentially confusing to your players. Role with it.

The "Save the Princess" encounter is your big battle for this module — and it shouldn't be too difficult for tier 4 players who know how to manage a slug fest. I do love that the designer says to toss in a dragon turtle for an additional challenge.

Conclusion (not the alternative conclusion). This is easily my favorite part of the entire mission. I love it! The characters arrive to meet SEER a full tenday before they first met her. Time travel in D&D! Have fun with this. Of course, it segues nicely into "Eye of Xxiphu." Imagine these characters informing SEER about all the stuff that SEER later informs the characters about. Knowing that this will happen, the best DMs will find a nice way to call back the original meeting. ("Oh, that's why SEER said what she said.") It's fun to think that the characters will tell SEER to go find them for this mission. ("And can you find for us these magical items...?")

Treasure: An ivory knife worth 25,000 gp? (Typo: On page 14, it's a "platinum knife.") I don't even know how this is possible. But whatever, I will accept it and move on.

  • Design error on my pdf: Unlike the other DMs Guild downloads, the display of the titles on this one is all wonky on Preview (Mac).


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-18 The Mysterious Isle (5e)
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DDEX3-04 It's All in the Blood (5e)
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 22:47:18

Let's start with the length of this adventure. There's a reason you don't see 8 hour adventures being released as often (or at all) through the Adventure's League. It puts a real burden on any local retailers that want to run these campaigns at the store. Something like DDEX3-04 can't be run on a weeknight in one sitting, and it leaves Saturday or Sunday — once again, if you want to run it in one sitting and not break it up. (Note: It can be easily broken into two rounds.) However, this adventure brings back warm memories of the all-night D&D sleep over adventures I once hosted in my youth. It's a wild ride, and it is a great lead up to DDEX03-16 "Assault on Maerimydra," which is quite possibly my favorite D&D module... ever? Yes, I'll go there. Ever. (And is another lenghty adventure. Apparently, I have a "type.") SPOILERS AHEAD, BE WARNED.

For adventure hooks, "message by squirrel" should be standard for all adventures. I think we can agree on this.

Round 1. Part 1. This sets up the adventure as a search and recover mission. The drow of Szith Morcane need Xaven Tanor'this needs to be rescued in order to have any hope reclaiming their home. The "faerzress" sets up a new standard for adventures, tier 3 and up: Do not even think about teleporting. Whether it's this one, or Durlag's Tower, or Eye of Xxiphu, teleportation spells get shut down. (Do the game designers worry that teleporting away will break the game? Surely we can have other motivations to keep players in their place.) If time is of the essence, you can blitz through this section quickly. But why?

Round 1. Part 2. Madness and navigating the tunnels adds some interesting flavor with in-game consequences. With the Howling Pit Encounters, four encounters can be quite a handful — but the randomization is nice. It create a dungeon crawl without the dungeon. For home brews, you could add or reduce as needed for time.

Round 1. Part 3. Like so many adventures, there is some great background here. ("Maram il Vass was approached directly by agents of Graz'zt shortly after the demon lord was exiled to the Underdark" and so on.) It's a shame that there's virtually no way for the players to figure this stuff out. #CoolStoryBro

"Grabber Forth is a big fan of using counterspell to annoy enemey spellcasters." Who isn't? Players don't normally get to tier 3 murdering everything in sight. It should be fairly easy to get past this section without a fight. Also, if YOU had one 9th level spell, would you take Time Stop? Probably not. But it's just too cruel to go with Wish, Meteor Swarm, or Power Word Kill. Agreed?

Maram il Vass is a ultroloth. But your players might get through the whole adventure without ever finding out. The negotiations can be very entertaining.

Round 1. Part 4. The setting of the Hanging Gardens is delightfully creepy. Kudos to the writing team.

Possible typo: "Hanging Gardens" and "Blood Needs" are both labelled as part 4.

Round 2. Part 5. Black Ember Outpost can be a real fun challenge — getting past the walls and into the outpost should be a pain.

Round 2. Part 6. Everyone's favorite imp PIPYAP makes a return (originally appeared in DDEX1-8). I gave this module an extra star just for including Pipyap, and will continue to give all Pipyap appearances an extra star. The "Deal with a Devil" story reward is kind of hilarious. A warlock can have Pipyap as... no, not his familiar, but as his/her patron. Bow down.

In this section, moving around Maerimydra is the real challenge. If overwhelmed, don't kill the players — have them take prisoner where they can fight in the Bloddy Coliseum.

Round 2. Part 7. Another typo? The overview has a part 7. The actual adventure doesn't. Part 6 is 7? Don't worry about it too much. It all works out in the end. Players need to bring a live fire giant back with them, which can be an interesting problem for them to work out.

Rewards and treasures. In my opinion, the Ioun Stone of Regeneration isn't too great as a legendary item — but players don't get too many opportunities for a legendary item, for obvious reasons. So enjoy. It wouldn't have be my first choice. And Pipyap coughs it up rather easily. If it were truly "legendary," you hope for a more epic intro than Pipyap simply handing it over. That's a small quibble on my part.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-04 It's All in the Blood (5e)
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Dungeon Masters Guide (1e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 19:21:51

The document looks very good. I was very impressed with the small document size. Unfortunately, I can only use this on my computer - it crashes whe I try to load it on my Kindle, and takes 3-4 minutes to open on my Tablet. Both of these devices handle other products, such as the Rules Cyclopedia, perfectly.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Masters Guide (1e)
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Monster Manual (1e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 19:21:42

The document looks very good. I was very impressed with the small document size. Unfortunately, I can only use this on my computer - it crashes whe I try to load it on my Kindle, and takes 3-4 minutes to open on my Tablet. Both of these devices handle other products, such as the Rules Cyclopedia, perfectly.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Manual (1e)
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Players Handbook (1e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 19:20:59

The document looks very good. I was very impressed with the small document size. Unfortunately, I can only use this on my computer - it crashes whe I try to load it on my Kindle, and takes 3-4 minutes to open on my Tablet. Both of these devices handle other products, such as the Rules Cyclopedia, perfectly.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Players Handbook (1e)
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DDEX1-06 The Scroll Thief (5e)
by Remington A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 18:33:31

This is my favorite module out of all the ones I've played, and very fun as a DM. There's a large variety of NPC personalities that are very fun to play as a DM/interact with as a player. A great mix of role playing and combat. I love that all the factions have a chance to get an extra renown from doing something related to their organization, not just one. A load of fun for players and DM's alike!

One note to DM's: I had a mixed level party that counted as a strong party, so I changed the shadows to specters. Be careful with mixed-level parties, as lower level adventurers can easily die from that life drain. Good to provide a challenge to a strong party, but a level one character won't stand much of a chance.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-06 The Scroll Thief (5e)
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DDEX2-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (5e)
by Kenneth W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 17:51:43

I like Mulmaster. The city has many good hooks and evocative elements like Cloaks, Hawks, Blades. This module is a good starting place in Mulmaster with a good hook and simple but enjoyable plot.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (5e)
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DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
by Bertram M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 14:01:30

I thoroughly enjoyed running this module. While not superbly 1st level player/newbie friendly, it still provides a decent challenge. Plus it actually shows how the Kobolds actually fight. Not just a bunch of mobs trying to kill the players. Plus.... magic fart shrooms!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
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DDAL05-01 Treasure of the Broken Hoard (5e)
by Remington A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2017 07:51:47

This is a great module to run for players brand new to D&D, or for anyone starting a new level 1 AL character. The mini-adventures with long rests in between allow new players to play their characters fresh multiple times in one session, and get the hang of the game. A lot of fun story bits as well, just the right level of challenge.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-01 Treasure of the Broken Hoard (5e)
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DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
by Kyle K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 13:07:13

this adventure was written very well , fun to play and run .



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
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DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
by Grigory P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 02:37:30

Travis did an amazing job of making a very small foe a HUGE one in regards to game difficulty. The map, the way kobolds attack player characters, the way traps are made and the way actual monsters work is pure enjoyment. However to be honest the final encounter is a slight overkill. If not for a guideline of Twin-Casted Haste, the final boss can just throw 2 fireballs on a tier-1 party and finish it with little problem. You have to read that guidance if you want your players to have a chance of winning.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-16 Parnast Under Siege (5e)
by Paulo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 01:17:21

This is a unique module in that it can be run as a mini-epic. In fact it was seemed to be designed as such thus it is recommended you do so in order to fully appreciate it. I ran this for a three-person party of tier 1s and I had no choice but to cut out the part of the cave encounters in order to make it finish within the recommended 4 hours. The mechanices of the final encounter with Bad Fruul's siege was fun as it showed some tangible rewards from the PCs' efforts. The whole storyline for the Tier 1 quests though seemed a bit disjointed with this module doing its best to patch it up together into something coherent.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-16 Parnast Under Siege (5e)
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DDAL05-09 Durlag's Tomb (5e)
by Paulo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 01:04:37

Now if Durlag's Tower was a sandbox, you don't get any more linear than Durlag's Tomb. This is a straight-up classic dungeon crawl, with little to no RP social encounters and puzzles, and a greater emphasis on combat, traps, and do or die skill checks. And again, you also have that annoying special stone mechanic that makes your teleportation and planar travel wonky as hell. But I get the idea behind the design choices, because death traps and such are one of the few reliable ways of providing a possible challenge to high level parties.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-09 Durlag's Tomb (5e)
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DDAL05-08 Durlag's Tower (5e)
by Paulo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 00:56:25

This was the first Tier 3 module I ever ran, and I found it enjoyable for the most part. The intro set-up of having tea with SEER was entertaining. The adventure itself is quite interesting as it is not as linear as the previous modules this season. You have a central location or hub from where the players decide where to go to next, so if you like giving your players that sandbox experience this is perfect. I will say though that I am not yet quite sure what to make of the penchant for higher level adventures to blanket nerf or curtail certain forms of magic like teleportation or planar travel. On one hand I understand it for balance reasons, but it feels kind of cheap when characters seem to be "punished" for being what they are, spellcasters.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-08 Durlag's Tower (5e)
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DDAL05-13 Jarl Rising (5e)
by Paulo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2017 00:47:36

I like Jarl Rising because it gives you options. The various possible encounters included in the module allow you to mix and match so that the events don't always unfold the same way everytime you run it. You can mix in some practical problem solving or a little roleplaying too with the various encounters. It is also because of this that it is one of the few modules I have consistently run that I can finish within the recommended time. The final encounter in the end can be a bit of a slog if players don't come in prepared or are not clever.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-13 Jarl Rising (5e)
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