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In Volo's Wake (5e)
by James L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2017 12:00:59

The content here is very nice, but the number of errors is embarrassing. Did ANYONE proofread this material?



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
In Volo's Wake (5e)
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DDAL05-13 Jarl Rising (5e)
by Ashley K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2017 22:31:57

Jarl Rising is the weakest adventure of the Storm King's Thunder Season. The best way to describe this is "incomplete" and I also feel that it is too similar to previous tier 2s in the season in it's pacing and content. The encounters in Jarl Rising are lackluster (litearlly the first and last scripted encounters are exactly the same, only the map changes) and definitely require a lot of re-working to make them interesting for the players. There is no real plot to this adventure, no reason for the players to get involved in the matter at hand. Perhaps if it had more to do with the Frontier Scouts or Rune Magic (as we have seen tier 2 adventures discussing this season) then it would be more interesting. But in it's current state it barely has anything to do with the storyline and adds nothing new. If I didn't have to run it to earn a particular DM Quest reward for Season 5, I wouldn't even have bothered. This adventure is weak, boring, and as previously stated feels incomplete. Don't waste your time or money on this one unless absouletly necessary.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-13 Jarl Rising (5e)
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GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi (Basic)
by Danny N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2017 04:55:45

Generally, I like this Gaz. Ierendi is an interesting place. I was a lot disappointed from the quality of the Scanned maps. There has to be a better way to get a quality Map for Ierendi City. the scanned maps doesn't add up to create the full poster.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi (Basic)
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DDAL05-13 Jarl Rising (5e)
by Jasmine L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2017 17:55:01

(Spoiler warning.)

Not a fan of this one.

First off, the plot, or lack thereof. The goal of the adventure is to get to some random place for a contrived reason that the module mostly glosses over. Along the way, you fight random encounters. And...that's pretty much it. That's the module. The story is thin almost to the point of nonexistence, and frankly, the whole impetus for the adventure seems suspect as well—why can't SEER just cast Divination? There's no indication that she even tried it, or of why it wouldn't work. There's no particular sense of urgency either. Not only have I had players take multiple long rests with impunity, I've seen them turn around halfway through, go back to buy spellcasting services, and then start the journey over again. Yes, yes, the looming threat of Jarl Ryndölg, whatever, but he's barely mentioned at all and it's not clear exactly how this mission is going to help stop him. The information you get at the end essentially amounts to "Yes, as we suspected, he is a threat, duh." Also, the title of the adventure is "Jarl Rising" and the Jarl isn't even in it! What's up with that?

As for the encounters—okay, well, first off, they don't advance the plot at all. The first encounter is against some dudes who killed your contact. Okay, sure, I guess that one is technically plot-related. And then all of the rest are random encounters, only one of which ties into the story (and then only loosely). So that's lame. How about encounter balance? Well, for some reason the module is balanced for a party of five 10th level characters. I do not understand this decision. It makes the encounters impossible to adjust based on APL, because every party is going to have an APL below what is expected. Five 5th-level characters undertaking the adventure are considered to be a Weak party. Five 9th level characters are also considered to be a Weak party. The module expects you to use the same adjustments for both parties. To say this is unhelpful would be an understatement.

And the editing is terrible. The rewards in the rewards section don't match what was in the encounter sections. The treasure from the first encounter is missing, the XP from the broken bridge is inconsistent, and there's no XP listed for the Ice Spire Ogre Zombies. There are other minor editing mistakes here and there as well, which makes the module resemble a playtest document more than a finished product. As for organization—there is a whole section on how the players are supposed to decipher Blót's notes in order to discover the route to Ise Festing. The whole skill challenge is presented in Part 3, after the players have already arrived at Ise Festing. Why?

So, here is an overview of the adventure. Part 1: Receive exposition. Part 2a: Travel. Find a dead guy. Sad face. Fight some dudes. Part 2b: Travel some more. Fight random encounters. Arrive at key location. Part 3a: Decipher dead guy's notes to find the way to the key location you already arrived at in Part 2b. Part 3b: Fight another random encounter. Get MacGuffin. The End.

I don't mind travel encounters on principle. A couple other Tier 2 modules this season used them and they were okay. But those modules had interesting payoffs for when you got to your destination. DDAL05-04 had an open-ended problem-solving sort of encounter with a potentially cool setpiece scene. DDAL05-05 had some great roleplaying and gave you outs to sneak or talk your way past the problem. And in both of them, those final encounters also resolved the adventure's plot. This one just hands you some ogres and says "Here, fight these guys." There's no provisions for sneaking or talking or creative solutions, it just says: "Unless the group approaches with stealth, the ogres immediately notice the party approaching from the either [sic] path into the area. Beeza stays on the 2nd floor and attack [sic] from above while her fellow ogres attack from the ground." And the ogres are unrelated to your mission—they're just kinda there. Who are they? Why are they here observing Jarl Ryndölg? Who knows! Then the adventure ends with a cliffhanger.

So, bottom line, while the encounters themselves aren't bad, I found this to be by far the weakest of the Tier 2 modules this season so far. It's just not really compelling, cohesive, or polished enough to hold up to my standards.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-13 Jarl Rising (5e)
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DDAL05-02 The Black Road (5e)
by Ben H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2017 19:41:51

A darn fine adventure, I recommend you buy it and run it for your convention or home group!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-02 The Black Road (5e)
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Dungeon Masters Guide (1e)
by Rob L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2017 14:49:07

Received the POD hardback today, and I must say that I am very pleased with it. It is a delight to see the book back in print. The quality of the scans (if that is what they are) is top notch. A very happy customer; thank you WotC (and DriveThru).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Masters Guide (1e)
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Monster Manual (1e)
by Rob L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2017 14:44:56

Received the POD hardback today, and I must say that I am very pleased with it. It is a delight to see the book back in print (so my 1977/1978 Games Workshop softback version can now take a rest...). The quality of the scans (if that is what they are) is top notch. Very happy customer. Thank you WotC (and DriveThru).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Manual (1e)
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Players Handbook (1e)
by Rob L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2017 14:40:06

Received the POD hardback today, and I must say that I am very pleased with it. I'm delighted to see the book back in print (I can at last retire my 1978 Games Workshop softback version!). The quality of the scans (if that is what they are) is top notch. Very happy customer. Thank you WotC (and DriveThru).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Players Handbook (1e)
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I9 Day of Al'Akbar (1e)
by Russell H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2017 20:16:58

Scan quality is brutal, comparable to most of the UK series scans (among others). Just hoping for updates to these poorer scans someday and I have indeed had some instances of that happening over the past few years. Fingers crossed...



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
I9 Day of Al'Akbar (1e)
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DDAL05-10 Giant Diplomacy (5e)
by Jasmine L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2017 19:31:14

(Spoiler warning)

Very interesting adventure. Some neat social encounters, and even some actual puzzles. I felt like the word game fell a little flat (I'll probably replace it with some other game next time I run this one), but the tangram was kind of cool. The diplomacy part felt a little railroaded, but my players really seemed to enjoy the contests. They definitely loved the random effects from the Fey Crossings. And the combat encounters were solid.

One problem is that the adventure is optimized for 4th level characters (the max level allowed), which means it will almost always be adjusted downwards. Like, what is even the point of that, right? Why not optimize it for 2nd or 3rd level characters so that it can be adjusted up or down as needed? And then of course the minimum XP is extremely generous, so you can dial the encounters way down for a Very Weak party and they'll still gain a relatively huge amount of XP anyway. I don't like that.

Anyway, overall, it was not, like, super amazing, but it was pretty good.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-10 Giant Diplomacy (5e)
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DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
by Jasmine L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2017 19:11:54

(Spoiler warning)

Yeah, this one was pretty good. Pretty standard linear dungeon-crawl with monsters and traps, but the environmental effects are a nice touch. I especially liked the unstable weave effects, which definitely made combat more interesting, although it was annoying that the dead magic and wild magic zones weren't marked on the maps! The cold dangers are nifty too, and put some decent pressure on the players to keep it moving and avoid resting for too long. And the boss is a doozy. It's entirely possible for it to be completely immune to damage if the party isn't properly equipped, since it's immune to nonmagical weapons and most types of energy. Also, it has like a bazillion abilities, with actions, reactions, passive abilities, legendary actions, and lair actions, and it has multiple options for all of them, which means it's a very complex and difficult monster to run—I had a lot of trouble keeping track of them all. Strongly advise you to study up on all its abilities and map out its tactics a little in advance if you're planning to DM this adventure.

Another tip if you're DMing this is to make the wild magic zones nice and big so that you can get lots of rolls on 'em. Dead magic zones can be smaller (they're more frustrating if they're too big), but remember to have intelligent enemies (especially the grimlocks and helmed horrors, who should be familiar with the environment) take advantage of them. If you're using theater of the mind, maybe say that any given location has like a 40% chance of being in unstable weave, and roll again whenever a caster or their target moves to a new spot.

One thing I didn't like was that although there are lots of cool options that you can use for encounters, in practice, most of the time you're just going to be locked into the Remorhazes and Shatterbloods because of the secret missions, even though they're like the least interesting encounter options. Like, seriously, remorhazes again? I'm not saying I don't like remorhazes, they're a cool monster, but we've had remorhazes in every Tier 2 module this season, and the ones in this module are taking the place of a much cooler encounter with ghosts and elementals.

Some things that were missing that would have been good to have:

  • Bookmarks for the PDF! At least it wasn't locked, so I could add them myself, but bookmarks! Please! Authors! Include them!
  • Map for the boss fight. It's mostly a featureless room, but still.
  • It would have been nice if unstable weave were marked on the map.
  • Exhaustion plays a role in the adventure. A rules sidebar for exhaustion levels for quick reference would have been helpful.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
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DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
by Jasmine L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2017 18:32:38

Very pleased with this one. The plot is fun, with clear objectives, a strong sense of urgency, and decent characterization for the NPCs. Good variety in the encounters, with lots of room for creative PCs to employ creative problem-solving. Also, unlike certain OTHER modules this season that I could name, the PDF file actually has bookmarks in it!

Anyway, this was one of my favorites so far this season. Thumbs up. My main complaint is that I would have swapped it with DDAL05-05 in the story order! It leads nicely into DDAL05-11 with the [SPOILER REDACTED] at the end.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
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DDAL05-12 Bad Business in Parnast (5e)
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2017 12:50:33

The Good:

  • Very cool whodunit. Leads to lots of "Ahah!" moments for players.
  • Plenty of choice for players. They can go in many directions.

The Bad:

  • No electronic Bookmarks
  • Editing could be better. Saw some typo issues.
  • The biggest problem is that with a scenario this complex with so many different moving parts, the information the GM needs is scattered all over. It is fine to create a complex scenario; however the author needs to collect and condense that information so the GM isn't scrambling to remember what happens for every given choice the players make. A flowchart of the sequences of events (or a table works too) would have gone a long way to speeding up the play.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-12 Bad Business in Parnast (5e)
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DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2017 12:14:58

The good:

  • Fights that give players a real sense of danger but can still be overcome with teamwork and bravery.
  • Interesting flavor. Gives players lots of background history on giants, rather than hiding background away that only the GM can see.
  • High replayability due to several options to change up fights and traps.

The bad:

  • Scenario is made to look like a multi-choice dungeon crawl but is in fact extremely linear.
  • Scenario is very large and complex but NO ELECTRONIC BOOKMARKS. Trying to flip back and forth between the sections (and you WILL do that constantly) without bookmarks is a nightmare.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
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DDAL04-09 The Tempter (5e)
by Yoshio L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2017 18:28:00

DDAL04-09 The Tempter (5e) is another good story told well. A great follow-up to DDAL04-08. The stories flow seamlessly. Great job.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-09 The Tempter (5e)
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