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CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc $12.99
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CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc
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CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by charles a. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/02/2018 15:11:46

My players really enjoyed all three. Especially the experience



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Joshua H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/03/2017 12:39:39

I am going to second much of what the other reviewers have said.

I have read and run most of the 5e AL content (I have four dedicated file cabinet drawers full of modules). This one felt sloppy to me from the start.

The setup is very old-school, and that's what the writers appear to have been going for--a maze of magical and monstrous traps set up like 1980s D&D. However, it doesn't make sense in the political and sociological environment of modern D&D. The story begins with a building appearing in the zhent ghetto and no one knows anything about it--that feels odd and off, given the tight magical controls in Mulmaster. Then a poison gas is released killing all of the guests. That's wiping out a whole strata of Mulmaster society, which feels very rash given all of the adventuring that's taken place there.

Mechanical problems start with the suggestion that players remove armor and weapons, making quite a few classes largely unfit to complete the subsequent adventures. Structural issues compound as the mini-modules role one right into the next without hooks or context. AL modules are supposed to exist independent of each other. Some may follow logically from others, but players are not required to play all of the modules in a series and new players are supposed to be able to join at any module break. How does that work here? These should not have been 3 separate modules but rather one long one. All of the complaints about missing maps, missing magical items in the rewards sections, missing story rewards, etc. etc. are spot on. The difficulty of encounters varies considerably and strays toward very difficult, which is alright perhaps, in the spirit of older modules, but it certainly entails a lot of DM adjusting that is beyond the scope of standard AL play.

Finally, the bathhouse scene seems pretty inappropriate to me. I run these modules for mixed public play parties that often include high schoolers and college students as well as middle-aged folks, and a scene set in a bathhouse full of scantily clad people is going to generate jokes and remarks that will make other people uncomfortable. It is definitely in-keeping with the lascivious and misogynous character of some of the early D&D illustrations and descriptions, but in the 21st century, shouldn't we be moving past this?

So, to sum up, this collection of modules is not worth your money unless you're being a completionist. It is AL Legal content, and I'll probably continue to run it from time to time as I do with all the other modules. There are some interesting traps and tough encounters, but the logistics are a disaster, and there are enough issues with this series that I think it really should be overhauled or ignored by DMs.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jasmine L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/29/2017 13:28:18

So this trilogy is really problematic and just, like, generally poorly done. I can see that the authors had the inklings of a very cool plot, but it reeeally doesn't come together gameplay-wise. And now get ready, because this is going to be long.

First off, the PDF file has no bookmarks. I run online and I rely on bookmarks to be able to flip through the file quickly, so not having them is an easy way to get a black mark from me. Then there's the problem that there are no maps. Many of the rooms have very confusing layouts. I'm sure it made sense in the writers' heads, but I could really have used some visual aids, and so could my players. Unfortunately, none are provided. This gets especially problematic later in the trilogy.

So let's talk about GARY-01. The setup is actually super interesting. There's this mysterious party at a mysterious building, and the players get a mysterious invite, which I didn't actually get to give to my players because the text refers to a handout that is not included in the module, so I'm just like, "Hey, you're invited, and something about not wearing armor, or whatever," so they missed out on that. Hey, by the way, I should mention, that heavy armor thing, it's a terrible idea? When I ran the mod, there was one player who not only wore heavy armor and used heavy weapons but also had the Heavy Armor Master and Great Weapon Fighter feats. They felt pressured into going in naked, and proceeded to be basically useless for the entire module while the whole rest of the party was operating at full strength. This is simply not a balanced restriction—as flavorful as it might be, it's a hard nerf to certain classes and builds while leaving most players mostly untouched, and it led to a poor gaming experience for that player.

Anyway, the first three parts of this one are actually pretty great. You have a neat little mystery with a fun exploration segment, followed by a multi-level combat with potential to knock people off ledges. So far so good—although there is a major plothole in that the players could very easily be immune to poison and screw up the whole "poison gas" thing, and even if they're not immune to poison, there's nothing really stopping them from going under the lift and down the empty elevator shaft with feather fall or the like. But, whatever. Anyway, then you get to Part 4: The Baths and it starts heading downhill fast. There's just...this random bathhouse. With yuan-ti. Like, what? Why are they there? What are they doing? Are they just unaware of everything that's happening upstairs and downstairs? I have no idea what their role in the story is supposed to be—the whole scene is just kind of random. And by the way, the module is kind of like, oh, yeah, the players should mop these guys up no problem, but you know what? There are eighteen enemies in the room and all of them can cast a save-or-lose spell every round. This is not a trivial fight, and if the party doesn't have AoE effects, they could be in for a long and dangerous battle, disproportionate to the intended difficulty.

Then we get to GARY-02. Geez, this one is a mess on multiple levels. (You see what I did there?) First, Part 1: The Kid is Not My Son, in which there's a convoluted puzzle room involving navigating a complicated map of—oh wait, no map is provided, so I can't visualize what it's supposed to look like, because the puzzle isn't confusing enough already? Let me tell you how this one went. I told the players they'd have to jump across some moving platforms to get to the other side. I asked which direction they wanted to jump in. They were like, "Uh...forward? Is this a trick question?" They made some checks. About halfway through, one of them fell, and they all went down to fight the naga. Then they tied some ropes and got the rest of the way across without really caring about the checks. The puzzle was essentially pointless. D&D is not a platformer, and platformer mechanics do not translate well into it.

Then Part 3: Wakka Wakka Wakka. While I appreciate the Pac-Man reference, the encounter does not work in theater of the mind. It just doesn't. There's ghosts and snakes moving all around the map, and you have to track their positions. But once again, there is no map—even though the text actually directly references the map that is not there. It's messy, it's confusing, and I understand the attempt to be clever, but it doesn't work. And the snakes also have this bit where it says they try to use their Swallow attack as their primary attack, even though their statblock says they have to hit with a bite first. Oh, and then you get a magic item which does not have a cert and is omitted from the Treasure section at the end, and you get an item called "Vial of Poison," which is supposedly found in the DMG, but it's not, and who even knows what it's supposed to be?

I also want to note that there is WAY TOO MUCH XP here. Minimum 6300 for a 2-hour adventure. That's more than any other T2 adventure. It's more than the maximum for almost every 4-hour adventure in T2. That's not very reasonable.

Okay, so GARY-02 is a mess. And then lastly we have GARY-03. Which has the lovely line of text, "General encounter areas are noted on the map," except, once again, THERE IS NO MAP. And then immediately after, the text itself says there is no map. Gee, maybe don't reference a nonexistent map, then? Come on, guys.

Part 1: Warzone is just some encounters. There are yuan-ti fighting the Kraken Society, which is here because the yuan-ti killed some stone giants, and the Kraken Society is best buds with giants, I guess? I don't know. It's fine I guess. The main problem is the items. This module has five permanent magic items in it. Five! That's so many! How are there so many? It's crazy! None of them are listed in the treasure at the end, either, by the way, and they're delivered in a weird random drop system that is very puzzling and non-standard.

Then Part 2: Decisions concludes the trilogy with the Baron revealing his true form and motives and blah blah blah and offering to take the players into his service. If they accept, they get a story award, "In Service to the Snake," which grants some boons in the city of Mulmaster, and is not included in the module. They just...didn't write anything for it. Not only is it not included, but the official word from the authors is that they didn't include it on purpose, and the intent is for the DM to just make up their own reward. So...that's a thing.

Anyway, the trilogy overall is just...sloppy. This is the first Adventurers League module that either of the authors has written, and it shows. There are some good ideas, but they don't come together very well, and they're tarnished by weak execution and a plethora of rookie mistakes. A good DM can fix a lot of the issues, but I don't buy pre-written adventure modules because I want to write my own adventures, and at the exorbitant price point the authors have placed this series at, I think it's pretty reasonable to hold them to a higher standard of quality than they have delivered.

Bottom line: Decent idea, poor execution. Confusing and difficult to run. Necessary content is omitted from the modules. Also, waaay overpriced. 2/5 stars.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/24/2017 00:03:24

Despite the Gygax name attached to this module, it is incredibly amateurishly made. There are some interesting ideas present that could make for a fun adventure but it is marred by problems.

  • The adventure also suffers from problems related to the author not really knowing what characters are capable of doing. When I ran it, there was one yuan-ti in the party and their immunity to poision starts the story with a non-trivial narrative discontinuity and negates a significant number of traps early on.
  • A gimmick that encourages players to disarm and leave all gear behind in part one certainly looked like an interesting way to make the adventure feel different but from a game design standpoint is extremely problematic because it weakens heavily armored characters while leaving magic users basically at full power. Mechanics that reward those that are already more powerful are questionable design at best.
  • Roleplay and trap heavy mods usually include XP for overcoming the challenge and often players are rewarded for doing so. However, in order to get treasure or XP in many parts of this module, you need to just flail around until you trigger the trap. That's not good design vis-a-vis the three pillars of adventure.
  • Part 2 feels entirely phoned in. There are two unrelated puzzles that were not completely thought out. One is dependent on a map that is only available if you buy a supplemental map and illustration pack and the other appears to be based on a reference that none of us at the table knew. The entire part is short and mechanically boring.
  • The price point being an extra 50% higher than typical CCC for the given duration put me in a sour mood to begin with. Failing to know enough about how the DM's guild works so that you could buy a bundle which enables you to buy one module to see how you like it also reeks a bit of gouging because they can since they don't even have the excuse that they did the extra work of rearranging things to make it easier to use and limiting the boilerplate text to only part one (it would have been better if the three mods were put into PDF merge since then at least footers would correspond to what module you were doing). The "optional" maps and illustration pack being separate would be much more reasonable if there weren't portions of the adventure that referred to a map for the layout of a room. Not including certs for 6 of the items available, forgetting to include items in the summary treasure section, giving out story awards that the author admits they haven't figure out, typos, and missing monsters complete the feeling that this was put together by someone who isn't really ready for prime time.

I have not yet run part 3 but it looks to be better than the first two from reading over it. But even if it is the greatest module ever written, it'd be hard to justify running/playing the other parts of it.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
CCC-GARY01-03: The Gary Con 2017 Story Arc
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bruce B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/31/2017 11:06:02

Overall: Great concept, a bunch of fun, with some mucking about in the middle.

A Night to remember has a set up for some of the most fun intrigue and investigation i've ever seen in a module, while it's only rated for two hours, my group spend nearly five, mostly interacting with the gaurds and party guests, and the reveal at the end of part one is a nice oppertunity for shocked player faces.

To find a way out, however seems loaded with jokes and feels a lot sloppier than the first section of the three modules. It's shorter, consists almost entirely of two puzzles and I felt a disconnect in compairison with the oppulence and storytelling from the first section

In direct contrast We're In It Now is fantastic. Determined almost entirely by rolling on tables, it is Theatre of the Mind DMing at the highest level, and plays wonderfully! I love this module, and highly recomend it to new and old DMs alike.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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