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DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge (5e) $3.99
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Wes R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2017 13:55:23

DDAL 07-01 play report (spoiler free): So I ran the first four (of five) one hour adventures from 07-01 A City on the Edge, the introductory DDAL adventure for this season. I ran them twice, once on a Saturday and once on a Sunday, with a total of 46 out of 48 possible participants, and only one individual played more two sessions. A few thoughts below:

  1. Actual Play Time: There is no way that these sessions play as written in an hour. Even if you completely railroaded the entire party through every interaction, limited talking at the table to "Hi, my name is ..." and announcing roll scores, and removed any possible non-combat resolutions, these things are still at least 90 minutes each. And if you actually have a full table, like most of mine were, it's full-on impossible. If any of your players are new to Adventurer's League, let alone D&D or RPGs (the express point of providing the 1 hour introductory adventures in my mind being to invite new players in), you'll have no chance to cover everything in each one hour session. When hot-desking at a convention, it's incredibly frustrating to have to edit these on the fly to get them down to a real 60 minute play time.

  2. Accessibility: Faced with the truth of #1, which I could tell even before running the first one, it's incredibly difficult to cut these down to an actual 60 minute play time and not destroy the story elements. They are intricately complex within themselves and yet do very little to actually tie into each other, given the ostensible purpose of the adventure being to have all of them tied up with session #5. Making them work narratively for players was challenging and required significant amendment of the story structure just to make them flow more smoothly.

  3. Faction tie-in: There seems to be no real reason that any of these particular missions are tied to the factions named. None of the objectives tie in with the overall goals of the factions involved and players (even those who didn't know anything about DDAL) picked up on that quickly before I started inventing a reason that the particular faction would care about the stated objective.

  4. Novel mechanics, story elements, etc.: I greatly enjoyed some of the interesting twists on story. Spoiler free, mission 2 involves a race mechanic that went over exceptionally well with the tables that had that session. It also takes at least 30 minutes to run on its own and was clearly meant to be the shorter portion of mission 2's adventure - making it completely unfeasible to narrate and run the remaining elements. Mission 3 and 4 both add some interesting story beats that I highlighted above the overly complex elements throughout the rest of the narrative provided. This flattened out the villains, as there simply isn't enough time to run the mission with all of the complexity and still stick to a 60 minute time frame.

  5. Thematic tie-in: The connection to Chult was strong and I felt that Nyanzaru came through fairly well. the lack of any kind of city map (which I realize comes in ToA hardcover, but I didn't have my copy yet) makes it difficult to situate the missions in the overall city other than vague references to "Old City" or "Merchant's Quarter," which feel rather fantasy generic. But the vibrancy of NPCs, the diversity of races, species, and environments, and the excellent hook of the death curse all do a great job of setting a strong atmosphere for the adventure (and hopefully the campaign to come!).

  6. Convention suitability: As might be obvious from above, this module does not lend itself well to a time-constrained setting. Running it at a convention would be practically impossible (I've already been turned away from running it at another con because they only grant 4 hour time blocks for RPGs) and running the sessions as one hour introductions to DDAL/D&D, as I did this weekend, raises the problems in points 1-2. I would not recommend running these for a convention.

  7. Overall design: I'd give each of these a 3/5. They do a wonderful job of setting up the feeling of impending doom and exciting locale, while avoiding the "exotic savage" colonization narrative baggage. However, the lack of rigorous playtesting with an eye on actual session duration greatly hurts them. And they are simply unsuited for use in a convention setting as individual missions or anywhere that would require you to stick to a specific time-schedule without being forced to treat them as nothing but a railroaded story where the players role a few dice along the way.

Hope this helps and happy to answer any questions about my experience.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge (5e)
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