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Welcome to Christmas in July! In celebration, this digital title has been marked down by up to 40%! For more of Santa's savings, visit our Christmas in July sale page.

Academy of Adventure

Imagine a world where Tiamat was summoned successfully. Where the Princes of Elemental Evil tread unfettered. Where Demogorgon prowls the Underdark with the Wand of Orcus, leaving an army of undead in his wake. Where the storm giants have been cast to the bottom of the Ordning. Where Baldur's Gate has been banished to the Nine Hells. . . . 

Imagine a world where good has lost and evil prevailed. 

The Sword Coast has been divvied up by the Zhentarim, the mountain giants of Grudd Haug, the Cult of the Dragon, and many other sinister factions. But above them all looms the Archlich Vecna, who has orchestrated or exploited a series of ever-escalating calamities to conquer the very Realms themselves.

Will your players rise to the challenge? Or, will they too, fall before the might of Vecna?
 

Adventure Awaits

This adventure is designed to take players from 3rd to 10th level. As they tread the dark paths of the Doomed Forgotten Realms their journey will take them through multiple dungeon delves, they will discover familiar locations now changed forever, and little by little, the darkest of plots will be unraveled:

  • Exterminate a gang of mephits amidst the streets of Mirabar!
  • Take a nightmarish trek through an underground highway haunted by the fiendish Dem'ghot'nec, He Who Wears the Flesh of the Dead!
  • Make a cross-continental journey along the Sword Coast, witnessing firsthand the ravages of a world without heroes! 
  • Race through the streets of Helm's Hold in an infernal vehicle, before facing off against the dread purple worm, Gigantus!
  • Assault a tribe of slime-worshipping bullywugs laired within Thornhold, before braving the keep's trap-riddled catacombs in hopes of making an unlikely ally!
  • Infiltrate Grudd Haug, the mountain giant capital, to steal a magical conchshell from the monstrous Chief Guh!
  • Battle the infamous Krakolich amidst the ruins of the Maelstrom, with the fate of the Realms hanging in the balance!

Tread the Darkest Path

Doomed Forgotten Realms: Sword Coast Gazetteer Academy of Adventure Rise of Vecna Fall of Vecna
Doomed Forgotten Realms Underdark: Reign of Rot Wrath of Zuggtmoy

Tread the Darkest Path

Epic Characters Shadowfell Acheron Heroes' Handbook


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Reviews (8)
Discussions (56)
Customer avatar
JOHN S February 02, 2024 3:40 pm UTC
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You have done such an amazing job on this series & I hope it continues & expands, but the one thing I & probably the entire community would love to see is a Roll20 conversion. DMs Guild, Roll20, Vecna, please get us Roll20 conversions of this incredible setting! Please?
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Robyn M November 20, 2023 9:33 pm UTC
Hello! I've purchased the two PDFs for my partner and want to get them hardbound as a Christmas gift. I'm worried about the formatting of the PDF for this--whether or not there's enough gutter, bordering, etc. When I use the formatting utilities on the binder's website, it looks like a lot gets cut on the edges, and there's not a good way to rescale it. Is there any chance of getting a PDF formatted for hardback print? Or maybe one that has the background images separate so we can rescale those to allow for more borders and gutter? Thank you!
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Scott M August 16, 2023 2:51 pm UTC
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I've been blown away by all of the kind words, thoughtful questions, and kind corrections that the community has provided. However, the DMsguild Discussion section has become increasingly unwieldy. Because of this I have created a Discord server. I will continue to monitor the DMsguild discussion page but for more immediate feedback I encourage you to visit us there! Baba Harpell will have a nice ladleful of simmering hospitality waiting for you:

https://discord.gg/JDCmhuAyAz
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Jeff B August 07, 2023 3:52 pm UTC
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Are there plans in the works to get the whole series converted over to Fantasy Grounds VTT? I would love to get this whole series but really do not want to have to do the conversion myself.
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Scott M August 16, 2023 2:49 pm UTC
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Hi Jeff,

Unfortunately not at the moment but I will add it to the to-do list! Until then, please consider joining our new Discord server? Im going to add a channel for Fantasy Grounds and maybe someone from the community will be able to help.

https://discord.gg/JDCmhuAyAz

Cheers,
--Scott
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Joel T August 02, 2023 7:56 am UTC
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First, absolutely loving the product.
Anyone know where the rewards from Baba Harpell are found? I've scoured the PDF a bunch and can't find it posted
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Rory C August 08, 2023 3:53 pm UTC
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Page 49 in the PDF has the rewards
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Joel T August 09, 2023 5:23 am UTC
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Thanks, I guess I was expecting those rewards to be for the 'special' ingredients. I was wondering what (if they differ) are the rewards for charging the gems (in the elemental temple). Guess they are the same (perhaps different potions at the DMs discretion)
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Scott M August 16, 2023 2:47 pm UTC
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Hey Joel! Thanks so much for the kind words and giving the adventure a try -- it means a lot to us.

We probably could have been a bit more explicit but the intention is that the elemental gems are the reward. Some of the energy is sent back to Baba Harpell and the characters get to keep the actual gemstone. Not only should be a neat little prize, it also saves the characters from having to back track which can be tedious.

Hopefully that helps :)
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Vince Y June 28, 2023 8:57 am UTC
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First off, I love this product, and I'm about to start a campaign for my table who have had all the "good" endings from the relevant adventures. I do have a question though: I've noticed that there are some maps that just aren't present (Ministry of Secrets in Mirabar, Longsaddle,etc.) from this module. Is that intentional, or am I not looking in the right place?
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Scott M July 06, 2023 7:18 pm UTC
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Hey Vince,

Thanks for the kind words and support! It is very much appreciated. Maps are always a bit challenging. Like art they cost money and since this was our first product (Academy of Adventure and Rise of Vecna were made together) we didn't have much to work with. So we were always trying to decide how "essential" any particular map is for the overall adventure and also juggling the idea that more money spent on maps meant less money to spend on art. We did our best with what we had but unfortunately that meant some areas like the Ministry of Secrets and Longsaddle were left unmapped. For what its worth we have tried to address this demand -- Volume 2 had 11ish maps and I think Volume 3 has over 40. And we also just invested a lot of money in the most amazing, wonderful, map of the Doomed Underdark that I can't wait to release soon :)

As one possible solution I'm going to try to get a Discord community up and running soon so perhaps that can be a way for people to...See more
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Vince Y August 28, 2023 5:40 pm UTC
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Scott,

I've spoken with you about the Underdark product on Facebook... very excited. I'm not huge on using Discord, but I'll happily re-learn my login if it means new maps!

Vince
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Jaden C June 12, 2023 1:45 pm UTC
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I have seen sporadic comments on this, and would like to clarify:

Are there assets for use in VTTs? Things like maps for some or all locations mentioned, token art, and so on?
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Tamara Patricia H June 12, 2023 4:29 pm UTC
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There are maps for some Locations and some gridded battlemaps, but not for everything. Also there are no tokens and very few character art that can be used to make tokens.

(I'm a VTT DM myself and most of my preptime goes into searching for Tokens, Maps and Music (and lining maps with walls and light sources, tbf))
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Steven O June 13, 2023 4:56 pm UTC
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Hey Tamara, my group is close to yours I think. Maybe a little ahead.

If you are doing VTT and making maps, you might look into Dungeon Alchemist. I used it to generate some of the areas that were not included (and sent them along to Scott in case he finds them helpful). It generates maps and populates reasonable contents instantly, then you can edit to customize it. You can export it to various VTTs and it brings in all the art and lighting including blocking walls. It might save you a good portion of the work you do, especially for flavor areas like a random tavern or whatever.

If you want to try it out, let me know what VTT you use. Here are the maps I have now:
Goblet and Gems for "the escape"
The Amber Hulk
The Temple of Elemental Unity
I also did the various days of the "Great Underground Highway" but I think you are past that
steve*at*roi-ally*dot*com
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Tamara Patricia H June 13, 2023 5:09 pm UTC
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Hi Steven, thanks for the offer! I use Foundy VTT for my sessions.
My party is nearly done with Gorna's Insanatorium, so a map of "The Temple of Elemental Unity" will be of use soon! I'll mail you about that.
One of my players made a map of a destroyed Longsaddle for me as the Party is dead set to go there (no battlemaps though, only a map of the town).

I played with the idea of getting Dungeon Alchemist, but the nearly 40 € price tag in combination with early access raised some doubts.
Maybe I'll give it a try next month.
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Adam S May 17, 2023 2:39 am UTC
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You've indicated in some of the other comments that there were some typos in the PDF (for example ...regarding the number of shroudstones. Do you intend to update the PDF?
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Scott M May 19, 2023 2:57 pm UTC
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Hi Adam!

We do. Our layout guru should be finishing up teaching soon and I believe will try to do the corrections sometime there after. The number of typos are relatively minimal overall but if you would like a list of corrections feel free to email me at smcclintock@wcupa.edu and I can email them to you.

Fingers crossed!
--Scott
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Adam S June 10, 2023 12:52 pm UTC
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Thanks! Is there a community (Discord/FB/Reddit) where people are discussing ideas about the Doomed Realms?
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Scott M June 11, 2023 1:08 pm UTC
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Hey Adam! There is not but I have been wanting to try to make one for ages. Out of curiosity, which of the ones you mentioned do you think you would be most interested in?
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Tamara Patricia H June 11, 2023 1:20 pm UTC
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Uh I hope you don't mind if I offer my two cents as well. I love the idea about a community to discuss the DFR! Reddit has a controversy about it's API-Changes going on right now, so I wouldn't go with that. But a Discord server might be neat.
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Steven O June 13, 2023 4:58 pm UTC
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Hard agree!
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Adam S June 14, 2023 10:26 pm UTC
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Honestly? I find it easier to follow things on Reddit, but I would wait to see what happens with the controversy they're going through.
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Tamara Patricia H June 15, 2023 5:27 am UTC
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But Discord is easier to structure, we could even have "open" areas were players can discuss their impressions and give feedback from their perspective and "hidden" areas where only DMs get access to exchange ideas etc.

Threads and Forum Channels are also great additions from the past years
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Bryan B April 13, 2023 2:54 am UTC
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Since I've purchased this (and intend to get Fall as well), am I allowed to have this printed and bound? Or is there a hardcover format available?
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Scott M April 30, 2023 6:25 pm UTC
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Hey Bryan!

Sorry that I missed this. Yes, you are definitely allowed to have them printed and bound. We do intended to get bundle all four titles together and have them print on demand but the timeline is currently unclear and unfortunately out of my hands.

Thanks for your support, mate :)
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Bryan B May 04, 2023 2:39 am UTC
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I love the concept of this. Running it at a local pub, but starting with Academy first. 3 players at my table have never played, so they're in for a treat!
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Steven O May 09, 2023 10:22 pm UTC
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Bryan, that is how my table was too. AoA does a great job of showing them what they can do in D&D. The twist ending is *chef's kiss* and their characters were traumatized (in a fun way). Still are!
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Bryan B June 07, 2023 4:25 pm UTC
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In the player interactions, they made really good friends with the Iconics. One was even attempting to court Mailee....
That REALLY helped me set the tone
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Tamara Patricia H March 17, 2023 8:33 am UTC
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I start to prepare the end of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 right now in Foundry, and I just realized that Bawling Stipper/The Battlerager is missing some typical dwarven traits (like Dwarven Resilience ... or Darkvision). Is that intended?

Also, do you happen to have stats for the Demodragons, Scott? If so, where could I found your mailadress again?

And while I'm already here commenting: Especially my rp-heavy players loved the dwarven highway so far! Two of them already have 3 levels of madness (the fairy bard and the shifter fighter) and the player of the raven queen cleric keeps complaining about him actually making his saves, because he wants a Indefinite Madness as well xD. Meanwhile the tiefling artificer made every single con and wis save thus far. It's hilarious. After overcoming his existential crisis nothing seems to be able to shake him, hahaha.
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Steven O March 19, 2023 9:24 pm UTC
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My players absolutely loved the chance to fight the Demodragons! I replaced the 10 bandits with the Demodragons for the ambush and it about killed them.
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Tamara Patricia H March 27, 2023 11:07 am UTC
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As Scott seems to be busy, do you have any way to share your stats for Demodragons, Steven? Or any good suggestions where to start statwise? I think my players would love to get some payback as well (save for the bard maybe who tried to romance Halazar xD)
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Rory C April 01, 2023 4:17 pm UTC
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Hey Tamara, I know Scott is pretty busy right now, I am lucky enough to have had some contact with him and can say that he has mentioned having a lot on.

As for the Demodragons, they are a faction from Part 1 The Academy of Adventure. They consist of
Dracon Killjoy (LE male Human Wizard)
Dreadbeard (CE male Dwarf Warlock)
Halazar Hisserin (NE female yuan-ti pureblood Rogue)

To round out the group Dracon has his zombie butler Potter with him.

Now you can either make up some sheets for them or make some Buffs/nerfs to
Apprentice Wizard orMage for Dracon
Warlock (Fiend/Archfey/Great Old One) for Dreadbeard
Spy or Assassin for Halazar Hisserin

I think that the dwarf was just an oversight i have noticed it with a few of the creatures but its not that big of a deal when you meet him unless the party is trying to recruit him to join you which would then be an easy fix.

You can email Scott here: smcclintock@wcupa.edu...See more
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Scott M April 02, 2023 2:31 pm UTC
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Hey Tamara! I did stat them out when I ran the adventure but threw away the stats afterwards sadly (They were just scrawls on scratch paper). Dracon was a pretty straight forward mage but I reskinned some of the spells -- magic missile shot energy skulls. Hold person was the "rigor mortis" spell. Etc. I gave the zombie a bit more hp than normal and a reaction where it could intercept damage intended for Dracon. Halazar I just added some assassin skills to the yuan-ti stat block. Dreadbeard I had doing eldrich blasts but also lit some candles/incense in his beard to summon some smoke monsters (I did this because one of the players had gust of wind and I wanted them to have the chance to do something cool with it). If it's not too late feel free to email me and Id be more than happy to whip something up. It would actually be a big help to have the stat blocks play tested! We are prepping right now for Print on Demand, and I could probably sneak the stat blocks into that, as well as the revised...See more
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Steven O April 04, 2023 4:47 pm UTC
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I see Scott and others have replied. Here are the character sheets I made for the Demodragons. Not saying they are the best, but you could use them as a start.
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YdsHxG-XHgbVwNGXlDu4sfMc-DiEC9U_/
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Tamara Patricia H April 04, 2023 5:22 pm UTC
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Thanks everyone! I already mailed Scott and got stats from him. I'm getting ready to playtest them with some friends on friday to see what might need some adjustments, especially for a 5 person party.
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Sam S May 16, 2023 12:03 am UTC
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I made Dracon a Tooth of Vecna if that helps. I also added a female zombie named "Granger" and used the Demodragons in place of the Tooth of Vecna encounter in chapter 2. Halazar was a beefed up spy and DreadBeard was one of the Warlocks in Volo's scaled appropriately and made into a warlock of Vecna. They had been spying on the PCs (Halazar had been noticed) and confronted them at the door to the mines of Mirabar, with Dracon saying they were a counter-insurgency squad for the ministry of secrets. It was a good moment, and I think it sets up what happens when they get back to Mirabar since the dialog planted the seeds that they knew about the Silent Axes. The PCs turned Halazar (they had always been friendly with her) and she left after the fight to head South, back home to Chult. But I think I'll have her pop up again soon.
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Tamara Patricia H May 16, 2023 5:30 am UTC
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Thanks for the suggestion, but I already ran it in chapter 3 with the stats Scott gave me (although I beefed them up a little and kept the tooth of Vecna. That fireball at the beginning of the fight scared my party, hehe)
But I really like how you did it. If I ever run this AP again, I might do it like you did.

But either way, they loved to finally get a chance to beat up the Demodragons :D Dracon managed to escape after witnessing how they cut down Halazar and Dreadbeard. Halazar survived thanks to the bard who dragged her away from the fighter and gave her a healing potion. But poor Halazar still lost an arm.
Right now I'm trying to figure out what to do with Halazar and Dracon. The evil Mind of one of my players suggested that Halazar could get her dead arm reattached, and it slowly corrupts her and turns her undead (yuan-ti turned dhampir will turn reborn will end up a zombie if nothing changes?)
Maybe the two of them flee Mirabar themselves because after that spectacular failur...See more
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Sam S March 07, 2023 7:49 pm UTC
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My group is just about to graduate from the Academy and land in Mirabar. I'm pretty excited but I have a some questions about Mirabar in general.

1. What else is in Mirabar? Are there taverns, homes, stores, etc? Or are most of the buildings abandoned?
2. Are the AAOs of Mirabar mostly followers of Vecna? It says in area 1 that the guy there can repeat what's in the introduction. Does that mean he's a supporter of Vecna?
3. It says that money is worthless in Mirabar. Is the intention that it's hard to get equipment in Mirabar? Could they buy mundane gear anywhere (e.g. clockwork king)? Or do they have to barter?

Thanks for any responses. I love the campaign!
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Scott M March 09, 2023 11:19 pm UTC
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Hey Sam,

Great question! We had a lot of extra lore on Mirabar in the earlier iterations of the adventure but feedback from playtesters was that it was too much "storytelling". More generally though we were going for a 1984 vibe so if you're looking for inspiration I would check out that classic.

In all honesty I would encourage you to go with whatever sounds coolest to you and that you think your players would enjoy the most. However, my initial intentions were:

1) There are taverns, although less so than normal. Most are similar to the Gem and Goblet. There are homes, although many of them are kind apartment complexes where people can spy on one another more easily (1984ish). There are stores but they focus on necessities and are mostly barter driven. There are lots of abandoned buildings.

2) The AAOs at least pay lip service to Vecna. Again, lorewise I would have lots of rites of allegience, similar to those given to Big Brother in 1984....See more
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Tamara Patricia H March 10, 2023 9:49 am UTC
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Gods ... I just realized Vecnas clergy basically recreated the Stasi (Ministry for State Security in East Germany from 1950 to 1990) in Faerun.
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Steven O March 12, 2023 8:07 am UTC
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You are in for some fun! :-D

A funny side-effect of your #3. My players assumed that gold was no longer worth anything in the "new world," only gems and barter. Which led to them tossing away some gold as worthless. Only to find out later that it was mostly only Mirabar where gems so valuable, because Mayor Maroo is hoarding gems (and cats) and he controlled the food. You can't eat gold, after all!
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Steven O March 12, 2023 8:14 am UTC
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That and the story of the Dwarfholds echoes First They Came, by Martin Niemöller. So, yeah. Nazis too. Scott et al have really given us a dystopia that could be any regime of terror, past, present, or fictional. At our table there was some catharsis of fighting back against stuff the players see is going on right now as well.
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Steven O February 11, 2023 12:09 am UTC
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Hmm, I feel that something got left out in Xantharl's Castle. How do the players get from B15 Inkblot to B16 Sanitarium. From the context I think they are in straitjackets.

I am guessing something happens with the inkblot, they end up in straitjackets and are taken there?
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Steven O February 16, 2023 4:37 am UTC
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Scott M got back to me via email since I was time crunched...here is what he passed along...

*************SPOILER (obvs)
The idea behind the Sanitarium is that the character are "waking up" up from their hallucinations. They are being told that they are just "normal" peeps who have been hallucinating that they are heroes from some kind of crazy Vecna-ruled world. You could transition to it in one of two ways:

1) After the Inkblot is over you just say, "Everything goes black. . . When you wake up you find yourself in a padded room... blah blah blah"

or

2) Right after the inkblot jarringly say, "You suddenly jolt yourself awake from your fever dream regarding XXX... You are in a padded room.... blah blah blah"
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Steven O March 19, 2023 9:22 pm UTC
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FYI, for any DMs out there. I went full meta when the "doctor" came in. Not only are they in straitjackets but I described their characters as looking just like the players themselves and that this whole adventure was just a game and a shared delusion. Not sure that is for every table, but they loved it!
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Richard G February 05, 2023 5:49 pm UTC
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While an excellent adventure I do feel like enough was going on at Grudd Haug that we could have used a map.
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Miranda M February 10, 2023 10:20 pm UTC
Came here to say this, I agree.
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Scott M February 10, 2023 10:58 pm UTC
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Fair point :) No promises but will look into the possibility of getting one made and added when we go POD. At this point the creation of it shouldn't be a huge deal but inserting it may or may not be a nightmare for our layout guy. Although, thinking it through, I guess it would be easy enough to put into the map pack, even if we don't embed it within the actual pdf.

Might be a bit because Im a teacher in the midst of battle season but I've added this request to the queue!
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Richard G February 14, 2023 4:54 am UTC
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For what it's worth I'd be fine with it just being in the map pack, thank you.
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Francesco Valvo - February 04, 2023 9:32 pm UTC
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Any update about the PoD?
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Scott M February 05, 2023 12:23 am UTC
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Hey Francesco -- unfortunately not. It's all in the hands of our layout guru who is currently juggling a few other projects as well as teaching fulltime. Most of us are teachers so I imagine we should be able to make it happen, worst case, early summer. Although that said Id love to see it earlier than that and will do everything I can on my end to make that happen.
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Francesco Valvo - February 05, 2023 10:11 pm UTC
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Thanks for your quick reply, even if it broke my hopes... I will start this campaign in less than one month. So I suppose for the first chapters I will need to get by without the hardcover.
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Travis P January 27, 2023 4:33 pm UTC
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How much time has passed between the end of Academy of Adventure and the beginning of Rise of Vecna?
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Steven O January 27, 2023 9:30 pm UTC
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I think you have some choice.

Option 1:
If you are going to follow the timeline from the Doomed Forgotten Realms Sword Coast Gazette (p. 8) and if you play it like AoA is (mostly) true memories of the flesh that was used to create the AoAs, you can make it happen prior to 1485DR safely, since none of the failed campaigns has happened yet. You can make it later too, since the earlier failures might not have been noticed by people on the Sword Coast, especially by callow youths going to school. There may be dark rumors though...

You would have to set it up to make AoA happen later than 1490, since things will be happening on the Sword Coast that would be harder to ignore. Maybe they are going to the AoA in response to, say, the rise of Tiamat of Vecna's ascendancy. But there are a LOT of big changes happening during this time that anyone on the Sword Coast would be aware of, including the existence of Vecna, so the dark ending of AoA wouldn't come as such a surprise.

I...See more
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Scott M February 05, 2023 12:57 am UTC
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Perfect answer. 10 out of 10 :)
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Francesco Valvo - January 27, 2023 2:33 pm UTC
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Appendix D mentions seven Shroudstone of the Ancients, but the adventure claims that there are only three such gemstones...
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Steven O January 27, 2023 9:41 pm UTC
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I interpreted this as "fog of war" incomplete knowledge. There really are seven shroudstones. The resistance learned about only three of them and think that is the complete set. The description in Appendix D says that you have to place the seven shroudstones in "precise location(s) of power" and you have been mucking around and then destroying three of them. Perhaps destroying 3 of them is sufficient to allow Fall of Vecna to occur.
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Scott M February 05, 2023 1:00 am UTC
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As much as I would love to hide behind Steven's excellent answer the seven is a typo. The shroudstones actually come from previous lore (the Vecna Lives adventure) although they arent given a name in that adventure. In Vecna Lives there are seven of them and that was what we went with originally. Later, down the road, we decided that three worked better for the plot and changed to that -- apparently forgetting to also update the appendix. Thanks for the head's up Francesco! Will be sure to fix and update the pdf when we do the POD.
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File Last Updated:
February 16, 2022
This title was added to our catalog on February 02, 2022.