I ran this as module as my first ever DM session and thoroughly enjoyed it. That said I did run into some problems in each section of the story that I will go to in a little bit of detail. The module says its balanced for a group of six 3rd level characters, I ran this module with four level 1's, one level 2, and one level 4. I found most fights were pretty straight forward and simple, but I didn't feel as if my group was particularly challenged by any of the encounters. For example, when reading the wasp encounter I was worried that this would cause an issue for my players if they couldn't meet the con save required, leading to several PC deaths, but instead my group dispatched with the wasps in one round of combat. But thats how the dice rolls some times I guess haha.
For a first time DM I found the first chapter to be easily the hardest, I only had about half a days prep time to get familiar with the module and the first chapter leads a fair bit to be desired in preparing you for introducing the setting of Mulmaster. There are prompts of rumors and talk that your party can hear as they explore the city, but aside from that there isn't much detail as to what the city is like, what it looks like and how to play out characters within the city. To make it a bit easier on my players I had Captain Holke offer them board at a local Inn, giving them direction in the town and allowing them to overhear rumors in the tavern and interact with a little old lady who was once an adventurer too. This might seem like a minor detail around the lack of description for the town, but for a new DM this was a big point of stress and struggle. If I had more prep time this could have most likely been avoided but I thought I would share my experience and ideas of how to introduce rumors for other would-be DM's.
I was worried about chapter 2 as from reading other reviews people said it could get a bit dry and not very enjoyable. I found this to be the opposite for my group, which I think was more likely to noone having a perception over 12 which made for a much more interesting combat. Worried that the highest level player is going to get away with an easy fight because of high AC? Giving the mage magic missle helps to put him back in his place and teach him that spending his AL DM points to make OP characters will not go unpunished. Traveling on the north road can get pretty boring as its several days travel with no real encounters, a random encounter could be included but this will stretch the time of the module even further. I found throwing in a random woodland creature or farm animal to make the characters keep on their toes while keeping watch at night was a fun way to spice up a few dull and dreary days on the road.
The third chapter was easily the most eventful, having a scroll of comprehend languages included in the second chapter makes interacting with the lizard folk so much easier and enjoyable for the group. To stop my players from being murderhobo's I made sure that as soon as one of them was rude to the first of the lizardfolk that the others made their presence known, just to avoid any shenanigans from the party. Using the comprehend languages spell allowed for an interesting form of communication in the ways of hand signals and noises, making it the perfect time to award players inspiration before entering several fights. The final fights in the module seemed pretty straightforward and easy to fun, I particularly enjoyed my players trying to work out where the purple fungus was attacking them from, assuming it was some massive bog monster only to find it to be a 5ft movement mushroom.
Overall I loved running this module and It pushed me to invent my own characters, settings and scenarios. I think it's always going to be difficult when your players want to pickpocket every NPC, kill every character and want extra gold for every task. Faking love letters, cake recepies and backstories will always be great fun but I hope that my chair dosent collapse on me again before the first round of combat! haha