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DDEX3-09 The Waydown (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 14:31:11

This adventure is great fun. There's a bunch of roleplaying heavy stuff at the beginning (the PCs have to infiltrate an armed camp disguised as circus performers in order to secure access to the passage into the underdark) that has huge potential for hilarious fun (ask me about the orcish bard and his druid wildshaped into a giant ape friend's physical comedy sometime), followed up by some interesting enough combat encounters once you actually make it underground. I've played this three times (once as a DM) and the one thing I really noticed is that it plays out pretty different for a higher level party than it did for a lower level one. The presence of 4th level spells really switches things up in some cases here (Banishment in particular), so DMs should be prepared for what the party can actually do.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-09 The Waydown (5e)
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DDEX3-01 Harried in Hillsfar (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 13:01:16

This is another of the "5 1-hour mini adventure" sort of things they do at the beginning of each season of Adventurers League. I ran it a while back at a convention and had a good time. The players enjoyed the giant demonic goat that showed up at one point, and it introduces some characters that show up in other adventures later in the season, which is nice. There's a fair mix of roleplaying and combat encounters, something for everyone really. The main concern I had was an encounter with a creature who possesses immunities that could render them unkillable to some parties. If you do the adventures in order you'll have found an item that will help, but nothing requires that to happen, and if you let the players jump around they'll potentially get splattered.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-01 Harried in Hillsfar (5e)
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DDAL05-01 Treasure of the Broken Hoard (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 11:43:49

This is actually my favorite of the various "intro" adventures the Adventurers League has done over the years. I've played in it once and run it several times and everyone has enjoyed it every time. In particular, the framing story makes it clear why the PCs actually care about accomplishing their goals and the various mini adventures you go on are all quite fun. Things get perhaps a bit deadlier than is entirely warranted in the adventure with the magmins, but other than that I thought it was well balanced. There is a nice mix of combat and puzzle solving, with perhaps slightly less roleplaying than some might like.

High points from the players perspective were the cursed goblins and hill giant, along with Blooddrinker the Bear, but the rest of the adventures are also quite enjoyable.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-01 Treasure of the Broken Hoard (5e)
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DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 10:09:55

I ran a table of this at one of the regional preview conventions, and enjoyed it quite a bit. That said, there were a few issues.

First, it ran WAY slower than I expected. We only ended up finishing 3 of the 5 adventures in the 4 hour slot I had allocated to it. The ones we did were fun, but if you read it ahead of time you might go in thinking you can burn through these things in 4 hours. You'd be mistaken.

Second, if you're on a compressed timeframe it's a little tricky to make the jumps from one adventure to the next. The PCs are supposed to be given tasks by each of the 5 AL factions, but you don't necessarily have members of each faction, so why should they care?

There's also the whole "we did all this stuff to put together the macguffin, and now it does nothing because this is the intro adventure to a whole season and a hardcover and it can't actually resolve anything" problem. Don't know how you solve that.

On the bright side though, there's a dinosaur race, which was awesome. I can forgive basically everything if I get to run a dinosaur race.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge (5e)
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DDEX3-05 Bane of the Tradeways (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 09:59:39

I ran this adventure on about 5 minutes notice (someone else bailed at a local con and we needed a DM), so my view of it might be a bit skewed. That said, we had a great time with it. There's a fantastic chase scene, a couple of fun fights and a plot that can play out multiple ways depending on how the players initially react to what's going on. I liked the way the adventure's "rails" go in multiple directions, and in general we had a fun time.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-05 Bane of the Tradeways (5e)
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DDEX1-06 The Scroll Thief (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 09:50:52

This was actually the first Adventurers League module I ran as a DM, and I had a great time with it. The adventure revolves around some mysterious thefts that the PCs are expected to track down. While doing so they meet a number of interesting personalities around the city of Phlan, giving plenty of chances for fun roleplaying, and they naturally get into a few scrapes, letting the combat fans flex their muscles. The conclusion is something of a mini-dungeon crawl that culminates in a showdown with the culprit behind the whole thing.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-06 The Scroll Thief (5e)
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DDEX2-10 Cloaks and Shadows (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2017 09:46:50

I've played in this twice and ran it once, and each time it played out completely differently. There are multiple paths through the adventure, and you won't hit every part on every playthrough. As is mentioned in some other reviews, you might have trouble with players who don't realize that the initial fight can't be won, but if you get them past that this turns into a great mystery culminating in a fun battle with the BBEG.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-10 Cloaks and Shadows (5e)
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DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 20:34:49

I played this once at TotalCon and DMed it this weekend. It's a pretty standard dungeon crawl that's set up with enough variation to keep it fresh on multiple play throughs. There are a variety of traps and monster encounters provided that can be slotted in to various locations in the adventure, and the DM is given free reign on adding wild or magic dead zones throughout the dungeon, which should keep even the most spoiler equipped players on their toes.

The major thing worth talking about in the adventure is the end boss. It's a super interesting build, with stats that spread across two full pages. There's a lot going on here and you're going to want to read it thoroughly to get a handle on how the fight is likely to play out. There are a bunch of legendary actions and lair actions going on, not to mention its custom reactions, so it'll be a lot to keep track of. That's the good news. The bad news is that a table on the low end of tier 2 can easily get TPKed by this thing, especially martial characters who lack magic weapons. As written it's completely immune to non-magical weapons, and its various abilities make it quite possible for the PCs to have trouble hurting it via spells if they don't have a sufficiently varied selection of attack types.

Both times I've played the adventure the BBEG fight went fine, but it's super easy to see how it might be a total disaster. Walk in prepared and be sure to take stock of the capabilities of your party's characters before you get this far. If you suspect you're heading for a disaster don't hesitate to nerf it a bit. Lowering the immunity to resistance should be sufficient in most cases to avoid a TPK while still keeping the fight interesting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
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DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 19:37:57

I've played this adventure twice and DMed it four times. I enjoyed it every time, but the final fight can be a bit of a slog depending on your party composition.

The plot is simple. A frost giant youngster has been kidnapped by a local milita who's trying to start a war. The players have to rescue him and return him to his mother, or failing that bring the head of the militia leader to the local frost giant jarl in a last ditch attempt to avert a war. On the way they'll experience an amusing encounter at a magical stream (there are multiple options, they're all pretty fun) and do a little investigation. The final confrontation can be either a negotiation where the PCs reveal a bunch of evidence they've uncovered or a well architected ambush and rescue, depending on how they play it out.

The only real downside of the adventure is the final battle. The enemies are pretty much bags of hit points with reasonable AC, and they didn't have much chance of taking out any of the parties I put them up against. That's fine against the guys with a bunch of casters who can make short work of them with save based effects, but if you're mostly martials it's going to take time to work your way through the hit points. The outcome won't be in question, which is part of the problem. If you play it right you can add drama by putting the giant in danger, but beyond that there isn't much to do.

This also suffers from the usual problem of 2 hour adventures. A long rest oriented character will know things are pretty much over and be able to blow their spells in a firey nova of destruction. The short rest oriented characters will be left in the dust. This isn't a problem with the adventure though, it's just the format that's unbalanced.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold (5e)
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DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 19:22:23

I played in this adventure at TotalCon and ran it once last weekend. Both times were a lot of fun. You're playing a rescue mission, where the PCs venture into the Ice Spires in search of a besieged platoon of Citadel Adbar dwarf trainees and the runed tablet they uncovered when they took shelter from an ogre army. There's plenty of room for improvisation and role playing, depending on how it plays out, although players who run in with swords drawn without thinking things through can easily get themselves TPKed when faced with the overwhelming odds that initially present themselves. That said, there are multiple potential solutions to the problem of freeing the dwarves and recovering the tablet, and players who put a bit of thought into solving the problem will be rewarded.

Honestly, there's not a lot of nuance beyond that. It's a short, fun adventure where you kill some arctic monsters, outwit some Ogres and rescue some hilariously terrified dwarven trainees (if you're not playing at least one of them as the "Game Over" guy from Aliens you're missing out). The only real problem is that it's a 2 hour adventure, so the players can pretty easily figure out when it's safe to completely blow their resources on one last nova round. This benefits long rest characters over short rest characters, but that's not the fault of the adventure, it's more a problem with the 2 hour time slot it's been stuck in.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
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DDAL05-12 Bad Business in Parnast (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 19:00:35

I both DMed and played this at TotalCon this year, and had a lot of fun both times. That said, you have to know what you're getting into. This is a low combat adventure. Most of the time will be spent talking to townsfolk and trying to unravel the mystery of who's been sabotaging things around the town of Parnast. There's a final showdown with the obligatory fight, but if you're running this in a two hour time slot you'll easily spend 3/4 of that on the mystery. The phrase "CSI: Parnast" was thrown around multiple times when I played it. If your players are the type who get twitchy when they haven't had a chance to hit something with a sword this may not be the adventure for them.

Another concern is time. This is billed as a 2 hour adventure, but to actually make it fit in a 2 hour time slot I found that you really have to spoon feed the mystery to the players. A steady diet of clues will get them to the climax on time, but you probably won't make it through all the scripted events, both runs I was involved with only hit about 2/3 of the stuff that's supposed to happen, jumping right to the climax from there. This is fine if you're giving the players enough clues to realistically get to that showdown, but if you don't it could be easy to run out of time and not have a good way to finish.

That said, I had fun both playing and running the adventure, even in a constrained 2 hour time slot. I think it would be even more fun in a 4 hour slot, especially if you are able to play it with a group who really gets into the role playing and mystery solving. If you want to kill some monsters this may not be the adventure for you though.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-12 Bad Business in Parnast (5e)
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DDAL05-16 Parnast Under Siege (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Garrett R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 18:49:53

I ran a table of this at one of the conventions it premiered at, and it was probably the most fun I had all weekend. This adventure is a perfect capstone to the Tier 1 storyline from Season 5 of Adventurers League, the looming threat of Bad Fruul's monstrous army comes crashing down on the town of Parnast and only the PCs can stop it in its tracks. You can certainly run and enjoy this adventure on its own, but if you've run the previous adventures from this season (DDAL05-02 The Black Road, DDAL05-03 Uninvited Guests, DDAL05-06 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber, DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent, DDAL05-10 Giant Diplomacy, and DDAL05-12 Bad Business in Parnast) you'll be better prepared, as Parnast Under Siege is filled with callbacks to the previous adventures. The players' previous accomplishments make things in this adventure harder or easier, and it adds to the feeling that this is a single coherent campaign as opposed to just a series of one-shot adventures.

The adventure is structured as a sort of Magnificent Seven kind of thing. The PCs spend the first half helping to fortify the town and training the townspeople, using whatever skills they're most proficient in. Simultaneously there are various side quests they can go on. The whole time this is happening they're building up points that will be used later on in the adventure to help with the actual defense of the town. Once the assault on the town starts the PCs will have to fight a series of battles against portions of the monsterous army, and they can strategically use the points they acquired to buy off some of the enemies, representing the work they'd previously accomplished paying off, i.e. the townspeople shooting some orcs with arrows, or pit traps they helped to dig trapping some of the larger enemies, etc. Eventually it all culminates in a final battle against Bad Fruul himself.

Another interesting aspect to this adventure is the way it can be split up and run as a sort of multi-table mini-epic. There's easily enough content to satisfy three tables worth of players, which allows you to go more in-depth into the various side quests, something that gets glossed over a bit if you're running the adventure as a single table, especially if you're ina 4 hour convention time slot.

There is one thing that should be kept in mind before diving in to the adventure though. Parnast Under Siege is the capstone to a series of tier 1 adventures, which means it was written assuming a table of 5 4th level characters. You can scale things back a bit to handle fewer players or lower level characters, but after a point it will stop working terribly well. The final battle of the adventure is against a spellcasting Hill Giant, this isn't the sort of thing a couple of level 1 characters are going to be able to do. If the DM fudges things so that the PCs manage to win despite their low level you risk losing credibility. If you alter the plot to have Bad Fruul die off screen or something you damage the plot that has been built up in the previous adventures, nobody wants to see the BBEG die off screen! Personally I'd recommend only running the adventure for level 3 and 4 PCs. A table of level 1 and 2 characters won't have nearly as much fun.

In conclusion, this is an awesome adventure. It's particularly cool if you've run a bunch of the content from the rest of the season, but it would still work without it, as long as you've got characters who are sufficiently strong to be able to appreciate it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-16 Parnast Under Siege (5e)
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