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DDAL09-01 Escape From Elturgard
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/29/2020 23:29:56

I had a great time running this adventure, though I was true to form and took 50% more time to do so than recommended. The hook is straightforward and I liked how the NPCs were easy to tell apart. The inn/barn section is the standout, with clear objectives and suspenseful complications. The final part, that utilizes all of the NPCs, is a mystery, and I always struggle to run mysteries in D&D; I'm also hampered by not knowing what the NPCs will do in future adventures this season, though I tried to skim the next three which helped a bit. My party had a good time and we look forward to our next opportunity for this storyline.

Update: Dara's secret is revealed at the end of 04-Day of the Devil but really fleshed out in 05-Faces of Fortune.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL09-01 Escape From Elturgard
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DDAL09-02 Stopped at the Gate
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/23/2019 22:39:29

This is a murder mystery. Players shouldn't be scared away from it because of that, though, they'll be able to form their own Scooby gang right at the table. And, if they've played through DDAL09-01, they'll have recent experience.

This mystery benefits from few red herrings and a clear solution, though motivation might be a bit perplexing for the sleuths.

There's a lot of location-building and NPC-introduction that feels like setup for the long game, and I will definitely pay attention to what resonates with my players so that I can sculpt the payoff a bit in future modules.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL09-02 Stopped at the Gate
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DDEX1-14 Escape from Phlan (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2018 09:40:12

I enjoyed running this module. Regular players will see lots of callbacks from earlier Season 1 adventures. Not much exposition needed; I added the five Freona daughters as questgivers. Combats are surprising and challenging (players will find every way to avoid an attack roll when you force them to fight from prone - fun). My personal challenges continue to include running a 4-hour adventure within the time allowed, and this adventure really suffers if you break it up into two sessions. I also seem to have a hard time balancing for the APL; party did all the things and still walked away with the minimum 3000xp. That particular problem appears to be moot for AL play now, though.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-14 Escape from Phlan (5e)
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DDEX1-12 Raiders of the Twilight Marsh (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/17/2018 18:37:27

This adventure is better than I was able to run it. It's got a strong, clear story with lots of room for player engagement. The sense of urgency is developed early; the motivations of the NPCs are clear and the untrustworthiness of their nature makes every encounter, whether combat or negotiation, excitingly perilous.

I recommend, when DMing, that you pay close attention to the time-tracking system included on the last page, and decide ahead of time how you will run the two or three possible resulting scenarios. Also, there are some monsters that have been re-mixed and understanding the difference between the different subgroups is critical for an informed and exciting battle.

In a gamestore setting, with an unpredictable mix of PCs, it can be difficult to keep all the encounter interactions clear in your head, especially as what happens in early encounters can have dramatic implications for the setup of later encounters, and their resolution. Don't be afraid to take your time and split the session at the halfway point if necessary.

I would have liked more hooks on the personalities of some of the very minor NPCs - but had no problem improvising a fairly uninteresting backstory to answer PC inquiries.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-12 Raiders of the Twilight Marsh (5e)
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DDEX1-10 Tyranny in Phlan (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2018 12:39:20

I believe this to be my favorite AL adventure that I've run or played; admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size but for me it ranks easily with "Defiance in Phlan" and "The Marionette."

I really love that this adventure is so bold as to change the underlying premise of the rest of the season. "Tyranny" is a keystone in melding the convenience of drop-in play with the engagement of campaign play. It doesn't matter in what order you play the prior adventures of Season 1, and it doesn't really matter in what order you play the other Tier 2 adventures of Season 1. The presence of so many recurring NPCs provides an easter-egg pleasure for consistent players as well as the opportunity for resonant DM character arcs for a tightly-knit table of players. As such, "Tyranny" provides a trophy of an experience for the first adventure Level 5 characters play; and a thrill of anticipation for the upcoming adventures.

It is true that there is more setup here than in other AL titles; one danger for DMs is in luxuriating too much in the "cut scenes" (if I'm using videogame terminology correctly) that propel the party from one encounter to the next. However, my worry about getting out the relatively-lengthy boxed text in a concise period of time lent an appropriate urgency to the narration.

This module rewards prep time spent by the DM; reviewing notes on the recurring NPCs, checking stat blocks for special abilities such as flight; referencing spell lists to understand the deadliness and use of spellcasters. For example, in between the two times I've run this module, I reviewed the rules of the spell "death ward" and it made the relevant encounter memorable in a welcome-to-the-big-leagues kind of way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-10 Tyranny in Phlan (5e)
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DDEX2-11 Oubliette of Fort Iron (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/12/2018 11:04:16

Without having as much prep time as I usually do, I was still able to run this adventure successfully. I missed some very fun details but the linear nature of the module helped keep me on track, and the sense of exploration and discovery kept the party from getting frustrated at the lack of multiple paths. There are so many inventive encounters, and moments within encounters, that the sense of peril is always present. Describing the special weapon in the first round of the final combat really had its target worried as the villain rolled the attack and then the player rolled her save; and the result of that single attack surprised and entertained everyone. The adventure is filled with memorable moments like that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-11 Oubliette of Fort Iron (5e)
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DDEX1-06 The Scroll Thief (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/04/2018 20:31:42

I loved running this adventure. The mystery is engaging and new players don't struggle to put it together. There are social interactions that are memorable for very different reasons and for very different playstyles within the party. I especially love the storytelling through the clues left along the trail, that communicates details of the villain's extremely rough day. It really gives the party a chance to soften the impact of the final battle and is very satisfying when it comes together. There are a lot of little touches that tie in to the rest of Season One adventures for the Adventurers League, that won't get in the way if you adapt the adventure to home play or your own setting. Overall, it's a module that strongly benefits from running in a single session.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-06 The Scroll Thief (5e)
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DDEX1-04 Dues for the Dead (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2018 20:24:05

I really enjoyed running this for a group of relatively new players. It's a good change from other first-season AL modules in being very straightforward in its goals, and the playtesting patches leave fewer questions than in other early adventures. The dungeon has more than its fair share of memorable encounters. In trying to run the whole module in one session, however, I feel like I rushed the final encounter more than it deserved; there are more combatants than previous and the combination of their effects needed more study than I had time to give it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-04 Dues for the Dead (5e)
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DDEX1-05 The Courting of Fire (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/14/2018 18:40:48

An interesting setup for a recurring villain. The investigation section, once I understood it as the DM, was easy to run and the players followed the clues correctly. The dungeon was also a fun crawl with some thrilling encounters and ways for the players to "outsmart" the tricky parts. A simple cantrip avoids some traps, which I think is fine. I felt there were some loose ends that interested players more than they should have; I had to do some quick thinking to divert what could have been hooks for an entire invented campaign back to a swift AL wrap-up. The villain is resourceful for a Tier 1 adventure and will be a joy to play again later in the season. I still need to get more efficient about run time; having prepped all the maps and monster hit points I still ran this four-hour module in seven hours of game time spread into two sessions. The final room is a bit crowded of a chamber for a Strong or Very Strong party. I suggest adding 5' in each direction as part of the adjustment.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-05 The Courting of Fire (5e)
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DDEX1-03 Shadows of the Moonsea (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/31/2017 21:07:57

I found this to be a ton of fun to DM. A straightforward module with consistent narrative logic and a meaningful villain's plan; the final encounter really caught fire in my imagination and kept the party of six on their toes, with a moment to shine for everyone.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-03 Shadows of the Moonsea (5e)
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DSQ2 Arcane Shadows (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/25/2017 13:29:34

There are serious and numerous missing pages in the scan currently uploaded to DMsGuild, as of December 2017. I can't recommend this pdf at this time because of the errors. See discussion for a general list.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DSQ2 Arcane Shadows (2e)
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DDAL04-02 The Beast (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 12:02:04

Excellent adventure for Organized Play. A table of random players can easily complete this adventure in two hours. Optional encounters let a DM tailor the event to the group at hand, maximizes its replayability, and each works to enhance the tone of the season. My only quibble is the hazy motivations and actions of the central NPC couple, which as written seem chaotic and plot-driven rather than character-driven.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-02 The Beast (5e)
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DDAL4-01 Suits of the Mists (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Heath B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 11:52:32

Bite-sized missions whose target audience is new-to-D&D players, this adventure succeeds in being different from what has come before. The theme, while present, encourages DM input and isn't as heavy-handed as Season 1's introductory adventure, for example. There are gaps in the connective tissue between missions, that a DM can fill in satisfyingly if they know the whole piece. The timeline raises questions, as it sounds like four inciting incidents have already happened when the players arrive though the players can only take on one at a time, but that doesn't bring down the flavor and spirit of a game for Level 1 PCs.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL4-01 Suits of the Mists (5e)
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