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A Chance Encounter
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2019 11:56:50

Kristjan Matthiasson's A Chance Encounter is a short, fun adventure for level 1 characters. The storyline is straightforward and in line with many classic fantasy adventures, offering a town, a small dungeon, and a quest-giving mage with opportunity for future adventures while still being a self-contained story. I wish there was more detail about the town, as nothing but the mage is detailed, and the read-aloud text for conversations with NPCs make the adventure feel like a video game with cutscenes, but it gives enough detail that a DM can make things flow more fluidly. It's also worth noting that while the adventure flows relatively well, the layout is minimal and there are a handful of spelling and grammatical errors, though none that detract from the intent of the author.

Overall, if you're looking for a short and sweet adventure that requires little prep and sets the stage for a classic fantasy setting, A Chance Encounter will suit your needs just fine.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Chance Encounter
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Igor's Challenge
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2019 11:44:20

Igor's Challenge is a short adventure created by AuthorDM Bryce. The greatest strength of this adventure is that it is composed almost entirely of a series of traps and puzzles, some of which are unique and interesting. However, several of these puzzles are unclear, completely ignore player agency, or require hand-waving game mechanics. Additionally, although this adventure specifically claims to be appropriate for any level party, there are no specific guidelines or suggestions for check and saving throw DCs based on character level. I'd also like to note that the very first room almost guarantees at least a two-way party split, which some may like and others may not, and also note that every one of the 30-odd rooms of the dungeon contains a magic item reward.

Overall, I think the best way for a DM to utilize this content is to take out the puzzles they like (and several of the puzzles are incredibly clever and fun!) for use in their own games, as I do not think this adventure will not survive contact with players. I think this adventure would be greatly improved by playtesting, read-aloud text, a DC table based on level, and an editing pass for clarity and formatting.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Igor's Challenge
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Gardens of Fog
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2019 23:32:09

Gardens of Fog, created by Bill Benham, Raffael Boccamazzo, and Hannah Rose, is a great adventure that emphasizes important themes surrounding mental health. In this adventure, which is a brilliant blend of education and atmospheric horror, the characters find themselves confronting personifications of anxiety and depression within the mind of a friend. The adventure encourages the use of empathy and understanding in order to combat their foes and help their friend emerge from catatonia.

I think this adventure does a brilliant job of achieving its main goal: educating on mental health through the lens of D&D 5e. Additionally, it's designed in such a way that it is incredibly easy to drop into any campaign or campaign setting. The encounters are memorable, cinematic, unique, and encourage a combination of thoughtful roleplay and engaging combat. It also includes a powerful new magic item as well as a the Cleric Domain of the Mind, which is a flavorful, balanced, and inspiring sub-class for characters that are just as capable of healing wounds of the mind as they are wounds of the flesh.

This adventure is a definite must-have for any tables looking for a powerful and meaningful adventure that can help all of us to learn more about mental health and the ways that we can care for one another both at the table and in our daily lives.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gardens of Fog
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Temple of the Dragonknights
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2019 22:35:04

Dawson Wood's Temple of the Dragonknights is a great adventure for first level characters. It has a little bit of everything: a small town for the PCs to explore, a mystery to investigate, a (surprisingly large) dungeon crawl, an epic and climactic boss fight, and it even has a few thoughts on ways the adventure thread could be expanded into future adventures! I ran this adventure for a first-level party and I thought it was great: easy to drop into my homebrew setting, gave me all the aforementioned tools I needed to run a great game, and my players said they had a really fantastic time. However, I think there are two things a DM who wants to run this adventure should consider before doing so. First, there is quite a lot of combat encounters in this adventure, especially for first level characters. I cut a few of the combats and turned the encounter with the kobold sentries into a roleplay encounter with the easily frightened foes, and the final battle was still a TPK (the green dragon wyrmling recharged its breath weapon three times in a row-really bad luck). Second, many DMs will want full-page maps that they can print or zoom in on more easily: the little corner maps worked fine for my table (theater of the mind), but others may disagree.

Overall, Temple of the Dragonknights is a fun story that provides ample opportunity for exploration, combat, and roleplay in a classic fantasy adventure. If you're looking for an awesome adventure for first-time players I would highly recommend you check this out (as long as you're able to adapt potential combat encounters into non-combat challenges). However, if you like to use maps at your table this is probably not the adventure for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Temple of the Dragonknights
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Death in the Wood
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2019 15:09:19

Jonathan Garland's "Death in the Wood" is a good example of a fun, straightforward mystery adventure and a good pick-up for a first-time DM or an experienced DM. The encounters, both roleplay and combat, add engaging elements to the story and the author provides lists of potential clues for the PCs to find in each scene, allowing for flexibility in how those clues are discovered by the PCs. Additionally, the mystery is an engaging one which involves a reprehensible villain (accomplished well without crossing potentially triggering boundaries for players) and several sympathetic NPCs for the party to interact with. However, I do have one issue with the adventure's structure: a great deal of the box text reads like cutscenes, rather than setting a scene for the players to engage in. How many parties are going to simply sit back and watch fights break out, a lumberjack bully a woman, or the sheriff talk at them for a minute or more? I feel that this design greatly limits player agency, especially for DMs who feel that they need to read the box text word-for-word.

Overall, if you're looking for the framework & encounters for a tier 1 mystery adventure that could easily be dropped into any campaign, Death in the Wood can certainly provide. However, its design can hamper player agency if the DM isn't comfortable breaking away from the extensive box text.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Death in the Wood
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Down Came A Blackbird
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/30/2019 14:37:27

Wow. Just... Wow! Down Came a Blackbird is an exquisite example of a D&D adventure: it has a wonderful & original story (delightfully inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds), a cast of fantastic NPCs (including two fun & sinister villains), and several interesting combat encounters with goals outside simply slaying the monsters. There's a ton of beautiful art, several fun handouts to increase immersion at the table, and a sandbox approach to the plot that gives the players tremendous agency in the adventure. My only complaint (and it's a tiny one) is that the NPC and monster stat blocks in Appendix A are broken across columns and pages. Other than that, this is an absolute steal at $3.95 and would be a phenomenal oceanic adventure for any D&D campaign, not to mention a must-buy for DMs looking to add phenomenal third-party content to their Ghosts of Saltmarsh campaign!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Down Came A Blackbird
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100 Interesting Boss Mechanics
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/30/2019 12:29:24

100 Interesting Boss Mechanics is a fun, quick reference guide filled with mechanics to make combat in D&D 5e fresh and unique. It's great to pick up a few ideas or get inspired to create an outline for a fun fight. However, some of the boss mechanics are incredibly specific and not very helpful unless your setting has nanobots or a seafaring party (or unless you come up with a good way to reflavor an idea in the supplement). On top of that, many of the "mechanics" are actually just ideas and not mechanics using 5e rules. In order to use many of these ideas, a DM would have to actually develop the mechanic itself. A more accurate title would be "100 Interesting Boss Fight Ideas." Overall, a great product to inspire unique combat, but it requires extra work on the part of the DM to make these concepts work in-game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
100 Interesting Boss Mechanics
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Evolving Items (5e)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2019 12:51:27

Evolving Items, by E. R. F. Jordan, is a fantastic supplement that provides the item statistics for 30 new magic items which increase in power as the players level up. These items range from classic weapons & armor to original & unique gear with fun & interesting effects. DMs can use these items as presented or break them down to create additional magic items suited to their campaign and players. This is a simple, well-written supplement that provides a wealth of items for DMs in any campaign setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Evolving Items (5e)
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Cooking Magic (5e)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2019 12:34:02

This supplement by E. R. F. Jordan is a fun & straightforward way for DMs or characters to incorporate foods with an arcane flair in their campaigns. It contains a streamlined method of collecting ingredients, learning recipes, and preparing meals that confer short-lived but meaningful benefits to those who consume them. For DMs it provides an opportunity for fun side quests, NPCs, roleplay, & the joy of cooking. For players, it can create an easy-to-use framework for characters with cooking-inspired or adjacent backgrounds! If you are looking for a fun & easy way to include cooking into your campaign, this clear & easy-to-use supplement is a must-have.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cooking Magic (5e)
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Trouble in Ironboot Mine
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/18/2019 14:31:04

Thorsteinn Mar's The Aranea Queen Part I: Trouble in Ironboot Mine is a campaign that brings characters from level 1 to level 4 over the course of three connected adventures. The campaign itself has a beautiful layout with a spider-themed header on every page. The main town of Deadsnows includes a handful of plot hooks should the party or DM choose to include additional side quests and adventures that could help to flesh out the campaign a bit between levels. Additionally, both the Ironboot Mine & Kobold Lair dungeons offer a variety of traps, monsters, and clues to challenge the players and allow them to piece together an overarching mystery. I really enjoyed reading through this campaign, and while I think it would make for a very classic-feeling, high fantasy campaign, I do have some feedback on ways the campaign could be improved.

First, there is a lot of fluff here. Whether it's in the extensive history of the dungeons, the NPCs, the region, or the town, the prose is meandering and unfocused with little material that will be important in any game. The whole campaign could have been made much more clear and digestable if it was boiled down to its essentials. Second, it's odd to me that the campaign gives so much detail in other areas and then just doesn't give any details for the caves in the lower area of the Ironboot Mine dungeon. Instead, there is a note instructing DMs to make something up "if your player wish to investigate where the cave leads." I've never played with characters who don't want to explore the entire dungeon! That's what many DMs buy these modules for-to fill our worlds with dungeons and adventures. Third, with the exception of the possibility that the players attempt to fight the adult red dragon in her lair (which would be deadly unless there were more than 10 players), almost every fight in this campaign is easy or medium difficulty, with very few encounters that come close to challengers the players in a significant way. And finally, the NPC Appendix doesn't actually include any NPC or monster statistics. It gives the NPC class, level, and background and leaves it up to the DM to create a character sheet or stat block for the NPCs themselves, creating more work for the DM.

Overall, if you are looking for a fun mini-campaign with a clear and beautiful layout for new players that uses classic fantasy tropes and includes lots of lore on the setting of the adventures, Trouble in Ironboot Mine is perfect for you. If you're looking for a campaign that you can read through quickly, run without much prep, or challenge your players with, you should probably look elsewhere. I want to be clear that I think this campaign is a really strong showing from Thorsteinn Mar and I look forward to their future work-I am simply hoping to provide helpful criticisms that could improve the quality of their future projects.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trouble in Ironboot Mine
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Creator Reply:
Thank you, Zeke. A constructive and helpful criticism is always welcome.
More Bears!
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/18/2019 13:36:23

More Bears! by Bob Turpin delivers on exactly what is promises: no flavor text, no artwork, just more bears! There are 24 new bear monsters with CRs ranging from 3-10. My only issue with this product is that some of the higher CR monsters use magic and are still classified as "beasts" rather than "monstrosities" (could run into some wild shape or polymorph issues with a PC who wants to shift into the high CR bears) but that's more of a personal opinion that a fair criticism. The stat blocks are clear, ready-to-use at your table, and perfect for a DM who needs monsters for an adventure in a weird forest or the Beastlands!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
More Bears!
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Encounters in the Mists - Additional random encounters for Dungeon Masters
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/18/2019 13:27:40

Hugh McCluskey's Encounters in the Mists contains 20 additional random encounters appropriate for a Curse of Strahd or other gothic horror-themed campaign. The short supplement is rife with spelling and grammatical errors, as well as often using unclear mechanics that require interpretation (for example: "dc 8 fear check," probably a Wisdom saving throw?). That being said, several of these encounters seems like a lot of fun, and I'm certainly going to include 11 of these (Morning Song, Blood to Bone, The Devil Has Appeared, Help Out a Friend?, A Lovers Parting Gift, An Ill Omen, Good Fortune, Well in the Dark, Cabin in the Woods, The Little Girl Lost, & A Loyal Companion) as random encounter options in my upcoming Curse of Strahd game!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Encounters in the Mists - Additional random encounters for Dungeon Masters
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Bailiwick War Snake
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/18/2019 13:08:17

I really want to love Jacob Pyzikiewicz's Bailiwick War Snake. It's an incredibly cinematic, potentially epic encounter that proposes a unique challenge incorporating elements of the battlefield and strategy to make for a fun and unique fight. That being said, this supplement is little more than a handful of DM notes: some lore, an narrative paragraph on how the fight could play out, and three stat blocks (1 for the war snake itself, and 2 different solider blocks). However, the stat blocks are made in a way that suggests theater of the mind (bit can only be used 15 feet in front of the head, attacks that continue past players that they miss to hit the next player, and an unclear mount/dismount mechanic, a reaction with no trigger, yet because there are so many moving pieces it is difficult to visualize without at least an abstract drawing, which isn't included. On top of that, the stat blocks need serious polishing for a DM to be able to interpret and use as they are written.

Overall, if you are looking for inspiration for an epic encounter for a war-time fight, this supplement will give the framework to build your own interpretation of this very memorable encounter. If you're looking for a boss battle that you can print and run right away at your table, Bailiwick War Snake is not the supplement for you.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bailiwick War Snake
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Item Crafting Rules for 5e
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/16/2019 15:37:58

C. Stapleford's Item Crafting Rules for 5e is an in-depth dive into the use of various sets of tools or kits that come with one's background, as well as detailed mechanics for the cost, time, & ability of player characters to construct various items (both magical and non-magical). In my opinion, this supplement uses lots of math and several long examples where a simplified table or text box would convey the same information.

Overall, if you want more crunch to go with your crafting, this is the supplement for you! If you are looking for a simpler set of rules for crafting, I would recommend using Xanathar's Guide to Everything or creating your own simple rules instead.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Item Crafting Rules for 5e
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Realmspace Bestiary
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Zeke G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/16/2019 15:24:58

Leonaru's Realmspace Bestiary contains 11 new monsters, many of which would be great creatures with which to populate alien planets or the Elemental Planes in D&D. The monsters range from humanoid to monstrous (I'm especially fond of the Eye of the Deep Beholder, Oortling, & Giant Praying Mantis) and each comes with some lore & ecological information as well as a well-formatted stat block. There are a small handful of minor spelling or formatting errors, but they in no way in impact the readability of this great supplement!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Realmspace Bestiary
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