I ran this recently as part of my scenario scheduling.
There are some key differences between this scenario and it's predecessor particuarly in regards to how encounters are run. More on that further in.
ELM 1-1 set a good scene and story with the Moander cult on the move perhaps and the grain of the town of Elmwood being infected. Part 1 had the party investigate the grain issue, traveling into the elven forest and then meeting up with a sage (a call out to Curse of the Azure Bonds).
ELM1-2, sees the party return to Elmwood quickly (or not as the case may be) and then be asked to go into the forest again to find a Arcane location where a mage had his sanctum.
THe party is given the location of sorts and then needs to travel through the forest to find this location.
Now one thing the previous scenario got very right was to make sure the creatures/monsters used were thematically appropriate to the scenario. We had a Shambling Mound, Vine Blights /variants, and Corpse FLower/Ropers as well as some other stuff.
This scenario decides to almost completely move away from that and have the party encounter the forces of a Necromancer Mage Lord who has an interest in the Sanctum and Netherese ruins. While in and of itself, this felt a bit like the start of a plot for a sequel series to the current one, the use of Zombies/Arcane casters and mercenaries feels a bit jarring. I fully expect the Forest now to offer up perhaps a Demonic encounter (considering how much is made that the demonic madness still exists). I expected perhaps more Plant based threats, considering the forces of Moander are very active.
Im not opposed per se to the variety in threat, but I think there could of been better monsters on offer.
As this point I should address the key figure in this scenario. Grypht the Saurial Ice Mage/Wizard who is also a Saurial. I love this. Curse of the Azure Bonds after Pool of Radiance was my first real experience with both AD&D and FR. This race , Lizardman like could not speak but instead released different smells to converse with others. Very awesome, but I must admit I did wonder how one could become a Mage if you couidnt speak the Arcane tongue.
After finally finding the Sanctum the party is exposed to a Combat Arena situation of sorts and then a pretty interesting Row /Column puzzle which at least in my game worked well. I didnt have to give too many hints :) . This was great and I love a good puzzle.
Sadly though, in the conclusion we have an issue with VIMM, who is a Very Intelligent Magic Mouth Spell which looks like a Hologram of a Lady. I had no issue with this. Grypht is gone and he wants something to .. look after his home base.
However normally at this point of the adventure, players can become restless. Its been some time since the game began and many people arnt as ... concentrating as much as they might be. VIMM provides some exposition and then that is it. Again with some rejigging I think the Sage from the first part could of had a different fate and this could of been him giving the party the information. Perhaps his soul had become trapped to the sanctum. I liked VIMM, I just felt that she/it was a little wasted here. Great Concept though.
THe party gets some information on Moanders intentions and then its back to Elmwood for Part 3. Part 3 is honestly the best part of the Series with again a return to thematically appropriate monsters, some interesting combat and skill encounters and a good resolvement to this series.
Now my final issue is with the way encounters are written within this scenario. We have an initial Mage/Zombie encounter, and a further Mage/Beholder zombie encounter/ The final encounter is within the combat arena setup and is well detailed. My issue is not with that encounter.
In this scenario , the Monster involed in the first two encounters for average /unchanged difficulty are not directly specified. That is those used to OGRE ZOMBIE behing in Bold or MAGE being in bold wont see that. Instead we get maps which show the location of where the average level monsters appear and what they are. Some of these maps are massive, and many dms will simply not have a battlemat big enough so changes will likely be made. THe appropriate box for tiering IS there and is definetly usuable but even with the 'refer to map' text to see where the monsters are for the average fight, they should be clearly written in bold into the encounter text.
I marked this as 2 Stars because of the issue with the encounter text and the monsters that didnt quite feel like they fit. In fact beyond the fact the adventure was set in the Forest where the last one was, this felt like it could of been placed in almost any other trilogy it felt that tangental to the main story.