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The Ballad of the Dark Maiden
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2019 11:42:24

One of my favourite adventures on the dmsguild! I've added this as a surface adventure for my Out of the Abyss campaign between the two major acts, as it focuses heavily on Eilistraee and Lolth. The adventure could easily be added to modules such as Waterdeep Dragon Hest or Ghosts of Saltmarsh and potentially even as an island off the coast of Chult in Tomb of Annihilation should your party take to exploring additional lands in the penninsula.

I definitely recommend this to anyone whose party inclues Drow PCs or in a game that features the Drow heavily, as it provides an alternative look at the people outside of their typical depictions as brutal demon worshipping slavers and 'humanizes' them while also provided a thrilling adventure and a CR 21 monster creatured by Lolth that your party isn't meant to kill, but certainly could should you decide to run it at a higher level (if so, I recommend just having Lolth send another one in time for the climax of the adventure during Izalia's ritual).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ballad of the Dark Maiden
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Aldinach: The Lady of Change
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2019 11:33:44

This features a new Archfiend in the form of Aldinach the Lady of Change, a CR 24 creature that first appeared (being mentioned) in 2006 supplement on the Abyss and its denizens. The author has expaned upon the original information and used it to flesh out a moe fully realized character that could be the perfect villain for a long running campaign, or one whose minions the party may run afoul of.

The document comes with Lair Actions, Regional Effects, and a Corruption Table (a euphemism used in place of the more problematic 'Madness' terminology). In addition the author as included information on how to play Aldinach, and mirrored entries on other Demon Lords from Mordenainen's Tome of Foes by providing Signature Spells, Demonic Boons, and more. A particular favourite addition of mine is the Alternate Spell List provided for Warlocks who take Aldinach as their Fiendish patron.

Although the author has not included any hooks for adding Aldinach into Out of the Abyss (which is probably my only real complaint with the product), Aldinach has nonetheless made a fantastic addition to my Out of the Abyss campaign, working as a fantastic Demon Lord to attach to one of my PCs who is all about finding knowledge and reckless pursuit of it. I've had her appear in her child form in Gravenhollow and her true form, curled atop a giant zurkhwood as a reference to the Catterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, and it's a possibility that she could become the final figure standing for the party to deal with at the end of the Rage of Demons.

Regardless, I really recommend this product if you're interested in adding more flavourful, interesting demons to your campaign (especially if you're tired of some of the more simple-minded denizens of the infinite Abyss), and I really look foward to seeing what comes next in the author's series on Princesses and Primes of the Abyss (as a nonbinary person, I've crossed my fingers in hopes that the next Demon Lord in the series is a 'Prime' which I expect is the term the author is utilizing for nonbinary Demon Lords).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aldinach: The Lady of Change
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Shore of Dreams
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/26/2019 00:08:34

This is probably one of the best products available on the dmsguild. The quality is so high for everything - the art, the maps, the monsters, the adventure itself, the magic items... all so good.

With more nautical adventures and modules being released, I hope lots of people pick this up to include it in their games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shore of Dreams
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the kind words Kale! This means a lot to the whole team that worked on Shore of Dreams!
Gracklstugh Revised - Turmoil in the City of Blades
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2019 13:24:20

This product is absolutely necessary for running the Gracklstugh chapter in Out of the Abyss, regardless as to when your party visits it. It deciphers the chaos that is perhaps the least well organized section in any 5e module to date, provides content to further invest characters, help scaling the large dungeon beneath the city, and both clarifies and expands upon aspects of Gracklstugh society and the factions therein that have proved incredibly useful during my time running the chapter.

I cannot recommend this product enough. If you intent to run Out of the Abyss, or even if you just want to use the city of Gracklstugh itself for some other purpose, I believe you should really consider picking up Turmoil in the City of Blades.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gracklstugh Revised - Turmoil in the City of Blades
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Yearning to Breathe Free
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2018 10:50:00

Alright, so the title of Yearning to Breathe Free stems from a poem from the Jewish author and activist Emma Lazaru called The New Colossus, which was written to raise funds for - and is now engraved on a plaque upon - the Statue of Liberty. The full portion the title of this product references is *“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” This is an incredibly powerful piece, and is especially given today’s political climate.

And Yearning to Breathe Free is indeed a very politically charged adventure. Taking place after the events of Out of the Abyss, this adventure delves into what it is like to be a minority in the Sword Coast, something that is rarely addressed in any modules I’ve read recently, save perhaps some pro-human attitudes in Dragon Heist. The PHB describes what it is like to be a tiefling in society, but it hardly ever comes up in my experience, and this adventure not only rectifies it, but really gets into how easy it is to scapegoat and to other a minority group, especially one that most people see as being strange and ‘not like us.’

Now the big thing I think people should know about this adventure is that it isn’t really one that you are meant to go straight through on its own. It think that it serves best as a backdrop to another adventure (especially if you are going from Dragon Heist to say, Storm King’s Thunder or Princes of the Apocalypse. The persecution of tieflings and the actions of the Inquisition don’t take place immediately one after the other. The changes across the Sword Coast and the measures taken by the Inquisition and the Order of the Hellfire Hearth, are gradual and ongoing.

The adventure provides a lot of information on how the various important factions of the Sword Coast are reacting to the murder of a prominent noble and the persecution of tieflings, including the big five, but also groups of rulers, and some other criminal elements such as the Xanathar’s Guild, including how the factions could help or hinder the party, and what may occur if members of the party (especially tiefling members) are part of the factions.

The adventure is divided into several chapters, the first unfortunately is skippable, and in fact quite likely will need to be skipped if you want to get things going, as the only way to really begin it is if your players are in Waterdeep at the time, or if they have means of getting there quite quickly at the behest of some ally or another of theirs to investigate the murder of a knight in the North Ward.

The investigation is pretty thorough and will really make characters who are good with Insight and Investigation, but I think that one of the best portions of the entire adventure is actually a side quest that takes place during the chapter. Set in a sort of Waterdhavian Chinatown, the party investigates the actions of a fiendish cult. Unfortunately for them it is a red herring, but it does remain one of the coolest parts of the adventure, and I definitely recommend using it even if you don’t end up doing much else with the module itself.

Chapter two takes place across the Sword Coast, and details what can happen in various settlements.

Chapter three is the meat of the module, detailing the ‘Brimstone Trail’ (a sort of Freedom Trail), several different encounter tables meant to be used during different ‘phases’ of the conflict between the Inquisition and the tieflings of the North.

Chapter 4 details the base of the Hellfire Hearth (Camp Brimstone), the Hellfire Hearth’s Underdark base (Hrast Het), and Longsaddle, where the masterminds of the persecution of tieflings are located.

Chapter 5 is about how the conflicts can be resolved, and how it will shape the Sword Coast, the factions, and the people of the North.

Appendix A includes info on unique NPCs, and several magic items including several new items that they own, while Appendix B details the items in more depth and in a single location (the Kyton Armour is probably the coolest). Appendix C contains a Madness chart, a new spell, a ‘Demonic Surge’ chart, and a new tiefling racial feature called the ‘Horns of Baphomet’ which is really cool imo. Appendix D is about ‘Suggested Adventures’ recommended for use in Yearning to Breathe Free, or just in general (most of them I am familiar with, and they are really good too!).

Now a few negative points.

The module references the other 5e adventures a lot, as well as the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, and Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Although the NPC Index details how you can handle changing stats if you don’t have all of these books, the adventure itself does somewhat necessitate having access to them for information on several characters and locations, which could be very annoying to people who don’t own or have access to most of the other modules.

Another downfall is that the character art isn’t amazing, with the ones at the beginning in Chapter 1 being a little off-putting, and those in the Appendix being stylized such that while I don’t like them myself, I’m sure some people would as it is definitely a style preference and not a quality thing. The rest of the art varies, as does the quality (and art style) of the maps, only a few of which are actual battle maps, with the rest being of settlements and the like.

All in all (and tldr;) Yearning to Breathe Free is incredibly in-depth, full of political intrigue, and at nearly one hundred pages, is definitely worth investing if you intend to run any sort of long term campaign set along the Sword Coast. I want to play in it, and I know I'll be using it in future campaigns.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Yearning to Breathe Free
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Creator Reply:
I am deeply touched and incredibly grateful for this review. I cannot thank you enough and I truly appreciate the time and thought that went into this. Travis P.S. Horns of Baphomet IS pretty awesome, isn't it? :-)
The Noodle Shop
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2018 15:06:56

Exactly what it says on the tin, The Noodle Shop is a charming, if simplistic two-page document (title page and one page of actual content) that briefly details the titular resteraunt as an alternative to the traditional tavern setting and favoured hang out of parties.

The content includes a description of the resteraunt's history, a brief description of the location, and a menu that includes brief description of the food itself, and their prices.

While I really enjoy the product, I do wish it was a bit more in-depth. It could have greatly benefited from a few NPCs (a chef, a server, some regular customers, etc.), descriptions to read aloud to players, and a few other touches to make it come to life a bit more.

That said, for a PWYW product suggested at fifty cents, I'd definitely recommend picking it up and presenting an interesting alternative to your players from their typical pub crawls.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Noodle Shop
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for your feedback, it's my first time formally compiling my notes. I'd definitely like to update it when I have the time with a more in-depth version including NPCs, a proper read aloud description and one or two small side quest that can be offered to the players.
How Malar Stole Midwinter!
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/05/2018 08:21:07

One of the great things about Dragon Heist is that it has some replayability value to it (more so on the DM's end of things than the player's, but that's neither here nor there), and How Malar Stole Midwinter! only increases that replayability, adding a new, more sinister villain option to the roster.

The villain presented in this supplement is Lady Victoria Vladikoff, a minor Waterdhavian noblewoman that - pardon the pun, or don't in this case - moonlights as the leader of a lycanthropic cult devoted to Malar the Beastlord, god of bestial savagery and bloodlust.

So, the supplement comes with information on how to integrate Lady Vladikoff into the module itself, including information on her goals, how she relates to the Galhund's and the Nimblewright, additional info on the vault keys, an encounter chain, what happens if your players kill her, how her plans can be disrupted, and what occurs if she succeeds.

That last point is a big one for me, because Lady Vladikoff's goal is ultimately to bring a religious, ritualistic Most Dangerous Game styled hunt to Waterdeep every season, and it honestly makes her a more terrifying villain compared to say, the Xanathar's comedic villainy.

Oh, the Dr. Seuss thing? Like, yeah... it's there. Not super prominently mind you. The references aren't as subtle or as plentiful as I would like, but at the same time I suppose that keeps it from being too obnoxious for people who might not dig the sillier aspects that something as weird as a Dr. Suess/D&D mix brings. There are some pretty direct refrences by way of names, and some rhyming messages to intercept.

The supplement also includes a map of the Vladikoff Estate which is relatively similar, if a bit smaller, than the Cassalanter Estate. The map is also by Dyson, so if you are among those that enjoyed their inclusion in Dragon Heist, you'll be delighted because this really does look like it came straight out of the module itself.

One big thing I'd note as a problem for the supplement is that the main villain herself is not very strong. She is a modified Werewolf (CR 3) with a few boosts that would increase her CR by... a little, but ultimately she is absolutely too easy to kill, and a party from level 3-5 would probably wipe the floor with her unless she manages to get all her allies to her side asap, and even then. Her being this weak is not really in the spirit of Dragon Heist (the next weakest villain would be Lady Cassalanter, a CR 5 9th level wizard who is generally going to be found with her CR 10, 15th level cleric husband). I would strongly recommend replacing Lady Vladikoff's stats with something more appropriate (I would personally recommend the Werewolf Alpha from Monster a Day on reddit, while retaining her mental stats and special calling howl ability from the supplement, and removing one or two of the Alpha's three legendary resistances).

Other than that, the only thing I wish the supplement provided was artwork of Lady Vladikoff out of her werewolf form, but maybe when the supplement has made more money the creator can provide that!

Ultimately I definitely recommend How Malar Stole Midwinter! and I can say for certain that when I run Dragon Heist, I'm far more likely going to use this supplement over any of the four villains presented in the module itself. I continue to find myself amazed by how great the villain supplements are on the dmsguild thus far, and I hope How Malar Stole Midwinter! gets to be just as popular as Waterdeep Unseen, because it really does bring a lot to the table that I believe both you and your players would enjoy, especially if it ends with them being victims of Malar's High Hunt...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
How Malar Stole Midwinter!
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More Fellow Prisoners
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Kale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/29/2018 16:33:05

The NPCs presented in this product are fantastic, and most of them have more detail put into them than the rest of the Motley Crew in Out of the Abyss. While several of them are a bit more useful than others (in terms of their abilities and combat potential), but I think that they all present great opportunities for roleplaying.

While OotA's 'canon' prisoners are each part of relatively normal races, with the quaggoth and derro likely being the most foreign to both the party and players, several prisoners presented here are likely to seem very foreign to the party, including an azer, a githyanki, grimlock, a nothic, and a troglodyte.

Of those I've included in my own game, Pyim the flumph, Nectarine the pixie, and Iggud the kobold have been the most popular. The party is incredibly determined to find a way to get Nectarine safely out of the 'magic lantern' that Ilvara put her in, and I cannot wait for them to learn that Ilvara lied about it being set to explode upon being opened. Valgil the troglodyte has been an interesting figure, as she constantly butts heads with Ront (the orc member of the Motley Crew in OotA), but both of them have been befriended by one of the PCs, leading to some fun roleplaying experiences in game; one of Valgil's hunts, which a few of the party joined in on, even facilitated one of Buppido's killings!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
More Fellow Prisoners
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Creator Reply:
Thanks so much for your kind words! I think one of my strengths as a DM is creating fun and memorable NPCs, so having that praised by someone that picked up my materials means a lot. I really appreciate it and am glad that these characters have been able to augment your OotA campaign.
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