|A Grand Adventure!
I ran this as a 3 hour introduction to Mist Hunters at PAX Aus Online for two groups of five players each at this Australian event. Many of the players had not played Adventurers League before and some had not played D&D before. So not only was this an introduction to the Mist Hunters campaign, it was also a much broader introduction for some of these players! It was a perfect introduction in my view both because I enjoy the setting and the style of adventure, but also because of the setting and the challenges within. I feel that this adventure would suit new players more than most modules I have seen previously including my own adventures I have written. I ran A Rat's Tale at PAX Aus 2019 at an in person event, and this module has a similar feel in some respects. That was also a good adventure to run for beginners. Furthermore, this adventure is ideal for online gaming, offering the potential for both theatre of mind style of play, and digital content as well through your VTT (though some research and preparation is required for a more multi-media intense game).
How did I run it?
- I created pre-generated characters for the players to choose from. No messing around with character generation, no discussions over what characters you can bring. Just pick a character and begin the game. I used all the character options in the hardcover book for these pre-gens. I gave each character a background, personality and reason for being in the setting. I included relevant art for each character.
- I used Tarokka Deck cards at the start as inspiration tokens, and yes I awerded DM inspiration to all the players at the start. If it's an exciting game, players will be desperate to use their inspiration and having that option there, especially for new players adds something to the game.
- I omitted faux pas rules and the NPC Basil.
- Players needed to find three clues in part 1, then visit only 1 location in part 2. Then part 3 can be run to fit in whatever time you have left.
- I used Lines and Veils at the start of the adventure to set expecatations. This means players know to expect some horror, and they play an active part in choosing how much horror they will experience.
- I used Stars and Wishes at the end of the game. This provides a more satisfying complete game experience. I needed a few minutes after the game to do this, but all the players were able to participate. This was the best opportunity to receive feedback and understand how the players experienced the game. I highly recommend this approach to generate a more positive experience for both you and your players.
- I omitted level ups.
- I used maps, art and audio tracks as much as possible (including art by @bird#7653). I created additional PDFs including Alanik's letter and the invitation.
- I provided an X card tool and the safety kit.
What did I like about it?
- I very much like the setting. I haven't read or played any of the other MH adventures. Until I ran this adventure, I struggled to see how I could engage with this setting, but now that I have enjoyed the experience so much, I really can't wait to run the rest of the games of this campaign. I like the hardcover book, I think it crosses so many aspects of the game, that it is very useful and engaging for the DM. I often think of Doctor Who when planning and preparing for this setting, and that inspires both the horror and the comedy aspects of the game. I feel the setting information available in the hardcover complements the DDAL game very well, unlike experiences in other DDAL campaigns which at times have felt jarringly awkward alongside the hardcover books.
- The role playing theme of the grand masquerade is delightful and enjoyable. I much prefer this style of game to the "keep hitting the 1000 hit point boss till he dies" style of game.
- I like that it leads into the next adventure. The players enjoy this plot hook and are looking forward to getting a chance to play the game again to discover the next chapter. It's a great cliffhanger and "page turner".
- I like the MH campaign rules for DDAL. I've always wanted to play in the Eberron campaign, but never had a chance to. This setting with its more flexible rules has provided me with the opportunity to discover a more immersive setting.
What else would I like to see?
- Optional rules for Tarokka deck cards to be used within DDAL games, and not just in character generation.
- More adventures like this in DDAL!
- The option to contribute DDAL adventures for this campaign.
A note about comedy:
In the hardcover, I really dislike the note on page 14 which advises to limit comedy. Don't do this. Instead refer to page 9, where the "Cultivating Hope" sidebar refers to "moments of relief, comedy and fortuitous coincidences." While everyone's style varies, I feel that the latter approach is in my experience the one that will lead to more enjoyable and satisfying D&D.
[5 of 5 Stars!]