DDEX3-04 It's All in the Blood is an module set in the third season of adventures written for organized play through the Adventure League system of place. It immerses characters in the same world as the hardcover Out of the Abyss but sees players follow a slightly different story arc. In this adventure, players will particiapte in an "extraction" mission. It differes from what one might expect because instead of attempting to save someone, the players are tasked with being the kidnappers and their target is a Fire Giant. No ordinary Fire Giant will do though, players need to capture one that is tainted with the blood of demons and if that was not intimidating enough, they have to infiltrate a city of these giants and there also happen to actual demons, drow followers, and more awaiting them.
One of the first things to take note of is the suggested length of time the adventure has: eight hours. If there is anything we have learned about Adventure League modules it is that the suggested running time is usually a "best-case" scenario. You are likely to go over and with all this adventure has to offer, that is more a guarentee than anything else. The adventure suffers greatly from this because it certainly will begin to take a toll on players and the DM as they begin to tire after having played for such a long time. By the time they get to the final encounter, instead of a something vivid and memorable, people at the table may tend to simply go through the motions.
To be fair, this was one of the first adventures written for the third tier of play and there were going to bumps in the road. Length of the module was one of those bumps. When you have players at higher levels play, it comes with all the tricks their classes have as well as all the effects their various trinkets and equipment have as well. If you happen to have a couple players who DM as well, they will have even more tricks up their sleeves. This tends to extend the time combat requires as you find yourself being checking references to make sure a said item can do what it does or if a certain effect does actually apply in the scenario being used.
As far as combat goes, this adventure is loaded with it. There are multiple scenarios where players can take one foes and to be honest, some of them are particularly nasty. One might be tempted to take it easy on players at this Tier because players have usually invested a great deal of time and effort in their characters by this point. Doing so robs your players of the true experience of the module though. They are making deals with literal demons from the abyss at one point. The mission has them trying to sneak into a Drow city that was invaded by demons and demon-blooded Fire Giants. It is supposed to be hard. A character dieing is not something that should be surprising. Also, at this level of play, if the player does not have the resources to purchase a "Raise Dead" spell, the table more than likely can pool the resources together to do so. Be ready to make combat quick and efficient though. There is plenty of it in this adventure and if you want to finish in a reasonable amount of time, you need to keep yourself and the players moving.
Role-play does exist in the adventure but it is rather limited. There is a great opportunity for it at the beginning of the adventure but the situation can easily devolve into a combat scenario. Once players enter the city, creative roleplay can be used to avoid a series of random encounters and reward players for creative attempts to do so. It will give them a breather from rolling dice and will allow you to keep the adventure moving.
There is some exploration in the underdark but once in the city, players have a clear objective: get in, get giant, get out. If players wish to explore around the city and linger, play up the danger of being discovered and having an entire descend upon them. If they continue to linger, unleash the masses.
Overall, the adventure is fun and offers challenge and excitement for players and the DM. The length of time can be daunting and it might even be a good idea to cut it into two sessions if you are able too so you can avoid player and DM exhaustion. You will certainly want to do your homework and prepare for this one, but in doing so, you and the players will be amply rewarded with a great game experience.
[3 of 5 Stars!]