Quelling the Hordes has opportunity for light investigation, roleplaying, and a good variety of combat. It is fun if run well, but the adventure can easily turn into a slog-fest. The DM should make conscious choices about how to run it. I ran this in a four-hour slot and was nervous beforehand that the party would feel rushed, but that ended up not being the case.
It starts with a simple investigation that includes both combat and a small roleplay opportunity. There is no puzzle-solving, but the story pieces provide good flavor. If you have limited time, DMs should make sure the party keeps moving through the investigation because the meat of the adventure is after this.
The trail leads the party to a large set of caves where there are many encounter opportunities. There is good variety here where fighting head-on is often not the best approach -- so the players need to make decisions about how to proceed. This variety includes:
- A CR 4 monster that can easily TPK a low-level party, but can be negotiated with.
- A village, where the party can use stealth or other means to avoid being attacked by everyone at once.
- Possibility of equipment destruction, which is especially worrisome for poor 1st level characters
It is easily possible for the party to explore/encounter everything else before finding the boss. If time is limited, the DM may need to steer them.
When I first picked this up, I would have liked it if the adventure had more guidance for DMs running this in a standard four-hour slot. Fortunately, there is enough advice out there -- here on DMs Guild and out in the web -- for DMs who are preparing to run this.
(Note: In one place the text says that the adventure is optimized for 1st level, and in another place it says it is optimized for 3rd level. Reading around on the web, I settled on 1st level.)
[4 of 5 Stars!]