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DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e) $2.99
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Steven B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2019 13:38:50

This module has the potential of being an interesting role-playing and exploration-focused module (in contrast to the combat-heavy trip to reach the tower, so they form a good pair): one optional fight, one technically-optional-but-players-would-definitely-trigger-the-trap fight, and a non-hostile "boss" NPC. Unfortunately, poor writing and editing makes this easily the worst module in the storyline (and made only worse by the season 8 AL rules changes), and requires lots of tweaks to fix.

For issues with the module inherently:

  • The reward for placing offerings in the altars is 3 or 5 "resistance to elemental damage", which is not a 5e mechanic.
  • Several of the tests (Oghma's shrine and the elemental walls on the second floor) give no sign when characters do the right thing or if they are answering incorrectly. It's easy for players to think that they sang the wrong praises if there's no visual change in the walls, although it also doesn't make sense for these traps to make it obvious when they're disarmed, so players may be stuck.
  • The parallel between "4 shrines" and "4 elemental altars" might be a red herring and unnecessarily stall players.
  • Some skill checks (e.g. recognizing the elemental deities) have no difficulty listed, and other skill checks have weird difficulties (Characters auto-recognize the symbols of Azuth and Deneir but need a skill check to recogfnize the shrines with their symbols? Oghma's shrine isn't recognizable at all? Characters who worship Mystra but who aren't clerics/paladins still need to make a skill check to recognize her symbol?)
  • The fire and air summoning chambers have the same room descriptions, which seems like bad copy-pasting.
  • At least one of the riddles for the summoning chambers has an incorrect answer (or at least, an inconsistent answer with the other riddles).
  • The story award listed in the text of the module (which suggests that only Harpers are interested / able to copy texts to gain a spell, matching their faction objective) differs from the story award in the player handout (all characters can do so).
  • The DC30 skill check to bypass half of the module is amusing but questionable writing from a DM-ing standpoint and pointless (since players don't know what they're bypassing and would likely backtrack to look through the floor anyway).

For issues that emerged due to Season 8's rules changes:

  • The shrines are all based on the idea of testing characters' greed: taking the gems would be worth money, but would be punished by traps (and not geting XP). In season 8, players know that there's nothing to be gained anyway.
  • The story award for the module assumes that players are in a faction, even though it is presumably meant to be open to all players.

In summary, the module feels like it lacked both a copy editor to fix some of the spelling / writing errors as well as a playtester (i.e. a DM uninvolved in the writing of the module) to identify the mechanic / gameplay problems. It's still runnable (it's not fundamentally problematic or anything), but hard to play as written.

[2 of 5 Stars!]
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DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
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