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Heroes of Baldur's Gate (5e) $19.95
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Owen S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2020 10:01:21

I just finished DMing the main content of this book via play-by-post on Discord, and can highly recommend it for folks looking for an engaging, semi-open-world adventure for low levels. I’ve played in a number of play-by-post games, and DM’d two, and this is by a long shot the highest quality adventure I’ve done online. While I’m a big fan of the Baldur’s Gate franchise, most of my players weren’t familiar with it (kids these days) and still enjoyed it greatly. Having the classic, memorable and well-defined NPCs of Minsc, Dynaheir, Khalid, Imoen, etc. on hand really helped liven up things I think. The main drawback of the module is that, though it sets out a series of epic character threads, it ends too soon at ~5-6th level, expecting you to homebrew further material aided by the abundant supplementary material on Baldur’s Gate and the surrounding area. I run modules because I don’t have time/confidence to homebrew, though, so we’re now transitioning over to Odyssey of the Dragonlords, in media res.

A few particular points for those thinking of buying/running this. Be warned – SPOILERS are below: . . . . . . . . .

  • My group wasn’t fully optimized, and I have to say, they rather struggled with the difficulty of many early encounters. The early bugbear hideout underneath Baldur’s Gate nearly wiped them out, only managing to survive because they accidentally released a caged cloaker. Montarron would’ve ganked them if I’d played him optimally. After that grueling gauntlet, I ended up being much more liberal with letting the powerful NPCs accompany them. On the one hand, this ended up with mostly the right amount of balance for encounters. On the other hand, NPC heroes really outmatch PCs in terms of power level. Dynaheir nuked the party’s way out of much of the Iron Mines, while Minsc quickly became the MVP DPS after he was rescued later on. The players seemed to enjoy this though, and didn’t feel overshadowed. Plus, it allowed some more interesting roleplaying on the road.

  • That having been said, there were moments of brilliance that really shined. They set up a very creative series of traps in the early gibberling horde encounter to stymie the threat when everyone woke up. Their confrontation with Kagain, a very powerful dude, became trivial through smart combinations of fog cloud and hold person. And they had a beautiful negotiation with Viconia (a personal favorite character of mine) to spare her and her creepy spider-children.

  • One memorable moment – players accidentally freed the Mezzoloth from the Shadow Tree, then decide to clean up their own mess by relentlessly tracking it through the Cloakwood, culminating in a showdown at the Standing Stones. Rewarded for their persistence by the Sirenes with some nymph hair.

  • Also: The players approached the lodge with a shadow druid prisoner in tow. The fellow druid + wolfwere at the lodge tried and failed to free her. Players ended up killing the two druids and capturing the wolfwere. Who then confronted them with the morality of their actions (neither druids directly tried to harm the players, just escape, and they shot one of the druids in the back). Ended up letting the wolfwere go, whom I ran more as a neutral friend of the shadow druids than loyal hag servant, when it became clear everyone was tired of all the killing.

  • I augmented the game with a series of dreams personalized to players’ epic paths, inspired by the Baldur’s Gate game series, and this worked really well. Helped motivate their individual plots, was useful for foreshadowing, and occasionally nudging action in the right direction.

  • The art for the NPCs is certainly impressive, but to me everyone felt glossed up in ‘heroic’ poses, not reflecting their unique personalities and quirks (in contrast with BG1 and 2’s art)

  • I’m not sure how I feel about the big twist ending with Edwin as the BBEG. It kind of comes out of nowhere, without a huge amount of buildup. If I ran it again, I probably would foreshadow this more.

  • The illusion of openness really worked wonders here. There’s clearly defined tasks and quests to keep players from wandering too far afield, but they take place in relatively open environments – a district of Baldur’s Gate, then the Cloakwood.

  • Players ended up with a comically large amount of gold and magic items at the end, especially if the Reincarnated is with them and they get the dragon’s horde. This may make balancing resources in a follow-up adventure tricky.

  • Minsc is the best, he should be in every campaign.

Again, great adventure to run. Ohlen and Sky are in top form here with their writing, pacing, characterization and creativity. I haven’t read/played Descent into Avernus so can’t compare, but for my money, this is the worthiest follow-up to the Baldur’s Gate games out there. Can’t wait for Arcanum Worlds’ next adventure after Odyssey of the Dragonlords!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Heroes of Baldur's Gate (5e)
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