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DDEX3-04 It's All in the Blood (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Sebastian H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/13/2017 09:06:25

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.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-04 It's All in the Blood (5e)
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DDEX2-07 Bounty in the Bog (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Sebastian H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 15:46:29

Bounty in the Bog is an Adventure League adventure set around the town of Mulmaster and takes place during the second season of adventures that share the theme of the hardcover adventure Princes of the Apocolypse where elemental chaos is sweeing the lands of Faerun.

Here players are put to task doing what many adventurers often find themselves doing: guarding a caravan from bandit attacks. What makes this more interesting than your basic "guard the caravan job" is that the bandits seem to come and go with a strange fog. In addition to this there are rumors of some fabled treasure that was hidden in a nearby swamp and some shady looking people have been purchasing excavation gear in town. It is up to the players to find out if these things are connected and solve the mystery of Bounty in the Bog.

This is a nice little compact adventure that gives players a small taste of each pillar of play in a tabletop rpg. Role play exists for characters as they meet their intial contract and try to get some information out of them If players hang around in town, DMs have the tools necessary to help them get some more information that may help or hinder them in their investigation. There is some opportunity to roleplay with members of the caravan but it is rather limited. As players near the end of the adventure, they get a chance to possibly make friends with native denizens of the swamp as well.

While not a great deal, there is chance for exploration and puzzle solving in the adventure. Players need to tread carefully here though. An encounter in the swamp could be entirely avoided if players investigate a certain location properly and those not well suited for swamps might find themselves "exhausted". One piece can be particularly dangerous. I almost lost a half-orc barbarian due to a rash decision with a certain altar at the very end of the module. Do not hold back though, let players own their own decisions.

Combat abounds in this module. Bandits, the swamp, and the final location offer plenty of chances for players to flex their character's muscles and magical prowess. Don't be afraid to really challenge the players. Most of the encoutners have intelligent enemies and should be played as such. Why would the bandits focus on the heavily armored fighter first? Espeically when that wizard in the back is pelting them spells.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-07 Bounty in the Bog (5e)
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DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Sebastian H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2017 14:14:39

DDAL07-01, A City on the Edge, heralds the beginning of adventures centered in the jungles of Chult. In Chult, players will face pirates, dinosaurs, undead, and even undead dinosaurs, as they work to unravel the mysteries of a curse that affects all the people of the world. The five miniature adventures included in this module mark the first steps heroes will take as they delve into this dangourous world full of mystery, danger, and excitement.

Overall, the adventures are fun and a joy to both play and run. Both sides of the table, DM and player, will find themselves enjoying what is presented within these pages. Combat certainly does seem to take focus over the course of these adventures, but opportunites for exploration and social interaction do present themselves, especially to players that have a creative mind.

One thing that certainly shines about these adventures is that are more strongly tied to one another than previous Adventure League season opening modules. Typically, they have followed a general theme or story but this time all five adventures fit more snugly together. In four of the adventures, players will come across trinkets and clues to a larger mystery that culminates in the fifth and final adventure. As they find these pieces, they will make contacts with representatives of the various factions and power players that will be present in Season 7's Tomb of Annihilation. In addition to this, the modules are tied more closely to the story present in the hardcover for the new storyline so that players who participate in both receive an added sense of immersion and story throughout the course of their play.

The writers appear to have also made sure that players will not be punished for not participating in both the hardcover and the modules presented here. The five modules are also written so that players can enjoy them out of order, instead of being forced to play them from 1-4 and then finish off with the fifth and final one.

A downside of the adventure is that with all the hype about the jungles of Chult and mysteries hidden deep withen them, the players are rather contained in the port city of Nyanzaru. They do get a small taste of the jungle in adventure and dinosaurs are rather prevalent in another, but overall it is a little underwhelming when you know there is so much more out there beyond the walls of the city. However, considering the breadth and scope of season 7, this containment in Nyanzaru will help build a stronger foundation for the players to see it as their home base of operations instead of just a named location where they buy spellcasting services and say where their character was located inbetween adventures.

These adventures are a great start for players and Dungeon Masters, both new and old. The run-time is a little longer than listed, especially if you or your players enjoy to roleplay, but that has more to do with wanting to enjoy every aspect of the adventure and not to cumbersome writing or cramming to much in one miniature adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge (5e)
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DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Sebastian H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2017 13:47:20

DDEX1-01, Defiance in Phlan, is the first in a long series of published adventures for organized 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons play under the banner of the Adventure League. It is a series of five miniature advenures that are designed to give the players a taste of what it is like to play a tabletop RPG and what Dungeons and Dragons is all about. Over the course of these short modules, players will get to experience the main pillars of gameplay in a tabletop RPG: Combat, Exploration, and Social Interaction.

Overall, the adventures accomplish this goal remarkably well. Each module is more or less tailored specifically to one of the three listed pillars of gameplay. Exploration and Social Interaction do suffer a little bit due to the limited nature of writing an adventure that is meant to be completed within a single hour, but considering that time restraint, the modules still hold true to that. In addition to this, some players may feel left out in one module or another. The combat focused player will not shine in a Social Interaction module and the roleplayer might become bored in one that centers on combat. With this in mind, it would be good advice for the DM to read all five modules ahead of a session and select at least three that will focus on one of the three pillars. Then try to run them back to back so that all players can enjoy the session and have their fifteen minutes of fame.

One criticism would be that the adventures are too simple and do not have enough intrigue, twists, etc. Instead of that being a weakness though, it is in fact a strength. These adventures are fantastic for convention play where a DM might have multiple new players who have never played Dungeons and Dragons before, or even any kind of tabletop RPG. These adventures will allow newcomers to sit by side by side experienced players and not feel completely lost in the game. The short nature will also permit the newcomers to get a taste of the game without having devote an entire evening.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan (5e)
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DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Sebastian H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/15/2017 15:56:14

A Thousand Tiny Deaths, DDAL06-01, is an Adventure League Module for Tier 1 (levels 1-4) characters; particularly a part of four 3rd level characters. In this adventure, players must contend with a creature that is as ubiquitous in the game as goblins, dragons, and treasures are: the kobold. These tiny little mischief-makers, often pawns in the grand schemes of others, have fallen before the might of players in countless adventures. The writer took a closer look at the kobold and artfully took their strengths and made them a player’s worst nightmare. The kobolds take center stage as player’s expected encounter with the little scaly ones turn into something more.

The first thing to note is the portability of the adventure. It is originally cast as an alternate hook for the hardcover adventure The Forge of Fury; found in the book Tales of the Yawning Portal. However, it can easily serve as an intro for practically any larger-based adventure, especially those that incorporate a dragon. It could even work as a stand-alone module that a DM can use in between sessions of a larger and deeper campaign. I found the contraptions and traps to be creative and entertaining. The style of them was quite fitting for the likes of kobolds. The fact that the players have a chance to acquire and use some of these contraptions is fantastic. I just wish that some of them could be kept as a one-time use story award. It would be a great memento of the module. I mean, even if it is from an epic adventure, if I can acquire a one-time use item for a tier 1 character that lets me cast a level nine spell, then I want my silly putty that consumes an enemy with self-doubt upon contact.

Speaking of items that can be acquired, the magical item that players could earn at the end of the adventure was well chosen. It is certainly that fits well for characters in the first tier of play and it does not favor anyone class or style of play in particular. While this increases competition for the item, it is a better alternative than having some players feel like there was little for them to earn in the game outside experience, gold, or downtime days.

One more thing I would like to mention is that the individual that runs the adventure is as critical a part as any other piece. A Thousand Tiny Deaths certainly highlights this. In the hands of an experienced DM



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL06-01 A Thousand Tiny Deaths (5e)
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DDAL06-02 The Redemption of Kelvan (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/12/2017 23:17:07

Adventure League's module DDAL06-02, The Redemption of Kelvan is a classic dungen crawl adventure for characters in the second tier of play (levels 5 - 10). It sends one back in time to older editions of Dungeons & Dragons where you feared the dungeon itself as much as any creature you might across inside it. Traps are the star in this module and players will need to be ready to look beyond simple skill checks and a high passive perception in order to succeed. Logic puzzles, riddles, misdirection, and "red herrings" all work in concert to create an adventure that will challenge even the most experienced players and plague those that come unprepared. In the attempt to bring something new to Adventure League by embracing some of the old, this module suffers some notable setbacks.

Players have little no warning about what it is exactly they are about to embark on. After many seasons of mainly "Hack & Slash" modules, they have little reason to think otherwise. What they come face to face with is an adventure whose focus is so much on traps being the main obstacles, as well as source of experience, that failure to manage those obstacles will make them glad for the minimum experience that can be earned. One flaw in this is that individual players can then become soley responsible for having cost a table considerable amounts of experience and this situation can be a source of possible conflict.

The idea of a module centered around traps and puzzles is not bad, in fact it is extremely welcome. The writer does a fantastic job in creating unique, inventive, and entertaining puzzles for players to manage throughout the course of the adventure. The issue that arises is how the players are typically expected to be able to solve some of the puzzles that they come across: use of arcane magic.

Woe to the group of players that enters this dungeon with no serious arcane casting class. Even that is not a guarentee though since there a couple spells or arcane abilities that are easily overlooked and not utilized by characters in a style of play that has mainly emphasized combat for some time. In addition to this, simply count yourself lucky if you find a player in your group who happens to know that one specific ancient language that a player really has no reason to choose aside from having it prepared for this particular adventure.

These requirements for success is what brings me to my main critique of the adventure: how to utilize obstacles in an adventure. When you place obstacles in front of players, you absolutely need to make sure the players have a chance to what is needed in order to succeed. If you create a creature that for some reason can only take damage from sources of fire, then you make sure players have a way to deal fire damage to the creature. If you put a locked before the players, you need to make sure that they have a way to open it that is not dependent on what was chosen during character creation. Failure to address this can cause the ugly beast known as "meta-gaming" to surface.

A creative DM can easily find a solution to this dilemma. The agent who sends them on the task can appraise the party and see if they are lacking a key component. A casting of a spell, at an inflated cost, can remedy the deficiency or perhaps the possibility of hiring some NPC to fill the gap could be utilized. These ideas could even enchance the adventure as it would give the players a sense of urgency for the spell cast may last only so long or the hired hand may meet an early demise if the players are not careful.

I do not want to end on a negative note though. This is not an adventure is not bad. It is hopefully the first of many similar adventures to come to the world of Adventure League. Despite my critique, the adventure can be quite enjoyable. It is never easy to walk that fine line of "challenge vs. frustration" and The Redemption of Kelvan simply takes a few missteps along the way. It came extremely close and one can only hope that the writers will be able to create more adventures of this nature and avoid some of pitfalls present here.

This module fills a void in the library of Adventure League where the aspects outside of combat (story-telling, roleplaying, puzzles, etc) can see the light of day. It puts the "crawl" back in "Dungeon crawl" and it offers those who create characters not optimized for combat to have their fifteen moments of fame as well. Just pray to Tymora that you have one in your group before you enter.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL06-02 The Redemption of Kelvan (5e)
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