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The Gauntlet
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2017 11:38:06

Released in conjunction with the Evil sourcebook, this adventure sets the party as candidates for membership in the Minutemen, the local thieves' guild. They are handed a list of items they are to 'acquire' over a single night... and if they fail, they will be handed over to the town guards and imprisoned for whatever crimes they have committed (or for which they need someone to take the rap)! No pressure then...

If you've used Honour Among Thieves, another adventure in the Adventurer's Keep series, you will have met the Minutemen already, in their home town of Desburgh (or wherever you located it). Use the same bunch again, or maybe this is an affiliate operating in another town that's more convenient for your overall plot. Any class of character may apply for membership provided they are neutral or evil in alignment, and several possible reasons for them wishing to join the Minutemen are provided - although you may need to engineer the conditions that would bring those reasons in to play in prelimary adventures of your own. Alternatively, it can be run as a one-off for a group who want to have a go at being the bad guys for once. A neat system is provided to enable you to create a new 'Gauntlet' every time you run this module, or you can use the example that is detailed in full.

The adventure begins with the party meeting with a representative of the Minutemen in an empty warehouse in the early evening, where they are given the list of items (less one, they're told they will be informed about the last one later on). You may well wish to devise some earlier scenes to cover the party contacting the Minutemen and applying to join, of course. Locations are mapped and described clearly, with plenty of detail to let you deal with whatever the party decides to do.

Notes are provided as to how to deal with success and failure, either during the night or once they meet the Minutemen representative again with their spoils. There are some good ideas for follow-up adventures as well. Overall, it makes for an excellent adventure for a party that doesn't mind getting its hands dirty or is considering (or already leading) a life of crime. Or they might be working undercover... Whatever, it makes for an entertaining and hectic evening!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gauntlet
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Kin and Kinsmen
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/22/2017 10:27:28

Across frozen wastes hidden away lies the Kingdom of the Seven-Day Sun, but it has worse problems than a chilly location. They found the king sitting on his throne murdered, and during the coronation of his successor, Crown Prince Hess, someone had a go at him too. Fingers of suspicion point in all directions, not least the Table of Lords (all of whom could stake a claim to the throne)... and all turn to the party, who were visiting for the winter festival and are now trapped here like everybody else, to find out what's going on.

The DM's Background reveals who the murderer is and why he committed it, the adventure itself is one of investigation and interaction as the party - distrusted by just about everyone because they are outsiders - hunt for the truth. The party gets embroiled in the matter because they happen to be standing in the crowd watching the coronation beside a fellow who pulls out a crossbow and takes a pot-shot at Hess. Hopefully they tackle him - if they don't the crowd will bring him down, dead!

By its very nature, the adventure is quite freeform. There's a background timetable that ticks along irrespective of what the party does, loads of people to talk to, and a very loose framework against which you can let the party loose to do what they please. A plan of the royal castle, complete with room descriptions, is provided, as well as 'thumbnail sketches' of the people that are under suspicion that the party is supposed to interview. With the odd assassin and one evil creature to contend with, opportunities for combat are there but not frequent yet, should the party figure out how to defeat the evil creature, they have the chance to save the kingdom from more than a regicide.

Study the adventure carefully before running it, the material is a bit confused in places and could have done with a read-through by someone who didn't know the plot! That said, it's a nice winter investigation with potential for the party to make their names as something a bit more classy that pure adventurers who raid monsters and steal their stuff.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kin and Kinsmen
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The Wreck of the Venerable Drake
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/21/2017 11:29:36

The Players Introduction sets the scene: while browsing in an adventurers' supplies emporium, the party discovers the proprietor in a distraught state. His supply ship has been lost at sea, and worse than the loss of the cargo apparently he had what he refers to as a 'family heirloom' aboard... and he's willing to pay well to have it retrieved. When the party starts to ask about it, it turns out that the ship has run aground on a reef rather than sunk, but the crew refuse to return to it despite it not being that far away. Smell a rat? Or is the lure of the reward too great?

The DM's Background explains the real story behind the wreck and the true nature of the family heirloom. Interestingly, the adventure provides a good test of the party's honesty. Brief notes cover the trip to the wreck - you'll have to fill in any details or encounters you deem necessary - then the party will have the ship to explore. There's a good plan and notes on what's where aboard. Rather oddly, the ship hit the reef broadside on, staving in the side - anyone knowing much about sailing ships should realise that's somewhat unlikely.

Most of the critters the party encounter will attack without much thought, but it may be possible to enter into negotiation with the final encounter (who was behind the wreck in the first place) although as he's a bit of a religious fanatic they are unlikely to sway him from his purpose. The end of the adventure assumes the party come back to their patron, the owner of the ship, and deals with various options - although one fairly possible one isn't covered at all, you'll have to work out your own response to it. There's a neat new magic item and the new 'monster' is that final encounter.

This makes for a neat little adventure to spice up a shopping trip in a seaside town, but more could have been made of the moral dilemma.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Wreck of the Venerable Drake
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The Lost King
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/15/2017 10:22:01

It's a bit awkward for a kingdom when their king goes missing. The Players Introduction tells us that King Ivol Lareth II was misplaced when his castle was under attack by barbarian hordes... whisked away into safekeeping by the court wizard, one Keland the Magnificent, who unfortunately then died without telling anyone where he'd hidden the king. Now his realms languish under his talentless son, and the citizens really, really want King Lareth back. Can the party help?

The DM's Background provides the low-down on what Keland did with Lareth, and where he is now. There is more on just why Lareth's son Mellan isn't up to ruling, and so affairs are being managed by one Kaylin, a very smart elf who is Lareth's seneschal. Kaylin doesn't want to use the Royal Guard to search, as she thinks the barbarians will be back soon, so she's seeking to hire in. There's also a note that this adventure doesn't come with a map. The kingdom's a pretty basic city-state with some mountains to the north - you can sketch something if you feel the need, or find a suitable location in your campaign world.

If the party has a reputation already in this region, Kaylin will send to them for help. Otherwise she advertises, and it's up to the party to respond... well, they are supposed to be adventurers, after all. Once they present themselves at the castle, it's clear that everyone's desperate for King Lareth to be found. The only suggestion Kaylin has is that they start by seaching Keland's quarters for clues. They've been sealed since he died about a week ago. Few venture into a wizard's room uninvited, even once he's dead, so it's not been disturbed...

Everything depends on the party finding a single clue, so you may have to 'help' them a bit to find it. Once they do, indications are that Lareth is somewhere to the north, in the mountains some three day's travel away. Some encounters are provided for along the route - even a passing dragon - but eventually they ought to reach their destination, although this is going to require some actual mountain climbing. The party will also have to contend with other denizens of the mountain... and rescue the missing monarch, once they have identified him. Oh, and then they have to get off the mountain safely again!

With a final twist in the tale, this is a cracking little adventure with an interesting quest and a lot of fun to be had along the way. It also bodes fair to increase the reputation of successful parties, and a bard or two ought to be able to get a good song out of it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lost King
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The Temple of Eternal Flame
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/14/2017 12:55:24

If ever a party was railroaded into an adventure, it would be this one. The Player Introduction tells a tale of abduction, ending with the party in a rat-infested dank cell with a voice saying they have a job for them to do...

The DM's Background explains about the Temple of the Eternal Flame and what the party will have to do. It's intended that the party members are kidnapped individually, so you could use this as a campaign-starter - provided that they actually survive a fairly tough dungeon delve. It may be more suitable for a one-off adventure, so if the worst happens at least nobody has lost a favourite character!

The temple itself is a pyramid, and the first trick is to figure out how to get in. Thereafter, the place is replete with traps and puzzles, as well as hostile denizens. None of them seem inclined to do anything but leap into combat as soon as they are encountered... well, one offers the party a single chance to leave, but only after at least one party member has been killed.

The whole background is a bit hazy, referring to an old and bitter feud between the fellow who abducted the party and someone based in the temple - the DM is encouraged to work out the details of the feud if they want to know more. There is a high element of railroading, with the fellow that abducted the party being regarded as 'too powerful to be dealt with' and left without details of level and capabilities. If surviving characters want to wreak their revenge later when they have become more powerful, again it will be up to you to determine his capabilities.

That said, the temple is well-described and everything therein works (once you know where it is). It's a bit overpowered for the level of character suggested, but that seems to be kind of the point. The party's supposed to feel pretty powerless, pawns in someone else's quarrel. Not many adventurers are going to like that, and they may want to do something about it, which could make for some interesting follow-up adventures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of Eternal Flame
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Honor Among Thieves
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/08/2017 12:56:37

The Players Introduction sets the scene. Some three nights ago, the 12-year-old daughter of the local lordling vanished when a caravan was attacked, leaving a pile of corpses and blood, but not her body. The lordling has offered riches, magic items, you name it, for anyone who can get her back. Hopefully the party accepts the challenge but even if they don't, as they wander the city steets suddenly a child runs towards them yelling for help and annoucing that she is the Lady Alexandra, Princess of Dresburg...

The background for the DM doesn't elaborate much although it provides a little more detail on what anyone investigating the remains of the caravan might have found. The city of Dresburg (change the name as suits to fit your campaign world) can be the party's home town or a place that they've just arrived in: all that is needed is an inn, a fortified palace and a sewer system... the rest is left to you.

Given the introduction, you might be thinking that this is an easy job, and so it appears to begin with. The folks chasing her are seen off and the party is soon occupying rooms in the best inn the city boasts with a fat purse apiece to buy fine clothes for a gala in their honour where medals are to be bestowed upon them... but of course, nothing's that simple! The party soon finds itself in trouble with the very authorities that were lionising them mere moments ago, and sloshing through the sewers rather than attending a gala in their honour. Such is the life of an adventurer.

A nasty new monster is introduced and the magic item is the medal - more than a shiny bauble on a piece of ribbon, as the party will discover if they manage to save the day and get awarded it after all... about the only flaw in the entire adventure is that the text promises that it has two magical functions, then only details one!

This is a cracking little adventure that should prove appealing to parties who enjoy interaction and intrique as well as a good (if smelly) delve with traps and monsters to overcome.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Honor Among Thieves
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Temple of the Iron Codex
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/03/2017 06:22:00

You might think that a massive earthquake in the city the party is visiting is problem enough... but what when it opens a path for an ancient evil to enter the world? This is the situation presented in this module.

The DM's background explains how this situation came about, with long-forgotten heroes walling up the Iron Codex and generations later a city arising, unknowing, above. It's suggested that you use the party's home city (or current residence) to highten the stakes. There are also suggestions for how to manage those parties or individuals who want to call in powerful forces to deal with the issue, which boil down to reminding them that they are all busy coping with the aftermath of a massive earthquake and a subsequent plague.

The city layout and the approach to the Temple of the Iron Codex is left to the DM to determine: this module begins with the entrance doors of the Temple itself, now hanging off their hinges as a result of the earthquake. The room descriptions and floorplan are quite intricate and repay thorough study before running the game if the best effect is to be achieved. That said, it makes for a fascinating and scary place to explore, with plenty of challenges in the form of traps and unusual layouts to negotiate as well as opportunities to find out just what is going on, if not how to deal with it. Just to muddy the picture, there are a few fake copies of the Iron Codex lying around, so the party needs to be careful to deal with the right one!

This makes for an exciting and challenging adventure, with a few outline suggestions for further activities - although these are all based on a successful conclusion to this adventure. Given the potential enormity of the evils struggling to be released, if they fail there will also be plenty to keep them busy. A nicely-constructed delve with major ramifications for your campaign world.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Temple of the Iron Codex
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Relics
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/18/2017 21:42:24

First of all let me start off by saying that I'm a sucker for new and interesting things so my view of this book is going to be pretty bias from the start. That being said I'll be as impartial as I can be. Yes I liked the book, but perhaps it could have been a bit better, but more on that later.

First let me start off by saying what I liked about the book. First thing thing is quantity of artifacts. There are 119 pages of artifacts. That's 119 interesting items to put into the campaign. Each with their own personality and plot devices mixed in with them. There's a lot to explore here. Next is the variety. There's something for everyone within the book. Finally I like that most of the artifacts are fairly easy to build a story arc if not campaign around.

Now let me start with the bad of the book. Let me start off by say I like the book a lot, but I feel I wouldn't be doing my due dilligence if I didn't say what I didn't like about the book. My biggest complaints about the book are very nitpicky to be honest. First is a lack of bookmarks. But I can see why they didn't bookmark the book thanks to the large amount of artifacts. My second complaint is that they didn't include adventure hooks and suggestions for adding them to the campaign. That being said I'm rather spoiled by the Tome of Artifacts to be honest (but that's another review and should not be held against this book).

In summation I do like the book I recommend this book for DMs that are curious and interested in looking for new ideas. There's a lot of interesting items for both the party and the BBEGs within this book. As I said there are interesting artifacts on each page and I personally take it as a challenge to read each of them to see if they spark the imagination. If you purchase this tome I hope you will too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Relics
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The Lash of Malloc
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2017 12:52:45

Somewhere, in a suitable desert in your campaign world, there's an oasis that isn't actually quite as welcoming that it seems. The Player Information on the back cover talks about the odd missing item, mysterious tracks in the sand, and strange noises, ending with a missing child whose parents are wealthy enough to finance a search mission...

Then the DM's Background lifts the lid on what is going on, and believe me, there's quite a lot going on in that desert inn beside the oasis! Malloc, the owner of The Desert Beetle, provides a good service provide you have plenty of gold but there's a whole lot more going on, most of it quite unpleasant (and not all Malloc's doing either although he does his best to get involved, and get a cut of the profits!).

There's an evocative description of the oasis and plenty of detail about The Desert Beetle itself including notes on the inhabitants and room descriptions. There's a small map of the building - a fairly typical caravanserai - and what lies underneath; but this is not player-friendly, you will need to prepare something if your players like to be shown plans of where their characters are. We also get to meet a new lifeform, the desert goblin. Bit like a Jawa from Star Wars, to be honest: I can see plenty of potential in them.

You will have to get the party there on your own, there are no suggestions for why they might be wandering around a desert. Even if you go with the concept of a doting daddy looking for a missing daughter, you will need to provide details for yourself.

However, it's a neat little adventure even if you will have to do some preparatory work (some other patrons for the inn might come in useful too). Oh, and Malloc's lash? That's the new magic item and, no, it's not a whip!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lash of Malloc
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The Illusionist's Daughter
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/02/2017 11:01:06

The Players Introduction tells the tale of an illusionist who has an exceptionally beautiful daughter (presumably without the help of his spells!). Although they live in a remote village, her fame has spread far and wide and there's no shortage of eager young men heading off to try and win her hand. Only one of them has gone missing, a young nobleman by the name of Cedric. His family is concerned, and ask the party to find out what happened to him.

The DM Background lifts the lid, outlining a tragedy that has left the illusionist unhinged and his erstwhile bodyguard terrorising the surrounding area. Although the initial introduction for the party talks about them being sent in search of the missing Cedric, several other options are provided if that doesn't fit in well with your campaign. There's even a neat idea for using NPC bards to spread a song about this beautiful maiden which the party may hear for weeks before you actually run this adventure.

Getting to the village is apparently an adventure in itself, but that's an adventure you will have to write as what is provided here starts when the party arrives in the village. There is a rather small village map with accompanying descriptions of notable locations and inhabitants, but the main meat of the adventure is the illusionist's home, a three-storey edifice rather optimistically called a tower. Again there's a plan of that - note both maps are not player-friendly - with room descriptions for when the party begins to prowl around. Wandering around the village will provide ample opportunities for interaction with the inhabitants and the gathering of information.

Once in the tower, there are numerous unsettling incidents to highlight the fact that the wizard is deranged - even if he does manage to make reasonable dinner conversation. The weather turns nasty, and the party is invited to stay the night... a good chance to explore. And that's what they will need to do: there is no real way to discover what is going on except by poking about and finding the evidence for themselves. Likely things will end in tears, and a brawl - although the objective of the fight is not clear.

Overall it is a nice little puzzle adventure to toss your party's way, particularly if they enjoy figuring out what is going on.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Illusionist's Daughter
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The Last Defender
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/24/2017 11:08:44

It's spring time, and the local rangers have announced that the mountain passes are clear enough for travel once more... so the party heads off there for whatever reason (a couple are given in the DM Background if you or they do not have a good reason of their own). In the heights of the mountains, there's a chasm crossed by a bridge guarded by a tower at either end. There's quite a lot of backstory for the DM about what's gone on there in the past, and this is where the adventure proper begins - you probably will wish to play out the party deciding (or being hired) to travel through the mountains, getting any equipment that they need and getting high up in the mountains, but you're on your own for that.

There's a good (but not player-friendly) map of the bridge over the chasm, again any maps you require to get there will have to come from elsewhere. On the plus side, there's plenty to explore when you get there - and assorted bandits, monsters and others to object to the party's presence, not to mention the remains of a caravan that tried to pass this way a month or so ago. The bridge's past may be revealed through interaction with the numerous ghosts to be found here, but the main gist of the adventure is to clear out the towers and grab what can be salvaged from the caravan. A few ideas are included for further adventures, and a new monster and new magic item (a decidedly anti-social battleaxe) finish off this book.

There's potential here, but some work to be done before it becomes a fully-fledged adventure.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Last Defender
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The Red Isle
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/28/2017 10:33:54

Throw this adventure in sometime that the party is taking a long sea voyage... it's easy to drop it into any campaign as it is based on a remote and rarely-visited island. The DM's Background explains the situation in which the party will find themselves and provides a neat way for them to hear at least a little of this information: the captain of the ship they are on likes telling tales of an evening!

It all begins with a shipwreck. The characters wake up on what appears to be a remote and deserted island. This survival situation turns into a delve as a long-lost pirate lair is discovered and (presumably) explored. The pirate captain was a bit paranoid, so it's quite well defended, not to mention other creatures that have moved in. There's a clear plan of the lair, presented as a side elevation (it makes more sense that way, but is nicely-done) and each location therein is described in detail, with what (and who) is to be found there and all you need to run the ensuing combat. And combat there will be, nothing there is going to be interested in a chat.

This is a tough adventure: the traps are complex and deadly and so are the inhabitants. Survivors will find a rich hoard... but they still have to figure out how to get someplace that they can enjoy their new-found wealth. Suggestions for further adventures are included, all-in-all this is a nice little side-adventure to catch your players with when they are thinking about the reason they originally undertook that fateful sea voyage.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Red Isle
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Dawn of the Serpent
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/21/2017 10:06:16

This adventure provides a neat interlude sometime the party is travelling through wild-enough terrain that a night in the open will be involved, as it opens with them spotting what looks like a welcoming camp fire ahead one chilly evening...

Of course, they won't get the rest, warmth and companionship they might have been expecting. The DM's Background points out the main hazards of travelling: inclement weather, roving bandits and occasional monsters - and this adventure includes all three. The adventure is set in the Gloamwood Forest, which has of late gained a bit of a reputation for being dangerous, although the road that goes through the forest is quite well-travelled and relatively safe. This forest can be placed anywhere in your campaign world where a largish forest with a road through it is appropriate. It's best run in winter, but if you prefer to run it in another season, that's fine.

Various rumours may be heard before the party actually reaches this stage in their journey (particularly if you like foreshadowing), and then it's straight on with the action. Investigating the camp fire leads eventually to a lair that needs cleaning out. It's all quite straightforward in a way, but there are traps and monsters to defeat on the way to solving the adventure... and some neat ideas for what might happen afterwards.

As a way to enliven a journey, this makes for an interesting challenge - especially if you have carefully prepared your party to expect a covivial night around a campfire on a cold night. The various elements of the story combine well together to make an entertaining interlude with potential consequences that might haunt the party for some time to come.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dawn of the Serpent
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Gottheit
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2017 07:43:04

Travelling through a dark and misty night, the party is looking forward to finding a place to stop for the night... but when the town of Gottheit comes into view, the settlement appears deserted and derelict. Or is it?

Designed to accompany Alderac Entertainment Group's Undead sourcebook, the adventure seeks to answer the question, what happened to the people of Gottheit? The DM's Background explains why a peaceful (if somewhat over-religious) community has turned into the dismal wreck the party arrives at, and prepares you to run the adventure. It has an interesting structure, in that although it appears to the players that it's a location-based adventure as they wander the town, it is actually event-based, with a series of events that occure in a set sequence with it not mattering just where the party is when each event occurs!

A town plan and location descriptions are provided, then the encounters are presented in the sequence in which they should take place, leading the party inevitably to the climax in the temple in the centre of town. It's recommended that, despite the party being free to wander as they please, they should not visit the temple until the end but no clear advice on how to manage that is provided.

It's a fine creepy adventure that maintains suspense well, although I think the recommened character level (9th-11th) is a bit too high... slightly lower level characters should find it appropriately scary and a bit more of a challenge.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gottheit
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Princes, Thieves & Goblins
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/14/2017 06:57:45

The Player's Background paints a picture of a small but prosperous kingdom that was happy up until the previous year, when a succession of goblin raids caused havoc... but worse was to come. The King summons the party to a meeting at his country retreat, and requests their help - his baby son has been kidnapped! Evidence points to the goblins and the King will throw his resources behind the party...

All this has been dealt with, through a mix of narrative and role-play (although you can role-play the lot if you prefer) before we even get to the DM's Information. This explains some quite epic confusion on the part of the goblins and lays out what is going on and why quite clearly. Assuming the party agree to accept the task, they soon are on their way. The journey to the goblins' lair is glossed over, you may prefer to make it more interesting.

The lair itself is clearly mapped and detailed, with room descriptions along with notes on who might be around, all necessary game mechanical information and their likely intentions. From here on in, it's a fairly straightforward delve, with traps and monsters to deal with. Although it's supposed to be the goblins' lair, it's a bit difficult to envision them actually living there given the set-up. At the end of the dungeon, there is an opportunity to negotiate a solution should the party choose to take this option. The adventure rounds off with a new type of goblin and a magical item which plays quite a major role - more as an object than because of its powers, interestingly.

In a way, this adventure promises more than it delivers. The set-up is intriguing, but the dungeon itself quite pedestrian. The way in which a negotiated outcome is possible is excellent, but resolving it is left very much to the DM's discretion... and there is nothing concerning any consequences or follow-up adventures. With some work, this could prove a good adventure, as is it's a bit unsatisfying.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Princes, Thieves & Goblins
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