DDAL04-07 The Innocent is the seventh adventure for Season 4, which is also titled "Part Four of Misty Fortunes and Absent Hearts". This review does contain some spoilers, so please do not read below if you haven't played the adventure. The reviewer has played and run the adventure.
The Innocent is the first adventure of levels 5th - 10th offered for Season 4. This adventure has a plot is at times confusing ... and if FAR from fascinating. While playing this adventure I got the feeling that the DM was not happy with what she was reading, and after running it I know exactly why. While there are one or two Ravenloft-ish elements and individual good encounters, this module and it's slew of evil humanoids does not belong in the Domain of Dread. You could easily move it back to the Forgotten Realms and it would make much more sense in some respects.
I had to read the first few pages of this adventure several times to understand what was going on, mostly because I could not wrap my brain around how confusing it was. The plot focuses on the "second obsession", which is just an awful choice and for me was very NOT Ravenloft. In addition, the appearance of a mysterious "Visitor" to rationalize the bad plot was also confusing and just poor writing and editing. I also attribute this to the whole "Obsessions" plot device of Season 4, which I'm guessing few if any authors (and nearly 100% of DM) were/are aware of what the heck is actually going on. Again, a plot overview of this season with specific as to what the heck is happening might help, but is missing again. Very unfortunate.
My other, and larger, complaint with this adventure is it does not feel like Ravenloft due to all the monstrous evil humanoids. Trolls, yuan-ti, and orcs lead the charge here, and I can't disagree more. Sure, the original Ravenloft may have had a few of these (mostly due to the fact it was larger and more flushed out), but the new CURSE OF STRAHD adventure book has no mention of ANY of these creatures. Why do this? Likely because it's a quick easy thing to do than come up with a better plot involving humans and/or undead, or the editors/Season planners are already out of ideas seven adventures into the season.
I thought the timeline in Barovia was ... winter? It even says it is the dark and weary winter on page 6 of every Season 4 module.The Innocent starts out in a mucky swamp during a thunderstorm with no explanation or plot devices. I've been through thunderstorms in winter, so why not use that as a plot device? Apparently the writer and editors don't care, forgot, or aren't good enough to mold this into the plot somehow.
Again, there were good and bad encounters, if you look at the adventure in a general sense. When applied to Ravenloft, it is a much larger failure. Examples are:
Swamp: Once again, every non-random encounter is 2-3 days apart. That is a heck of a lot of traveling across the lands of Barovia that from a terrain perspective is not really viable.
Trolls: In addition to not belonging in Ravenloft, the use of trolls is written extremely poorly. The name of the encounter is "You No Be Here!", and the only dialogue from the trolls is: “We’re enemies,” one of them growls in a gravelly voice. I just love trolls that can suddenly use contractions and the author can't write encounter titles with them ... don't you?
The Ghost: One of the better parts of this adventure is the use of the ghost Sari. One of the few Ravenloft-ish parts of the adventure, and it works well to move the party along.
Vardo: The party comes across a man in a sunken vardo. OK, not bad, until you read on. There is no mention of how the vardo got there, no mention of horses that pulled it, and the mechanics on how to rescue the Vistani terrible need to be streamlined. After failing a couple of rolls and saves, my players left him in the mud. When I played this adventure, the DM cut is out entirely.
Skull: Best encounter of the adventure ... but ... last time I checked there are no dragons in Ravenloft. However, this can be overlooked if just the skull was pulled in or maybe was an old dracolich, but that is never discussed. Still, an original encounter that was at least not as bad as the previous one. This is also listed as optional, which is a shame since the vardo one should have been.
Finale: (w/o too many spoilers) By the time I was done reading (and running) the final encounter, I was bored with this event and just wanted it to be over due to the skewing towards evil humanoids. There was no reason it could not have been humans and undead or anything more Ravenloft, which would have made more sense than orcs and yuan-ti. And the whole "mysterious Visitor" angle also had me bored by the end since it seemed like a cop-out to make a poorly written plot work.
Finally ... a decent magic item! And, the party actually has to work for it by killing the adventure's "bad guy". I'm surprised the AL editors didn't dip it in blood first, or have permanent maggots crawling all over it to make it always disgusting - which has been the norm to date. This item and the googles from 4-4 are so far the best items to date, and actually useful going forward.
I wish I could give this adventure 1 1/2 stars, but we'll bump it to 2-stars just for the decent magic item and the skull encounter. If this was a straight-up FR adventure with a few different plot twists it would have been at least 3-stars. Either the author did a bad job at writing a Ravenloft adventure, the staff has poor ideas they send to their writers, or the editors did a terrible job at hacking it into a Ravenloft scenario. Once again a confusing and poorly written plot slithers past the AL editors out to an already disappointed fan base. Not very fascinating at all.