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DDAL04-03 The Executioner (5e)
by Jason P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/13/2016 09:26:08

After the update, the module is at least slightly better. So there's that.


But it's still a mess. There's so little motivation for the characters to actually do what the adventures assumes they're going to do. The adventure overview—and how it fits into the overall story of the season—is pretty cool, but it seems like getting a full adventure out of this particular beat was difficult. I've now either run or played this a few times and NONE of the players figured out what they were supposed to.


As it stands, this one requires a lot of prep to make it easily runable, and at least one full readthrough to make note of the myriad proofing errors and typos.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-03 The Executioner (5e)
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DDAL04-02 The Beast (5e)
by Jason P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/13/2016 08:58:17

Really solid adventure. I appreciated the trail the clues leading to the final encounter, and the players really got into the atmosphere and roleplaying encounters. And the story behind the scenes is really tragic and well-done. Still, the ending (as written) was somewhat of a let-down—not because of what happens, but how. I realize much of the AL content is "railroad-y," and as both a player and DM that doesn't bother me too much. But it's done is such an obvious manner here that, well, it could've been better. Alas, it's still a good mod.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-02 The Beast (5e)
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BSOLO Ghost of Lion Castle (Basic)
by Radim H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/13/2016 02:01:57

I haven't read the adventure yet but I want to say the scan has superb quality.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BSOLO Ghost of Lion Castle (Basic)
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The Kopru Ruins (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2016 12:19:34

Originally issued as a free web enhancement for Stormwrack, the maritime environment supplement, this is an underwater adventure that takes the party to visit a ruined city at the foot of an uninhabited island - one in any suitable chain of tropic islands in your campaign setting will do just fine. Suggestions for suitable locations are made for those using the Forgotten Realms or Eberron campaign worlds.


The backstory for the DM tells the story of the underwater city and the wars that left it in ruins... and what's going on there now. A brief adventure synopsis describes what the party needs to do and there are some hooks to attract their attention - including a suitably vague treasure map (provided) and hints of loot to be had. There's a couple of others if that doesn't appeal to your party.


As it's a site-based adventure (the ruins), actually getting there is left to you, although there are brief notes about possible hazards on the way. Once there, a plan of the ruins (suprisingly small) and detailed notes of what is to be found therein are provided. It is all underwater, so the party will need some means of breathing, but at least the water is warm even if it is quite deep. No individual encountered there is interested in conversation, so there is plenty of combat to be had.


There are extensive notes on the ancient race that once inhabited the ruins, the kopru, and brief notes on possible follow-up adventures. The real challenges here are the environment - especially if not familiar with being underwater, the party may struggle to cope with traps they'd breeze through on dry land - and meeting an unfamiliar race.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Kopru Ruins (3.5)
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Legend of the Silver Skeleton (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2016 12:16:20

Written to introduce the winning entry in the Creature Competition: Head-to-Head run on the Wizards website in the summer of 2005 to your party, this adventure begins at a wayfarer's inn that has plenty to attract passing adventurers: good beer, comfortable beds and rumours of nearby buried treasure. What's not to like?


The background gives you plenty of information about what (and who) is to be found nearby, and even suggests several locations for the adventure if you are using the Greyhawk, Eberron or Forgotten Realms campaign worlds. Nice idea, would have been better had the author troubled to state which campaign world each location suggested was situated in! There's an adventure synopsis and several hooks to get the party into the action.


The adventure begins when the party arrives at the Hostel of the Sacred Stone, the establishment in question. There's loads of detail to enable you to bring it to life for your players. The 'sacred stone' in question is a relic of a renowned stone giant paladin, Saint Sonnlinor Stoneheart, and regulars will regale newcomers with plenty of stories about Stoneheart, who used to prey on pilgrims to a monastery dedicated to a dwarf deity until one courageous cleric converted him... to the extent that he became a paladin dedicated to that very same god!


The dwarves had built an underground aqueduct to supply their monastery, and that's where the rumoured treasure is to be found... and where the second part of the adventure takes place, assuming the party head out to try and find it. Asking around in the Hostel will glean them quite a bit of useful information before they go. It makes for a good delve, although some of the monsters do rather give the impression that they just sit around waiting for adventurers rather than having their own lives to lead! The descriptive detail is good, however, although the map is a bit small and not very clear. And as for what they might find... and the party likely will think it's merely treasure!


The neat bit is, this is not the end of the adventure. If the party take what they find back to the Hostel, more will be revealed which in turn leads to a second delve. If the party is successful here as well, the final truths will be revealed... better hope your web-search skills are good, as references are made to information on the Wizards website at the time, some of which are no longer there or take a bit of finding at best. Whatever transpires, the party will have attracted the notice - if not emnity - of some really powerful beings, which you can weave into further plotlines as appropriate. It's quite a devious little adventure, containing far more than appears at a first glance, and has the potential to take your campaign in some quite unexpected directions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Silver Skeleton (3.5)
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A Frigid Demise (3.0)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2016 10:17:25

Well, this is 'Dungeons and DRAGONS' after all, so it's nice to have an adventure that involves a dragon occasionally. It involves a crafty old white dragon by the name of Charasta, and the background notes for the DM tell you all about her.


There are various ways you can introduce this adventure into your campaign. Perhaps they hear rumours of a dragon in the area and go looking, or they may be on the trail of an ancient box that is said to have the power to alter the weather. More likely they are investigating some caverns and they come across her lair by chance - she's kept it well-hidden, after all.


Whatever you choose, the adventure involves a visit to her subterranean lair. This will prove a challenge as it is freezing cold and mostly underwater! Copious notes are provided to enable you to handle the effects of cold and being submerged on the characters. The map is based on one by Dennis Kauth that originally appeared in the Map of the Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website, but the original wasn't bigger than the one in the module, despite suggestions that you download it (which now takes considerable searching to find anyway!).


There's a comprehensive description of the lair itself, and plenty of detail about how Charasta will respond to the party coming to visit... it doesn't appear that she'll make them welcome, and in fact the only option appears to be to fight - both with her and the various guardians she has in place (along with assorted barriers and traps for the unwary). The party will have to be cunning, skillful and lucky to avoid a frigid demise...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Frigid Demise (3.0)
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Desert Sands (3.0)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2016 10:13:49

Caravans travelling through the desert have been disappearing. Doesn't matter which desert, pick any suitable one in your campaign world. The backstory for the DM explains why, with a neat twist that makes it something out of the ordinary, and there are a few hooks to attract the party's attention - some will do even if they are quite a way from the desert in question (you could even have other adventures on the way there if you wanted!).


Asking around at whichever end of the caravan route the party finds itself will pay off, there are quite a few snippets of information for them to gather. Eventually, however, they will have to venture forth onto the desert sands and all the accompanying dangers of extreme heat, dust storms, etc. There's a rare botanical treat here too - a cactus treant! Somewhere along the route, the party will encounter the location of the attacks and if they are lucky, the base used by the attackers.


There are some interesting and unusual possibilities for further adventures based on what is actually going on should the party try talking rather than rushing straight in to a fight... but plenty of opportunity for a good brawl if that's what they are after. The ramifications of variois actions the party may choose to take are also discussed, which could also lead to follow-up adventures.


Overall, a neat little adventure with scope to develop into a major plot point in your campaign if you wish, or just to be another job in the party's adventuring career if you prefer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Desert Sands (3.0)
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Fait Accompli (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2016 13:27:50

Set in the wilderness north of an outlying domain of a kingdom (or independent region) somewhere in your campaign world, on the face of it this is a straightforward 'clear the dungeon and kill the dragon' mission... or is it?


The backstory explains the history of the situation - that a white dragon stole the symbol of rulership from the Baron of Icendale (killing the Baron in the process) and that without it nobody, however good their claim, can take over. Moreover there's a prophecy that outsiders, not Icenvale citizens, must fetch it back, a local who tries will die in the attempt. It also covers a lot more stuff that contributes directly to the advenure, including how the dragon arrived in the first place and the current state of affairs. There's also an adventure synopsis that covers the perils the party must face on the way to deal with the dragon.


Several hooks are provided to get the party to Icenvale, at least, if not actually on the trail of the dragon, while introductory events once there are designed to catch their attention and hopefully enlist their aid in dealing with it. Details of the main township, Frosthaven, and leading inhabitants are provided, although if you want a map you will have to come up with your own. Things get quite devious depending on whom the characters talk to, but eventually they ought to be on their way to the mountains north of town, where the dragon dwells.


There are many dangers en route, for a start a blizzard is raging. The area's not completely uninhabited either and there's some wildlife to fight off as well. Finally the party should reach a castle called Karrack, an outpost which is where the last Baron met his end in the dragon's jaws. The dragon apparently lives in some nearby caves, but Karrack needs exploring and clearing as well. Both castle and caves are mapped and described well, and all relevant monster details are provided.


This adventure is lifted above a mere delve/dragon bash by the political overtones in Icenvale, and this is handled neatly throughout the adventure, particularly in the opening scenes and the conclusion, where a range of consequences based on the party's level of success and their choices are provided. There are some interesting suggestions for follow-up adventures too. The 'adventurous' parts of the adventure are challenging too, both the trek to Karrack through the blizzard and the ensuing combats should provide plenty of entertainment - it's a well-rounded adventure that should leave successful parties feeling satisfied with their exploits.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fait Accompli (3.5)
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A Dark and Stormy Knight (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/07/2016 12:14:03

Imagine a party of first-level characters caught out in a storm in a remote area where the only shelter appears to be a hollowed-out tor, once used as a tomb and recently unsealed by an earlier storm that knocked the stone blocking the entrance aside. It's likely they'd go in... but will they come out again?


A short backstory gives the history of the area and the tor itself, and the adventure synopsis explains what takes place during the course of the storm whilst the party is sheltering there. A few hooks are provided to get the party interested, useful if you think trying to stay dry is not sufficient incentive to get them into the tor in the first place. A sidebar introduces the concept of 'storm-peace', a custom that allows beings that would be likely to fight each other to seek shelter from the violent electrical storms that plague this area in the same place without having to watch their backs.


The adventure itself starts with the storm, violent even by the standards of this area. It soon becomes apparent that the only shelter available is within the tor, and then a site-based delve begins. You'll have to map the surrounding area for yourself, but there is a plan for the tor's interior and copious notes on what is to be found there as well as an assortment of events that will take place during the course of the adventure.


It should prove exciting enough for first-level characters, and ought to pose sufficient challenge to make them think about what they are doing and consider their tactics carefully. There's a suggestion for further adventure once the tor has been cleared out, and some nice low-level magic items to find.


Overall, it's a neat little site-based adventure to keep to hand for when a first-level party is travelling around in a suitable part of your campaign world. It provides the sort of exploits that could help some newbies to the adventuring game start making a name for themselves.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Dark and Stormy Knight (3.5)
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DDEX1-11 Dark Pyramid of Sorcerer’s Isle (5e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/06/2016 17:54:28

I've done a lot of dungeons, and I felt like this could seriously use a few more maps to exemplify the descriptions in the maze. There is one map of a teleportation maze that can lead to a great many optional locations, yet there is no visual of the new rooms, nor indications on the map of how/where the teleportation squares exist that are described in the narrative. Found myself with pages scattered all over trying to make the basic map coordinate with the description.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-11 Dark Pyramid of Sorcerer’s Isle (5e)
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Tower in the Ice (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2016 11:52:04

This is a site-based adventure in which the party investigates a tower which protrudes from a frozen lake in some cold and remote corner of your campaign world. There's a short background to let you know who's actually living there now, an adventure synopsis and some hooks to get the party to go visit the tower in the first place.


The adventure itself begins at the tower, so you will have to manage the party's journey to get there - remembering that it's VERY cold round there, with the associated environmental risks - and any investigations or preparations they wish to make in advance of their trip. There are notes on handling extreme cold, and also to accommodate parties who might want to approach the tower underwater, rather than walking out over the ice to the entrance that is visible.


A clear plan of the tower is provided, along with detailed descriptions of rooms and their inhabitants. These not only provide stat blocks and tactical notes but also gives likely reactions to whatever the party might do. Suggested reactions are intelligent and give a good feel of creatures going about their business and responding when the party turns up rather than existing in stasis until they appear - nice aid to creating an alternate reality.


The adventure ends when the tower is cleared out... it's unlikely that anything other than force of arms will do. There are brief notes on possible follow-up adventures, but basically it is merely the suggestion that some other antagonist might take up residence and need to be cleared out. It's a good delve adventure with the added edge of being bitterly cold and wet.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tower in the Ice (3.5)
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To Quell the Rising Storm (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/05/2016 13:03:25

In an area recently devastated by war, it seems that trouble is stirring again. There's quite a lengthly backstory for the DM that explains just who is intended to cause trouble this time and why, then the adventure synopsis describes how the party arrives in a settlement troubled by gnoll attacks and, should they investigate further, end in a site-based delve through subterranean tunnels to deal with the antagonist and his cohorts.


Several hooks are provided to get the party involved in the first place by getting them to a small town called Evenfall. Several events take place here which lead to a gnoll-hunt which eventually takes them to the antagonist's lair. There's no map, and little information, for Evenfall but the actual events are covered in sufficient detail to enable you to run them effectively. Likewise although the initial pursuit of the gnolls ought to result in a skirmish all you are supplied with are notes on the group of gnolls and their likely tactics. The lair is supposedly in a wilderness area, but that too will have to be made up, although the actual tunnels are both mapped and described well.


The assumption is that all those within the tunnels will fight rather than enter into negotiations. Although the backstory explains why the antagonist is doing what he is doing, it is unlikely to come out during the course of the adventure, which is a shame as it adds some depth to what otherwise is a definite 'Bad Guy'... especially as if he manages to make good his escape he will carry on, not to mention the possibility of taking revenge against interloping heroes, so the information could be of use. Perhaps it can be worked into initial enquiries in Evenfell or in materials found in the lair.


Overall it is a reasonable combat-heavy delve adventure, but with the potential to be something more with a bit of added thought from the DM.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
To Quell the Rising Storm (3.5)
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AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/05/2016 09:41:23

"The D&D and AD&D games are actually different games." p.74, The Book of Marvelous Magic.
This was not the first time I had read this, and by 1985 I had moved away from the D&D game to AD&D, it was still interesting to read this. Back then we freely mixed the two systems without so much as a care.

So it was with some confusion then that when I picked up AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic that is proudly stated it was for the D&D AND AD&D games. This was only emphasized more with the very first magic item listed, the Alternate World Gate. AD&D was treated on the same level as Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and Boot Hill.


Confusion of compatibility issues aside, The Book of Marvelous Magic became one of my favorite and most frustrating D&D accessories. Favorite because at this time I was serious into working on my witch class for AD&D/D&D and I was looking for guidelines on how magic items should be created. I didn't find that here, but I did find a lot of inspiration. Also, there were a lot of magic items in this book that later would become rather important in my own games for the next 2-3 years.
Frustrating because I never could get my gaming groups to embrace this book like I did. I think it something to do with the punny names of the some of the items. I now know that this was just something that was going on at the TSR offices back then (see I6 Ravenloft), but it made it difficult to take the book seriously at times.


The authors are listed as Frank Mentzer with Gary Gygax, but I think we all knew at the time that Mentzer did the lions-share of work on this. The book covers the same span of characters (and same span of publication) of the Mentzer penned Basic, Expert and Companion Rules. Living in my small town in Illinois I think this might have been the first reference I saw to the Companion ruleset. Reading this book I am thinking that the Companion rules had just been written and the Master Rules had not. There are no references to the Master Rules and in places, the rules seem to put 36 at the top of the character achievement and in others, it was 26.


So what does this book have? Well, there are over 500 new (at the time) magic items spanning 76 pages of text. The cover art is from none other than Clyde "I'll have the thigh" Caldwell and really grabbed my attention. Not like that (though I was 15 at the time) but because she looked like a bad ass witch.


The magic items are divided by type, so for example under Armband there are five listed magical Armbands. When a magic item needs to be listed, such a Bag of Holding, it is listed with a "see D&D Basic Set".


The book did raise the question in our groups of who was creating all these magic items? That was never fully answered here or really anywhere for a couple more decades. We opted that most of these were in fact fairly unique items. So there were not a lot of "Buttons of Blasting" out there, but maybe one or two at best.


There are a few magic items here that I still have not seen in other (future) versions of D&D, so it is worth it just for those. It is also a great insight to the mid 80s D&D, a time when TSR was on top of the world, right before the big shakeup. Also at the time I enjoyed tthis book, but largely ignored Mentzer's magnum-opus BEMCI D&D. Reviewing both now as an adult I see I did all these books a large disservice.


What is in these books that gamers of today can use? Well in truth, LOTS.
Really. The book might as well say "Compatible with 5th Edition D&D" on the cover. Hell. Change the trade dress and you could almost republish it as is with little editing. Yeah remove references to Basic, Expert and Companion. Change some of the spell casting descriptions, but otherwise this is still a gem today as it was 30 years ago.


Time to re-introduce the Collar of Stiffness to my games!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
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Shrine of the Feathered Serpent (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2016 07:48:20

The backstory tells of a remote village that was saved from a devastating plague some 200 years ago by a kindly couatl, but which of late has been experiencing some difficulties - or at least, some people think so. The humans who live there seem blissfully unaware, but various fey has had problems in the surrounding woods. What is actually going on is explained at some length for the DM, of course.


Several hooks are provided to get the party involved. What's needed to start the adventure is for them to visit Pearlglen, the village in question (so named for the freshwater pearls found in the area). It's a site-based adventure which starts in the village but takes the party to where the individuals behind what is going on are to be found. There's a map of their lair, but none of the village or the surrounding area, so if you feel the need of one, you'll have to find or devise something suitable. Despire the lack of map, the village is well-described with several locations to visit as the party attempt to find out the nature of the trouble. There's a bit of interaction to be had here, which should culminate in the party visiting a nearby ruined temple.


There is an encounter on the way, which is likely to end in a fight, but although it's described there is no diagram to help you set it up. The temple (once the party gets there) does have a plan as well as a full description. Most of those found there intend to fight rather than negotiate, but there are detailed tactical notes to help you run the combats.


The conclusion assumes that the party is completely successful, so if anything goes against them you will have to work out what happens next. There are some notes regarding follow-up adventures which could prove interesting, however. It's a nice straightforward 'go fight the bad guys' adventure, but it may be hard for the party to discern the full details of the fairly elaborate plot that has been hatched by the antagonists... a bit of a shame, it's a neat piece of deviltry!



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shrine of the Feathered Serpent (3.5)
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Dragonlance Campaign Setting (3.5)
by Rohan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2016 03:39:18

A reasonably comprehensive basic worldbook for Dragonlance, although being set post-War of Souls means having to work harder if you're more interested in say the War of the Lance era.
The PDF itself was overpriced when I originally bought it (prior to WotC's "piracy crackdown"). Fortunately you can search it - the hardcopy I've seen doesn't have an index. I'm running a game and I have to hunt around for the stats for Dragonlances, which are under special materials, not magic items.
There was also some curious game design - giving each Solamnic order a different prestige class (a rose knight is probably a fighter/cleric with three prestige classes, take Dragon Rider and Legendary Tactician to complete the set), and the Wizard of High Sorcery prestige class, requiring the wizard to be specialised, going against the well-established fluff (that the order joined is based on decisions during the Test of High Sorcery). Virtually every NPC wizard's stats I saw in splatbooks stated they had chosen not to take a specialisation. The various splatbooks did have some improvements, although Heroforge tends to be sourced from this book.
I believe 1d4chan did a more eloquent comment on the section on Kender than I could.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dragonlance Campaign Setting (3.5)
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