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L2 The Assassin's Knot (1e)
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2016 12:48:53

This adventure is unusual for adventure published in those years in the sense that it relies heavily on the players investigative skills. After the introduction, the adventure starts with a description of the events that trigger this adventure: the characters are hired to find out who murdered the Baron of Restenford. All investigation points to three characters living in the village of Garotten. After travelling there, through questioning and deductions, the characters can uncover a guild of assassins and possibly stop them from killing off the remaining ruling family (the baroness and her daughter).

Instead of following the usual format of set encounters, the adventure provides an overview of the events to come, provides a time table and offers a sample of events that may hinder or help the characters’ investigation based on what they do. The remainder of the adventure provides a description of the locales and major NPCs. An emphasis is placed on the three starting suspects and the areas in which they will likely be interrogated. The conclusion provides ideas on how the adventure can end once the characters figure out the truth.

What we have here is an excellent free-form adventure that progresses based on the characters actions. I like the fact that events will unfold unless the characters discover the truth and that nothing is set in stone, no railroading here! The resolution depends on the players’ wits, not on how lucky they are or on how they maximized their characters options. In fact, trying to attack and kill everyone is a sure way to fail to prevent anything! Great adventure!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
L2 The Assassin's Knot (1e)
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DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2016 19:16:03

This adventure looked like it may have been a neat dungeon crawl, but there are enough strange design choices and outright errors that it detracted from my group's enjoyment.

The four shrines in the Chapel don't seem to serve much of a purpose besides having an interesting presentation. If the party doesn't do anything, they're rewarded in all but one of the shrines. That's not fun. Likewise, the party can completely ignore the Gargoyle's Roost. The elemental prismatic walls didn't serve a purpose besides dealing damage and being pretty, and are entirely avoidable without risk by simply walking around them.

Speaking of the Elemental Chapel, on page 13 it reads that a character who gives an offering gains "3 resistance." What does "3 resistance" mean? This isn't explained anywhere, as far as I saw. Did I miss it? I ended up giving characters resistance to the appropriate damage type, and immunity if they made an offering of an aspect of that element, but that's something that should have been clear in the module itself.

The four elemental summoning chambers didn't have anything going on, either, besides a random Wand of Web. By this point of the adventure my players were handwaving through things because there was nothing to do, and we ended up skipping right over the wand.

The final encounter with the wight and skeletons felt tacked on since there weren't any foreshadowing encounters.

Gripes & Errors: The map isn't labeled, it doesn't have a compass rose, the rooms aren't numbered, there's a spelling error on page 18 ("wroth" instead of "worth"), the word engraved is written as "in graved" in the description of the Water Summoning Chamber on page 17, and there's mention of a door covered in green mold that doesn't appear on the map.

An adventure like this had a lot of potential for exploring through a wizard's tower in reverse - from the top to the bottom - but there wasn't enough to interact with in a meaningful way; just a lot of traps to avoid by walking away and phrases to repeat. This adventure was disappointing, and the lack of quality control was really bad, especially coming from Wizards of the Coast.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
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Birthright: Cities of the Sun (2e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2016 10:39:04

An excellent expansion for Cerilia. Cities of the Sun details the Khinasi lands and also has the naval rules. The maps, poster cards, and war cards are all complete.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Birthright: Cities of the Sun (2e)
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Cities of Bone (2e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2016 10:28:45

This a great resource. One of the staples of D&D and other fiction is "evil necromancer in the desert". Another staple is "poke around in an old tomb". Several great short adventures. Like so many D&D products it would be easy to use this as a resource for other campaign worlds. It also adds more traditional dungeon-delving to Al-Qadim. Many of the dungeons would scale nicely if the DM wanted to create more levels for them. Most of the adventures are set at about 4th or 5th level with two adventures at 8th (or higher) level. A great value and a good source of ideas.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cities of Bone (2e)
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DDAL04-14 The Darklord (5e)
by Chris D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2016 20:26:29

4-14 The Darklord is the conclusion to the Misty Fortunes and Absent Hearts storyline. Unfortunately, my experience with this adventure was so poor I purchased it to read and see why it played out the way they did.

The villain of the season--whose identity and motivations have been kept under an impenetrable veil of narrative secrecy for 75% of the adventures--has gathered all the pieces (which the spectators (a.k.a. characters) have been completely incapable of preventing over the course of the other adventures, by the way) to enact her plan. Now it's time to take the one McGuffin she couldn't hold on to and...I don't know. As written, the adventure text specifically tells DMs to obfuscate its purpose to the characters.

The difficulty of this adventure says it is balanced for five characters of level 8. Even taking the maximum available experience from the other Barovian adventures, I'm fairly certain it is impossible to gain enough to reach this level. The highest level at our table was 7.

The good news is that DMs who run this will easily know which players have prior knowledge of the adventure. There are multiple traps during the final section that are undectable unless you know where and how to avoid them.Two of my favorites are in the same room: one is completely undetectable and actually baits characters into tripping it by providing a satisfying click as if they have disabled it; the other requires an appalingly high roll despite an environmental factor which exists only to disadvantages the detection roll (a good roll from a rogue with expertise on the check in question couldn't detect it).

Eventually we limp our way to the final confrontation with the boss. A brief summary of the fight:

--First Round-- First two players enter the room with full-ish hit points.

Lair action: area-of-effect spell Ouch.

Third player enters the room.

Boss's action: Powerful single-target spell One dead PC.

Other players enter and do incidental damage while discovering her wide range of immunuties and resistances.

--Second Round-- Lair action: upslotted area-of-effect spell Two dead PCs, but at least the other mobs died too.

...you can see where this goes from here...

Why didn't we counterspell or heal the damage? Beacuse this adventure includes no rests and we were completely drained to challenge something with her damage output and defensive capabilities; to stand a fighting chance our DM permitted us one short rest. Jokes of Rocky being brutalized by Apollo Creed were made aplenty, but instead of the ending from the movie, this was a TPK by the fourth round.

I'm not upset the party died, I'm upset that this seems like the inevitable result if the adventure is run in the player-hostile manner in which it is written. Players and DMs beware!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-14 The Darklord (5e)
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ALQ3 A Dozen and One Adventures (2e)
by Aaron I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2016 15:53:10

Note! This version lacks the random encounter tables, which according to the adventure appear on the inside cover of the Campaign Guide. It appears the inside cover scan of the Campaign Guide is missing.

That aside, ALQ3 is a terrific series of interwoven adventures that really evokes the Arabian fantasy feel, with just a touch of the otherworldly horror that Steve Kurtz is known for. There's so many ways a DM could use the adventures within, which span challenges suitable for characters from 1st to 12th level, but the adventures grow in value the more they are tied to other adventures in the book. There are two parts to this adventures: the Adventures Book and the Campaign Guide.

The Adventure Book includes 13 adventures that for the most part are good, with a few highlights and a few misses. Most are ~5-7 pgs long. One of the things I really like about these adventures is that each has a section at the beginning that explores the adventure's ties to other adventures in the book - very helpful for a time-harried DM! Also, maps! There are full-page or half-page maps for many of the locations described in the adventures, which is wonderful. Flick of the Tail is a solid 1st-2nd level adventure in Muluk that evokes the wonder and magic of the Arabian Nights nicely. It's lighter on combat, and emphasizes interaction and creative problem solving. Nine Flawed Sapphires is a 2nd-4th level adventure in the wilderness near Muluk, quite simple, but decently evokes Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. It's the perfect adventure for instigator type players who like to turn the villains' strategies against them. Invitation to a Funeral is a 3rd-4th level adventure in Muluk that relies on a a bit of DM deception and possibly rail-roading to conceal disguised ghouls from the PCs. It involves a betrayal, and if the DM really wants to get the PCs to hate a certain NPC, this would be the adventure to use. Otherwise, it's fairly simplistic; I could imagine just taking the premise, making up my own details, and still running this adventure just fine. Eleven Baneful Gates is a 5th-7th level adventure set in Al-Anwahr ruins in the Haunted Lands, and though it does involve a bit of rail-roading, a competent DM can edit much of that out. There's some great backstory here, but true to the era, only a sliver of it is presented as discoverable by the PCs. Fortunately, that's a forgivable error that many AD&D adventuresin the 90's suffered, and one easily remedied by a DM willing to do just a bit of work. As an adventure, site, however, Al-Anwahr is just fabulous and extremely evocative. The Hermit's Riddle is a 4th-5th level adventure in a village called Tarv; it reminds me more of a side trek, but an actually well done side trek with a bit of a mystery to it. Like many of the adventures in the book, it encourages lateral thinking outside the box. Sibling Rivalry is a 5th-7th level adventure, suitable for any wilderness journey; it very much is a side trek, and not a strong one at that. I skipped this one when running the adventures. The Djinni's Lover is a 6th-8th level adventure, suitable for any wilderness journey, and the villain is almost unwittingly a villain going about settling down in a tower as high-level wizards are prone to do. It could be run as a (mostly) straight-forward tower siege, or raise philosophical questions requiring the players to evaluate how their PCs view genie binding. An interesting one. Salt Bond is a 6th-8th level adventure, suitable for any desert journey, and this one stood out to me, as it really ties into the villains described in the Campaign Guide, and drives home the Zakharan idea of heroes and villains sitting at the same table under the bond of salt trying to decipher one another's true intentions. There's some details that a DM may want to change to avoid tipping off a genre-savvy group of players, but otherwise this is an excellent little adventure. A Boasting Contest is billed as an adventure for 5th-8th level PCs, but really it can fit any level range, and any environment. It's a simple premise only wirth 3 pgs: An efreet challenges the PCs to a boasting contest, with treasure wagered. But the character of the efreet is so well done to elevate this beyond the deceptively simple premise. I liked it. Weave of the Carpet is a 7th-9th level adventure in Muluk, that is a "whodunnit" mystery, and a pretty good one at that! Dead Bearing Witness is a 9th-12th level adventure in Muluk. I never ran this one, so am less familiar with it. Principally, the adventure revolves around meeting a demilich and figuring out how to negotiate with it or fool it into getting what they need. The adventure does a fair job of giving the DM the notes he or she needs to run the demilich convincingly. Zarastro's Three Daughters is a 9th-12th level adventure taking place on an island. A pahari's (mermaid's) reef is being damaged by water leaving a wizard's castle. What seems like a dungeon siege turns into something a bit more nuanced and interesting. There are surprises here! Endgame is a 9th-12th level adventure that covers a lot of ground from Muluk, to the Haunted Lands, to Krak al-Niraan. This adventure just sings! It draws on many of the NPCs and villains from previous adventures, weaving a tale that puts the PCs in the middle of internal politics of the Brotherhood of True Flame, the Leper King, and holy slayers. It's a delicious adventure that makes for a wonderful capstone.

The Campaign Guide provides good detail on Muluk, City of Kings (~7 pgs), offers a few notes on traveling through the Haunted Lands (~5 pgs) (albeit weakened by the utter lack of encounter tables in this scan), and a lightly detailed (~10 pgs) fortress of the Brotherhood of True Flame called Krak al-Niraan. The fortress isn't a wondrous dungeon with traps, tricks, ancient secrets, and Gygaxian weirdness; it's a no-nonsense, semi-realistic, and sparsely described military outpost. On the other hand, it's very well-illustrated and easy for a DM to get a sense of the place, allowing him or her to improvise more interesting features that fit the fortress' theme.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ALQ3 A Dozen and One Adventures (2e)
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Heroes of Horror (3.5)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2016 14:21:54

Bit of a niche title, but useful. There are a number of rules and guidelines that can be incorporated into non-horror campaigns at the DM's discretion such as dreamscapes, omens, and expanded rules on fear. One of the primary reasons to get this title is the Dread Necromancer class, which provides endless cheese opportunities with their negative energy touch attack. Less useful than the Complete series, but worth a look. Especially around Halloween.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of Horror (3.5)
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DDAL05-03 Uninvited Guests (5e)
by Sharon C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2016 13:06:32

I am looking forward to running this adventure. I like that player choices in the first half of the adventure have clear implications for the end of the story and change the path of the adventure--I think that is hard to do in a short one-shot. Good design.

The scenario is interesting. The NPCs are engaging and provide some good role playing opportunities for DM and players. The material follows the format I expect in Adventurer's League: map and monster stats are included and easy to reference while running the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-03 Uninvited Guests (5e)
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Caves of Shadow (3.0)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:22:20

An interesting primer to the 3.0 ruleset. Though I imagine that this was at one time printed and laid out for free, perhaps, to draw people into the game, the layout itself is attrocious. Still though, the content was good for its time, and the methods they employed to teach the game were laudible.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Caves of Shadow (3.0)
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DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
by Anthony V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/05/2016 07:11:20

Its a fun little adventure, I'm not the biggest fan of 2 hour adventures but its a fun idea fleshed out well. I for one like to play Bad Company by 5 Finger Death Punch before we start, fits the mood perfectly.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
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DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
by Robert R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2016 17:28:31

Very decent adventure though I warn that if you have a table of 5 or more players it will likely be closer to 3 hours, even with not having extra encounters. I consider myself a DM who keeps things moving along so others may take even longer. Also & no spoilers: the players seem to enjoy the module as well. And the item gained along the way...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hammerfast: A Dwarven Outpost Adventure Site (4e)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2016 13:05:12

Hammerfast is a strange place. Originally a necropolis or city of tombs for the dwarves, it is now a regular settlement with people living and working here just like anyplace else... except ghosts not only walk the streets, they are full citizens just like everyone else! This book provides detailed information on places and notable individuals (alive and dead) to enable you to run your own adventures here. It's full of ideas that spawn plotlines as you read through it, thus making it an ideal sandbox setting - wherever the party chooses to go, you can come up with something for them to do.

As well as the ghosts, there are traces of its former state as a necropolis in the shape of tombs. Of course, just as citizen ghosts are protected by local laws from assault, so are the tombs supposedly protected from the depredations of tomb raiders - but since when did that stop most parties? And the loot to be had, say the rumours and legends, are rich and magnificent in the extreme. For many parties, that is enough reason to visit Hammerfest. Others may arrive on more mundane business, yet may not elude the allure of such adventures.

Just about everything you might need is here, starting with the surrounding area, for which you get a map and information to support wilderness adventuring. Once the party arrives in town, resources are at your fingertips so that they can visit taverns, go shopping, fall foul of the law and do most anything adventurers tend to do in town. There's a map of the town to put in front of them as well as a floorplan of a two-storey inn, the Foundation Stone (complete with a chandelier should anyone be moved to swing from it in a fit of swashbucking!). You can also find out about the local guilds, a cult that threatens the place and much more.

It's suggested that you can use this setting in a number of ways from building a campaign arc to take characters from 1st to 10th level, mine the NPCs for adventure ideas (an easy task, the ideas jump off the pages as you flick through) or as a detailed background in which you can set your own urban and wilderness adventures, providing a richly-detailed place that they can explore between adventures.

If you have the original publication, the town map comes as a poster with the floor plans for the Foundation Stone inn on the other side. In the PDF they are spread over two pages each (you'll have to print them and stick them together if you want to spread them out on the tabletop) whilst in the print-on-demand version they are bound into the book, still spread over two pages, along with the surrounding area map. The print-on-demand version is mostly good as far as internal text is concerned, crisp and clear. Unfortunately the cover and the surrounding area map have been printed from too low-grade an image. One can survive a cover that's a bit pixelated, but the surrounding area map is of low quality and quite difficult to read the names of features. Fortunately you can track it down online in better quality versions if you need better resolution.

Overall, though, it's an excellent product whichever version you have: a fine example of a place in which adventures happen (rather than an adventure with a place built for it to happen in), yes you will need to create your own adventures but the ideas here should enable you to do so readily.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hammerfast: A Dwarven Outpost Adventure Site (4e)
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Volo's Guide to Monsters: A D&D Adventurers League Reference (5e)
by Ron P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2016 16:21:16

Very nice but doesn't have the complete text of the book. This is just an additional reference.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Volo's Guide to Monsters: A D&D Adventurers League Reference (5e)
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Forgotten Realms Adventures (2e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2016 13:00:36

This is an excellent source book for a Forgotten Realms campaign set in an older pre-4E era. That being said, maps are maps, and rarely change significantly. Npcs can supply names, or even be lifted whole cloth.

The biggest problems I have had so far has been the OCR consistently rendering orc as ore. A miner(sic ) detail, but present.

Content: 4 stars Presentation: 3.5 stars



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forgotten Realms Adventures (2e)
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Battlesystem Miniatures Rules (2e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2016 15:54:59

This is an excellent scan of the product. The text is clear (sharper evan than past scans that I thought were good), and I cannot see any evidence of anti-aliasing or blurring of the letters when zoomed in. This PDF works fine on my old, underpowered tablet, zoomed in on my phone, and on my Kindle (not all PDFs sold here load quickly and work properly on these three devices).

The book is fun to read. I have played RPGs since the 1980s, but missed on wargaming and miniature battles altogether. This book presents a tight system for playing with tabletop miniatures, and I look forward to playing a game myself soon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Battlesystem Miniatures Rules (2e)
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