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A Question of Ethics (3.0)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/22/2016 11:27:32

Here's a bit of a delight: an adventure where there isn't a Bad Guy to defeat, rather there are two contending forces, neither of which is particularly good or particularly bad... and the party will have to decide which, if any, they are willing to help!


The background notes for the DM explain everything - it's a territorial dispute over an area that includes a wizard's tomb, with one lot wanting to turn the tomb into a base and t'other lot not being interested in the tomb at all, they're after a mineral nearby. But they won't talk, let alone share. A nearby town is holding a festival, which is assumed to be what gets the party into the area (although ther are other hooks if your lot aren't great festival-goers), and the module sets out to provide you with all the resources you need to let the party loose in the area and moderate whatever they decide to do... a neat way of handling a very 'open' plot.


These resources include notes on the town and the festival, which as well as the usual elements of a mediaeval fair includes an Arcane Challenge with a series of events for spell-slingers to test their prowess against each other. Naturally, a party wizard or sorcerer might like to try his hand... and others may be more interested in archery or fencing contests or even a cooking competition! Several NPC spellcasters are provided as opposition, along with notes on how they intend to address the challenges of the contest. If nobody from the party joins in, it can still make for an entertaining spectacle.


Just to add to the fun, there's another group of adventurers there, who are concerned by some encroaching stone giants and are trying to stir the town up to do something about them, and there is also a nasty disease spreading through the region. And, of course, there is the dispute that is at the heart of the plot. Everyone involved is detailed, along with what they are likely to do, how they will react to any interference, and what they are likely to be willing to negotiate about.


Finally, there's the wizard's tomb itself. This is mapped out (using a map from the Map-a-Week series on the Wizards of the Coast website, reproduced here although the original link still works at the time of writing) and is full of interesting things... and traps to guard them. Plenty of fun for those looking for a more traditional delve.


Ending with some notes on the consequences of some of the more likely party actions, this is a real gem of an adventure, with a lot packed into 11 pages!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Question of Ethics (3.0)
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S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e)
by Anthony W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/19/2016 03:57:18

Decent scan - map is very clear.


Text pages could have done with being flattened on the scanner more as you get a bit of page curl towards the centre staple fold, but everything is legible.


You get two versions of the illustration booklet - one as scanned ( greyscale ) and one post-scan processed ( B&W )


The dungeon itself is ridiculously murderous - reads like something a socially awkward DM designs to take his life-frustrations out on unsuspecting players to make himself feel like he has some self-worth after all.


Having said that, I cherish my dead-tree version from 1983!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e)
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S2 White Plume Mountain (1e)
by Anthony W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/19/2016 03:37:43

Fairly decent scan - shame this is not the orange-cover reprint as that had extra internal artwork commisioned.


Sadly the blue map is split into 2xLetter-size scans instead of 1 gatefold scan ( why can't the scanners get their heads around this ?! ) so the middle has a vertical break of a fraction of missing map up the centre if you join them together.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
S2 White Plume Mountain (1e)
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Wreck Ashore (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2016 13:28:58

This adventure makes a good beginning to a campaign - indeed I've used it that way, with a party who were missionaries for Kord tasked with departing from Seawell, the port that is central to the adventure, to head elsewhere on their mission. Only they had to deal with the situation here first...


The situation is simple: no ships have arrived in Seawell for the past few weeks... and as the place is normally quite a busy port this is a matter of some concern to the locals. The background for the DM explains what has been going on, and a few hooks have been provided to get the party to Seawell - unless, like me, you have something else in mind. The adventure itself starts when the party arrive in Seawell.


To resolve the situation, the party is going to have to slog through a nearby swamp - complete, of course, with the wildlife you'd expect to find there - or take a boat trip to a nearby lighthouse. That's if they can find a boat, of course, and someone willing to take them. There are encounters along the way and both the lighthouse and a pirate camp to explore. By the time all that has done, the party should have discovered what is going on, and be in a position to deal with it.


There are suggestions for follow-up activities, mostly based on the party staying in the port, or - as my lot did - they can get on with other business. It makes a good opening (or early) adventure for a campaign and is nicely constructed with a variety of challenges... and it has pirates!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wreck Ashore (3.5)
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DDAL04-05 The Seer (5e)
by Julie Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/15/2016 13:11:32

I had the opportunity to experience this one as a player, and I enjoyed it. "The Seer" is a short adventure that can easily be played in two hours. It has opportunities for both combat and roleplay, with a nice little twist to keep the story fresh. It concerns an arranged marriage between two Vistani families, but the basic situation should be easy to insert into another fantasy world. (The families don't really have to be Vistani, or even nomads.) Thumbs up on this one!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-05 The Seer (5e)
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Sheep's Clothing (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/15/2016 10:50:21

This work opens with a discussion of suitable placement for the adventure: basically, anywhere there is a formal 'court' type environment, be it a royal court or a gathering of wealthy merchants or the like. There are detailed suggestions for likely places in the Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms settings, or of course you can pick an equivalent in your own campaign world.


Next, the adventure background sets the scene. It's all about intrigue, of course, but don't just move on if your group doesn't care for such things, there is a clear threat that's going to take swords and spells to defeat. Indeed, the party will probably do better if they are not courtier material! There are quite a few NPCs for you to get your head around, though, so a modicum of preparation is recommeded to run this.


Several hooks are provided to get the party involved, at least one being devious in the extreme! All involve the need to find out why some courtiers have vanished inexplicably. Once enticed in, there are several encounters that take place at the court itself which hopefully lead the party to identify who is behind the shenanigans, even if they don't pick up on his true nature. An unexplained death, a sudden change of opinion, a surprise appointment, even a heated argument... and then things start to get physical with a couple more encounters, one in court and one outside, when the party will have to defend themselves.


By now the party should have a pretty good idea of who is behind the unfortunate events, although there are suggestions as to how to handle parties who aren't quite so discerning, and the second part of the adventure takes them to that individual's manor house where they will find much more than they have bargained for - even if they are already suspicious of his nature as well as of his actions! - once they have got themselves safely through the surrounding forest to the establishment itself.


Now if the instigator manages to get away (and the tactics notes for him provide plenty of ways for him to try to escape as well as suggesting that's his preferred action), he will make a magnificent recurring villain... and one who will have it in for the party. If the party deal with him permanently, they will have friends at court - which can be a boon or a curse depending on whether they like being given dangerous and sometimes diplomatic missions! Definitely recommended, for a skilful mix of intrigue and violence that should keep most parties happy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sheep's Clothing (3.5)
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H4 The Throne of Bloodstone (1e)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/14/2016 10:04:18

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.tims-
brannan.com/2016/04/a-to-z-of-adventure-h-is-for-high-level.-
html


H4 The Throne of Bloodstone was fairly notorious back in the day. It was another adventure I bought and then gave to my DM with screams of "run this!" We ran it the first summer I was home from college.


The basic plot is that all the trouble caused in the previous modules was not just due to a cult of the Demon Prince Orcus, but Orcus himself. In H4 the characters went to his lair in the Abyss and killed him. Ok...where to begin with this one!


Well let's start with that cover.


This is the only adventure in the series that is labeled for the Forgotten Realms. The first, H1, assumed any world. There is Orcus himself coming out of the mouth hell or something (the Abyss really). Oh and the recommended levels...let's see, 18 to 100! 100th level characters?


I have to admit that was one of the reasons why I grabbed this. We had been playing a LONG time and I have many characters well past the by-the-book levels. AD&D at the time really only went to about 25th level, but figuring out higher levels was not that big of a deal. Generally speaking adventures topped off at 20th level.
So I took some characters, right around 20th - 25th level...and a couple of them died right away! This was not an adventure to screw around with.


The other thing you notice with this adventure is that it is long. The module itself is like 96 pages and tons of maps. I seem to recall it took us a while to get through it too, most of the summer I was home from college.


You do get to fight Orcus in the end, as well as Tiamat, Baphomet, a giant Red Dragon, and potentially Asmodeus. It is just a deadly, deadly module.


After this I retired all the characters that went through. After all what was left for them to do?


Fighting Orcus is a theme that D&D would come back to again and again. The HPE series for 4e, especially the Epic modules. In 2nd edition the events of this module would later play out as part of the Dead Gods adventure.


For me, today, this adventure is a template for other high level adventures. While the module said up to 100th level, there are not really many qualitative differences between a 25th level character and a 100th level one. Fighters top off in attacks. Clerics top off on undead turning at 14th level and so on. I was a little disappointed that the AD&D designers did not take a page from the D&D team in this case. At this point in time AD&D and D&D were two different, but similar, systems. D&D characters could go to 36th level and even become immortal. Some of that would have been helpful here.


Much like the E modules, this module is likely to use as a source of material, but not so much as the adventure itself. Still...running it could be a lot of fun.


In truth fighting Orcus is a always a good idea. He is a demon, he wants to destroy everything AND in the E series he desires to become a god. In truth this H series and the E series only scratches the surface when it comes to fighting Orcus. And even if you do kill him there is still the Dead Gods adventure that deals with him coming back from the dead. In fact there are no lack of products out there to let you match up against the Demon Prince Orcus.


This is certainly an end-game adventure, after this buy that castle in southern Nyrond, hang your +5 Holy Avenger over the mantle, hire some Valley Elves to make some wine and kick up your heals and smoke pipe weed to end of your days.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone (1e)
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DDAL4-01 Suits of the Mists (5e)
by Alexander W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/09/2016 17:18:05

If you want an adventure that is value for money, and can give a long introduction to level 1 characters entering Barovia then this adventure is for you. I am planning to run the whole of DDAL04 so I was happy with the product of the written module here.


I ran the game much over time than what was expected. DDAL0401 ran for around 5-6 weeks. I really enjoyed spinning out Faerun and happily letting my characters feel the Forgotten Realms until dumping them into Barovia which is so much different a twisted. I love the contrast this module can create.


If you are running a homebrew game I would still recommend this game and adjusting some of the encounters. Plan ahead and you should be fine to get ideas from the module. Its a really good price for anyone with the Curse of Strahd hardcover book that wants a better more refined entry for level 1-4 into Barovia.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL4-01 Suits of the Mists (5e)
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DDAL04-02 The Beast (5e)
by Alexander W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/09/2016 17:09:36

I just finished running this adventure. I did this in two 3 hour sessions. The players really did enjoy the adventure and picked up everything that was "suggested" by their DM. I'd love to add spoilers to this review and talk about how all the players understood the story and at which parts suprised them, made them laugh and made them think. We haven't got to crying yet. But I am close, I am so very close !


Seriously, I enjoyed running the game, it seems well balanced for the characters, the story for a DM was fun to set up and the land of Barovia is chilling and great to imagine !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-02 The Beast (5e)
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D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
by Andrew C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2016 18:39:54

My favourite D&D version.... but where are Expert, Master, Companion and Immortal?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
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Hasken's Manor (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/07/2016 10:28:14

This adventure concerns goings-on in a tiny port by the name of Haskenport, founded on a shallow inlet by a paladin who fancied retiring to the area. He built himself a manor house and a dock, then a chance discovery of some particularly tasty mushrooms led to a small gourmet trade that built up the settlement a bit. Some ten years ago the paladin passed away, leaving his lands and manor to the local church - but they have struggled with the upkeep and it's not in very good condition. Worse, it appears some hobgoblins have taken up residence there...


There's a bit of background which reveals all that's going on in and around the manor, and a few hooks to get the party involved - although the thought of clearing monsters out of a manor house ought to be sufficient for any bunch of adventurers worth their salt. We get quite a bit of detail about Haskenport, sufficient to make it come alive not just for the purposes of this adventure but as a location within your campaign world, although there is no plan of the settlement although there are several detailed ones of the manor house.


The adventure itself consists of two encounters and the exploration of the manor house itself. It's all nicely put together and provides opportunities to talk as well as to fight. As written, psionics are involved: but if you don't care for them there are notes about how to provide non-psionic alternatives and still maintain the flavour of the adventure.


It's a nice straightforward adventure that actually has quite a bit to it once you get to grips with it, with a few suggestions for follow-up activities that could even see the party settling down in the manor if you want them to have a base - at 7th-level they might be looking to establish somewhere to settle down.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hasken's Manor (3.5)
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DDAL4-01 Suits of the Mists (5e)
by Sharon C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2016 21:23:37

This intro module provides good bite-sized adventures for people new to DnD. I ran parts of this adventure for seven different groups of entirely-new-to-DnD players.


The frame story was compelling, each of my groups felt motivated to pursue the quest and didn't feel railroaded into the story. That's a strong point for me. Also, thinking of the chapters as negotiation, infiltration, wilderness, or resuce helped me as a DM make them feel different from each other--not just fecth-n-kill--and to encourage different styles of play for each one. The challenge of the icy slope and surprising bushes was particularly fun and all my groups enjoyed it.


My big objection is to chapter 4 with the recurring character, JG. Especially for players who are playng DnD for the first (or nearly first) time, it is confusing and frustrating to encounter a foe who is clearly evil and nonetheless to have to decide 1) they can reasonably rely on her word when they make a bargain, 2) the task she sets is reasonable, and 3) it would be a complete waste of time to fight or trick her. Having run this several times, each time the party almost "failed" becuase they made totally reasonable guesses that she wasn't to be trusted, what she was asking them to do was wrong, and/or they could fool her if they were clever enough. Very bad material for an intro adventure.


Given the bullet list in chapter 4 of ways for the DM to "overcome" the party's objections to the task set by JG in this chapter, I think this problem must've come up in a playtest or two. It would've been better to substanitally re-write or drop this chapter. Advice to DMs running this module, skip the JG chapter. (Sadly, this chapter often seemed to be the most importnat one to my parties becuase of the hook with the comatose/cursed/poisoned cook's assistant.)


Otherwise, again, I had fun with this adventure. It was flexible and not railroaded, had options for different play styles, and at least one engaging challenge. Overall, a good adventure.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL4-01 Suits of the Mists (5e)
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M1 Into the Maelstrom (Basic)
by Steve V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2016 17:00:45

Having snagged a copy of the Master Rules back when Paizo was still selling the old TSR PDFs, I was hoping we'd see some of the Master level adventures pop up over here. Can't say I've ever played or run an adventure of this high a level, but it's good to have at least one module available to support the rules. Very imaginative, with evocative illustrations. Good background info on Glantri and Alphatia. My only quibble is that the scan of the cover illustration is too dark. I'd love to give it a whirl with the right group of players.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
M1 Into the Maelstrom (Basic)
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DDEX2-16 Boltsmelter's Book (5e)
by Thomas M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2016 11:14:29

I ran this in a home game for a party of 4 2nd level adventurers.


Disorganized and forced storyline, with some logical gaps that left me scrambling and my players striving to figure out what to do next. Good intentions, poor design.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-16 Boltsmelter's Book (5e)
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Bad Moon Waning (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2016 10:09:07

Set in and around the settlement of Deepwood, this adventure can be placed in any remote wooded area of your campaign world. The background notes reveal the underlying secret of the settlement, but even outsiders are aware that not all is well in the town: the town's priestess being ripped to shreds by a werewolf who turns out to be an upstanding member of the community will give that impression. And yet, it's not a werewolf problem...


The adventure is very freeform, with encounters and investigations around the town that can happen pretty much in response to party actions. The really interesting thing about it is the deep moral questions that it poses, questions that the townsfolk themselves must face, never mind the party. This one ought to get them thinking.


To aid in running it, there's a map and detailed notes on Deepwood and the people who live there, along with plenty of hints and tips to help you play an array of NPCs. This is an adventure that includes a lot of interactions, and needs the party to have their wits about them and their eyes open. Careful preparation is key, but it should prove a memorable interlude.


Depending on what the party finds out, various ways are suggested to get them to the climax in a nearby valley - a nice way of completing the adventure without having to lead them by the nose! Even neater, a brawl is going to take place irrespective of what the party does - or even if it gets there in time - as rivals are spoiling for a fight. There are a few suggestions for handling the aftermath and follow-up adventures, but overall this is a well-crafted and thoughtful adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bad Moon Waning (3.5)
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