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DDAL05-14 Reeducation (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/06/2018 20:11:21

I rated this module more highly for the plotline than playability. It's fun to advance SEER's plotline and even bring her into opposition to characters, particularly for players / characters who have been through much of Season 5.

On the downside, as other reviewers have said, there's so little difficulty that it erodes the enjoyment. When I ran it, the party was Strong-- six PCs and APL 14-- but the only time I made them sweat even a little was using four banshees instead of two (they were still never in serious danger, and none of the banshees survived more than two rounds, but banshees are a good way to make even Tier 3 PCs without Con save proficiency feel nervous). I added an extra Dreamweaver in the first fight, too (and the party had a moment of shock when Greater Restoration didn't immediately work, though they had enough Prayer Beads, Clerics, and Druids that it was a minor setback).

For the final fight, I added a Champion and improved SEER's capabilities a bit (e.g., she had a Globe of Invulnerability). It still wasn't close. I think the boss just doesn't have the damage output to be threatening without significant allies (and for Tier 3, the Charm / Dominate options are unlikely to last very long, possibly not even long enough for the affected PC to act). If I ran it again, I might add two Champions, or maybe a Champion and an Abjurer (and seek to Walls and Banish to split up the PCs). Tactically, it was a fun reversal for the enemies to have more counterspellers than the PCs. Well, it was fun for me and I think an interesting dynamic for the players.

Timewise, it took me about 5.5 hours to run (partly because my monsters tried to play as smartly as they could and partly because there's a lot of not-that-threatening fights). I expected it to be faster because of low difficulty, but it turned out that just chugging through the enemies took some time even though the enemies were largely ineffective during it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-14 Reeducation (5e)
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DDAL05-08 Durlag's Tower (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2018 23:00:50

I had fun running this, but it went long. The party ended up getting themselves into one extremely long running fight (we were in initiative for more than 20 rounds). The assassins sniped them while they were fighting the Tanarukks and, instead of letting them go (to come back and strike again), the Zhentarim characters chased them / tried to chase them because of their secret mission. One wild shaped into an Earth Elemental and so was able to keep up (sadly, the Assassin stat block does not have cunning action, which made it harder on them). That said, the assassins were very effective at hurting the party through this chase. On the other hand, the chain devils were not. The burrowed Earth Elemental noticed them and warned the party. One of them tried approaching, encountered the animated chains, and the rest picked them off from beyond reach.

The final fight was fun, but turned pretty quickly. I had to close the front gate for it, or again half the party would have run to extreme range and sniped. The fiends came close to downing the biggest threats, but ultimately a Sharpshooter Crossbow Expert with Action Surge is a real problem if you can't take it down before its turn. I felt like giving the Staff to K'Nap was an awkward choice, too. He's so squishy and his to-hit modifiers are so low that it's not really plausible for him to try to stun a PC with it (as his tactics direct). In fact, the only reason he got to do much at all was that the PCs didn't bother with the gentle tap it took to kill him because they (accurately) recognized the other fiends as the actual threat.

One complaint: Without a Lord's Alliance character, it's hard to do the section with Bitter-root in a satisfying way. The party recognized her insanity and caster Greater Restoration, but there's just plain no way to get a handle on the whole possession angle without a Lord's Alliance character so I felt like that section was weak (and it was weird to thread an explanation for SEER to give them afterwards).

Also, as others have said, unless the party has some way to see invisibility and some reason to use it, there's a chunk of this module and its rewards that just don't happen. I don't think that's a great design choice. It'd be nice if there were some clue or something (though it wouldn't have helped my party, none of whom had See Invisibility or True Sight prepared).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-08 Durlag's Tower (5e)
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DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2018 22:47:06

I originally picked this module because I had a four hour block and I was already running its prequel. After I started reading it, I followed through just to teach my players a lesson. Specifically, to teach them that sometimes it's a bad idea if the entire party dumps Intelligence and that sometimes there are entire DDAL/DDEX modules for which the combat rewards are minimal.

Seriously, I liked the concept of this module and I wish there were more like it. However, because there are so few like it, it was definitely not what my players were expecting and a good chunk of the party was effectively useless for the vast majority of the session. Mechanically, I felt like the puzzles and traps went okay, but not great (again, partly because it's not a muscle other modules exercise much).

Oh, one bitter angry gripe: The maps were not usefully labeled in a way that connected them to the module text. I spent a lot of time preparing parsing the text carefully in order to figure out exactly which room was which, where each coloured wall/barrier was, etc. It also took me multiple readings to understand how the author was describing the bookshelves and the different sets of books (and why it would be a problem to carry them). Ultimately, I handwaved that section because there was no in-game time pressure and they had multiple casters who knew Tenser's Floating Disk.

Edit: Apparently the module has been updated. I checked the latest PDF and its maps are much better labeled than when I ran it. That's great.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
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DDAL05-06 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2018 22:34:03

I thought this adventure was fine (to run). It wasn't particularly outstanding in any fun or unusual ways, but it also didn't have any errors or awkward patches I had to fix-up while preparing it. It is pretty much just a combat module (with a smidge of opportunity for the party to socialize with an unusual mephit). Difficulty-wise, I don't think my players ever felt like their characters were at significant risk (the final boss managed to corner them all in one of the huts where they'd tried to rest, so they had to stay in range of her abilities, but the saves weren't too bad for them). This is another module where the enemies don't have a lot of good options against archers and ranged spellcasters.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-06 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber (5e)
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DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2018 22:28:10

Every time I run this module, I get a better understanding of the mobile combat rules (and realize things I did wrong before). In general, it's a good module for exposing players to the advantages a mounted enemy has (particularly one whose stat block essentially gives them the Mounted Combatant feat). I found the final combat was frequently challenging for my tables-- not only are the enemies mounted, but they also tend to outnumber the PCs, which gives them an action economy advantage to go with their mobility advantage. On the flip side, they have no very threatening options against a PC who can fly.

The rest of the module: there's a good amount of exploration and related skill checks; each time I ran this the party interacted with the river for a while, too, trying to "solve" it somehow; I like the multiple choice option for the mid-module encounter and the variety of options for "winning" the social encounter at the Blood Rider camp. I did have to remind my players of some information they'd learned and ignored after they'd come up with a bunch of other arguments and were running low.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold (5e)
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DDEX3-05 Bane of the Tradeways (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2018 05:24:58

I enjoy the unconventional mini-game / chase in this module. It's a change of pace and it's good to get the players on horses. That's the good part.

The bad part is that every time I have run or played this module it's gone long. Way long. It generally goes four hours and has gone more on some memorable occasions. I find that the mini-game can take a long time and the opening encounter and getting to the mini-game can take a while. The final encounter is generally fairly fast, but also leaves many tables thinking, "Wait, aren't we done? There's more?!" after the finish the chase. The final encounter is often relatively short because the party generally gets to the location in plenty of time to set an ambush / take them by surprise, and surprise is very effective.

I'll note that so far every time I've played or run this module there has been party strife during the initial encounter, with at least one character siding with the Red Plumes while most of the party sides with the others. In one session, it came extremely close to fighting within the party when the one character who sided with the Red Plumes just kept attacking the other side and ignored the protests from the other players and their characters. In another, the odd player out read the way the wind was blowing and mostly sat on his impulses in deference to the group, but it was clear that the player was straining because he felt his character really wouldn't act that way.

One minor note: Even though I prep, I seem to have an easy time overlooking the armor on the horses during the chase because the draft horse stat block (included in the module) doesn't include their barding whereas I am accustomed to NPC / monster stat blocks include items and equipment that are atypical but present in the module.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-05 Bane of the Tradeways (5e)
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DDEX2-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2018 05:05:06

I enjoyed this module a lot, both as a player and a DM. Admittedly, this is partly because I'm a fan of Flumphs.

The last encounter is a lot of fun. Every time I've been at a table for this module (playing or DM'ing), the party has managed to trigger combat with a single advance scout who then has to deal with things while the rest of the party is rushing to get there. We've had a couple of notable (and hilarious) successes with the pincer sticks, too, which are a fun element.

In contrast, the Water Weird room often doesn't seem to work that well. Once revealed, most of our parties have just hung back and picked at it from range, or sat there while the players tried to figure out how to hang back and pick at it from range while still opening the gate to the next room and it's bogged down the game.

And the troglodytes just seem too weak and too spread out to be a threat. Maybe if they all swarmed the party at once they'd be a small threat (especially if they can find a low AC target for their multiattack), but mostly I find them to be an ineffective monster.

I don't feel like there's that much exploration in this module (I mean, there is, but it's actually pretty much on rails), but there's certainly as much role playing and social interaction as the party wants to bring. I find that many parties try awfully hard to resist and/or argue with the press-ganging up front, and do better with a bit of DM fiat telling them to quiet down and accept it because it's their quest hook.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (5e)
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DDEX2-12 Dark Rites at Fort Dalton (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2018 04:58:16

This module is a popular module at our tables because many people like the item it provides. I find it can also be fun to play, but it has some weaknesses for the DM who has to run it. There just aren't any maps, not even of the weird extra-dimensional (or semi-extra-dimensional) space where the final encounter happens, which leaves the DM to fill in a lot. As a result, I've seen a lot of table to table variance on how the encounters run.

Interestingly, while the first time we ran this the party made it through without any serious difficultly, many of the subsequent runs proved much more dangerous for those players / parties. In that regard, it seems somewhat sensitive to party composition and, like many spellcaster-heavy modules, to how initiative goes.

I'll also call out that, as written, the most powerful caster only knows a single 3rd level spell and it's very thematically appropriate, but also problematic to use unless the DM has carefully arranged the terrain (and also has thought about how to use it tactically). I've seen DMs resort to just upcasting Magic Missile (which is a very effective tactic against APL-appropriate parties, but not nearly so thematic).

I am not a huge fan of the Downtime activity that comes at the end of this module. Most of the activities are pretty much worthless because they're tied to the Cult of the Crushing Wave (which makes them useless in nearly all other modules) and the treasure hunting tends to be a let down for players.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-12 Dark Rites at Fort Dalton (5e)
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DDEX2-11 Oubliette of Fort Iron (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2018 04:49:35

I had fun and I think my table had fun with this module both as a player and DM. It's short (there's a chance of actually finishing it in the allotted two hours without rushing) and linear, which makes it good for new players, while the puzzles and the gimmick of the dungeon mirroring a body were fun for new players and experienced players (some tables picked up on it very early and others never noticed).

The combats were fine, though never harrowing at the tables I've run and played. The DM should be prepared for the party to try to Shatter or physically attack the seed of Fel Earth and know how (s)he wants to adjudicate it.

The maps in this module were very good and covered pretty much every interesting location.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-11 Oubliette of Fort Iron (5e)
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DDEX3-01 Harried in Hillsfar (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2018 04:41:58

This was the first module / these were the first adventures I DMed. Overall, I found them an easy introduction (and without many places where I felt I had to make things up extensively to keep the adventure making sense, which I've felt in some of the other mini-adventures). They did run a bit long (partly because I had a table of 7 players, partly because the players split the party in the first one, and partly because people were having fun role playing and poking around). I made it through four of the five before the table was exhausted.

I enjoyed the 5 prophecies that provided the very vague framing story. I think the players might have appreciated if it were more obvious which mini-adventure matched up with which faction, as is done in the Season 7 mini-adventures.

One note about Mission 4: I ended up fudging things slightly so that the whole party had to enter the final room at once. It felt like it wouldn't have worked well if the character scouting ahead would have gone in there and triggered the final encounter without the rest of the party.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX3-01 Harried in Hillsfar (5e)
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DDEX1-04 Dues for the Dead (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeremy X. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2018 04:33:58

This was the second module I ever DMed (the first was one of the 5 mini-adventures). It was a pretty easy onboarding. The module itself is a self-contained dungeon crawl and provides plenty of support for the DM.

It felt like it was fun for the DM and the party, and I've run and played it with parties ranging from all 1st level characters through mostly 3rd and 4th level characters and it's held up. There's exploration and combat and a bit of role play opportunity. I can definitely recommend it for someone looking for a module to get started DM'ing or for newish players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-04 Dues for the Dead (5e)
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