Monday, 19 October 2020

5e: Expanding Icewind Dale, Part II - Of Dragons and Giants

This is the second part of a two-part series expanding the Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign by converting other published adventures. This post is aimed at Dungeon Masters looking to add extra material to their Icewind Dale campaign. if you're a player, stream viewer, or podcast listener, you'll find potential spoilers ahead. 

The first part of the series provided detailed notes on how to convert the adventure Frozen Sick (found either in The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount or for free on DndBeyond and Roll20). You can find part 1: Frozen Sick here.

Part 2 covers three different adventures. Because they're much more easily adapted, less detail is required for each and it isn't necessary to provide an alternative adventure outline as I did for Frozen Sick.  the format for this post will be slightly different, providing general conversion notes rather than an entire adventure outline.

The following adventures are explored in this article:

  • Dragon of Icespire Peak. A short campaign included in the D&D Essentials Kit. Specifically, we're interested in the final "boss", a young white dragon named Cryovain, as well as the dungeon in which he lives.
  • The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. The second of a trilogy of higher level adventures collectively entitled Against the Giants, which is found in Tales from the Yawning Portal
  • Berg of the Frost Giants.  This is an adventure location described in a previous campaign, Storm King's Thunder. It can be used as a substitute for The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, or in conjunction with it.

Dragon of Icespire Peak

It's possible to take content from this Essentials Kit campaign and use it to expand Rime of the Frostmaiden's mid-campaign. While most of the campaign isn’t suitable, the main villain and the final dungeon can be ported into Icewind Dale with only a little bit of effort. The converted adventure is suitable for characters of level 6 or 7.

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)

Placing the Adventure Site

For the purposes of this adaptation, Icespire Hold needs to be relocated to a position of your choosing somewhere within the Spine of the World. 

Introducing the Adventure

Instead of harassing the Sword Coast, Cryovain has recently been preying on the reindeer herds in Icewind Dale. He lairs in a fortress in the Spine of the World, which he recently claimed after driving out the orcs who lived there.

There are many ways you can seed this adventure throughout the campaign, as early as you like:

  • Ten-Towners talk about the appearance of the dragon (a number of hunters and trappers have seen it fly by while out in the wilderness and it has become a subject of taproom gossip). They aren’t too concerned by the appearance of another, younger dragon since Cryovain is leaving them alone for now. They assume that it will eventually be driven off by Arveiaturace and the status quo will be restored.
  • Reghed tribesmen the characters encounter are more worried about the dragon, since it is causing the herds they rely on for meat, hides, and bone to dwindle.  
  • If the characters encounter Orcs of the Many-Arrows Tribe in the wilderness, the orcs could be from the clan Cryovain drove out of Icespire Hold.
  • They can learn about the dragon while talking with friendly goliaths from either tribe. The goliaths are not only aware of the dragon, they are searching for its lair.
  • They can see the dragon themselves while travelling in or near the mountains, or it could plunge from the sky into the middle of a reindeer herd they encounter in the wilderness. 

None of the factions above recommend the player characters go dragon hunting unless they believe the party are extremely competent (eg. not until they are of appropriate level!). Friendly and Indifferent NPCs do their best to put characters off from any such attempt.

Matters become more urgent after the chardalyn dragon rampages through Ten-Towns in chapter 4. By this time the player characters should be level 6 to 7, and equipped to take on Cryovain at Icespire Hold. With the settlements weakened, Cryovain becomes more daring. He begins preying on yaks, axe beaks, sled dogs, and other domesticated beasts, and even the occasional traveller. Perhaps the dragon even attacks the party on their travels, in which case it retreats after losing 10 hit points in battle as described under “Where’s the White Dragon?”. Surviving Speakers ask for the help of their local heroes, hoping they will slay another dragon to save Ten-Towns. If the party already know that the Reghed tribes are concerned by the same issue they might be able to negotiate multiple rewards from each faction. 

Finding Cryovain

Talking to people who have seen Cryovain in action confirms he typically flies towards the Spine of the World after an attack. The Spine of the World is a very large place, of course. This would be a good time for the party to visit a friendly goliath tribe, since the mountain-dwellers might have more of an idea where to find the dragon. A town Speaker or NPC ally might suggest this if the players don’t consider it themselves.

  • If the party visit Skytower Shelter, the goliaths of the Akannathi tribe are well aware of the new dragon and have been keeping an eye on his movements from atop their griffons.
  • If the party visit Wyrmdoom Crag, the goliaths of the Thuunlakalaga have a history with white dragons and so were both concerned and excited at the prospect of another dragon to fight. Their scouts have ranged across the mountains in search of the lair.

Either way, the chosen tribe can give precise directions to Icespire Hold. If the tribe and the characters have friendly relations, they may be able to persuade some goliath warriors to go on the quest to kill Cryovain at your discretion.     

Icespire Hold

In the recent past orcs of the Many-Arrows tribe made their lair in this crumbling fortress. They were driven out by Cryovain. Run the dungeon as is.

Against the Giants

A set of three adventures published in Tales from the Yawning Portal, one of which makes an excellent addition to Rime of the Frostmaiden. Specifically: The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. The adventure is intended for level 12 characters, making it a perfect follow-up to the campaign proper.

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)


Incorporating the Plot

Treat the frost giant Jarl Grugnur as the current Jarl of Jarls. All frost giants therefore owe him their fealty. The frost giants are beginning to become more active, perhaps emboldened by Auril’s permanent winter. There are a few possibilities as to why:

Use Against the Giants as is

One option is to leave the larger plot of Against the Giants intact, in which case the activity of the frost giants is part of a larger scheme involving other types of giants and spearheaded by drow. Even so, you might want to skip the hill giant adventure since it's intended for lower level PCs (though you could make some adjustments), instead having your PCs move straight on to the fire giants. If you need an idea for where to take your players next, the drow ringleaders provide a possibility: if your players want to know why the drow needed the giants to soften up the surface world, they'll have to venture into the underdark to find out!

There is no alliance of giants

Perhaps the frost giants are acting independently. Jarl Grugnur is in fact amassing an army of giants, ready to rampage across Icewind Dale and conquer it. The region would then become a staging ground for the frost giants to build a larger empire across the Sword Coast, freezing the conquered lands as they go.

The drow can still be behind this if you like, in which case you can consider taking the drow which normally appear in the Hall of the Giant King and re-home them in The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. You could empty out the guest bedrooms (currently occupied by giants of other types) to make room for the drow party.

Jarl Grugnur is being tricked by Asmodeus

As above, but Asmodeus is behind the giants' plans for conquest. He appeared to the Jarl in the guise of Thrym, god of frost giants. This mirrors the true story behind Xardorok and the duergar in Rime of the Frostmaiden. This connection suggests both events are part of a larger scheme of the Archdevil, and can be used to draw your players into a new infernal-themed campaign arc. 

Placing the Adventure Site

The stronghold of Grugnur, Lord of Frost Giants, should be hidden away amid the tallest peaks of the Spine of the World. 

Introducing the Adventure

You can seed this adventure early by suggesting the presence of a larger frost giant settlement and a change in frost giant movements within the region. 

  • Ten-Towners and Reghed tribesfolk might note in conversation that wilderness encounters with or sightings of frost giants seem to be on the rise. From Chapter 5 onward, gossip about this begins to escalate because encounters grow more frequent still. You might consider adapting the wilderness encounter table to add a few additional frost giant encounters.
  • Frost giants encountered in the wilderness might shout “For Jarl Grugnur!” in the giant tongue as they charge into battle. A giant among their number could be carrying written orders from Jarl Grugnur. 
  • While completing the quest “Holed Up” (see “Dougan’s Hole”), the party might find a giant-sized seal leather scroll case near Garagai’s bedroll. Inside is a missive from Estia, Jarl Grugnur’s wife. In years past Garagai had been a rival for Estia’s affection until he was driven out by Grugnur when he became Jarl of the Glacial Rift. Estia wrote one last letter of farewell to him, which he treasured until his death.
  • Verbeegs encountered during the adventure could have received an invitation from the Jarl to join with his forces, promising any giantkin who does so glory and wealth in the days to come. 
    • The characters might find a giant-sized scroll case in Duhg’s treasure basket (found in the chapter 1 adventure “The Mead Must Flow”). Inside is a letter from the Jarl effect written in giant runes. Gahg, Dugh’s paramour, received a similar invitation, though the characters are unlikely to learn that. 
    • Tinjong (see “Dark Duchess” in chapter 2) received an invitation too. The party might learn about it through conversation if they travel with her for a while. Tinjong no longer has the letter, which she long since used for kindling, but she kept the giant-sized seal leather scroll case and tied it to her belt to use as storage for sling stones. Characters who have seen similar scroll cases might reason she received a letter from the frost giants. 

The events of Rime of the Frostmaiden ought to keep player characters too occupied to seriously consider seeking out the giants before resolving the campaign, but just in case friendly NPCs can caution that even a single frost giant is a dangerous foe. An encounter with one in the wilderness can do a lot to reinforce that threat. When the characters have overcome a goddess, however, they may feel more ready to take on the giants. 

Ready or not, the giants begin to move and a war party raids Ten-Towns. Unlike with the chardalyn dragon, have this event occur while the characters are already in the vicinity and able to take part in the defense.

After this attack it becomes obvious that the frost giants are a threat that needs dealing with. The Speakers can ask for help if necessary. They don’t have much in the way of a reward, since any wealth Ten-Towns still has is tied up in rebuilding. A reminder of the treasures the frost giants likely have in their fortress should hopefully be enough. One or two of the giants who attack Ten-Towns could carry magic items to help support this idea.

Finding the Glacial Rift

Once it’s decided to hunt down the frost giants, finding them isn’t actually that difficult. By now the characters might have magic that will help them locate the stronghold, but if not they really only have to follow the trail of the frost giant war party back into the mountains. 

The Frost Giant Stronghold

Run the adventure as is, subject to any changes you deem fit. If the frost giants aren’t part of a larger plot among the giants, then the teleporting bar in the hidden escape tunnel may not exist or may have an entirely different destination. One possibility is it could transport anyone in the alcove to the Svardborg, the Berg of the Frost Giants (a location in Storm King’s Thunder, see below!).

Storm King's Thunder

Svardborg, the Berg of the Frost Giants, is one of several locations described in the Storm King’s Thunder campaign. 

If you don’t have access to Against the Giants, you could adapt the idea that the frost giants are amassing their forces for conquest (see the conversion notes for Against the Giants, above) and simply use Svardborg as an alternative base of operations for in place of the Glacial Rift. Likewise, Jarl Storvald can take Grugnur’s place as Jarl of Jarls. 

If you have access to both Against the Giants and Storm King’s Thunder, then the frost giants of Svardborg are allies of Jarl of Jarls Grugnur. The party might visit the Svardborg before or after they go to the Glacial Rift. 

Either way, since Svardborg is intended for a party of 8th level characters it fits less easily into the narrative of Rime of the Frost Maiden as written, and I’d suggest beefing this adventure site up a bit to make it an appropriate challenge for a 12th level party. 

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)


Placing the Adventure Site

Svardborg is already located out on the Sea of Moving Ice, which means it can easily be used as a location in Rime of the Frost Maiden

Introducing the Adventure

The details under Against the Giants apply here too, whether you’re using this adventure site to complement The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl or in place of it. 

Frost giant war parties descend on Ten-Towns from the direction of the Sea of Moving Ice as well as the Spine of the World. The two groups consolidate their forces before beginning their raid. Ten-Towns scouts report that the war party from the North is smaller, which causes the town’s Speakers and military leaders to speculate that any camp or stronghold in that direction is smaller and weaker. They suggest the party head that way first, but leave the decision up to the characters.

Finding Svardborg

The awakened sperm whale Angajuk knows the location of the frost giant stronghold and can take characters there. He normally tries to avoid it as the giants roam the waters around the village in their ships, hunting whales, but he will brave the journey for characters who have earned his trust once they impress upon him that their need is great. 

If the party goes to the Glacial Rift first they may be able to teleport directly to the island from that location. 

Svardborg

Run the adventure as is except as otherwise noted here, even the part about the Zhentarim alliance and the Ring of Winter. Jarl Storvald is looking for the ring independently of Jarl Grugnur’s plans. Storvald wants to find the ring and use it to overthrow Grugnur and claim the title of Jarl of Jarls.

If the zhentarim scouts and manticores are defeated before they can rescue Nilraun from danger, he’ll try to trade information for his life (giving up as little as he thinks he can get away with, of course). If he learns the party are from Icewind Dale, he offers to tell them the name of an important Zhentarim spy in the region provided they let him go and never reveal he was their source. If the characters agree to this deal Nilraun exposes Speaker Naerth Maxildanarr of Targos, finally revealing his treachery.

Returning from Svardborg

If the party arrived by boat or with Agajuk’s help they may already have a way home. If not, there’s one option available to them:

The conch of teleportation found in this adventure doesn’t teleport creatures to Maelstrom. Instead, choose one of the following locations in Icewind Dale:

  • In front of the passage to the Glacial Rift (from The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl).
  • The Jarlmoot.

Cryovain II: The Recycling

It seems that Wizards of the Coast reused the white dragon Cryovain, first using the name for an adult dragon in this adventure and then again as a young dragon in Dragon of Icespire Peak. If you decide to use both adventures in your expanded Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign then one of the two dragons needs to be renamed. It doesn’t really matter which!





Sunday, 18 October 2020

5e: Wasteland Wanderers 2nd Edition is available now!


Wasteland Wanderers has mutated! Wasteland Wanderers 2nd Edition is bigger, badder, and better than ever!

Wasteland Wanderers 2nd Edition has been released! It updates and expands on the original with a completely updated design, more art, rules revisions for the 6 wasteland classes, and a host of additional player options: new archetypes, species, backgrounds, feats, and more. 

Although designed for use in post-apocalyptic campaign settings, a lot of the content within can be utilised in modern, science-fiction, and in some cases even fantasy worlds with minimal to no conversion effort.

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Wasteland Wanderers 2nd Edition is available now for $9.99, and can be picked up on either of the following markets: 

  • itch.io (if you can use this storefront please do so, as less commission is taken from the sale)
  • DriveThruRPG

If you bought a copy of the original Wasteland Wanderers, you've received an upgrade to the new edition for free!

Content Previews

Take a peek inside the book!

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WastelandWanderers_s_shepherd.png

WastelandWanderers_s_backgrounds.png



Monday, 5 October 2020

5e: Expanding Icewind Dale, Part I - Frozen Sick

Last weekend I started running Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden for my family. Naturally a bunch of prep work was involved before the campaign started, and I want to share a part of that with you today. I realised there's a lot of additional material in the Dungeons & Dragons product line that you can fold into Icewind Dale to expand the campaign. Expanding Icewind Dale is a two-part series that highlights some of that content along with my thoughts about how best to adapt it. 

This post is aimed at Dungeon Masters looking to add extra material to their Icewind Dale campaign. if you're a player, stream viewer, or podcast listener, you'll find potential spoilers ahead. 

The scope of this article is limited to previously published adventures and campaigns by Wizards of the Coast, but you definitely aren't limited to only official products when expanding your version of Icewind Dale.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there's a lot of compatible content on DMsGuild already that's well worth taking a look at. There's probably a bunch of wintry adventures and supplements on  DriveThruRPG as well! Third party creators who're reading this, feel free to leave a comment on this post to advertise your compatible content. 

Part 1 of Expanding Icewind Dale focuses on Frozen Sick. This adventure is from the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, but was made available for free on dndbeyond and roll20 (in the latter case including all the tokens, maps etc. fully integrated into the virtual tabletop). As such, it can be integrated into your campaign without the need to buy anything. Although it can slot into Icewind Dale surprisingly well, it takes more effort to adapt. This post therefore includes my outline for an alternative version of the adventure.

Part 2 will cover Dragon of Icespire Peak (from the Essentials Kit), The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl (from Tales from the Yawning Portal), and Berg of the Frost Giants (from Storm King's Thunder).


Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)

Frozen Sick

You might be wondering how an adventure set in Matthew Mercer's campaign world Exandria could fit into a Forgotten Realms campaign like Icewind Dale. In fact, Frozen Sick fits in with the themes and events of Rime of the Frostmaiden like a hand to a glove... provided we amputate its frostbitten fingers down to the knuckle.

You see, Frozen Sick is set in a similar wintry region, and it concerns a magical sickness spread after the discovery of a laboratory that fell from an ancient, flying city named Aeor. Sound familiar? It ought to: Ythryn can easily replace Aeor in this narrative. 

Adapting the adventure does take some work though. I recommend skipping most of the adventure as written, since it's designed to take characters from level 1 to 3. We already have plenty of options in Rime of the Frostmaiden to level the party, so the adaptation of Frozen Sick should amount to a side quest at most. Cutting some of the content also means less conversion, since we don't have to find as many substitutes. 

My version of the adventure follows. It  introduces the party to victims of a magical disease called frigid woe, then gets the player characters quickly to Salsvault where they'll find the cure. It's suitable for a level 2 or level 3 party of adventurers.

Adventure Background

  • A pair of dwarven explorers recently auctioned off two mysterious blue vials at the Town Hall in Easthaven.
  • A half-elf merchant named Lera Farran bought the vials. She kept them at her home, planning to identify and sell them at a later date. 
  • Believing the vials to have come from the lost Netherese enclave he sought, the wizard Dzaan hired a thief to steal them (before he was caught and executed, obviously!)
  • The thief, a halfling named Tinson Ladlelick, was caught in the act after breaking into the Farran home. He escaped but without his prize: worse, one of the vials broke in the chaos. It infected him as well as Lera, and her family.
  • The dwarven explorers returned to the ruin where they found the vials. They have since found an additional sample, but accidentally broke it and became sick themselves.

Adventure Hooks

The player characters can be pulled into this adventure in one or both of the following ways:

Rumours. The Farran family have had their mysterious sickness for nearly a month. No herbalist or priest has had any luck identifying the illness or curing them. Their condition is grist for the rumour mill, and there is even talk that the Farrans have come under a curse. The player characters may hear this rumour around Easthaven, or even elsewhere in Ten-Towns. 

The Frozen Thief. Tinson also contracted the sickness, but has been laying low for fear of being caught. He suspects he would become the next sacrifice to Auril as punishment for the attempted theft. However, he eventually becomes so ill he leaves his hideyhole, desperate for help. The PCs encounter the halfling stumbling down an otherwise quiet street in Easthaven. He trips and falls, his hood dislodging as he does to reveal a face covered in prominent, ghastly blue veins. Tinson is in the final stage of frigid woe, and ice is already beginning to encase him. He manages to get out only a few words through chattering before he is completely frozen within ice: “H-h-h-h-help....c-c-c-curse…. t-t-the…. F-farrans!”

When the characters ask around, they quickly learn who the Farrans are and where to find their house. 

Act 1: The Farran House

The door is answered by Ted Tunn, a human commoner who does odd jobs for the Farrans. He has answered the door on behalf of his wife Rae, who is employed as the maid and is presently nursing the Farrans. Ted’s mother-in-law Gertie White is the Farran family’s cook, and is busy in the kitchen. The entire family have rallied round to care for their employers in their time of need. 

Immediately sizing the characters up as adventurers, Ted is quick to try and enlist their aid in dealing with the mystery sickness. He invites them in and leaves them briefly alone. He and Rae appear again shortly thereafter, supporting a half-orc woman who is showing late stage symptoms of frigid woe. Brunhilde Farran is Lera Farran’s spouse. She has resisted the sickness slightly better than her wife and their adopted tiefling daughter, Lucy, and is the only one in even a remotely fit state to receive a visitor.

Brunhilde offers 700 gold pieces to the party if they can find a cure for the sickness, and is prepared to pay 200 in advance (she is desperate, so the amount is negotiable). If pressed even slightly, she will also offer a gold necklace inlaid with tourmalines worth a further 300 gp. 

Clues

  • Brunhilde can explain about the theft  since she was with Lera when they surprised Tinson in the act. She also knows that her wife acquired the vials from an auction at the Town Hall. Ted Tunn has already made inquiries there and learned that the sellers were a pair of dwarves named Orvo Mustave and Urgon Wenth. Unfortunately the dwarves don’t live locally - they're treasure hunters that explore Icewind Dale for ruins to salvage. They come to Easthaven from time to time to auction off their treasures.
  • After leaving the Farran household the following can be learned either by talking to officials at the town hall’s administrative office (T2 on the campaign’s map of this location) or by asking around town and eventually finding some associates of the dwarves at the Wet Trout tavern:
    • Last time they were in town, Orvo and Urgon were excited about a new find out on the edge of the Sea of Moving Ice, somewhere North of Lonelywood. They set back out after staying a week in Easthaven, taking a dog-sled that was so overladen with supplies the dwarves are unlikely to return any time soon. 

Treating the Farrans

Player characters may seek to help the Farrans directly. While the party has no means to cure the frigid woe, they might make Wisdom (Medicine) attempts or try casting spells. At your discretion these can offer some relief and delay the fatal consequences of the sickness for up to an additional seven days.

Act 2: Finding Orvo

On The Trail

The dwarven explorers went via Lonelywood, and the party can pick up their trail there by talking to town speaker Nimsy Huddle. The dwarves stayed in her attic on the way through town. She doesn’t know much about why the pair were headed North. Nimsy does know they’ve come and gone that way once already before their recent stay. She also overheard them talking about somewhere they called the Hook.

From Lonelywood it's relatively easy to find the sled tracks left by the dwarves. Since people seldom leave Lonelywood to the North, the signs of their passage are still very clear.  No check is required.

If the party bypass Lonelywood they can make a DC 15 Wisdom (Survival) check to find the trail of the dwarves. On a failed check they do eventually find sled tracks, but lose 1d3 + 1 days to the search, during which time they should have at least one wilderness encounter.

Orvo

The player characters finally find the camp of the dwarves on the inside curve of a crescent-like spit of land jutting out into the Sea of Moving Ice. A single dwarf sits by a crackling fire. Even through his thick furs, it’s obvious he is shivering violently. Nearby lies a second dwarf entombed in ice. 

The shivering dwarf is Orvo. He and Urgon were exposed to frigid woe approximately 2 weeks ago after they found a third vial and accidentally broke it while exploring Salsvault. The extreme cold has allowed the sickness to progress more rapidly, and Urgon succumbed to it just a day ago. Orvo himself shows late stage symptoms. 

You’ll need to refer to “Orvo’s Story” in the section entitled “Syrinla”. Ignore all geographic points of reference in Orvo’s Story, as well as references to Aeor and the Buyer. The following changes should also be made to the information Orvo can provide:
  • Salsvault is a Netherese ruin partially submerged in water.
  • The ruin can be found at the tip of the Hook, not far from Orvo’s camp.
  • Salvault appears to have been a Netherese lab.
  • Orvo and Urgon auctioned off the treasures they previously collected in Easthaven.  

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)



Act 3: Salvault

Salsvault is near Orvo’s camp, so you can skip the section entitled “Into the Wilds” and jump straight to “Approaching Salsvault”. 

Run the dungeon as is, though any mention of Aeor should be considered a reference to the Netherese city of Ythryn instead. 

Epilogue

Returning with a Cure

If Orvo is cured, he is still weak. He returns with the player characters if they allow him to do so.

As long as the party return to Easthaven within fourteen days, none of the Farrans have died. Otherwise, both Lera and Lucy have passed away before the cure can reach them. If the player characters made efforts to treat the Farrans before leaving, you can give them an additional week’s grace period. 

Rewards

In addition to the promised payment, the party can gain another benefit if they were kind to Brunhilde and didn’t take advantage of her, and provided Lera and Lucy survive. 

In her gratitude, Lera asks the party to come to her whenever they need to conduct business in Easthaven. She can provide many mundane items from her own stock or else broker deals on their behalf. Provided the party goes through Lera for their purchases in Easthaven, they buy all items at a 15% discount. This is reduced to 5% after the chardalyn dragon attacks (see below). 

Dragon Scourge!

The Farran and Tunn families are among the survivors of the chardalyn dragon’s attack on Easthaven in Chapter 4, but their home and store are destroyed. Lera regretfully can only offer a 5% discount while rebuilding her business, and it takes her longer to source less common items. The Farrans are respected in the community, and while Lera prefers to focus on rebuilding her business Brunhilde could be a candidate to replace Speaker Waylen.  

Bonus Content: Croaker Cave

While not used in the adventure outline above, Croaker Cave would fit right in during Chapter 2 as an additional place of interest your players might choose to visit. I’d personally put the cave on the Northern edge of Maer Dualdon. You can simply remove the three bandits from this dungeon, or perhaps replace them with thematic monsters of equivalent CR. To use the cave at a later level, consider making it the lair of a slaad (type depending on party level). This slaad is able to taken on a humanoid form, and has taken to attacking and infecting people in Ten-Towns. It might even be the cause of a player character’s secret...

Part 2: Of Dragons and Giants





Wednesday, 13 May 2020

D&D Review! Archetypes of Eberron

Today I'm reviewing Archetypes of Eberron, a book chock-full of new class options for D&D 5e characters.

Cover (Archetypes of Eberron)


Value 

Archetypes of Eberron is 54 pages long, incluing its cover and credits and contents pages. It contains 31 new archetypes with 2 or 3 for each Player's Handbook class and the Artificer. It's $14.95 normally, which is already great value for the amount of fun you and your group might get out of playing these archetypes in campaigns and one-shots going forward. If you pick it up now the price will only be $11.96 in the Play it Forward Sale, and best of all the cost of your sale will all go direct to the creators during this event.

SCORE OUT OF 4:

Contents (Archetypes of Eberron)

Quality

There's not much to say here chiefly because there's nothing to criticize! The book is beautifully presented, with some gorgeous art and attractive, clean design.

Divine Sniper Rogue (Archetypes of Eberron)

SCORE OUT OF 6:



Content

Archetypes of Eberron has a single purpose: new class options for your Eberron characters! As such, it has rather a lot of them. 31 new archetypes, to be precise. Some are conversions from prior editions, while others are new concepts. It would be highly impractical - and likely very boring to read - for me to provide detailed analysis of every archetype in detail. Instead I'll summarise the new options and give my overall impressions of this sourcebook's balance and benefit to your Eberron games.

The new archetypes in this book break down as follows:

  • Artificer specialist options:
    • Crystal Shaper. These artificers are specialists in the mystical properties of gemstones. The archetypes borrows inspiration from 3.5's psion, particularly the shaper discipline and ability to create psicrystals. Crystal Shapers can temporarily removing some of their emotions and store them in crystals to gain specific advantages from their absence. The emotions can also be released from where they are stored to augment spellcasting, or used to shape a crystalline astral construct.
    • Disruptor. A type of artificer specialising in war, and excelling at battlefield preparation and control. Disruptors create explosives called "blast disks" which they can can either throw (exploding on impact) or prime to blow up when creatures move into proximity. The Disruptor can make ten different varieties of blast disk, each of which deals a different type of damage and has a unique secondary effect. 
    • War Weaver. These artificers are also experts in war, but their role is to support and facilitate cohesion among allied forces. They can weave a magical network called an eldritch tapestry which provides a number of ways which the artificer can aid creatures included in the weave. Higher level war weavers can even extend single target spell affects to other creatures in the eldritch tapestry, or target creatures in their tapestry with the contingency spell.
  • Artificer infusions: 7 new options are available as infusions! There are some fun new choices here.  Did you ever want a third, mechanical arm? 
  • Barbarian Primal Paths:
    • Path of the Feral Heart. This path is themed around the idea of a non-specific feral "beast" inside, as opposed to the specific animal choices of the beast totem. Its features involve taking on aspects of the beast, including physical shape changes. As such, it's a good archetype for a Shifter character if the player wants to expand on their powers, or perhaps to model a player character lycanthrope in a balanced way.
    • Path of the Rage Mage. Barbarians of this path have somehow tapped into a source of chaos magic. This manifests in the ability to wield pact magic, like a warlock. Naturally, Rage Mages may cast their spells while raging and can use their spellcasting to maintain a rage. I've grappled with the concept of a spellcasting barbarian myself, and pact magic is as good a solution as any! 
  • Bard Colleges:
    • College of Revelation. These are bards whose minds have touched Xoriat, commonly known as the Plane of Madness, but to those who have touched it the Plane of Revelations. Their features are themed around knowledge, though that knowledge is not always welcome, and there may be a price to pay.
    • College of Spies. Bards of this college are consummate infiltrators. They can spend a Bardic Inspiration to cast a spell without somatic components and weave its verbal components imperceptibly into normal conversation. I absolutely love this. Other features are themed around disguise and persuasion.
  • Cleric Domains:
    • Change Domain. Clerics of change tend to serve gods of chaos. They gain access to limited bard-like magic, can use their Channel Divinity to make enemies redirect their attacks on new targets, and otherwise harness chaotic energies.
    • Exorcism Domain. This is the domain for you if you want to drive undead and fiends interloping on the material plane. Clerics of this domain are somewhat militant, cannot be possessed, and can help other creatures end charm effects and possession. They can also repel fiends with their Channel Divinity.
    • Hearth Domain. This domain encompasses the safety and security of a home and the love and support of community. A Hearth Domain cleric in the party means much more efficient Hit Dice healing, as well as various kinds of protection. 
  • Druid Circles:
    • Circle of Civilization. An unusual concept for a druid circle! These druids acknowledge humanoids' place in nature and bridge the gap between the natural world and civilisation. These druids are experts at moving through a city and interacting with its people, and can even move through worked stone like other druids might move through trees. High level druids of this circle can even animate a statue or building to fight on their behalf!
    • Circle of Eberron. Druids of this circle commune with the world itself, rather than merely the nature that thrives upon it. They summon "beasts" of plant matter and earth, and at higher levels can transform into a similar dragon-like entity called a twilight guardian. Eberron herself provides energy that replaces their need for common material components.
    • Circle of Storms. The druids of this circle respect and channel the power of storms. They themselves are fierce, warrior-like, and they can expend wild shapes to channel the storm's power through their own bodies.
  • Martial Archetypes:
    • Combat Medic. Fighters of this archetype are light-armoured, nimble warrior-healers, and in terms of game mechanics they're the divine to the Eldritch Knight's arcane. They are rewarded for healing their allies with boosts to their own damage, and can even evacuate creatures magically from the battlefield.
    • Marshal. This is a take on the popular "warlord" concept, and it fills that niche well. It has a number of ways to buff allies, but not in a way that prevents the fighter from being an active and effective damage dealer (features either just enhance a fighter class ability or require a bonus action or reaction, never an action).
  • Monastic Traditions:
    • Way of the Conduit. These monks channel the spirits of the deceased, embracing their wisdom and borrowing their power. The spirits they channel can enhance their blows, let them hurl eldritch energies, shield them from harm, or enhance their prowess in either diplomacy or deceit.
    • Way of the Tashalatora. This monastic tradition seeks enlightenment through honing mind as well as body: monks of this tradition are psionically powerful. They can touch the minds of others and subtly alter the flow of time.
  • Sacred Oaths:
    • Oath of the Bone Knight. The Bone Knights are paladins who are specialists in controlling the undead. There is some thematic overlap here with the Oathbreaker (the Oath Spells table is fairly similar, for instance, and the Seize Control Channel Divinity is similar to Control Undead, only it lets you affect multiple undead but limits their maximum CR). However, the archetype features are different and more focused on the undead theme than "Evil" in general—in fact, there's nothing in the features that explicitly links a Bone Knight to an Evil alignment. 
    • Oath of the Hell Knight. These Paladins serve fiends. While their tenets put an emphasis on power and control, the Paladin themselves needn't be monstrously evil, provided their patron doesn't demand horrifying acts of loyalty. In the lore for Eberron, they're agents of a trio of legendary hags. Their features have the sort of flavour you'd expect, such as supernatural social influence, magical resilience, as well as n Oath Spell list inspired by special features of hags.
Bone Knight Paladin (Archetypes of Eberron)

  • Ranger Archetypes:
    • Extreme Explorer. Rangers of this archetype relish danger, and specialise in adventuring within the most extreme locations. The archetype's name might give the impression that its features will be about environmental adaptability, but it actually emphasises the ranger's daring. It's not about the ranger possessing additional survival skills, but rather their having the good fortune and grit to survive their extreme adventures.
    • Guerilla. A Ranger of this archetype is an expert in stealth, poisons, and hit-and-run tactics. Thematically, it's a way to get a little bit of Rogue chocolate in your Ranger peanut butter, the same way the Scout lets you mix some Ranger peanut butter with your Rogue chocolate.  
  • Roguish Archetypes:
    • Divine Sniper. A slightly odd concept, this: the flavour text for this archetype says it "specializes in getting in, eliminating their target, and getting out", but the implication that they do shady things for their Church, operating in the shadows seems somewhat at odds with their powers which create or otherwise rely on bright, radiant light. Not exactly helpful in a stealth situation! Honestly, I think a radiant-wielding archer would be a better fit for a Paladin archetype. But misalignment between story and mechanics aside, the features of this archetype are fun and solid.
    • Soulknife. A classic, well-loved class reimagined as a rogue archetype. Soulknives can shape blades of psionic energy which they wield in melee or throw at enemies. As they gain levels, they can use their psionic weapons to impart psionic effects on their targets. I've seen a few takes on 5e soulknives, and this one is my favourite from among those attempts. 
  • Sorcerous Origins:
    • Blood Magus. At some point in their past, a Blood Mage was briefly dead, and their return to the living has given them the drive to understand the innate powers within their blood so as to escape . The connection between return from death and blood magic makes sense specifically within Eberron's: Blood Mages may be affiliated with the Blood of Vol, a faction who believe their own blood holds divine power which if studied and understood can help them create their own afterlife rather than spend eternity in the grey wastes of Dolurrh. Fortunately, nothing about this archetype's features is mechanically tied to the death theme, so is story can be reworked for other settings. A Blood Magus can expend hit points to empower spells, recover hit points with stored blood, and even create a "blood elemental" or use pools of blood to magically travel.
    • Cataclysm Mage. These sorcerers derive their power from the cataclysms of the past, and may not necessarily be descended from a bloodline living at that time: some acquire their powers after learning too much about these ancient histories, or might manifest after a vision or even spontaneously. A Cataclysm mage is obsessed with learning more about these events and sees visions of future disasters; but are they the solution, or they perhaps the cause? After all, their own powers corrupt, and rip the fabric of reality. Some great story potential with this one, though its tied quite closely to Eberron's lore. If you want to use it in another setting, you'll have to make a few minor changes. 
    • Wilder. The Wilder is a psionic archetype which draws power from emotions. Emotions, being volatile, mean that a Wilder's power is prone to surges of unpredictable power. The Wilder can increase the power of their spells but takes the risk of losing such a spell altogether. Their chaotic psionic energy shields their mind like static, and eventually lets them shift between spaces. If you like the idea of a slightly unpredictable spellcaster but aren't keen on the often goofy implementation of the Wild Magic sorcerer, or its capacity to cause trouble to allies, not just itself, the Wilder might be an ideal archetype for you. 
  • Warlock Patrons:
    • The Elemental. Warlocks of this type bind an elemental to themselves, and draw from its power. Their mastery over the elements gives them the ability ignore resistance to the energy type associated with their element, resist it themselves, "teleport" by flowing through the elemental energy inherent to all planes, and create explosive elemental motes. 
    • The Hidden One. This archetype binds you to a patron who observes and manipulates the lives of lesser, mortal creatures. You become their agent in the world. This archetype uses Intelligence for its warlock abilities in place of Charisma, and has features themed around knowledge acquisition, self-preservation, as well as discovering or creating weaknesses.   
    • The Soulborn. Soulborn are bound to the spirit of a deceased warrior (or perhaps multiple warriors) of the past. As such, they're a combat-focused archetype. They can add their Charisma bonus to AC while wearing no armour, have the ability to add effects to their attacks, and can ultimately channel the incarnate might of their ancestor.  As with the Hexblade, there'd be nothing stopping you re-skinning this archetype to make a melee warlock of another type of patron.
  • Wizard Schools:
    • Cult of the Alienist. Alienists study the daelkyr and other denizes of Xoriat, the Plane of Madness. In other settings, they might delve into the forbidden secrets of the Far Realm. The touch of that realm upon them embeds a symbiotic entity within their body, and their body becomes gradually more aberrant.Higher level alienists can also summon aberrations through use of the new conjure aberrations spell.
    • School of Living Spells. These wizards make a study of the phenomenon of living spells, magics which have gained permanence and will. They can create a living cantrip familiar, which they can empower further as they grow in their own personal power. Students of this school can feed their magic to their familiar to restore it, and even learn to absorb other magics. Ultimately, they can capture living spells and use their bound magic to cast the equivalent spell.
Alienist Wizard (Archetypes of Eberron)


Whew! 31 archetypes is a hefty collection. In any selection of this size, some are bound to excite you more or less than others, but your preferences will no doubt be different than mine. In terms of design and balance, these are all winners, and I didn't see anything that screamed balance issues. I'd happily let a player pick any one of them. So whatever your tastes, you're likely to find that the majority of these archetypes offer something worthwhile.


SCORE OUT OF 10:



Final Thoughts and Rating

FINAL SCORE OUT OF 20:
++=   
20 out of 20! A critical hit!

Well there you have it: my first natural 20. I'm not saying this product is perfectI don't really believe in "perfect"but it's close. At the very least, I can't find anything worth criticising!

If you like Eberron, pick up this product. If you like new character options, pick up this product. And if you can budget for it, pick it up by the 17th of this month so you can take advantage of its discount and give back more to its creators thanks to the Play it Forward event!

Archetypes of Eberron is available on DMsGuild now!


Saturday, 2 May 2020

New D&D release! The Patron Primer

Spilled Ale Studios has just released The Patron Primer, a comprehensive listing of canonical Forgotten Realms entities for your characters to revere, entreat, descend from, challenge, and make pacts with!

The Patron Primer


Please consider purchasing The Patron Primer during the DMsGuild's Play it Forward Event between the 4th to 17th of May. Half of our publisher profits during this event will be donated to the Charities Aid Foundation Emergency Fund, which is helping smaller UK charities weather the impact of Covid-19 on their operations.




Sunday, 12 April 2020

5e: Optional Rules - Defend and Give Cover

This optional rule module introduces two new options for characters in combat: the Defend action and the Give Cover reaction.

Briefly, the Defend action lets a player character watch over an ally and be ready to interpose themselves between that ally and a threat. When a characters does so, they become the new target of the incoming attack, and possibly additional attacks that occur afterwards, in place of the original target. 

For when things get really desperate, the Give Cover reaction lets a character leap bodily into harm's way to protect a near-dead ally without prior preparation to guard them via the Defend action. Because of this the character giving cover can't take the time or caution to defend themselves against the incoming blow: they protect their ally, but the attack automatically hits them instead.

The full rules for these two new options are presented below, and a discussion of potential implications for class features with similar effects follows. 

Defend

The Defend action is a variation of the ready action, and works in a similar way. However, it has its own rules that handle a specific trigger and the reaction to that trigger. When you take the Defend action, you choose a creature or object within 10 feet of you that you can see.

If the chosen creature or object is targeted by an attack originating from a source that you can see while they are within 10 feet of you, you may spend your reaction to move adjacent to them but must make this choice before the attack roll is made. During your movement you may also exchange places with the defended creature, costing 5 feet of your movement to do so. If the triggering attack is a melee attack you must also end this movement adjacent to the attacker. If the triggering attack is a ranged attack, you must end your movement in a position that partially blocks line of sight to the target.

When you spend your reaction to defend the chosen creature the triggering attack is resolved against your AC instead of the AC of the creature you're defending, and you take any damage caused by the attack in place of its original target. If the triggering attack is a melee attack, is not a critical hit, and you're wielding a melee weapon or a shield or your unarmed attacks deal 1d4 or higher damage, you can make a melee attack roll as part of the same reaction to try and block the attack. If your attack roll is higher than the triggering attack's result, then its damage is halved.

Give Cover

As a reaction, you throw yourself bodily in the way of an attack intended for an adjacent creature. You may use this reaction even after the attack is rolled, but you can only give cover against a melee attack if the space you occupy is within the attacker's reach, and you can only give cover against a ranged attack if you partially block the attacker's line of sight to their target. As part of this reaction, you may move 5 feet but can only do so if it moves you into a valid position from which to give cover.

The attack automatically hits you instead of the original target, and you suffer the attack's damage as normal. The attacker still rolls a d20 to see if the attack is a critical hit, but in this case the result is not compared to your AC and a roll of natural 1 is not considered an automatic miss.

Implications

The Defend action and Give Cover reaction presented above have some conceptual and mechanical overlap with a couple of existing features, discussed below:

Protection Fighting Style (Fighter, Paladin)


When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll. You must be wielding a shield.

This is very much in the same conceptual space. However, a character with the Protection fighting style will still find it useful compared to the Defend action, since they don't have to spend their action and wait and see what happens in order to meaningfully protect someone. It's also a superior choice for the warrior compared to Give Cover, which would result in them automatically taking damage, but that can still be in the their arsenal should things get desperate and they want a way to shield an ally that's a sure thing. 

Still, many people already consider the Protection style to be one of the weaker fighting style options, and it might be considered devalued further if alternatives are introduced that any character can use. All things considered, I believe that it would be appropriate to extend the benefits of the Protection style to when the character uses the Defense action, causing the triggering attack to be rolled with disadvantage against the Fighter or Paladin's AC. If you like this change, replace Protection's text with the new version below:
 
PROTECTION
When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll. In addition, when you ready the defend action and use your reaction to take it, the attack roll that triggers your reaction is rolled with disadvantage. You must be wielding a shield to gain either benefit of this feature.


Spirit Shield (Path of the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian)


[...]the guardian spirits that aid you can provide supernatural protection to those you defend. If you are raging and another creature you can see within 30 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to reduce that damage by 2d6.

When you reach certain levels in this class, you can reduce the damage by more: by 3d6 at 10th level and by 4d6 at 14th level.

This occupies a similar role in terms of reducing damage taken by an ally. However, it remains relevant because it doesn't unlike Defend it doesn't spend the barbarian's action, which is better spent on rage-fueled attacks. It also doesn't result in the barbarian taking damage themselves, and it can protect an ally up to 30 feet away. Defend and Give Cover simply give the barbarian new tactical options: when an ally is particularly weak, or being targeted by a very strong enemy, the barbarian might prefer the Defend action as it gives them to redirect damage in its entirety rather than simply reduce it, and soak it using their larger hit point pool and raging damage resistance. Likewise, a barbarian can Give Cover in the knowledge that the damage they suffer will be minimised.

Other Features

Channel Divinity: Rebuke the Violent (Oath of Redemption Paladin) and Opportunist (Way of Shadow Monk) are both examples of reactions that are triggered by an ally being attacked, however as in both other cases these features require only a reaction, and the end result of both features is damage to the attacker rather than defense of the target. They therefore don't directly correlate to Defend or Give Cover and are not particularly impacted by the inclusion of these new options. 
 

Saturday, 11 April 2020

D&D Review! A Manse of Special Purpose

EDIT 12/04/2020: I've been advised by the author that A Manse of Special Purpose did undergo a round of corrections in March, so be aware that some or all of the editorial errors referenced in this review may already be resolved.

Today's post is a review of A Manse of Special Purpose, a tier 3 adventure by Jake Friday. Since the product is an adventure, the review cannot be considered completely spoiler-free. Therefore, non-DMs may wish to stop reading. 



A Manse of Special Purpose - cover


Value

A Manse of Special Purpose is a 22-page adventure which includes 3 chapters and a 4-page appendix with an adventure flowchart and statblocks. As will be discussed under Quality, the product lacks art or maps, though I didn't keenly feel the lack of either (the adventure lends itself to creative description, and the flowchart helps understand the layout). The price is Pay What You Want, with a suggested price of $2.99. It's worth at least that! 

SCORE OUT OF 4:

Quality


The design is clean and clear. It looks like a template has probably been used, in that it hews pretty close to the design of official products. As a matter of personal preference I love when third party products have their own identity, but I can't fault anyone for choosing to use a template.

A Manse of Special Purpose - Preview.


There is no art in the adventure: the only images are two rough and ready diagrams and an adventure flowchart. Art is by no means essential for an adventure to be functional, but it can help break up text and improve reading flow, as well as enrich the experience for the reader and for players whom can be shown pictures of key locations, NPCs, etc. For future endeavours, I would recommend the author to check out the creator packs Wizards of the Coast have made available for free use in DMsGuild products. There are also many very affordable stock art pieces on DriveThruRPG.

The lack of images extends to maps: as per the General Notes section the adventure "relies on theater of the mind". 

There are unfortunately numerous typographical, grammatical, formatting and layout issues interspersed throughout. To be clear, most of them won't prevent you from understanding the text, with a couple of exceptions that require a closer reading (one example: three NPCs at the end of chapter 1 where the NPC names are right-aligned but not otherwise formatted any differently from regularly text, meaning you cannot find where each NPC's section begins at a glance). It'd be well worth another editorial pass with fresh eyes. 

The author has made a conscious effort to consider the safety of players, recommending safety tools to handle potential triggers within the adventure's horror-themed content, and flagging content warnings throughout the text. In particular, the adventure deals with themes of consent (illustrating the problematic nature of the Modify Memory spell).


SCORE OUT OF 6:



Content

A Manse of Special Purpose is an adventure for tier 3 (levels 11-16) adventurers. Given some of the extraplanar creatures they might meet, I would recommend erring on the side of caution and waiting until your party is at the higher end of this bracket unless it is particularly large. The adventure sees PCs explore the Anchorin Manse, home of the artifice Anchorin. Webster is fascinated by the mysteries of the multiverse and built a machine intended to reveal some of the secrets of the cosmos. Instead, it allowed a cosmic horror to pass through into the material plane. 

The introduction includes a synopsis, general notes about how the adventure has been presented by the designer), a detailed bullet point summary of the adventure background, and finally three possible adventure hooks.

The general notes section describes choices the designer has made in how they present the adventure. For instance, they've chosen not to use traditional boxed text. Whether that appeals to you depends how you feel about boxed text! Boxes are instead used in the same manner that other products might use a sidebar: to provide useful notes for the DM. A fine idea,  however this format is not used consistently throughout the adventure: for instance on page 3 there is a whole section called Taming the Furniture which is not in boxed text, but probably should be. It explores the designer's thoughts about whether such a result would be possible. The ideas are suggestions, and non-conclusive. Theorising, and in such a conversational tone, seems like prime material for a box/side bar. Since it's in the text of the adventure, it should instead provide explicit rules for how taming the animated objects could be achieved. 

Pay special attention to the adventure background - it's detailed, and somewhat convoluted. In particular, at one point the primary antagonist is described switching bodies with a lookalike, and is thereafter referred to by the name of his assumed identity in this section and elsewhere in the adventure.

As far as the adventure hooks go, they're all adequate for drawing your heroes into the adventure, but one of the three is in my opinion a lot more interesting than the others (it's probably no surprise this one is the most detailed of the options). In any case,  you should have little trouble finding a way to draw your players in.

The adventure itself is broken into three chapters: 

Chapter 1: The Son, The Fool, and The Phony

In the first chapter, the PCs arrive in town to discover it besieged by animated objects with a unique origin that I won't spoil. After overcoming this they meet Eccles, estranged son of Webster Anchorin. He was asked to return by the Mayor because the town has been under attack by furniture from the mans for weeks. Eccles wants to discover the fate of his family and, if the last survivor, collect his inheritance. But he needs the help of adventurers to deal with the dangers present in the manse.

Chapter 2: A Planar Preoccupation

In this, the the largest chapter, PCs explore the manse itself. Due to Webster Anchorin's failed planar experiment, the manse has been fragmented across the planes, meaning that as the characters transition from room to room they will also find themselves moving between planes, dealing with environmental consequences of their new environments, and meeting residents and staff of the Anchorin manse who have been transformed by the planar energies connected to the room each was in at the time of the accident. This premise allows the designer to include a varied set of encounters which still feel connected. The adventure has a bunch of cool set pieces which should be a lot of fun for players to interact with. Some of the weirdness borders on the creepy, which is appropriate considering the overall theme of cosmic horror, but the adventure includes some notes on dialing this down if concerned. 


A Manse of Special Purpose - Preview


Chapter 3: Leaving Loose Ends

In the final chapter your PCs will find their way into the antagonist's laboratory, face the cosmic entity known as the Sentience, and decide what to do with the planar machine: either try to control it, or destroy it. 

Appendix

Finally, an appendix includes a flowchart which illustrates possible paths through the manse, which is very useful considering there is no map of the interior. The appendix also includes three pages of statblocks. Curiously, the most powerful unique creatures created for the purposes of this adventure were given no CR. To be fair, CR is a pretty inadequate measure in any case, but it's something. You don't even have a rough yardstick here: it's always a good idea to compare their features to the capabilities of your party anyway, but here you'll have to. On paper, I think these creatures have some nasty looking features, but I suspect that the Sentience is a bit of a glass cannon. 


A Manse of Special Purpose - Adventure Flowchart



SCORE OUT OF 10:


Final Thoughts and Rating


FINAL SCORE OUT OF 20:
++=  
 
14 out of 20! A great hit!


A Manse of Special Purpose is a creative and fun adventure! It leaves some things to be desired in terms of editing and presentation, but you should find this leads to only a few comprehension issues. The formatting could easily be cleaned up and comprehension thereby improved, and I do hope the designer takes another pass at it to present this adventure in its best possible light.  

The final word: An entertaining planar-themed mansion-crawl from the mind of Jake Friday, A Manse of Special Purpose is slightly marred by some issues with formatting and presentation, but these should be easily fixed. And until that update, a careful reading of the text pre-play should clear up any confusions. A Manse of Special Purpose is available on DMsGuild now!