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DDAL04-07 The Innocent (5e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2016 09:52:36

DDAL04-07 The Innocent is the seventh adventure for Season 4, which is also titled "Part Four of Misty Fortunes and Absent Hearts". This review does contain some spoilers, so please do not read below if you haven't played the adventure. The reviewer has played and run the adventure.


The Innocent is the first adventure of levels 5th - 10th offered for Season 4. This adventure has a plot is at times confusing ... and if FAR from fascinating. While playing this adventure I got the feeling that the DM was not happy with what she was reading, and after running it I know exactly why. While there are one or two Ravenloft-ish elements and individual good encounters, this module and it's slew of evil humanoids does not belong in the Domain of Dread. You could easily move it back to the Forgotten Realms and it would make much more sense in some respects.


The Plot
I had to read the first few pages of this adventure several times to understand what was going on, mostly because I could not wrap my brain around how confusing it was. The plot focuses on the "second obsession", which is just an awful choice and for me was very NOT Ravenloft. In addition, the appearance of a mysterious "Visitor" to rationalize the bad plot was also confusing and just poor writing and editing. I also attribute this to the whole "Obsessions" plot device of Season 4, which I'm guessing few if any authors (and nearly 100% of DM) were/are aware of what the heck is actually going on. Again, a plot overview of this season with specific as to what the heck is happening might help, but is missing again. Very unfortunate.


Humanoids
My other, and larger, complaint with this adventure is it does not feel like Ravenloft due to all the monstrous evil humanoids. Trolls, yuan-ti, and orcs lead the charge here, and I can't disagree more. Sure, the original Ravenloft may have had a few of these (mostly due to the fact it was larger and more flushed out), but the new CURSE OF STRAHD adventure book has no mention of ANY of these creatures. Why do this? Likely because it's a quick easy thing to do than come up with a better plot involving humans and/or undead, or the editors/Season planners are already out of ideas seven adventures into the season.


Winter?
I thought the timeline in Barovia was ... winter? It even says it is the dark and weary winter on page 6 of every Season 4 module.The Innocent starts out in a mucky swamp during a thunderstorm with no explanation or plot devices. I've been through thunderstorms in winter, so why not use that as a plot device? Apparently the writer and editors don't care, forgot, or aren't good enough to mold this into the plot somehow.


Encounters
Again, there were good and bad encounters, if you look at the adventure in a general sense. When applied to Ravenloft, it is a much larger failure. Examples are:


Swamp: Once again, every non-random encounter is 2-3 days apart. That is a heck of a lot of traveling across the lands of Barovia that from a terrain perspective is not really viable.


Trolls: In addition to not belonging in Ravenloft, the use of trolls is written extremely poorly. The name of the encounter is "You No Be Here!", and the only dialogue from the trolls is: “We’re enemies,” one of them growls in a gravelly voice. I just love trolls that can suddenly use contractions and the author can't write encounter titles with them ... don't you?


The Ghost: One of the better parts of this adventure is the use of the ghost Sari. One of the few Ravenloft-ish parts of the adventure, and it works well to move the party along.


Vardo: The party comes across a man in a sunken vardo. OK, not bad, until you read on. There is no mention of how the vardo got there, no mention of horses that pulled it, and the mechanics on how to rescue the Vistani terrible need to be streamlined. After failing a couple of rolls and saves, my players left him in the mud. When I played this adventure, the DM cut is out entirely.


Skull: Best encounter of the adventure ... but ... last time I checked there are no dragons in Ravenloft. However, this can be overlooked if just the skull was pulled in or maybe was an old dracolich, but that is never discussed. Still, an original encounter that was at least not as bad as the previous one. This is also listed as optional, which is a shame since the vardo one should have been.


Finale: (w/o too many spoilers) By the time I was done reading (and running) the final encounter, I was bored with this event and just wanted it to be over due to the skewing towards evil humanoids. There was no reason it could not have been humans and undead or anything more Ravenloft, which would have made more sense than orcs and yuan-ti. And the whole "mysterious Visitor" angle also had me bored by the end since it seemed like a cop-out to make a poorly written plot work.


Magic Item
Finally ... a decent magic item! And, the party actually has to work for it by killing the adventure's "bad guy". I'm surprised the AL editors didn't dip it in blood first, or have permanent maggots crawling all over it to make it always disgusting - which has been the norm to date. This item and the googles from 4-4 are so far the best items to date, and actually useful going forward.


Overall
I wish I could give this adventure 1 1/2 stars, but we'll bump it to 2-stars just for the decent magic item and the skull encounter. If this was a straight-up FR adventure with a few different plot twists it would have been at least 3-stars. Either the author did a bad job at writing a Ravenloft adventure, the staff has poor ideas they send to their writers, or the editors did a terrible job at hacking it into a Ravenloft scenario. Once again a confusing and poorly written plot slithers past the AL editors out to an already disappointed fan base. Not very fascinating at all.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-07 The Innocent (5e)
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Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
by Ken C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2016 06:45:51

Being the only hard cover I dont have in the 4e Encounter series, having started just after this one was released, I was pleased to see this one released in PDF form. Loved reading it and looking forward to running it in a modified 5e version in the future.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
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Eberron Campaign Setting (3e)
by Shaun O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/26/2016 16:28:45

Good:



  • Asthetics, awesome artwork.

  • Information/text is very clear to read and it's very well set out.


Bad:



  • Artwork was not rendered down ('flattened') into background images - the PDF is filled with extensive, seperate images which, for the few pages either side of the current page, need to be re-rendered every time you move from one page to the next. This slows the application down dramaticlally.

  • Difficult to quickly move from one part of the document to the other (even from one page to the next) making it very difficult to use in-game - Big dissapointment.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Eberron Campaign Setting (3e)
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World Builder's Guidebook (2e)
by William E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/26/2016 16:16:26

If an individual is interested in world building this is an awesome supplement. There are tables for randomness, or an individual may use the items in the tables as inspiration. The book will take an individual from a macro (top down), or micro (bottom up) approach. Individuals are certainly not limited to these options. There are areas that cover pantheon building, racial dispersion, and terrain assignment.
This can be used alone, but will probably really shine if combined with other supplements. I feel the value far exceeds the 5 dollar price, and I am happy with the purchase. There are also downloadable/printable hex templates.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World Builder's Guidebook (2e)
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Curse of Strahd Dungeon Master Rewards
by Titan W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2016 20:23:04

I downloaded this when season 4 began. I think it's awesome, and gave me more incentive to run the book this season. Now I'll be starting at level 3 for 'Storm King's Thunder', with bonus gold and experience from DMing 'Curse of Strahd'. I hope something like this is available for season 5.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curse of Strahd Dungeon Master Rewards
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Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game (SAGA)
by Philip C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2016 17:13:19

Because this product doesn't come with the map and the cards necessary for actually playing the game (which I really would like to see an explanation for), it's tough to go all five stars here. This isn't a playable game today when you purchase it. But I do have to say that when it comes down to it, Fifth Age is a game that was ahead of its time. It borrows some things from the '90s turns in game design and re-worked the magic system in ways that were really quite smart. Furthermore, there are some really neat mechanics here and I think it's still a cool game.


Being totally frank, Fifth Age feels like a setting where one can play Dragonlance and have one's own heroes. The setting changes were quite unpopular at the time, but I think that Fifth Age is built to really accomodate your own epic tales. Canonical characters exist in the world, but with the arrival of the Ancient Wyrms, and the development of Mysticism and Sorcery, there's so much to carve out without falling in the shadow of the Heroes of the Lance. I particularly like the magic system, which splits magic into "inanimate" and "animate" domains, adding some heft to common priestly magic, and evening the scales between priests and wizards. Furthermore, this ended up being a fascinating and dramatic post-apocalyptic setting; almost like Dark Sun meets Dragonlance.


Naturally, it failed to have the kind of success and longevity the game deserved, but I'm rediscovering it right now all this time later and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. Now if only I could get the cards...


A Final Thought: This game has one of the best DMing chapters ever written. I really think it's a shame that more people haven't read it, because it's some great advice.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game (SAGA)
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DDAL04-04 The Marionette (5e)
by Camden D. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2016 16:00:20

Continity was hard to follow; the flavour text and the descriptions in the room often did not match. In the vision, for instance, It the description of the sort of music being played were completely different. The toy soldiers also needed a much thourough explanation of how to be used; they nearly made the rest of the adventure boringly easy for my players.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL04-04 The Marionette (5e)
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D&D Companion Set (BECMI Ed.) (Basic)
by Brad E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2016 09:40:03

This is NOT a complete scan. The inside cover of the DMs book is missing; a non-trivial issue as it contains a decent piece of Elmore art along with the Introduction. Further, the map in the Player's book is combined into one page instead of split as in the physical copy. This is very annoying if you want to print the document.


Eagerly awaiting fixed PDFs...



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Companion Set (BECMI Ed.) (Basic)
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Mines of Madness (Next)
by Janna G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/18/2016 13:33:15

I ran this for 5 level 10 players and it took us about 6-7 hours total. I scaled up some encounters to make them more challenging and completely removed some of the minor monsters to speed up gameplay. As written, you may have some frustrated players. Some of the traps are pretty harsh, and some places could use more clues. I changed a few things to create a more enjoyable experience for my players. The ending could use some work. Abracadamus is supposed to be a good-aligned wizard protecting a magical stone from evil, yet he asks the players to die and solve an impossible riddle or get attacked by a dragon, which is kind of lame. I'd re-work his character a bit more if I ran it again. Overall, very fun with some changes. My players got really attached to HugHug - it helps if you can pull off a cute voice for him!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mines of Madness (Next)
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X9 The Savage Coast (Basic)
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2016 11:29:20

This title is the one I've been waiting to drop for far too long. I consider it one of those BEMCI modules that were part of my "formative years" admist the Satanic Panic of the 80s.


A great scan. While in the intervening decades since I first purchase this in High School, much of the criticism about X9's "slog through the wilderness" I find to be tempered by the setting X9 develops.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
X9 The Savage Coast (Basic)
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PHBR4 The Complete Wizard's Handbook (2e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:16:05

This is a good scan of the product. The text is clear, and I cannot see any evidence of anti-aliasing or blurring of the letters when zoomed in. These two PDFs work fine on my old, underpowered tablet, zoomed in on my phone, and on my Kindle (not all PDFs sold here load quickly and work properly on these three devices). The bookmarks are well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
PHBR4 The Complete Wizard's Handbook (2e)
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Player's Handbook (3.5)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:14:46

This PDF has severe problems - it loads very slowly on my phone, fails to load on my tablet, and crashed my Kindle. By comparison, the much-larger Rules Cyclopedia PDF loads quickly and reads fine on all three devices. On my phone, which can display the PDF albeit slowly, each page takes nearly a minute to change. I think this is because of the way the graphics are packaged and loaded, but that is just a guess.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Handbook (3.5)
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Player's Handbook, Revised (2e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:13:24

This is a well-done modern PDF, with bookmarks, clear text and good art. I prefer the first printing to this later release, but that is probably 90% nostalgia.


This PDF seems to have severe problems - it loads very slowly on my phone, takes 10 minutes or so to load on my tablet, and crashed my Kindle. By comparison, the much-larger Rules Cyclopedia PDF loads quickly and reads fine on all three devices.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Handbook, Revised (2e)
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X8: Drums on Fire Mountain (Basic)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:10:37

X8 is the first D&D module I remember reading as a kid. It is a fun adventure, the plot is very much like playing through a classic James Bond movie only with D&D rules and weapons. I have been waitng years for this scan, as it was not one of the ones sold during the last PDF run.


Unfortunately, the scan is bad - the text is blurry and challenging to read on my tablet, phone and Kindle. I wish I could give this module a higher rating, as it is one I wish everyone had the chance to read and play.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
X8: Drums on Fire Mountain (Basic)
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PHBR5 The Complete Psionics Handbook (2e)
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:07:15

This is a good scan of the product. The text is clear, and I cannot see any evidence of anti-aliasing or blurring of the letters when zoomed in. These two PDFs work fine on my old, underpowered tablet, zoomed in on my phone, and on my Kindle (not all PDFs sold here load quickly and work properly on these three devices). The bookmarks are well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
PHBR5 The Complete Psionics Handbook (2e)
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