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Test of the Demonweb (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2016 07:01:31

More Drow fun for your party as they encounter some who wish to experiment with novel fighting techniques agaist surface-dwellers...


The background for the DM introduces Arda Pharn, a drow cleric with an experimental turn of mind, and explains what she's up to. The adventure can be a side-trek, with this being the party's sole encounter with her, or you may devise a whole plot arc around her. She's not after killing her test subjects - it does make data collection a bit difficult after all!


Several hooks are provided to get the party involved, and there is some information to be gathered (much of it misleading) mostly based around an adventuring group that has recently disappeared whilst out exploring. This adventure begins when they arrive at Arda's 'laboratory' complex, you will have to organise getting there and any adventures along the way.


This complex uses uses a modified version of the Queen's Dungeon map from the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website, which is provided here (the original can still be downloaded from the link in the PDF at the time of writing). It makes for a good delve, especially for parties who enjoy the challenge of traps, puzzles, and a goodly array of monsters to fight.


Arda herself does not make an appearance, she's watching magically from afar. However, at least one creature encountered has some inkling of what is going on and may hint at it to the party if they stop to chat. Parties who cope with the challenges and escape will be likely to attract Arda's attention in the future if you fancy some follow-up adventures. If you want to know more about her, there's an article on the Wizards of the Coast website in the D&D 3.X archives (at the moment, anyway), Google her name to find it. If they don't do so well, Arda has an ongoing need for experimental subjects and, shall we say, the party will be hoping that you write an escape scenario real soon! A neat adventure presenting believeable Drow opposition, with the potential for continuing adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Test of the Demonweb (3.0)
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Tiger's Palace (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2016 07:55:15

This adventure is best used either as a regular episode in an ongoing general adventuring game or as the climactic moment in a plotline that pits the party against Bhishana Bhaga - in which case, read this and understand her long before the party reaches the suggested level for this adventure (9th-10th) and weave her into earlier adventures of your own devising.


If this is the party's first encounter with Bhishana Bhaga, several hooks are provided to catch their attention - one delightful one has the party invited to 'have a go' by Bhaga herself, a sort of penetration testing. Notes are also provided about where to put the adventure in your campaign world - somewhere mountainous where gnomes mine if used 'as is', or you can vary it somewhat as to anywhere there is a mine with people (irrespective of race) mining it. She's likely to charm even evil miners, however.


The adventure itself is a straightforward delve. The mine itself is based on a modified version of the Old Mines map from the February 2002 Map-a-Week selection on the Wizards of the Coast website. At the time of writing, the link in the PDF still works if you want to see the original, but the modified version is printed here.


The notes on encounters in the mine are comprehensive, with a couple of good fights and some devious traps to overcome. There is also loads of information on what Bhaga will do, how she prepares herself and her likely responses to party actions. Negotiations are unlikely, come ready for a fight. Notes on wrapping up the adventure finish this module off, with the reminder that if they are successful the party's reputation is going to be increased substantially - something that will attract not only job offers but the attention of evil creatures as well!


A nicely put together if straightforward delve, with everything where it is for a reason.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tiger's Palace (3.0)
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Start at the End (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2016 12:17:01

It appears to be a straightforward task, just the thing for some up-and-coming adventurers like the party. A rural village is being pestered by a young dragon that has taken up residence in nearby hills, and the locals would like him killed or driven off.


The background notes for the DM reveal what is really going on, and a map of the place the upstart dragon has chosen for his lair is provided (just as well, although it was in the Map-a-Week series on the Wizards of the Coast website, the link provided no longer works!). As a side-trek adventure it can be placed in any suitable spot in your campaign world, or you may wish to create a longer story arc in which the dragon, who is called Kyracolides, features... that's up to you.


Three hooks are provided to get the party into the right area - only one actually mentions a dragon, so if you don't want to give them any warning use one of the others. There's a brief note about the village (little more than its game stats), and one or two snippets of information, but then it's on to the lair itself with plenty of detail to support the 'dungeon delve' that is the meat of this adventure.


Shall we just say that Kyracolides doesn't live on his own? Someone left quite a few traps down there as well... and as for the Big Bad at the end... that should prove an interesting surprise for the party. There are suggestions for continuing the adventure, and that's it.


This is an adventure full of surprises and should provide quite a challenge for a party of the intended level (7th), but it's a challenge that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes a classic delve.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Start at the End (3.0)
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The Sea Witch (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2016 07:55:31

Time to deal with a pirate... a notorious one (of course) called Black Molly whose crew of ogres and other neferious degenerates has a reputation for cruelty and who has now captured a pivotal lighthouse serving a populated and heavily-travelled coastline with the aim of extorting a large payment to keep the light lit so preventing seafarers from crashing onto the rocks!


Likely to make a good side-trek adventure (unless you have a particularly nautical twist to your campaign) three hooks are provided, any one of which ought to get the party involved. Further developments, if you require them, can be drawn from what Black Molly is really up to and investigations of underwater caverns and wrecks... provided the party doesn't object to getting wet.


An area map and plan of the lighthouse are both provided (originally published in the Map-a-Week series on the Wizards of the Coast website), and there's a detailed description of the lighthouse and what is to be found there. This of course includes members of Black Molly's crew and the pirate captain herself. It appears that the crew's sole reaction to intruders will be to fight them, and while no other option is explicitly given for Black Molly, given the detail provided on an item she is looking for coupled with the total absence of any clues for the party to find about it, you may wish to have her attempt to enter into conversation so you can at least have the party share a potentially interesting tale, particularly if you plan to develop the adventure further.


With a nicely-developed lighthouse, potential for further adventure and, well, PIRATES, what is there not to like?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sea Witch (3.0)
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The Crumbling Hall of the Frost Giant Jarl (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2016 07:51:02

The basic premise of this adventure is that some frost giants - who normally eke out a precarious existance as bandits high in the mountains - are having ideas above their station, harking back to long-ago days when they were a force to be reckoned with in the area. There's a bit more detail regarding who's involved and their intentions in the background notes for the DM, of course, but the fact that they are getting a bit frisky is pretty much common knowledge.


A few hooks are provided to help you get the party interested, but it's left to you to decide where their lair - this crumbling hall - might be, with a suggestion that you might make finding it part of the adventure, involving research of old records as well as exploration in hostile conditions.


The actual contents of this module start with the crumbling hall itself. It's based on September 2001 offerings in the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website, with the relevant portion being reproduced here (although the original link in the PDF still works at the time of writing). It's a pretty straight-forward delve with some nice touches, but just about every creature encountered is going to fight, no questions asked. There are a few surprises, though...


A chilly challenge with nice detail and one unique creature that could prove... interesting, especially if it gets loose.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Crumbling Hall of the Frost Giant Jarl (3.0)
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House of the Harpies (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/13/2016 08:08:48

This adventures involves a group of thieves who thought they were ever so smart in having a base outside of the city on which they prey - the city guards are not concerned about what happens outside the city walls, and the thieves do not trouble anyone other than city-dwellers so nobody around the amazing tree-house they've constructed is interested in them either. Only they have now been ousted by some harpies...


The obvious mission is to evict the harpies: whether or not the party is happy about the thieves moving back in depends on their outlook (or who is paying them!). The hooks provided to get them involved include, interestingly, a couple which are completely inaccurate but will get them to the right place, as well as more obvious things like the party rogue being approached for assistance.


The city is left unspecified so you can run this adventure anywhere you have a city with a forest nearby capable of supporting the tree house. The plan provided (again originally from the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website) shows an evergreen tree, but it's not important to the structure of the tree house so if the most suitable forest is deciduous, a tree of appropriate size from there will do fine. (Or perhaps you are not enough of a botanist to care...) Be that as it may, the actual habitable portions of the tree house - and the mess the harpies have created - is well-described and should prove an entertaining 'inverted delve' for the party, with assorted harpies to fight as they, understandably, do not wish to be evicted.


Neatly, the harpies are not treated en mass, there is a defined leader with her own plans and tactics, as well as other mature harpies and even some young ones - who still can make themselves unpleasant to intruders. A few brief notes on how to follow up the adventure, depending both on why the party got involved in the first place and the outcome, are included.


Overall it is a nice straightforward adventure which can slot neatly into any campaign when the party is in an appropriate location - perhaps you want to get them more involved in urban life, or maybe they are just passing through - and level, with scope for being treated as a side-trek or incorporated more closely into your plots.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
House of the Harpies (3.0)
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The Secret of the Windswept Wall (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2016 11:53:19

Oh dear! This adventure involves a crew of workmen building a wizard his tower who have been trapped by a cave-in... as International Rescue doesn't cover your campaign world, perhaps the party might like to help?


The adventure uses two maps originally published in 2001 as part of the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website, but don't fret if you cannot find them, they are reproduced here. A sea-side village called Poisson is quite a-buzz - home of the workmen, they were excited by the wizard Sionaas choosing to settle in nearby mountains and now they are concerned about the fate of those he hired to build his tower. Several hooks are provided to get the party involved, most of which are designed to put them in the right place to hear the plea for help. There's some information to be gathered if the party choose to ask around (or have a handy bard who can access his knowledge), and a fair bit of background about the area in general - perhaps they have already been exploring the area when the messenger arrives.


Further background is provided for the DM about Sionaas and what he's up to... something that leads to his rather odd request, when the party arrives, that they use no magic in attempting a rescue! So this adventure will involve a lot of digging!


There's an intriguing mystery to investigate and some new critters (stats provided) to defeat, but most interesting is the wizard himself, who IF he chooses to trust the party (he really does like his secrets) may have some interesting tasks for them in the future... but that, of course, will be up to you to design. Providing a whole area to explore and a potential patron, this provides a lot for a DM hoping to build up a campaign in a fairly remote area, a good framework on which to build your own ideas!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secret of the Windswept Wall (3.0)
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Fang, Beak, and Claw (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2016 08:10:19

Fancy dealing with a spot of eco-terrorism deep in the woods? This adventure seed (it's not really a full-blown adventure) provides a few hooks to get the party involved in investigating just why a group of loggers is having such a difficult time. Some background notes for the DM explain what is going on, and then it's time to head for the forest.


Although designed with Faerûn in mind, there isn't really anything to tie it to the Forgotten Realms, so you can set it in any suitable little-exploited woodlands in your own campaign world if you prefer.


There's some basic details of what had happened so far - you will probably want to embellish this a bit - and then the party is expected to track the perpetrators (hint: make sure there's someone around who can track!) to their base of operations. Then you get notes on those involved, including stat blocks and details of how they are likely to react when the party comes a-visiting.


The nice thing is that there is actually an option to talk to the perpetrators rather than fight them - although if your party prefers to let their swords do the talking that will work fine as well. It could prove an interesting way for them to establish their credentials in the area as people who will sort out problems... always a good way for adventurers to get work.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fang, Beak, and Claw (3.0)
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The Ministry of Winds (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2016 07:43:54

This is an urban adventure concerning a strange building in the middle of town. Which town is up to you, although it does tie in quite well with Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil and if you have that you could use Hommlet. It will work well anywhere, though, as it is quite self-contained.


The background for the DM explains what is going on within this odd building and several hooks are provided to help you to persuade the party that paying it a visit would be a good idea. A few snippets of rumours and lore can be gathered by parties prepared to ask around a bit, or if they have a bard who might have heard something...


Of course the first trick is to get in. That done, there is plenty to see within both above and below ground... for what appears to be a simple if mysterious obelisk has an extensive basement to explore. Based on a map originally presented as part of the Map-a-Week series on the Wizards of the Coast website (but reproduced here), the various chambers are well-described although it's likely that every encounter will provoke a fight.


It provides an interesting interlude, but that's about it. If you decide to set it in a town the party is familiar with, a spot of foreshadowing might be appropriate - mention the obelisk in passing as they go about their business. Of course, if they are new in town again they might notice it even before they have occasion to visit.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ministry of Winds (3.0)
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The Tower of Deception (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2016 08:08:09

History has long told tales of 'wreckers' who lure ships off course by placing false navigation beacons, and this adventure deals with something a bit similar. Inspired by a Todd Gamble map (presented as part of a 'Map-a-Week' project on the Wizards of the Coast website in the first few years of this century), it presents a tower to explore and strange evils to defeat.


There are two ways to get the party involved. Either they are approached by local merchants concerned about a 'ghostly tower' that has lured ships to their doom on the rocks or - and this is the novel one - you can grab them out of thin air when they are teleporting (of their own accord or for some other reason)... for the 'light' on the tower is actually a magical device designed to trap people who are teleporting! If you use this option, it's advised not to use it the first time they try teleporting. It's also a good way to get them to some completely different part of the campaign world - distance is no object to this device.


Depending on which option you choose the party either arrives by boat (crewed by some nervous sailors who promptly depart) or somewhere inside the tower. To handle this, there's a comprehensive level by level description of the tower and what can be encountered or found there, leaving you free to describe it as appropriate as the party explores. For a deserted tower there's a surprising lot going on there, with traps and monsters and more to keep the party entertained. The really tricky thing is that the tower is so designed that once you're inside, it is very difficult to get out again - thus the real adventure is to escape!


The adventure is inventive and well-resourced. Some ideas for follow-up adventures are provided, chiefly drawing on individuals met inside the tower. I particularly like the way it can be used as a regular adventure or to trap unwary characters, and the potential for turning a campaign on its head by sending the party to an entirely different part of your world - or even to a new one! - is something worth pondering!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Tower of Deception (3.0)
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Manifesting: A Tale (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2016 07:39:02

This adventure was originally released about the same time as the Psionics Handbook, and so provides an opportunity for a character who wishes to develop psionic powers to play out how he came to have them.


The background for the DM tells of how one Lord Prisius has a rather unusual castle with interesting architecture... and that his young daughter is the architect! Only one night the young lady vanished, and her father is offering a reward to anyone who can explain what's happened to her or, even better, bring her back. Enter the party... The background also explains what is really going on, of course.


The adventure involves a lot of interaction and investigation, meeting the various inhabitants of the castle and figuring out what has actually taken place. Once you have got the party involved, they may wander at will around the castle and surrounding lands. A series of encounters are provided, but they may be run in any order depending on what the party chooses to do and where they decide to go. The DM is provided with a list of 'Secrets' and it's made clear who knows what, role-playing will be needed to find out what each person knows - and if you wish to roll for NPC attitudes, their knowledge is differentiated as to what they are prepared to reveal depending on whether they are indifferent, friendly or helpful (along with the DC checks to get them there). A good map of the castle is provided too.


There is quite a good possibility of a fight at the very end of the adventure once the characters have figured out what is going on, but the rest depends on wits and role-playing rather than combat skills. The adventure will probably work best in a world where there is some but not much psionics, and it would be possible for the party - if astute - to figure things out even if none of them are gifted in that direction. However it would provide an excellent opportunity for a player who wants to develop his character's abilities in psionics to take the first steps as his gift slowly burgeons... talk it over out of character with your players in advance and if someone is interested in developing psionics, this adventure can provide the opportunity for his journey to begin.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Manifesting: A Tale (3.0)
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One Last Riddle (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2016 08:18:27

This is a short and rather vague encounter-based adventure involving a dead sphinx... whose ghost persists in asking riddles! His motivation is that he wants his recent demise avenged, and he lures the party with promises about loot left in the last place that he slept.


The idea is that you have the ghostly sphinx accost the party as they are travelling - hence it's easy to slot in anywhere in whatever campaign world you are using. Even as a ghost, the sphinx is far too powerful for a party of the intended level, so this is a good adventure for groups who like to talk and think... or as a lesson to those who fight first and talk later if at all!


After meeting the ghostly sphinx, the party is directed to his lair - a bare cavern - and thence to those responsible for his demise, and those parties who want a fight can have one then, and again as they follow up to a nearby town (use one of your own, or there's the bare outline of one provided).


There's advice on how to run riddle-asking with suggestions about what checks could be made if nobody's good at riddles, and also about how to handle dealing with NPCs, in particular the use of checks to adjust attitude until the NPC is willing to talk or otherwise be helpful - useful to novice DMs (remember, this was originally release about six months after the rules...). There are no maps and minimal location descriptions (if you like such things you'll have to come up with your own), but there are stat blocks for those the party will encounter - even the sphinx although they aren't supposed to fight him. Some will, or you may want to use him again later.


It's a little thin, a step above a mere adventure seed, but with potential to make quite an interesting adventure if you work at it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One Last Riddle (3.0)
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The Ghosts of Aniel (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2016 09:30:38

It all started out with the best of intentions, I'm sure, but now the population of the elf village of Aniel is deserted and haunted... and it's up to the party to find out what's going on and how (if?) it can be sorted out. The background for the DM explains just what went awry and who was behind it, and there are a few basic hooks to get the party involved.


If you have the party travelling to Aniel through the forest (called Celadon, but any suitable forest in your own campaign world will suffice), remember that it's wild and dangerous, and to that end there's a table of random encounters that you can use; while there are four main encounters to run once they reach Aniel. That's it - the party will have to use their wits and what they can glean from their interactions with the ghostly inhabitants of Aniel to figure out what needs to be done to restore a state of normality. If the party has a way to make contact with the ghosts, they can explain the situation (as given in the background) so one of the main challenges is establishing meaningful contact.


There's little in the way of resources. You'll have to come up with your own plan of the village and one for the local wizard's house and anywhere else the party decides to explore. The main antagonist's details are provided (including full stat block and notes on how he will act), but that's about it.


The situation and backstory are interesting and have considerable potential, but this one feels more like an adventure seed than a full-blown scenario. You will need to put some preparatory work in to run it at its full potential. When it was a free download on the Wizards of the Coast website, that was fine, but you may wonder if even 99 cents ought to get you more - as it does with many of the other adventures in this series!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Ghosts of Aniel (3.0)
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The Alchemist's Eyrie (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 10:25:01

This is a brief adventure that ought to last but a single session. It's basically a delve, even if it involves a tower rather than an underground complex. The DM is provided with plenty of background as well as a synopsis and several potent hooks to get the party involved - if you are using this as part of a campaign, read it well before you intend to use it as there are several suggestions for foreshadowing, thus making it seem integral to your plot rather than a side-trip. However it will serve just fine as a side-trip or a one-off if that's what you need.


Although the background does give some indication of the tower's location, the adventure proper starts with the party approaching it. This should make it relatively easy to find an appropriate place in your campaign world to situate it. As well as the current residents and assorted traps left by the original alchemist, one difficulty many characters may find is that the tower was built with dwarves in mind and there's not much headroom - unless of course you are a dwarf or a member of another short race.


It's a neat compact adventure with enough variety, what with the traps and the nature of the opposition, to lift it above a pure dungeon brawl and provide an entertaining session for you and your group.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Alchemist's Eyrie (3.0)
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The Vessel of Stars (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/01/2016 10:16:55

It's an escort job. Take this young queen where she needs to go, that's it. OK, so it's a rather strange place she's going and the opposition are even wierder, but surely it's not too difficult... or is it?


The background for the DM lays out what is happening concisely but clearly, with the observation that although the party won't start the adventure knowing all this, they might do by the end if they pay attention to what's going on around them. There is also a comprehensive synopsis which covers what ought to happen where - because this adventure manages to combine a flight scenario with a site-based one. Basically the party (plus young queen) get chased to her destination, which they can then explore.


Several adventure hooks are provided to get the party involved. Rather neatly, you can use more than one to really get them ensnared! It all starts in a reasonably-sized coastal township called Horvath (or you can substitute an equivalent settlement in your own campaign world if you prefer). Once you've got the party interested, they can ask around for useful information before they set out. It seems the place has been plagued by strange creatures (and lights) in some nearby hills for about ten years now. This is, of course, where the party has to go...


Several maps are supplied. There's one of the general area (which can help you find a suitable location on your own campaign world if you don't just want to run it straight), and several maps of locations encountered during the adventure. Horvath gets some description but no actual map, but there's sufficient in the description to give an idea of its layout and you shouldn't need more than that.


Although what needs to be done is pretty straightforward, there's quite a loose feel about it with plenty of scope to run the trip as you choose, yet plenty of resources - encounters, wandering monsters, etc. - supplied to support you. The end should prove exciting - provided that the little queen is still alive, that is - and there are notes on how to continue, whether she manages to escape or not.


There's quite a lot packed into a few pages here, and it ought to give your group a good session or two adventuring... and includes a neat potential moral dilemma for those parties who like to think about the consequences of what they are doing.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Vessel of Stars (3.0)
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