This adventure is a FAVORITE of our local play-group. It's a tightly packed two hour story for tier one, which I am always in need of. (I'm going to try to avoid major spoilers, but there are some minor ones contained here.)
It also serves as a great introduction to season five, specifically the town of Parnast which is the shared setting for the tier one portion of the DDAL05 series.
It makes the good decision to have you be new to Parnast so you can learn about it along with your character, you get introduced to Azam, the caravan-master and Hsing, a golden psuedodragon. Both characters make appearances in other adventures, so you get a nice introduction there. You're going to be travelling across the Anauroch desert.
This happened right during season five, where the campaign in general shifted location. I have a big map printed of the sword coast which includes the Moonsea over in the corner, and ... Once you see the scope, you can't appreciate. I point my hand up at the far right of map, "you're starting out here..." and then wave my hand "and going alllllll the ways over here." And in this huge map is this IMMENSE expanse of tan. The map is big, but I can do this hand gesture from across the room and people can see clearly, it's that big. (and enough players in our group have gone through this adventure that ... People know when I'm running this one.)
Apart from the fact you're in this caravan bringing necessary supplies across a wasteland, it is open-ended. You can insert colorful things throughout, and the adventure encourages that. You have DAYS of travel, and the events are open-ended when they happen. But, the wasteland allows you to keep things from getting lost, they have a GOAL and they get invested in having this caravan arriving safely.
Also, the encounters give you options for what to do, for instance one of the early encounters gives you one circumstance for what to do if the players set up watch AND succeed at a perception check, and another for if the fail. Another encounter/hazard (based around skill checks and saves) is even more open ended, giving you the ability to invite the players to describe what they want to do to help the caravan. (the text literally encourages you to work with the players to find creative solutions, I love that.)
In the old rules, one of the encounters had the number of successes or failures determine the gold reward at the end, the newer rules don't have that option, but it speaks to the strength of the story that I haven't seen the players change behavior at all.
EVERYONE gets invested in doing everything that they can do to save that caravan, they FEEL those losses. I've run it Sooooo many times, and yet it never fails, people get invested.
The final encounter has a flowchart for what happens depending on players choices, making sure that they still get an exciting outcome but still providing the ability for their choices and rolls to make a difference. This is much more common in season eight, but I love this ability to have the adventure be just different enough from one table to another.
There is an optional encounter in the middle, I have never run it! This is a good thing, the adventure gives you this encounter to help with pacing, if everything goes super quickly, you can add this to help fill the two hour slot, but I always have the RP and skill challenge fill up time just about perfectly. This adventure fills the time RELIABLY, if I have my watch handy I can keep pace and the players engaged without fail.
Finally, at the end you have an interesting story award (everyone remembers the caravan master's name, or at least they can recall it when I mention "Caravan Master"), a decent unlock that makes some people happy, and they're in a new town.
And I am always asked at the end by someone, "When are we playing the next one?" Isn't that the mark of a great introductory adventure?
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