I hate writing negative reviews; I really do. I'd much rather focus on praising what I think is good out there in the forest of PDF products available. Occasionally, though, I feel compelled to put out a "heads up" warning to fellow buyers -- something I wish I'd known before I'd spent money on a product.
My warning where the first three chapters of the War of the Burning Sky series is concerned is a very mild one. "Shelter from the Storm" is a very good D&D adventure on its own merits, with excellent production values. Be advised, however, that the dramatic tension and the sense of imminent, epic-scale danger so masterfully implemented in the first adventure, "The Scouring of Gate Pass", has been bleeding out of the series with each successive installment.
The second adventure side-trekked into a "cursed site" scenario involving blighted fey. While I hoped for some sort of pursuit from the forces of the Empire to link the adventure plot to the larger, overarching plot, this never really happens.
Yes, some Empire pursuers show up at a certain point, but it plays like an afterthought, or a necessary bit "factored in" to link the adventure. The sense of imminent danger and pursuit does not carry over from the first adventure to the second -- or this, the third.
"Shelter from the Storm" failed for me in similar ways. Again, it's a fine module in and of itself, with top-notch production values, but it was intimated that the players' arrival at Seaquen would be breathless respite from pursuit, snatched up at the last minute. It doesn't really play that way.
Instead it's a "city adventure". With the players spending roughly half their time reconciling various religious factions in the city, so that Seaquen is united in defense against the Empire, and the other half of the module is spent opposing a magical threat to Seaquen constructed by allies of the Empire.
But again, the link to the Empire's threat is muted and indirect -- something the players must root out, as in any other "city intrigue" adventure.
With a series title like War of the Burning Sky, I was expecting a much more epic and overt Tolkien-esque tale of danger. One where the (metaphoric) hooves of the Nazgul dogged the players at every turn. Simply put, after the impressive initial adventure, The Scouring of Gate Pass, I feel the dramatic tension has ebbed out of the series, with Shelter from the Storm feeling like a solid stand-alone product, but not a part of some larger epic tale.
Yes, each module has some aspect or aspects linking it to the larger story, but in practical play, at the gaming table, the players don't always feel those connections. They don't feel the continuing threat bearing down on them, and the world around them.
I'm certain future installments in War of the Burning Sky will pick up the epic feeling again; the nature of the story more or less demands it. I have been disappointed, however, in the last two adventures, as the obvious (i.e. player-detectable) dramatic tension has been increasingly absent with each installment.<br><br>
-- First-rate quality in all respects. Adapted into a stand-alone adventure, it would serve your home campaign very well.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>:
-- It doesn't link to the War of the Burning Sky plot in the sort of obvious ways one might expect. The sense of tension and threat from the forces of the Empire is further muted in this third installment, only truly manifesting later in the story.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>
[3 of 5 Stars!]