A Short History of Monster Stat Blocks

Including monster statistics – stat blocks – in adventures is a challenge. The earliest adventures – the Giant adventures by Gary Gygax – listed the name of the monster and its hit points and nothing else. It’s a little hard to tell if this was an aesthetic choice or one borne from the fact that the rules were still somewhat in flux (the AD&D Monster Manual was out, but the adventures had been written for original D&D). The advantage of this format is that the text isn’t interrupted by a lot of extraneous text. This makes the adventure easier to read and prepare, but more difficult to run. An even shorter variant leaves out the hit points – this is the way that Wizards does it in their current adventures, with (potentially) the full monster descriptions appearing in the back of the book or in the Monster Manual.

Hill Giant stats from G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, the first (official) AD&D adventure module, published in 1979.

There’s another article that will look at how the choice of formats affects adventure layout, usability and readability, but for now I’m going to look at the major variations of D&D stat blocks through the ages.

During AD&D and Basic D&D, stat blocks typically included enough details that you could run the monster without referring to the rulebook, except in the case of special abilities. This was simpler because of how Hit Dice worked: attacks and saves were directly tied to the monster’s Hit Dice or Level, and DMs would typically refer to the DM Screen.

NPC stats and those of monsters with special abilities might get a little longer, but you’d rarely get a full description of a special ability; instead just a reminder that it existed. You’d have to look up the monster in the rulebook for a full description.

Pit Viper stats from B4: The Lost City, published in 1982.

Undead Scribe stats from Die Vecna Die! published in 2000.

Between these two stat blocks, not all that much has changed. The late 2E block is slightly more complete, including Intelligence and Size, but you can see the similarities. The late-2E form of the stat block was then used as the basis for the 3E block. However, 3E had more statistics.

This meant that the stat block got longer. A lot longer. The advantage of this stat-block was its completeness. Compared to what came later, it also wasn’t so space-hungry, but it still wasn’t that short. As an aside, having to include Saving Throw modifiers, Skills and Ability Scores really does add a lot of text to each stat block.

Mercykiller Soldiers, from Lord of the Iron Fortress, published in 2001. This is actually one of the shorter stat-blocks in this adventure!

Although the 3E stat block was longer than that of AD&D, it was fairly compressed and hard to read in play. Thus, during the 3.5E years, Paizo and Wizards developed a clearer version of the stat block. Which was incredibly space-hungry, but did split up the stats so that it was a lot easier to find relevant information.

One of the bigger problems of these stat-blocks is that they’d often include a lot of information that wasn’t actually needed during play. Do I need to know the monster has a “Keen Sight” ability that adds 4 to its Perception skill checks? Not when that’s already included in Perception! But 3E was the era of tinkering with monsters according to the rules, so Paizo tended to include a lot of detail. As I recall, the end boss Kyuss in the Age of Worms campaign took two-and-a-half pages to cover. Yes, that’s just a little too much space for my liking.

The format saw some adjustment from product to product. Here’s an example of a late-3.5E stat block from Wizards. You’ll note that it now divides the stats into various sections: basic information, defensive information, offensive options, and then attributes, feats and skills. This format made it much easier to find various abilities, at the cost of slightly more space.

Kundarak Blockguards, from Eyes of the Lich Queen, published in 2007.

The 4E stat block took the late 3.5E stat block as a base, and slimmed it down. The biggest change was in the nature of attack powers in this edition. A monster having a +5 bonus to hit and dealing 1d8+2 damage was unusual – most attack powers were far more complicated. So, they consequently took up more space on the page. On the other hand, the 4E designers didn’t want long stat-blocks, so monsters just weren’t as complicated.

Another major design consideration in 4E was that they wanted to have as few references to other books as possible. If you examine the 3.5E block above, you’ll see Combat Gear, Feats and Special Abilities that aren’t explained. This changed drastically in 4E monster design, and especially as 4E monsters didn’t use spells as we understand them. Instead their abilities were included in full; there wasn’t the option of just listing “magic missile.” This reaction is entirely understandable, as it was getting harder and harder to “just run” 3.5E stat blocks, but the simplification probably went a bit too far – some spell-casting monsters really lost versatility as a result.

Draconic Wraith Souleater, from P3: Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress, published in 2009. I may have chosen a Shawn Merwin adventure not entirely at random, although it’s not his strongest.

Another, more subtle change of this edition was that there was no difference between a 4E stat block and a 4E monster manual entry. This was a very significant change: the Monster Manual entry was now a stat-block, and is something that 5E uses as well.

5E monster design restored spells (and a central spell list) to monsters, allowing more variety, and the Monster Manual monster entries draw very clearly on the late 3.5E and 4E versions of the stat block. Of course, Wizards doesn’t actually provide these stats in-line in the adventure! Instead, a line will reference 5 goblins, with the monster reference being drawn out in bold text; you’d then go either to the appendix or the Monster Manual to find out the stat blocks. No hit points are given (unlike G1), mainly because of the standardized hit points for most monsters.

So, in theory we have a stat block that takes up a moderate amount of space on the page and is pretty clear to read, but most Wizards’ adventures don’t use in-line stat blocks.

The Merfolk stat-block from the D&D Basic Rules – it’s one of the shorter blocks, in fact!

However, just because official 5E products do one thing doesn’t mean that third-party publishers need to do the same. We’ve seen a lot of various versions of shortened stat-blocks (the better to have on the page), as well as publishers having stats in the back of the book. Necromancer Games spent quite a bit of time debating the issue after its first Quests of Doom adventure compilation – and yes, I had some input here – so the Quests of Doom 2 book uses a stat-block which is a hybrid of AD&D and early 3E versions: most of the information you’ll need is in the stat-block, with reminders of more complicated abilities, although you’ll need to look at the full monster entry to see what those do. The stat blocks appear in the encounter descriptions.

– the Necromancer Games format

When I’m writing adventures for my home game (yes, I do have a game that isn’t a D&D Adventurers League game!), I tend to use a shortened stat-block in the text. Here’s a couple of stat block from the last session I ran:

Grotesque Golem: AC 11, hp 120, 2 slams +6 (2d10+6 plus weakness DC 16), magic resistance, golem immunities, immune non-magic weapons, Str +6, Con +5. CR 5.

Horrible Machine: AC 18, hp 170, blade +7 (3d10+5), resists weapons.

I tend to assume any ability score not listed is +0 (even if it isn’t, if it is close I like saving space). Or make something up on the spot… the Horrible Machine would require a longer block if I was intending the adventure to be published!

The purpose of including a monster stat-block in the text is to simplify the job of the DM: they can run the encounter without needing to reference an appendix or another book. However, it has implications on how the adventure is written, which I’ll deal with that in a future article.

Meanwhile, in Pathfinder-land, they use a combination of monster references (for common monsters) and in-line stat-blocks for unique monsters, with their stat-block format being a variation of the late-3.5E format they developed. There’s not just one way of doing things!

Posted in AD&D, AD&D 2E, D&D, D&D 3E, D&D 4E, D&D 5E, D&D Basic, Design | 1 Comment

Growing the D&D Adventurers League in Ballarat

Organised Play of D&D has had an occasionally rocky history at my local store in Ballarat. Back in 2010 when the D&D Encounters line first started, I volunteered to run it. And for the first year, we struggled to even have one table running. It ran fairly regularly for a while, but when Christmas came around, almost everyone went away and didn’t come back. It is very, very depressing to turn up to run a session and find only one player hoping against hope that there’ll be enough people to run the session. Back in those days, you needed a minimum of 1 DM and 4 players. We fell short a lot. It didn’t help that my FLGS was only open to 7 pm on a Wednesday night. It’s hard running a game when there’s no flexibility of timing.

Eventually, I gave up. I handed things over to a friend, and said “run it if you can”. I went back to my home campaigns and talking about D&D on EN World.

That could have been the end. It wasn’t. Incredibly, players started coming again. My friend found players, and the game got played regularly. At some point – and honestly, I can’t remember when – we moved it to Saturday evenings because people would turn up then. There was only one problem: my friend had (and has) severe health issues, and they were getting worse. I’d be in the store on Saturdays to play boardgames, and seeing this occur a couple of times, I stepped up and started running it again. First, as necessary, and later, all the time.

And for the next couple of years, the numbers grew. 5:30 pm-7:30 pm each Saturday we’d run the latest of the D&D Encounters adventures. And we’d run other games afterwards. I ran an AD&D game for three years in that 8 pm-11pm slot, and we’d get other games as well – Pathfinder, Rifts…

Meanwhile, the popularity of the store was growing. As I mentioned, Wednesday evenings were a problem because the store closed at 7 pm. Well, they started running Magic events on Wednesday evenings, and that kept it open to 11pm each night. Unfortunately, there wasn’t room for both D&D and Magic players, but at least there was more gaming occurring.

The D&D Next playtest began the rise of real interest in the game again. We started running the playtest adventures with two tables. That grew to three. It helped that Wizards put out some fantastic adventures during the period. Running Vault of the Dracolich – a multi-table adventure (written by three people I really respect – Alphastream, Sly Flourish and Scott F. Gray) – with three tables was a brilliant experience. Dead in Thay, which was a multi-table D&D adventure over 12 weeks was likewise incredible. I spent those three months not running a table but being the co-ordinating DM. Actions of one table would affect others and I’d make sure that happened. It had its flaws, but by the end of it, and with the full release of D&D only a couple of weeks away, we finally hit four tables.

Then came Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. We had to run five tables. A *lot* of people came in for the premiere of Tyranny of Dragons. And even more for the second session. At 42 participants (5 DMs wrangling 37 players), it’s still the highest participation we’ve had. To be fair, the old store’s space really didn’t handle that many people that well, so we’ve lot people since then. But we still regularly run 5 tables every Saturday. And I started running a table of D&D Expeditions in the 8pm slot at irregular intervals.

And so, most of a year went by. And then the store moved. The new Guf Ballarat brings together the computer gaming section and the tabletop gaming, in a place which has more gaming space. Which opened up an interesting possibility: we could have both Magic and D&D running at the same time on Wednesday evenings…

I’d actually prepared for this earlier on in 2015. I started running a Wednesday game of Hoard of the Dragon Queen from 5:30 pm – 7 pm. This allowed the Magic players who were interested to participate, and we got a couple of interested people. Enough so that I could run it fairly regularly, although there were a couple of weeks when not everyone could make it. Slowly, the Magic players dropped out, but I got replacements. When the store moved, the greater visibility of D&D meant more people got interested. So, with the release of Out of the Abyss, I wondered if anyone would be interested in running more sessions at that time…

Next Wednesday, we’ll have four tables of D&D at the 5:30 pm slot (three tables running Out of the Abyss and one table running Hoard of the Dragon Queen), and then in the 7:30 pm slot we’ll have one table running Out of the Abyss and potentially one table running a D&D Expeditions adventure.

Meanwhile, Saturday has five tables of D&D at the 5:30 pm slot (all running Princes of the Apocalypse) and two or three tables of D&D at the 8 pm slot (running a D&D Expeditions adventure). We’ve got people enthusiastic enough about D&D that they’re playing in all four sessions. And some of those are now taking their first steps into DMing. Looking around the store, I can count twelve or thirteen players who have DMed Organised Play sessions at some point of the history of the program in our store, and most of which would be happy to do it again.

I value our DMs highly. I ask for a gold coin donation each week from the players ($1 or $2). This goes into a fund which is used to buy the published adventures – and I’m hoping will also purchase the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide – for the active DMs. It’s a very minor cost for most of the players, but it makes it a lot easier for the DMs.

I also love getting new players. We’ve had a lot recently – helping fill the gaps left by other people moving away from the store games (because of many reasons: they’re sick of them, they’re actually ill, their job has changed, or they’ve moved away). New players are a challenge, however. What adventure should they play?

In general, we’ve integrated them into the ongoing adventures. Having a first level character play with seventh level characters isn’t ideal, but as long as the DM thinks about what the experience is for the new player, it can work. And the first level character quickly stops being a first level character and is able to make some significant contributions. It’s not my preferred solution, but it does get the players participating.

More useful for this purpose is asking them to join in some of the low-level D&D Expeditions adventures. This is becoming more and more of an option as more people volunteer to DM and play them. There are very few better first adventures than the series of mini-adventures written by Shawn Merwin for the beginning of each season, but there are a lot of very enjoyable low-level adventures (and even the weaker ones can be made enjoyable by a good DM). So, we have the option of this on both Wednesday and Saturdays now.

Of course, having a lot of players also means that scheduling adventures is becoming something I need to pay more attention to. There are two parts of this: the first is that we advertise through the store, Facebook and my personal website when the events are. The other part – registration for games – is done through Warhorn. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s working for us at the moment.

Organised Play isn’t for everyone. I value it as a place to play games and meet people I otherwise wouldn’t know. (My home group is built around a core of people who played OP with me and decided we wanted to do something else together). However, are my games inferior to my homebrew ones? Not a chance. I love them just as much and I’d feel much diminished if I lost either. What we have here in Ballarat is a real community of D&D players, and I’m hoping we can introduce more people to the joys of D&D in upcoming years.

(If you’re around Ballarat, we have a Facebook group where the schedule is posted).

Posted in D&D, D&D 5E, D&D Adventurers League | Leave a comment

5E Adventure Review: The Pillars of Pelagia

The third adventure in Goodman Games’ Fifth Edition Fantasy series, The Pillars of Pelagia, is an adventure for four to six 3rd-level characters by Chris Doyle; an appendix scales it up for 6th level characters. I have the pdf of the adventure, which weighs in at 50 pages (including nine pages of player handouts). Despite its length, it’s suggested it can be completed in a single session. The price on DriveThruRPG for this product is quite affordable; there is also a printed version of the product that should be available soon.

There’s no way to get around this: the editing of this adventure could be better. There are many clumsy phrases, bits of broken grammar and indecipherable sentences. The longer the piece of descriptive text, the more likely it will have problems. I’m normally not fond of florid writing, but when it is used with poor grammar? It’s not good. I had to reread the introduction several times before I understood what it was trying to say. Thankfully, most of the actual adventure text isn’t too bad, but errors still occur.

The adventure is a prequel to one of Goodman Games’ 3.5 adventures, The Crypt of the Devil-Lich. The adventurers are sent to a sea tower to look for a missing wizard, who, as it turns out, is already dead. Instead they discover his frightened familiar and a group of aquatic drow invaders – and all the regular tricks and traps you expect to find in the tower of a wizard who likes creating new magic. There are 21 encounter areas in the adventure, and I must compliment the map design – a side view of the tower really gives you the proper sense that you’re in a tower, not just another building.

Much of the adventure concerns a treasure hunt for items hidden by the familiar. There are few intelligent foes; traps and animated constructs provide most of the challenges. Fighters are likely to be quite sick of fighting numerous creatures that are resistant to normal weapons by the end of the adventure! On the other hand, puzzle-solvers should be delighted.

I find it interesting that the tactics of the chief foe are described in some detail: five rounds of action! For a character with an AC of 16 and only 38 hit points, this is a brave decision. My impression is that the encounter is entirely too complex (or there is too much detail given). It requires over four pages of explanation! Quite frankly, this is a bad use of space. Including the stat blocks in the text really detracts from its comprehensibility. I’m sure it could be an entertaining encounter, but there are much better ways of expressing it.

The adventure is nicely illustrated with a number of black and white pictures, but there are a number of problems with its layout: the spacing between lines in creature stat-blocks is too large; when coupled with a generous size of font, it means even short stat-blocks take up a lot of space. The stat-block for a modified harpy, for instance, takes a column-and-a-quarter to display. When you have some stat-blocks breaking over two pages and requiring a page-turn to access all of it, you have a layout problem. The maps are attractive, but the grid is too faint to discern easily.

Overall, there are a lot of good things about the adventure, but it’s dragged down by a number of problems that better editing and layout would fix. I dislike that an adventure uses so much space for only a single session; I remember the days of Pharaoh where you could get several sessions of adventure from a 32-page book. Pillars will likely be an entertaining adventure; I just wish it was more tightly constructed.

Posted in D&D, D&D 5E, Review | Leave a comment

Princes of the Apocalypse, sessions 16-17

091415_1105_Princesofth1.jpgIt was now time for the adventurers to return to Feathergale Spire and deal with the cultists there. They were welcomed warmly, once again, and given rooms for the night. However, by now the cultists were well aware of what their true plans were, and they did two things: first, they tried to lure Thumbalina away to make her join the cult properly and betray her fellows, and to kill the rest of the adventurers.

It could have gone better for the cultists.

The attack on the party during the night was particularly unsuccessful. It turns out that knights who fight mainly from griffon- or vulture-back aren’t so good on the ground, and the adventurers were rather wary that night. The battle of the bedrooms went entirely in the adventurers’ favour, and then they went up to the roof to see what Thumbalina was up to with Thurl, leader of the Knights. They found Thurl pleading with the dwarf – I’m sorry, giant – barbarian for her support, but she’d gone entirely cold to the idea. In the pitched battle that followed, she threw Thurl off the roof, while the rest of the Knights were slain by the adventurers.

Running to the side of the tower, the group were not particularly surprised to discover that Thurl was wearing a device that allow him to fall from great distances without being hurt. It did not, however, protect him against fire, a lack that Zed pointed out to him in the most direct means possible: a fireball spell. Thurl discovered that not only was he not proof against the spell, but neither was his device. At least the remainder of his life was short before it came to an end with a thump at the bottom of the canyon.

The adventurers then did what adventurers do best – looted the tower – although they were disappointed to find little of true worth but a few handfuls of coin.

More interesting proved the nearby canyon, where a hidden entrance led to a great stair that led down – and down – and down – to a great ruined dwarven city. Standing on the stair and overlooking the great cavern in which it lay, they could see a great step pyramid in its heart, but first they would have to make their way through the gatehouse into the city proper.

Getting through the gatehouse was difficult. To begin with, the adventurers were assaulted by screams of people in torment, coming from the walls on either side of the entrance. Then they discovered that snipers were lying in wait, opening fire through concealed arrows slits on the party. The adventurers ran through as quickly as they could, the tormented screams following as they did. Then more doors opened and kenku, bird-men, boiled out, throwing themselves on the adventurers with sharp swords. Thumbalina and Krovis were in the front rank, laying waste to the kenku, until finally none remained.

At this point, it was quiet, except for the noise of flutes from the old dwarven building to the north.

Investigating revealed a flute ensemble, various humans dressed in odd clothing being conducted by a grumpy cultist, who grew grumpier by the second at the lack of musical abilities possessed by his group. He brightened up when the adventurers arrived, obviously mistaking them for fellow souls, and inquired if any of them were flautists. Indeed, two were, and he dismissed his old ensemble and attempted to recruit the adventurers.

They discovered his name was Windharrow and promised to return later for practice; Windharrow gave them flutes and robes so they’d be properly equipped. The adventurers thanked him and moved off, changing into the robes to infiltrate the outpost better

The group then discovered a large chamber where various humans were chained to great wheels and were pushing them around under the direction of a couple of priests. The party abandoned their disguises to gleefully kill the priests and rescue the prisoners, only to find that the prisoners were, themselves, cultists – and attacked the party along with the priests! After they were all dealt with, the group pushed around the wheels a bit – they’d rotate one way for one turn, or back the way they came, but no further. They were heavy things, and Thumbalina was required to do most of the pushing. Eventually they left and looked for more areas of interest.

Not that they found them immediately; the next set of houses that the adventurers entered were abandoned with only the detritus of the long-ago dwarves littering the floor. An odd feather or two hinted at who had been there before – and had looted the place most thoroughly.

However, not all the buildings were empty. The adventurers finally discovered an old shrine to Moradin where kenku were guarding a number of human prisoners. The kenku were defeated and the prisoners freed. Four were travellers kidnapped from nearby roads, the fifth was Bero Gladham, a local farmer. He told them that his wife Nerise had been taken below – although he didn’t know exactly where.

The adventurers then escorted the party above, to Feathergale Spire – only to discover that cultists were waiting for them! The adventurers had not healed fully after their previous fights, with the result that – by the end of the combat – two of them had been slain! The adventurers who remained knew contacts who would be able to perform the necessary magic to raise them, but the funds were a little lacking. Gimble arranged a loan from the Zhentarim, but they wanted a favour in exchange…

DM Notes

Still in catch-up mode with these reports (I’m a long way behind). This one is about two sessions worth, although the split isn’t exact. I may need to go back and renumber them at some point…

With these sessions, we moved finally into Chapter 4 and the exploration of the temples beneath the Haunted Keeps. Although – as you can see from the end of the report – it wasn’t going to be that easy! Running a reprisal at the end rather surprised my group. I was rather surprised to discover they weren’t all healed after their last encounters… one of the PCs went in on one hit point.

This battle was really, really close: it ended with two players conscious, and one of those only because he’d rolled a natural 20 on his death save. It was very close to a TPK, and – though I knew it was going to be tough – I really didn’t expect it to work that way. Here’s a tip for all you players out there: when you hit 5th level, it’s a very bad idea to stand together once combat begins. It makes it really easy to hit you all with fireball spells. And if you’re hit with a fireball, staying together later? Yes, you’re asking for it!

The play of the Air Temple was not quite as dynamic as it should have been; I think I could have done a lot more with the temple reacting to the players’ movements around it. We’ll see if I can improve that going forward!

Posted in D&D, D&D 5E, D&D Adventurers League, Elemental Evil, Session Report | Leave a comment

5E Adventure Review: Shattered Sun

Shattered Sun is a 5E adventure by John Gillette for character levels 1-4 available as a print-on-demand product through Lulu.com. At 34 pages long, it’s about standard length for a “traditional” adventure, although it has a lot of white space that might be filled with art in another product. The layout is clean and readable.

The adventure is set in a world where the sun has exploded, shards of which have plummeted onto the world. In the ensuing darkness, the dark elves have taken over the upper world. The setting uses number of steam-punk elements, such as steam-powered automobiles, which distinguishes it from most 5E products. The first eight pages of the product give the DM and players information on the setting. A fair bit of this introduction is devoted to the gods of the world, the names of which evoke real-world mythologies (Leminkainen, for instance), although they don’t match up with the personality and abilities of their real-life counterpart.

The adventure requires one or more of the adventurers to be private investigators or bounty hunters; they are soon asked to investigate a robbery by the overworked police, and the story begins.

The adventure is very much inspired by noir tales, and involves a great deal of investigation. It’s an urban fantasy, somewhat in the vein of Shadowrun and Eberron, and I expect it could be transposed into such a setting without much difficulty. There are some really nice touches throughout the adventure, little flourishes that bring out the unusual nature of the world.

Despite this, it doesn’t soar for me. This may be partly because I’ve seen so many investigation adventures as part of organised play; it takes a lot to impress me. (Although I’m also more partial to other styles of adventure). I think there are a lot of groups who will enjoy this, and even more if the DM puts more work into evoking the setting. There are a few odd moments in the adventure that don’t quite work for me (such as some of the random encounter tables), which pull it back from being really good.

The book is mostly well-written, although there are times when the editing falls down a little or the choice of words could be better. The maps are very simple and not really very good. Whatever software was used to draw them is very limited in its capabilities, and omits little things like doors. They’re useable, but they’re the most disappointing thing about the product.

I hope I’ll see more adventures in this setting, as it’s got the potential to be very interesting. At present, this adventure gives you a taste of it without really delving into its possibilities. As it stands, it’s a useable noir-style adventure in a quasi-technological setting. There are aspects I don’t like about it, but at its core is an effective adventure that has the potential to be very enjoyable. Its biggest problem may just be the format: print books are relatively expensive, and I expect it would find an audience much more easily as a pdf.

Posted in D&D, D&D 5E, Review | Leave a comment

5E Adventure Review: The Ronin

The Ronin is an unusual product, which does something quite innovative: it gives a point-based system for the DM to track the actions of the players during their interactions with a traveller, the result of which determines how the final act plays out. It is an attempt to have the actions of the players matter, with the aforementioned traveller judging them on their behaviour.

It’s a great idea. The format for the product has two pages laying forth the interactions with the traveller, a wounded ronin who has been tracking bandits, and three pages of statistics and the tracking log. Yes, it’s another short pdf, but an ambitious one. The statistics pages are formatted so they could be slid into a landscape customisable DM screen for easy reference.

The product is fairly rough. It needs a bit more editing, and some text is missing from the morality table. It also relies a lot on the DM’s judgement: I really would have liked a description of how the ronin judges various actions. In an encounter with some bear cubs, I’m not sure if he’d judge attacking the belligerent cubs as a good or evil action. The idea is good, but the implementation needs more work.

I think a little more development of this adventure would not go awry, but I compliment the author, Martin Rooke, for trying something unusual with it.

Posted in D&D, D&D 5E, Review | Leave a comment

5E Adventure Review: Theo’s Focus

Theo’s Focus is the latest of the Drop-In Dungeon series from Matt Evans of Mithgarthr Entertainment. It’s a short little dungeon of 7 areas. Although it’s a six-page PDF, only three of the pages contain the adventure. The remainder gives us the cover, the legal stuff, and one other page.

The other page is pretty awesome: it contains a number of pictures of Matt’s group playing through the dungeon. A dungeon he’s running with 3-D terrain and miniatures. It looks great, and reminds me that I really should bring in my terrain and miniatures more often to my games. (Not playing at my home does mean it’s a bit of a pain transporting it, though).

The adventure itself sees the party looking for a magical wand (the spell focus of Theo’Remus – that explains the adventure’s title!), which was lost in an old dwarven outpost, now inhabited by monsters.

The dungeon is pretty simple: monster and traps for the most part, although the details of the wand make it fun to use in a campaign. The adventure is recommended for level 3-6 characters, although I think level 3 characters may find a few of the monsters rather tricky if they aren’t intelligent in their approach.

It’s very nicely laid-out, and worth it if you need a dungeon that you don’t have to design yourself. (Honestly, using work from other designers helps break the predictability of my campaign). It’s pretty inexpensive, and although it’s perhaps a bit too basic to really engage me, the idea of the wand and its role in Matt’s campaign is enough to sell me on this adventure.

Posted in D&D, D&D 5E, Review | Leave a comment