5E Adventure Review: No Foolish Matter

No Foolish Matter is the sixth adventure of the third season of D&D Adventurers League adventures. It’s designed for level 1-4 characters, and sits as a rare stand-alone in a series of adventures detailing the effects of Hillsfar’s “Great Law of Humanity” on the land. Instead of dealing with the injustice of the Red Plumes and the quest to replace the First Lord of Hillsfar, No Foolish Matter concentrates solely on some of the madness created and enhanced by the exiled Demon Lords.

It does this with a carnival.

The basic premise of the adventure is that a strange sickness has been affecting villages in the area. A travelling carnival visited each of the villages just before the sickness started, and this is considered (rightfully) as suspicious by those paying attention, and the party is sent to investigate by their contacts in the factions. However, the adventure also allows for an alternative starting point, with the adventurers being in a town as the carnival arrives, and are then recruited to investigate the carnival by the village healer.

This is an adventure that needs a lot of additional invention from the DM. It is very role-playing intensive and, to be successful, needs the Dungeon Master to convey the chaotic scenes of the carnival and provide evocative descriptions of the various attractions and terrors the adventurers find. The adventure doesn’t lack descriptions for what the adventurers can find, but some DMs are likely to find them inadequate. The descriptions are a spur to the imagination; they don’t do the work for you.

As a two-hour adventure, the plot is quite straightforward: the adventurers are introduced to the situation, they investigate the carnival and discover some unsettling information, and then they proceed to the final confrontation. The bulk of the wonder and excitement comes from the investigation of the carnival, but this is likely going to require some shepherding of the characters by the DM: there are a couple of encounters that make the adventure work much better if they occur, but – as the adventure stands – the players could miss them. There are only two combat encounters in the adventure, and these are quite challenging, with a fair number of special features and monsters to keep track of. This is a consequence of the shorter play-time (and the tournament format); the combat encounters need to have more impact.

Despite these niggles, I found this a great adventure to run. It’s got a strong theme, and some particularly memorable encounters. Yes, it requires the DM to do more work, but I don’t mind this when the basic material is so inspiring. It’d be quite easy to use this adventure outside of the D&D Adventurers League storyline as part of a homebrew campaign.

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One Response to 5E Adventure Review: No Foolish Matter

  1. ramak says:

    I hear this one mentioned around once in a while on lists, due to its creepy carnival flavor. I hope I can run or play it someday.

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