The final Tier 1 adventure of the Rage of Demons series for the D&D Adventurers League is Death on the Wall, a two-hour scenario where the adventurers, through a series of unfortunate events, end up being the only ones who can stop the xenophobia, tyranny and madness afflicting Hillsfar.
In the previous adventure, Hillsfar Reclaimed, the adventurers stole a set of plans showing the First Lord’s schedule. In this adventure, the Harpers send a force to intercept the First Lord and his court, but a last-minute change to his plans means the force won’t intercept him. The only people who can? The adventurers. It sets up an entertaining adventure, but trying to explain to the players why they are the ones who must do it is very tricky. The original plan isn’t explained that well in the first place – so why are a group of level 1-4 adventurers now doing it? It requires a lot of hand-waving on the place of the DM (and hoping the players buy the explanation).
However, once you get into it, the adventure is very interesting. This is one of those adventures that sets up a complex situation (in this case, the camp of the First Lord) and allows the players to decide how they want to handle it. The adventure addresses the challenges the players face if they use stealth, an all-out attack, or try to persuade important people in the camp to help them. This variety of approaches that can be used makes for a fantastic finale to the Tier 1 storyline.
Some of the approaches aren’t obvious. How does a group learn that the camp’s commander doesn’t like the First Lord and could be persuaded to help? It’s the best solution for a group that likes role-playing; as such, the DM must take an active role in crafting this adventure to appeal to the players they have.
I believe you need to reward your players if they come up with a reasonable plan. Don’t just throw roadblock after roadblock at them. If a plan has a chance of success, work within the guidelines of the adventure to enable it. If you’re got a group of novice players, this is especially important.
There’s a lot of opportunity for role-playing in this adventure, and its bulk is likely to be spent planning. It’s quite possible for there to be only one combat – but that one to be quite complicated. Exploration elements are confined to scouting the First Lord’s camp.
The strength of the adventure does allow wonderful moments to occur. During the initial stages of the adventure, my most recent group got into chatting with a greengrocer about how avocado and watermelon were the most popular fruits being sold in Hillsfar. It was just off-the-cuff improvisation, to display the madness that had taken hold of Hillsfar. However, in the final stages of the adventure, the group planned to poison the First Lord’s food. Talking to the camp’s cook (who didn’t like the First Lord much), they learnt that his favorite meal was a concoction of avocado and watermelon! The first conversation of the adventure suddenly became relevant in the adventure’s climax!
The adventure requires a lot of work and improvisation from the DM, but the results can absolutely be worth it. The Tier 1 adventures of this season have had problems – especially Shackles of Blood – but I’ve had a lot of fun running Death on the Wall. Highly recommended.