5E Adventure Review: Parnast Under Siege

Parnast Under Siege is the final part of the Tier 1 storyline of Storm King’s Thunder for the D&D Adventurers League. After several previous adventures leading up to this part, the adventurers must defend Parnast against the Bad Fruul’s attack on the town.

It does this with a spectacular conclusion, where the party are set against wave after wave of fearsome opponents. If you’re playing this with level 1 characters, you’re likely making a mistake. Go back and start the adventure with The Black Road and run each adventure in the series in turn until you reach this one – you want fourth level characters. The alliances and decisions you made in previous instalments pay off in this one. Did you fail to make alliances with the fey and the ettin? Then you’re likely to find this one difficult.

The opposition is, in fact, greater than even a fourth-level party can handle. However, the adventure begins with the characters preparing for the attack and the designer, Robert Adducci, makes an excellent choice to have their preparations directly impact the play: they can gather “siege” points depending on their success in training the militia, scouting and setting traps and defensive fortifications. When each wave comes in, the players can decide exactly how effective their preparations were by spending siege points to reduce the number of opponents. Prudent use of these points – as well as good tactics in combat – are required to triumph.

It’s a well-written, exciting conclusion to the series.

But wait! There’s more!

Parnast Under Siege can also be run as a multi-table event, with two or three tables combining to face the forces of Bad Fruul together. It’s a mini-epic! The tables each do different areas of preparing for the attack: one group preparing the defences as before, a second group protecting the village’s cleric, who has been targeted by Bad Fruul, and the third group trying to gain the support of the allies. (In a one-table game, that table can choose to do various parts of these missions). Then, the results of all three of their preparations are combined to determine how effective the defences are.

Unfortunately, it’s in the execution of the multiple group event that Parnast Under Siege falters. There’s one basic problem: All three storylines don’t contribute equally to the final defence. There are lots of siege points in the preparing the town storyline; there’s a small number in the finding of allies (and the allies have minor beneficial effects on the siege). And there’s the possibility in the cleric storyline of the players being clever and hiding the cleric with the fey – and thus lose her contribution to the final fight.

It’s a misfire, which makes some groups feel like they wasted their time. The individual storylines are good ones, but each of the storylines needs to have an equal impact on the siege. The cleric storyline, although giving a lot of depth to Bad Fruul’s motivations, comes out of left field and doesn’t tie into previous events well.

The siege also doesn’t care whether there’s one group playing or three. Each group gets to fight their own version of Bad Fruul at the end and face the same enemies. There’s no single dragon flying from group to group (like in Confrontation at Candlekeep) making each table feel like they’re contributing to a final fight against the final boss. It’s every table for itself, and it hurts the finale.

My advice? Run Parnast Under Siege as a single-table adventure, or do some work improving the distribution of siege points and how the final battle runs.

The fact is that, as a single table adventure, Parnast Under Siege is fantastic. It’s got a lot of great material and it is, overall, a difficult challenge for Tier 1 characters, as it should be. You come out of it feeling like you’ve accomplished something. Although I found the multi-table aspect disappointing, you’re probably going to play it at a single table in any case. Go and get it – and enjoy! Highly recommended!

This entry was posted in D&D 5E, D&D Adventurers League, Review. Bookmark the permalink.