5E Adventure Review: Bounty in the Bog

Bounty in the Bog is one of the Elemental Evil adventures from the D&D Adventurers League. Written by Ken Hart for a party of level 1-4 characters, it sends the adventurers into the Flooded Forest to deal with a group of bandits.

It’s a fascinating adventure. It’s very rich in detail and backstory. However, it’s a little tricky to relay some of that backstory to the characters.

The adventure is in two halves. The first half is the role-playing section, where the players meet Captain Holke of Southroad Keep, get their mission and interact with a pair of dwarven merchants who are being used as bait – and who haven’t been warned about the bandits. The intention is to play this as a moral quandary, but as this isn’t standard practice for DDAL games, it’s very likely the players will miss it.

The second half deals with the bandit ambush and the exploration of the bandit’s hideout. There’s one very strange encounter with some violet fungi that most groups walk past without ever noticing it, but the rest are entertaining. There’s some roleplaying in addition to the combat, so variety is maintained throughout.

The adventure’s flaws come from in having too many details that muddy the storytelling and aren’t followed up later in the season. There are too many dangling threads. Captain Holke asks the players to do something ethically challenging? Well, Captain Holke never reoccurs, and there’s no ongoing effect of the players’ decision. The true villain? He’s kept so far off-stage that only the DM knows what is going on. (The villain finally reappears in a 2017 CCC adventure, and at least the adventurers get to learn his name that time!)

The frustrating thing is that the adventure doesn’t need all these extra details and complications. It’s a perfectly fine adventure once you strip them out. I think it runs a little short, but I’m not a big fan of role-playing for the sake of role-playing. If the players are going to have an extended session of role-playing with a character, I want them to be learning information that is important to the plot or forming a bond with a character that will reoccur through the current and future adventures. I’m a big fan of ethical dilemmas, but they need to be telegraphed better and have more ramifications.

Bounty in the Bog is an enjoyable adventure, but also has several design decisions that don’t add anything to the overall experience. Recommended, with a few reservations.

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