Bedlam at the Benefit is a 2-hour D&D Adventurers League-legal adventure for Tier 1 characters released as part of the CCC program. The adventurers are sent to raise money for a children’s hospital, but things go wrong, and they must rescue the guests and themselves from a chaotic incursion.
This adventure is brilliant. The role-playing section that begins the adventure is glorious; it structures the role-playing brilliantly, allowing meaningful interactions with the NPCs, while still allowing those who don’t enjoy role-playing to participate. The story is exciting, and the use of a skill challenge to reveal details about the plot as the adventurers track the kidnappers to their lair is inspired. It also provides a few moments of potential horror – the final encounter, in particular, can be terrifying.
Two things detract from this brilliance.
The first is that many of the checks and battles are too difficult. A Neogi potentially deals 36 damage a round. One Neogi against a party of 3rd-level characters is, in itself, challenging. A Neogi, a Gibbering Mouther and 6 Neogi Hatchlings against the party? That’s too much for many parties. The scaling for “Very Weak” (1 Neogi and 4 Hatchlings) is even more absurd. If the party have a lot of area-effect attacks, it might go well for them. If they don’t – then I pity the poor fools! I reduced the difficulty of this encounter significantly in play.
The main skill challenge sets a base DC of 16 and says a group of five must pass ten successes before they fail five times. A 3rd-level character has a +5 bonus to their best-trained skills or a 50% chance of success. If you flip a coin ten times, will you get ten heads before five tails? It seems unlikely. The structure of this challenge is excellent, but the initial DC is too high.
The second is the lore on the Chained God. The use of the Chained God as the ultimate adversary is a great idea, but the characters “remember” a lot of lore about the god during the descent into the underground tunnels. Unfortunately, the history of the Chained God in the Forgotten Realms is almost non-existent, and it’s very, very unlikely that any of the heroes have heard of him – or know anything further. This probably won’t affect your appreciation of the adventure, but it felt wrong to me.
While running the adventure, it’s likely you’ll need to adjust the difficulty of encounters to challenge your group appropriately.
Despite this, the overall story and structure of the adventure are superior. The encounters all have a purpose, and it flows well. The adventure is a good example of the amount of story you can tell in 2-hours; though it may underestimate the time needed for one of the combats.
The detail given to the NPCs doesn’t overwhelm the DM, but presents information that makes the role-playing meaningful, and each of the sixteen characters is distinct and memorable.
Ultimately, I very much enjoyed this adventure. It’s ambitious, and it realises its ambition excellently; the role-playing encounter by itself is worth the price of admission. Strongly recommended.