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DDAL05-17 Hartkiller's Horn (5e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 16:18:34

I really wanted this to be a 5/5 module, this season has been filled with fantastic modules and after running the Tier 1 season finale I had high hopes but after reading through this module and listening to other DMs who have run it and recorded their games it is obvious that the module fails in several areas. Thankfully, I haven't run it yet, and I plan on making modifications to fix the obvious issues I've found so far to the extent that Adventure’s League allows me to.

SPOILERS: The players are confronted with their Kobiashi Maru situation, they cannot possibly defeat Jarl Ryndolg who has come to destroy/enslave the Hartsvale and instead the players find themselves investigating a beast that Ryndolg has summoned which turns out to be Hartkiller himself(ancient good-aligned giant who still wishes to see giants take control of worldly affairs through force if necessary), the players are ambushed along the way but the combat should be relatively easy at this point and aside from some environmental factors all the monsters have likely been faced before. The players have some interesting role-playing choices at this point which help shape the world of Toril depending on what they do with Hartkiller and whether they survive the side-quest he gives them. From here the module splits off into several paths and there is no easy way to list/review them all here without copy/pasting the module itself.

PROS: 1) Role-Playing: this module features roleplaying opportunities that allow the players to feel like they have truly arrived as the king and SEER basically beg them to help save the town. Always nice to prop the players up a little just before...

2) Surprise Boss Battle: there is an optional boss battle in this module (although I figure most players will probably choose to fight it rather than not) that is not expected and it's placement in the module makes it extremely difficult because veteran players will be trying to conserve their resources for what they believe will be an epic battle and one or two of them could outright die before the party realizes they need to ‘fire everything’.

CONS: 1) The Final Battle has a 50/50 chance of being mainly box test: You still get a final battle; it’s just with a frost giant lieutenant and a hobgoblin devastator who haven’t been mentioned in the season story arc so far as I can recall which feels like a very cheap way to cap off a season compared with the tier 1 season finale which involved players facing waves and waves of giant themed enemies including a giant knight riding a mammoth. It is true that if you make certain role-playing choices you could end up fighting an epic final battle to finish the season off BUT, it is nowhere as difficult as fighting the Beast of Talos from earlier in the module, and doesn’t involve any special mechanics, environmental factors, or strategy that the players haven’t encountered before which feels very anticlimactic.

2) Lack of real consequences/failure story award: Yes, if you fail there is a chance that a population of 10,000 could perish but almost all of these modules this season revolved around SEER, HSING, and possibly 2 other NPCs. So I don’t really get why the players should be invested in the 10,000 people that they haven’t heard from before. Also, if you fail and the 10,000 people do die, there is no lasting effect on your character except whatever you decide to add to their personality from witnessing this ‘horror’.

3) Poor Magic Item Choice: A dagger of venom? Really? It takes an action just to activate the thing, the only saving grace is that it doesn’t take up an attunement slot.

4) Typos: To be fair, I’m sure this review has typos in it, but I’m not asking someone to pay for this review or use it to provide entertainment to a group of gamers.

SUMMARY: This module is the Tier 2 Finale for Season 6, and I wish it weren’t. In any other season this would be a 4/5 for me but because it’s supposed to be representative of a finale and then there’s a very good chance the party will completely bypass the Jarl who they’ve been undermining the entire season, because the 10,000 villagers are just numbers and not faces or NPCs that the party has interacted with before or become interested in, and because the party hears all season about these legendary horns/axes and then gets a dagger of venom as an award the best I can give this module is a 3. A lot of that 3 is due to the surprise boss battle which reminds me of Forgotten Traditions and tests whether the players and their characters have advanced enough to combat truly difficult foes.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-17 Hartkiller's Horn (5e)
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DDAL05-09 Durlag's Tomb (5e)
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 16:03:16

There are some solid traps here, and quite deadly if the party is not ready for Tier3 level of play. This mod continues it's prequle's journey into the Dwarven Pantheon, but I almost fear it will not stick, as it focuses on four different gods.

The mission plays well until the end fight- which tends to be either too easy, or too nasty, depending on the compsition of the party. The addition of the EE secret mission seems nonsensical, as thought it was forced into the mod.

While the author attempted to add flavor to the magic item, it is of too little practical value to make much of a splash on the play for the item, and a better secondary ability should have been chosen to keep this item away from Fai Chen's a bit longer.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-09 Durlag's Tomb (5e)
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DDEX2-10 Cloaks and Shadows (5e)
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:57:06

I have run this adventure many times, and played it nearly as many. It remains one of my favorite, and a favorite of others in my area.

Not only does it have an exceptionally useful magic item, the mystery that surrounds the entire mod is fun, and it quickly draws you into the web being cast by Littlewing (the antagonist.)

There are so many paths, with so many different memorable NPCs, you rarely play the mod the same way twice. It helps a DM make Mulmaster real, and there is little better that a mod can do, but to help the DM make the world come alive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-10 Cloaks and Shadows (5e)
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DDAL05-08 Durlag's Tower (5e)
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:51:43

The first part of the adventure places most of the action outside, I would say Durlag's Land would be a better title. It has an interesting set of varied puzzles to be able to open the tower, and the fights are mostly quick and not particularly lethal.

The mod does a nice job introducing some of the dwarven gods, and it continues on with the lessons in the next mod- as Dieties are so important in FR, I am almost surprised it took this long.

I find the alternate treasure at the end....not compelling or interesting, and it's restrictions overly punishing, considering there are actual items which do what you get with much less downside.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-08 Durlag's Tower (5e)
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DDEX2 Elemental Evil Complete Bundle [BUNDLE]
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:44:37

Without a doubt, the best season AL has offered. The stories are compelling and it builds nicely on season 1. An excellent addition to any campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2 Elemental Evil Complete Bundle [BUNDLE]
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DDEX2-04 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines (5e)
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:41:08

I actually see this mod as Sword of Selfaril part 1. It sets up the next important link in the chain so well, it makes the adventures seem thematic and actually planned.

The setting starts once again in Mulmaster, but quickly takes you to a group of new allies, and very deadly enemies. The Mines themselves are an elemental haven of a type, and continued digging there may bring riches, but the cost will be too high if the party does not help in time.

The layout is innovative, and the storyline compelling. It gives you a sense of place- like folks actually worked at the mine, rather than as an afterthought.

You could develop an entire campaign based around Mayhem and Selfaril. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-04 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines (5e)
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DDEX2-15 Black Heart of Vengeance (5e)
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:32:31

Black Heart of Vengance is an important module for several reasons:

1) It acts as a type of resting place for a very important NPC from season 1. While I disagree with the eventual outcome of the plot, I do feel the writing on the mod is top notch.

2) It teaches you MORE about the city of Mulmaster, that dangerous den on the Moonsea.

3) It advances several important plot elements needed to show the scope of the two seasons, particularly the involvement of the Elemental Cults.

It is one of the better mods in terms of story you will encounter for the whole of AL, and it would take a heart of stone to not be sad at the ending of the mod.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-15 Black Heart of Vengeance (5e)
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DDEX2-14 The Sword of Selfaril (5e)
by Wrich P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:27:20

This is one of my favorite modules of all time, because it gives the players a direct IMPACT in the world in which they live- going beyond a simple slash and loot, but tossing in politics, and smart play as elements is always a major + for me.

You are part of a team who can help return a High Blade to his position (one that he lost about 150 years ago.) You have to not only fight, but make the right choices on who to recruit for your alliance.

This mission serves as an overview for all of the factions and subfactions inside the city, and slightly outside the city as well.

So, get your sewer wading boots on...and don't forget, you can subdue an Otyugh...and they are an important part of any sewersystem ecology....



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-14 The Sword of Selfaril (5e)
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Elminster's Ecologies (2e)
by Derek H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 14:52:49

I purchased the POD and am happy with the results. There are a few pages that are a little light, but overall it is more than good enough to read.

The only minor issue with the print version is the order of the booklets. The Explorer's Manual is described as the first one to read and has the list within its pages- but one reading this will not find that out until they get to the fourth booklet within the print version. I honestly don't care as the information it provides isn't vital to understanding and enjoying the product as a whole. Just to warn others who do by the POD option.

As for the contents, there are nine booklets written by four authors in nine different styles- each has a different fictional author (Elminster does the Explorer's Manual only). Some are better than others, but none of them are remotely bad. They cover a lot of different habitats and most of it can easily be applied to other settings. Some of them cover the human inhabitants a bit too much in my opinion, but then the intelligent races do have an important impact on the ecology and cultural interactions of a given region. Overall I think it should be useful for anyone wanting to make their monsters more interesting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Elminster's Ecologies (2e)
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DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan (5e)
by Jeffrey F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 14:16:31

DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan is an introductory adventure with five individual missions each which should take one to two hours to play.

Mission one is a pretty simple and short adventure that starts with the group in a tavern and contacted by a mysterious figure. This figure represents one of the Adventure League factions and needs the group to pose as a merchant, that one of the player character just happens to look similar to, and to do some basic espionage. The story is kind of bland in this one but can shine with players that are really invested in being deceitful and sneaky, for the good team.

Mission two introduces the player characters, who just so happen to be at a tavern, to the Black Fist. The Black Fist are the law and protection in Phlan and more than willing to pawn off their jobs to independent contractors who don't mind getting goblin blood on their weapons. This mission gives the players to be the heroes as the infiltrate a den of goblins to save some of the villagers before a goblin hoard returns. It also introduces the players to another one of the Adventure League factions. This is the best adventure in the series because it can be solved through fighting, diplomacy, or stealth depending on how the players decide to do it, plus gives the players a taste of being a hero. It also carries some risk for the group as at low levels even Goblins can be a threat to unprepared characters.

Mission three has another Adventure League faction giving a task to the players that starts off simple but quickly expands. I find this one to be the weakest of the adventures as players who aren't as quick thinking will find the NPC will complete some of the adventure for them. The mandatory fight in the adventure isn't bad as it has options to not be a straight up fight, but it's not interesting enough to make up for what I feel is the low points.

Mission four basically has another Adventure League faction representative tell the players that an NPC in the crowded room has a weapon that endangers everyone and the players need to find out who has it. This isn't a bad mission because it's easy to embellish the NPC's and make them interesting but has the downfall that if the player characters aren't quick thinking an NPC may solve the adventure for them.

Mission five is a fun little incursion into an illegal prison run by the corrupt Black Fist. This mission has an interesting monster fight with a hazard in the room making it a nice action scene. Plus the players get to help another Adventure League faction.

Overall Defiance in Phlan is an average adventure. The map quality is decent for theater of the mind DM's but lacking for DM's that are more grid focused.

If you're buying this adventure for Adventurer's League Organized Play this is a good adventure for very new groups or groups with little time to play, but suffers from several flaws. One of the major flaws for Adventure League play is that some of the adventures provide less experience points than the player characters have earned due to the maximum experience cap. For instance the fifth mission the players could earn double the experience of the cap. Though the series is a good source of downtime days.

For home play I think this would be better as you could easily flavor all of these adventures as happening in the same 24 hours giving a interesting challenge for slightly higher level characters then the first level it was written for. Or a home group could use some of the missions as short side quest whenever they stop by their local tavern for some rest.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan (5e)
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DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold (5e)
by Grigory P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 08:23:18

One of the best Season 5 modules which include Funny Social Interractions / Interesting Exploration and nice combat the results of which matters. Like it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold (5e)
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DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
by Grigory P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 08:16:19

The trip down the mountain on the huge stone tablet made it worthwhile for me as a DM to run. Pure fun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-04 In Dire Need (5e)
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DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
by Grigory P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 08:14:43

Hail to a module with 0 combat encounters (potentially). I really enjoyed it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-07 Chelimber's Descent (5e)
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DDAL05-06 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber (5e)
by Grigory P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 08:13:45

I think this is the mod that I had to turn to full-time comedy to make it worthwhile. It is okay as is. But I feel that making everything stupid, comic and weird is the way to make it shine. We had many laughs over it. Many times over.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-06 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber (5e)
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DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
by Grigory P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 07:50:56

I have to say that this is AMAZING dungeon. Exploration / Combat and even a bit of Social Interactions. I really appreciate the time author took to write this. Just love it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions (5e)
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