The D&D Starter Set has been out now for about a month, and maybe you’re one of those DMs who has already run and finished parts (or all) of the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure with your players who are now playing at level 2 or 3 (or higher). Or maybe you haven’t run it yet and are looking for something a little shorter… something that your Level 1 players can handle and won’t take multiple sessions to complete. If so, you’re in luck… because Goodman Games will be releasing two new adventures for the new 5th edition of D&D. The two adventures should be on sale at GenCon (for those lucky folks attending) as well as the Goodman Games website. If you purchase a print version of either adventure, you’ll also be able to download the PDF (at no additional charge)… something that this iPad-wielding DM really appreciates!
Both adventures are part of Goodman Games’ Fifth Edition Fantasy line… you’ll note the lack of “D&D” or “Wizards of the Coast” or any associated trademarks on the covers. That said, these are true D&D 5th edition adventures, complete with spells, magic items, creatures, and NPCs that adhere to the official rules and text formatting. I’m basing these observations on my review of the Starter Set as well as my newly acquired Player’s Handbook that includes spells and magic item descriptions along with an appendix with a limited number of creatures pulled from the upcoming Monster Manual, due out in September. (My local comic book shop owner is selling the book and offered me a nice discount to avoid purchasing online — thanks, Mike! A side-by-side comparison with my old AD&D Players Handbook is coming!)
And now… on to the details. (The downside to reading adventures is that it’s not fun… or fair… for me to play in them as a character. I know all the secrets! But I chose the DM mantle 30+ years ago and have never regretted it.)
Fifth Edition Fantasy #1 – Glitterdoom by Michael Curtis
(Cover Artist: Ben Wootten)
Player-Friendly Details Below – No Spoilers
Details: $9.99 online purchase price, 18 pages including front and back cover, suitable for Level 3 players (probably Level 5 max is my best guess), Playtime is maybe 1.5-2 hours, 3 with complete RPG novices (again, a guess)
Overview for Players: Adventurers will be asked to assist a wandering dwarf, Okkar, to help locate (and purge) a lost dwarven mine and stronghold. Okkar knows the location of the mine, but no details about the stronghold. He believes that clues to the location of the Steelhand Hall might be found in the mine. His earlier visit to the mine? It didn’t go well. Okkar needs help, and is offering up a substantial share of whatever they find in the mine.
Fifth Edition Fantasy #2 – The Fey Sisters’ Fate by Chris Doyle
(Cover Artist: Ben Wootten)
Player-Friendly Details Below – No Spoilers
Details: $9.99 online purchase price, 24 pages including front and back cover, suitable for Level 1 players (probably Level 3 max is best guess), Playtime is maybe 2 hours, 3 with complete RPG novices (again, a guess)
Overview for Players: Arriving in the town of Bur Hollow, the adventurers are approached by the town’s mayor to investigate the disappearance of the town’s guards who defeated some goblins and went in search of the creatures’ source. The adventurers will soon discover that the goblins are the least of their worries, as a darkness is attacking the surrounding forest and its protectors.
*** DM-ONLY *** Details Below – SPOILERS
I’m not going to go too deep into the details of either adventure, but just in case there are some DMs out there looking for just a bit more, here are a handful of notes on the two adventures along my own commentary. Text is hidden in the black below; select the black section by clicking and holding your mouse button as you drag over the black lines.
Fifth Edition Fantasy #1 – Glitterdoom
Overview for DMs:
The adventurers are going to be tasked with investigating just the mine with Okkar. Okkar is a strong NPC, so DMs will be able to use Okkar to guide novice players if they become confused or incapacitated. Because this is a Level 3 adventure, however, the creatures are going to be a little more tricky and difficult than the basic animals of the forest (bear, wolf, etc.). There are some simple traps that can do some serious damage to players not paying attention, so you’ll need to pay attention to the passive observation skills of those players capable of discerning traps. Creature attacks do not come in large quantities except for the very end of the adventure where players will discover wave after wave of monsters and will need to use some smarts to figure out the solution. The adventure provides a new dwarf sub-race, a few new magic items, and a new Background (with personality trait, ideal, bond, and flaw listings). It’s a very fun dungeon crawl, with a new type of creature (and ability) that is sure to spook the players and keep them on their toes. The adventure also sets up nicely a further adventure (that the DM must create) for players wishing to hunt down and find the lost stronghold that is sure to hold even more dangers. The book comes with a map and key for the mine in the back of the book — the map is numbered well and matches up to the area descriptions (also numbered) accurately.
More? My favorite part of the adventure has to be the encounter with the undead GreedyGuts, a 5th level spell caster who will definitely give the players a run for their money. Between its spells and a very special +1 Pick of Prosperity with an amazing power that players may fight over if they defeat the creature, players will also be dealing with a new creature called the Greed Grub (and it’s big brother, the Giant Greed Grub). These are multi attack creatures with an acid spit and a tail slap feature. And the mine is infested with cursed dwarves called Stoneghosts who can pass through stone and will probably have players failing their Surprise rolls often. Size-wise, the mine itself is a nicely designed little dungeon, with a few secrets to discover if players take care to explore every nook and cranny. I’m really hoping that a follow-up adventure rolls around that takes players to the Steelhand Hall — a great little backstory for the failure of the hold and the mine opens up the adventure and offers creative DMs some serious story ideas.
Fifth Edition Fantasy #2 – The Fey Sisters’ Fate
Overview for DMs:
About 90% of this adventure takes place in the forest, with adventurers searching out clues to the source of a dying river. The forest has been watched over and protected by two dryad sisters, one of which has been killed by a frog folk shaman and his minions. The adventure contains a number of smaller quests that will help build up the Level 1 players, and there’s even a good chance of retaining some higher level NPC allies if the players are smart and convincing. The ultimate goal is to save the second sister (and her tree), and players will discover a number of new creatures as well as some very useful magic items and spells for later adventuring. This adventure doesn’t offer any additional thoughts on further explorations, but it does include a very charismatic NPC that could feature prominently in later adventures. A new Background is available along with personality trait, ideal, bond, and flaw listings. An overhead map of the forest is found at the back of the book, along with an inset showing three detailed closeups of areas the players will explore.
More? Good role playing is likely to offer up plenty of rewards… DMs will have plenty of chances to award Inspiration to players who ham it up and offer assistance to the Naiads that are in a tight spot. Given that the river is low, there’s all kinds of muddy, swampy places for players to get in trouble, and the fights with the Giant Frogs is sure to put some Level 1 players to the test. DMs are probably going to want to encourage players to create a well-rounded set of adventurers with a variety of classes to handle all the various obstacles and creatures that cross their paths. The next-to-last battle is a tree fort fight… three levels of platform going from the lower part of the tree to the upper… and it’s a good fight all the way to the top. Probably not too difficult for Level 1-2 players, but they’ll have to be quick-thinking. And the final battle pits players against two zombie frog folk plus the Level 5 undead cleric.
Note: I’d like to thank Goodman Games for providing me with an advanced look at the two adventures. The writing and design of the adventures is great, as is the quality of the artwork. I do not have printed copies of the adventures yet, but if they match the basic booklets I do have from Goodman Games, then I expect the final print versions to be nice and solid with strong paper stock for front and back covers.