My Rage of Demons campaign moved on to DDEX3-02 Shackles of Blood. This adventure continues the theme of “The Deep Threat” in the Rage of Demons storyline. This is a more traditional adventure in which the characters investigate some missing halflings near Hillsfar and run into some complications from the local tyrant’s enforcers. If you run this for a group of friends, this adventure can provide a lot of opportunity to explore important social issues. (Of course, don’t take this approach if you run it for a public group, such as via Adventurers League!)
Spoilers follow, but the bottom line up front is that this adventure is worth the trouble.
This adventure offers a number of social encounters in the first half. From the super racist puppet show to the halfling farm area to the travel montage, players who enjoy RPing their characters will have lots to do. I threw in some hillbilly accents and changed the wrestling match to a gut-barging contest.
After this, you’ll have a fight. Others have noted the problem with the forced capture, but some planning from the DM can avoid this: either have Olisara suggest the possibility that the halflings have been taken away and thus raise the possibility of an infiltration, or perhaps have the guard captain tell his soldiers to be careful because more fodder is needed for the arena.
And that set-piece arena fight provides such a payoff! Because we had to split the adventure into two sessions, I didn’t have exactly the same players. Those who attended the second session but not the first came in as a “rescue force” led by the one character who’d escaped the earlier ambush. This scene has a lot of moving parts: ziplines, a crowd excitement mechanic, sinking towers, piranhas (which for reasons I can’t understand are called “quippers” in D&D), and a second attack wave by the Big Bad Evil Guy. New DMs should spend lots of time understanding the mechanics and planning how to track the situation before running it.
The module has some significant editing problems. I wish that it had had another solid review pass before release, both for copyediting and for adding more suggestions on how to deal with the forced capture. But some work from the DM in advance can turn this into a very memorable, engaging experience.