We’re coming up on the final session of the first module in this adventure path, “Edge of Anarchy.” I’m really enjoying the game overall. I like my players and I’m getting into the story, which makes a happy Aric.
The penultimate session last week was quite epic. I’m not a dungeon-crawl kind of guy, so I’ve been happy with how little of that kind of stuff there is in this adventure path. But D&D started with dungeon crawls so you know there is going to be some of that in there. (Spoiler Alert) The last big mission the players are given in this first module is to retrieve the body of a Shoanti Barbarian which was sold to a necromancer. The players go down into the necromancer’s laboratory in caves underneath a mausoleum and beat on his minions to get the body parts back.
Having read the entire series of modules now I am confident I can say it is a trend that the dungeons are very dangerous. The players had better be thinking on their feet, and the GM may need to tweak things a bit to avoid player deaths. It’s not just the inhabitants that make the dungeons dangerous, it is the layout and the way the encounters are designed to interact with each other so that careful or intelligent players will do well, but unlucky or reckless players will quickly find themselves in over their heads. My players were already in dire straits early in the evening and they were in a full panic halfway through. The characters are not destined to meet the necromancer himself in this adventure which is good. At the beginning of the evening my players were boldly declaring they would charge right in and take him down despite his dangerous reputation. After a stint in his laboratory, getting their asses kicked by his minions, they’ve decided they would rather avoid than confront him.
Though I am not a big fan of dungeon crawls, I’m very pleased with how these dungeons are designed. It’s not just that they’re challenging – as much an intellectual puzzle as a hack’n’slash-fest – it is also because they are varied and they make sense. There was a lot going on in this relatively small dungeon. Very unique encounters and challenges which all required a different approach to be solved. Best of all there was a good reason why everything was where it was and behaving in the way it was. No one had to just pretend that Gelatinous Cubes make sense, or a bunch of Derro slaves would be able to live in a laboratory without, you know, living quarters and a food source. The logical layout made it possible for my players to guess what might be behind that next door, a sure sign that the designer has succeeded in building a world that other people can inhabit.