21 February 2018

Rambler Reviews: Shore of Dreams

This week I'm taking a look at Shore of Dreams, a fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons adventure by Florian Emmerich and JVC Parry, designed for character levels 5 – 7, and published by Poison Potion Press. Lets take a look!

First, let me say that this product is easy to look at. The PDF is twenty-two full color pages, with custom artwork throughout that is evocative of the theme and consistent with the adventure. There is even original artwork for both a new monster and a new magic item that the module introduces, which I appreciate. Also, the download from the DM's Guild includes a separate PDF containing just the artwork that is featured in the module (titled Handouts), a PDF of just the maps, and even a PDF that contains a custom paper miniature for the main NPC introduced in the module, all of which I thought were nice touches.

The adventure is set on an island near the region of Chult in the Forgotten Realms, but suggestions are included for those interested in setting the adventure further North along the Sword Coast or in another campaign world, either of which shouldn't be too difficult to do. The adventure also makes mention of the Cult of the Crushing Wave from the official 5E adventure, Princes of the Apocalypse, and the authors suggest that this adventure could be linked to either that campaign or Tomb of Annihilation, which is pretty cool!

The adventure itself should take one or two sessions for most groups to complete, and features a plot twist that will likely have the adventurers doing something very different than what they initially set out to do. Much of the action in the first part of the adventure takes place in a small fishing village, at an inn known as The Shore of Dreams. There are lots of opportunities for role-playing here, including several ways for players to learn that all is not as it seems in the fishing village or at the Shore of Dreams. Depending on how things go during these interactions, the rest of the adventure could play out in a couple of interesting ways, including the possibility of capture and imprisonment.

Either way, the second part of the adventure takes place in a small series of seaside caves and worked caverns known as the Temple of the Storm. There are some nice combat encounters that could occur here as well as a little bit of investigation and a potentially lethal trap, with the adventure likely culminating in the party recovering The Crown of Black Pearls, an evil artifact that will be much sought after by the Cult of the Crushing Wave. Depending on how other events have played out these encounters will vary in difficulty, and could potentially be extremely difficult, but overall the location is interesting and should provide a level-appropriate challenge to an average party of the recommended levels.

My biggest criticism of the module is that it reads as if it makes the assumption that the party will get captured, and the second half of the adventure reads smoother and more cohesively if this is the case. However, based on the ample clues provided and how the capture encounter is suppose to play out, capture actually seems like the least likely scenario. This isn't to say that the module does any “railroading,” as it does address how things could go if the party doesn't get captured, but this information is scattered, and the timeline of events is unclear and confusing. I know all modules (including this one) “recommend” that you read through them entirely before the first session, but you absolutely need to read this entire module before playing in order to have an idea of what could happen and when. You will likely need to work out a couple of details for yourself as well about how you want things to go if the party doesn't get captured.

Another, very minor, criticism I have is that the module doesn't make it clear when referencing creatures and spells that are not part of the core rule books. For instance, it would have been nice to have a citation at some point letting me know that tritons are detailed in Volo's guide to monsters. As I said though, this is a very minor quibble, and it only applies to a couple of things in the adventure.

Overall, I would recommend Shore of Dreams if you are looking for an adventure set in a coastal region that your group can complete in a session or two. It could also make for an interesting side-trek for a Tomb of Annihilation campaign or, with a little more work on your part, perhaps as a lead-in to Princes of the Apocalypse. Despite the design issues I mentioned this is still a good adventure, and I appreciate that there are some good opportunities here for both role-playing and combat.

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