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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on July 11, 2001
I have enjoyed each of the adventures in this series, except for forge. But they all share a common problem, they are just not interesting enough on thier own and need things to be added in order to fully hook the PC's.
I was very glad that this adventure didnt take place in another dungeon, at least it seemed like it didnt. Now it didnt involve any 'dungeons' it was pretty much just traveling around the city going from building to building, each were their own little mini-dungeoncrawls. In my opinion the adventure as written didnt take advantage of all the interesting things that having the adventure take place in a city affords. Also, the main villian of the whole thing made very little sense. When you read about him and his history and why he is doing what he is doing it kind of makes sense, but to the PC's who just bust down a door and see some octopus man, it makes no sense at all.
When I played this I had it take place in the PC's home town and involve thier family. When the Baron became evil it affected them even more becuase he was their uncle, when the church burned and the head preist taken captive it was more shocking becuase he was the father to one of the PC's. They werent just helping out a town they encountered in thier travels, they were saving thier own town and families from a demon invasion. This may not be right for everyone's campaign setting but is just an example of how the adventures need to be tweeked in order for them to be good.
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on October 1, 2002
If there was one bad thing to say about this adventure, it's that it was too good!
The DM has to work hard to get the full value of this module because there is so much going on at the same time. The reward is well worth the effort though, as your players will light up at the feeling of being immersed in a city where things are going on all around them whether they are looking or not.
This story-driven adventure is a nice change from an event driven dungeon where sometimes you get the feel that the monsters were "in stasis" waiting for PC's to show up and deal with them.
This adventure is full of plots, side-plots, plot-twists, rumors, and red-herrings and it is a lot of fun for the group to try and separate fact from wives tale, important from meaningless, to slowly uncover the trail that leads to what is really going on.
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on January 24, 2001
The author of this �adventure� has attempted to dismiss criticism by acting as if players disliked the fact that it was �plot-based� rather than site based. This is not what people are complaining about though, and I hope the people at Wizards are listening. I�m quite angry actually- and feel as though I wasted my money and time. I don�t think the adventure can be saved without rewriting it from scratch, and we have elected to leave it unplayed. Our playdays are too precious and too few to waste.
While the author claims this to be a plot-based adventure rather than a site-based (supposedly free roaming rather than locked in and steered by dungeon walls), the so-called plot is so rigid and linear that the offers fewer choices for players than the average dungeon crawl.
The encounters in the town appear to have been chosen randomly, with no thought given to building a theme or ambience, unlike The Sunless Citadel, which did it very well, and a number of quality Dungeon magazine adventures, or The Tomb of Horrors, and other such quality adventures. Details people, details! A few economically chosen words or description can give us the unique flavour of this town, as opposed to any town. That uniqueness is one thing that helps players to believe that they care why they are there. Sadly, this could be any town.
The story doesn�t build. A good plot-based adventure would reveal clues to the greater �puzzle�, so players can gradually get a sense of what is going on and enjoy solving the mystery through sessions and talking about them between sessions. But Speaker uses the 80�s Donkey Kong video-game formula, where one encounter points only in the direction of the next, until finally in the last battle, the plot (what there is of it) is revealed to the players. Also, being so linear, it is very easy for players to pull the game completely off track by visiting one of the obvious encounter sites way too early.
The �surprise false ending� is ridiculous and I think would be difficult to play. I mean, imagine what happens when you play it. It�s 3am, the Cheezy bowl is empty and everyone�s tired. You�ve just wrapped a boring adventure, the town has feasted, and you�ve read the epilogue. Now everyone is yawning, stretching and snapping their books shut � then you tell them that no, everything they�ve done is worthless, because monsters are walking the streets now. They need to play 1 or 2 more games of this to finish.
Lastly, let�s talk about the villain. The villain and his plan is the engine behind any plot-based adventure or action story plot. Think of your favourite adventure movies � Die Hard or Wrath of Khan for example. They had strong, intelligent villains. Now try to remember a villain from a forgettable one, like Under Seige 2, or Hard Target. See? It�s so important to have a great villain in a plot-based adventure. Sadly, this is really lacking here.
Semi-spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you don�t want to see them. When the villain is finally "revealed" I'm left with more questions than answers. The villian's "plan" made me wonder, if the players hadn't shown up, would it have had any impact on anyone but the town in which it was set? Even in the context of Greyhawk, I don�t get why some apparently genius, dark dwelling denizen would suddenly say, �I�m going to take over the world!� starting his global conquest by dominating the people of an inconsequential small rural town! Even if you did, wouldn�t you try to keep the demons from walking in broad daylight until you had a better hold on things? Why THIS town?
Upon reading the final page, I wondered, if the party hadn�t shown up in the town, would it have affected their world in the slightest bit? Not really � the threat isn�t credible, neither is the setting, and the plot is a railroad track of seemingly random encounters. Your money is better spent on Dungeon Magazine.
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on January 16, 2001
I suppose the reason this adventure doesn't come off as well is that I have a heard time figuring out why all these disparate elements are working together. Some are because of direct mind control and others... ?? It's a big mish-mash of monsters working together. This alone, the implausability of the enemies, is what garners the 3 stars.
That aside, the adventure is very well structured with a nice flowchart on the last page for the flow of the story. This is the first official story-based adventure (as opposed to Citidel and Forge which were site-based) and it is executed nicely.
The story-based system allows the PC's to wander more and do what they want and allows for a more dynamic setting where things seem to be happeneing all the time.
As an added bonus, Wizards has posted bonus material in PDF format on their official site that has added flavor material for running the adventure. This material isn't necessary, but it will make it easier for less experienced DM's to run the adventure effectively.
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on April 27, 2001
This is really not very good because it doesn't save you any work. That is the whole purpose of modules... DMs trade in cash for planning time. In fact, I had to do TONS of planning to make up for the holes in this plot... not to mention that the villain makes very little sense. I have never understood the desire of someone to conquer a boring, undesireable little town. What the module really boils down to is a cleverly disguised linear (thats right... linear) adventure, that clever players can suffer from. If players figure out what is going on too quickly, they can be in over their heads just as quickly. I have never had to do so much player protecting in my 10 years of DMing, not even in the Tomb of Horrors. Bottom line: you can come up with something better than this and that you UNDERSTAND, otherwise, you don't need to run games.
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on January 12, 2001
Unlike the first two D&D modules, "The Speaker in Dreams" is an event-based module, using a flow chart to guide the DM. The concept is excellent, but the module seems to be missing some essential ingredients to make it complete. I felt I would have to put in additional time to customize the module, more than merely adjusting it to my campaign world.
All of this was resolved, though, once I discovered that Wizards of the Coast was offering web support: a free download that "enhances" the module. Unfortunately, most of the information in this download is necessary to run the module, unless you're one of those great off-the-cuff DMs (and I envy you).
With the addition of the download, "The Speaker in Dreams" becomes a well-executed module that I would love to run for my players.
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on August 9, 2001
When I bought this adventure I was excited to get out of the dungeons and into some more complex schemes and role-playing intead of hack n' slash. After reading it through, I was a bit disapointed.. Not enough city stuff. So I had some fun with it. I took a great many liberties with the plot, encounters, NPCs.. etc.. What was shaping up to be a pretty lame adventure tunrned into three very fine sessions indeed.
I am a bit low in the creativity depertment, but once I have a basic framework, I can have a lot of fun as long as I get a good foundation. If you are like that, go ahead and buy this to get a template to work from, but don't run it word for word. Have some fun and throw a few curveballs.
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on May 19, 2002
This module has a city in trouble from a manipulator. The problem for the DM is that if s/he just inserts this on the campaign, the players could feel like they got into the theater halfway into the movie.
In my case, I had already bought "The Sunless Citadel" and "The Forge of Fury" before starting the campaign. Comparing the towns depicted on the modules, I decided beforehand to use Brindinford (from Speaker in Dreams) as the characters' HQ. This allows me to build up the events in Speaker, so the players can feel that they are not being dropped in mid season.
Besides that, I think this module is a very good one to use as a break from too many Dungeons.
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on January 27, 2001
This is a definite change of pace from Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury, but in my opinion it's a good and refreshing change. For the Adventure Path, it's the right time to introduce players to a city-based adventure. The author does his work well in using a story-based design. There's a lot that can be fleshed out and customized in the town to match any specific campaign, making it an easy fit as with the previous two modules. All in all, a great follow-up. This series is three for three as far as I'm concerned and I'll definitely be ordering the next to see if the streak continues.
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on January 27, 2002
I just ran this adventure for our party. We hadn't done a city adventure before, and they found it to be a very different experience. The story was good enough, though not spectacular, and the action was varied - the party encountered a large number of different challenges.
My biggest complaint was that while preparing the adventure, I found it a bit incomplete. Specifically, there are a couple characters that aren't described in the appendix, so I had to fill in some stats on my own. It's not that this was hard work, but having bought the module, I expected it to be complete.
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