Thoughts on Wizards’ 4e adventures

At present, I’m running one of my groups through the H series of Wizards adventures; we’re about half-way through H2 at present. To some extent, I think the adventures published for a game display the feel of that game far more than the core rulebooks do. When I think about AD&D, it’s not really the rules that I concentrate on: it’s the early adventures. T1-4, A1-4, GDQ, the early I series, and so forth. If you compare them to the Basic D&D adventures of the same period, there’s a different feel to what is happening with the games.

H1 Keep on the Shadowfell was quite interesting as the first full-length adventure for the game. My feeling is that it’s slightly underrated by the community; while it isn’t one of the greatest adventures ever published, it does a number of things quite well. There’s aid for some strong roleplaying in town, which was certainly not the case in The Sunless Citadel. Splug has been a delight to use in the Keep proper, although my version of him is far more heroic (as he had to be) than that originally presented.

H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth is extremely interesting; as with H1 you’ve got an excellent home base for the group, probably even better defined and with more conflicts and intrigues for the DM to play around with if so inclined. You’ve got a number of quests for the group to go on, and a storyline linking the four adventure areas if you want a storyline. Otherwise you can play this in true old-school fashion: it’s very much a sandbox environment. Further encounter areas can be found in Dungeon magazine, and then the DM who likes dungeon building can have a ball with the labyrinth.

H3 Pyramid of Shadows I won’t get to for another couple of months, but, as with H1 and H2, there’s the possibility of a lot of intrigue and roleplaying in addition to combat. I’m getting the feeling more and more that these adventures are deceptive: if you look at the encounters looking only for combat, that’s what you’ll find. The orb you find early on is just too fun… I’ve got a feeling I’m going to enjoy running this one.

P1 King of the Trollshaw Warrens I’ve already written about; yes, I really, really enjoy this adventure. There’s a few alignments with Against the Giants, and also a bunch of celtic-inspired themes.

So, what’s the overall feeling I’m getting from these adventures?

Well, they emphasize the PCs being heroic. Not always in the “do-gooder” way, for you could very easily play these adventures with the PCs as cruel mercenaries. However, they’re up against some pretty nasty foes. The PCs are definitely better than the regular folk of the world.

There is a history to the world. It’s not a pretty one, and the current state of affairs leaves a lot to be desired. The old kings could be a pretty cruel and vicious bunch. Honestly, I’m enjoying reading about the setting a lot more than any setting since Greyhawk. Sure, more is implied than detailed, but it feels right to me.

Are they old-school adventures? Could be. Of course, old-school covers a multitude of sins. They don’t feel as constrained as the Paizo Adventure Path modules, which occasionally took railroading and illogical PC actions to a new level. The multiple hooks and quests in each of the adventures really free up the DM to tailor them to their players. They’re not an adventure path at all: The H series are three adventures that are mostly unconnected, although there are hooks that can plausibly take the group from one adventure to the next.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way they’ve been coming out, and I really hope that Wizards continue to publishprinted adventure modules after this initial run is over, because they’ve shown they do have the talent to pull it off in an impressive fashion.

One comment

  1. srhall79

    My group is currently making their way through Pyramid of Shadows, and has generally enjoyed the modules so far. The end fights have been, perhaps, too challenging (take a look at the last encounter of H2; you may want to lower the attack bonus of something in that room).

    The modules, we’ve generally played for hack and slash, though there’s tons of potential for a DM willing to put in some work.

    I’m really enjoying Pyramid of Shadows for the interesting encounters. Every room has something going on with it, some sort of obstacle or trap. It adds a lot to each fight. No more 10×10 rooms with an orc.


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