Adventure Review: The Fiddler’s Lament

If there is one person I really wish Legendary Games would employ, it would be a competent editor. The Fiddler’s Lament is a short, one-session adventure originally designed to be used as a side trek during Paizo’s horror-themed Carrion Crown adventure path. This version has been converted to the 5E D&D rules and could be easily used as part of another campaign or as a stand-alone adventure. Unfortunately, it’s plagued by incompetent writing.

Alhindri wandered for weeks before finally falling in with a band of Wanderers headed north. In this people of dusken skin and dervish dances, Alhindri had finally found a kindred spirit. They knew the ways of the night song and the dance of the moonlight upon the water; they too could hear the music in the crackle of the campfire and freedom of nature as it flowed through their veins in an expression of purest joy, devoid of thought or artifice. In turn, the Wanderers accepted her as one of their own and allowed her to dance to the sound of their fiddle and tambourine as they traveled the rugged countryside of the North.

The ideas behind the adventure are evocative and, if they were better expressed, would help inspire the DM. As it is, there’s a lot of horrible prose for the DM to work through. Clichés and bad grammar abound – and badly employed clichés at that. The text looks like a first draft.

If you can get past the long (one-page) background and reach the actual adventure, you’ll find a short and mostly competent adventure. An insane elf-maid, Alhindri, has been given a cursed fiddle and, as she plays it, it raises the undead.

The encounters faced by the players are a succession of battles with these undead. The initial encounters take place just after dawn in the village of Raven; the players need to save the villagers from various undead creatures. Eventually, the players need to make their way to the graveyard to defeat Alhindri and the skeletons of her friends. There’s a modicum of role-playing in the adventure, but mostly it’s just one combat after another. Some of the encounters are quite interesting, especially one where the players may choose to defend some moneylenders, despite the disapproval of members of the townsfolk!

There are some problems with the conversion to the new edition, especially with the statistics for the magical fiddle. It gives a bonus to “natural armour”, whatever that might be. The distracted player takes a -4 penalty to Perception checks (surely this would be better as disadvantage?), and can grant temporary hit points as a reaction, “it can do this multiple times per round”. Apart from the definition of reaction being only once per round, being able to grant temporary hit points without limit whenever its player reaches zero hit points would seem to be slightly problematic. How do you defeat its wielder?

The other monsters display occasional problems in their statistics, with bonuses often not being calculated properly (for instance, an acolyte uses Dexterity for his mace rather than Strength). These mistakes are unlikely to have a major impact on play.

Ultimately, it’s not a bad adventure, but its attempt to provide an evocative feel is badly undermined by its writing style. This adventure should be so much better than it is.

One comment

  1. Pingback: The Great List of Dungeons & Dragons 5E adventures | Merric's Musings

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