The Five Temples of the Earthmother, part 1: Life and Moon is a somewhat unwieldy title for an adventure. Thankfully, the adventure is a good one, well worth investigating. Written by Shawn Merwin and Christopher Sniezak, both of whom have written Organised Play adventures for Wizards of the Coast, as well as other adventures and supplements, the first instalment of Five Temples sets the player characters the task of saving the Moonshae Isles in the Forgotten Realms. They must find five lost temples and reconsecrate them to the worship of the Earthmother. Obviously, this won’t be easy!
Life and Moon details the first two temples. The adventure is set during the time of a goblin invasion, led by a mysterious figure known as the Great Gark, and various other troubles are also besetting the Isles. The adventure is relatively linear in approach: The players must first defend the town that will be their home base against the goblins, then discover and reconsecrate two temples: the Temple of Life, and the Temple of the Moon.
I found the adventure to be a joy to read. There’s a good variety of encounters and I very much appreciated the level of detail that goes into each one; there are little touches that help bring the adventure to life and make it seem like it’s occurring in a real world. A child’s toy stolen by a goblin has an owner who would appreciate it being returned; I love these sorts of details.
There are also some really nice features – a box made of moonlight. A sentient halberd with a memory problem. Little things like that!
A few encounters have some strange features. After dealing with a “trap” encounter that deals 1 damage to every character for several minutes, the Earthmother rewards the characters with a single potion of healing. No healing of the entire party? Stingy Earthmother! And I’m not quite sure what to make of a well containing (neutral) water elementals. Why is this a symbol of the temple’s desecration? I was surprised to not find an explanation for this.
The editing in the adventure is excellent with respect to grammar and spelling, but there are a few times when I found the writing to be somewhat clunky, especially with the dialogue. Choosing the right words is difficult, and though this adventure is superior to many others in this respect, it is not without flaw. The layout provides more obvious problems. I believe it’s based on the Word template that Wizards provided, but the text sizes are inconsistent and the alignment of paragraphs, headings and stat-blocks could be better. It isn’t a big problem, but it could have done with another pass to improve its formatting.
The maps and artwork are of very high quality.
There are a number of new monsters in the adventure and a couple of new items; the rules writing could be a little clearer in these.
Overall, this is a superior product and one I recommend. The problems it has shouldn’t affect its play, and there is much to admire within its pages.