5E Adventure Review: Eyes on the Prize

Due to a gap in my regular playing schedule, I found myself in need of a short (one-session) 10th-level adventure. It’s for this reason I maintain my List of Adventures – It allows me to quickly find potential adventures to run. However, I didn’t need to look at it to determine that what I wanted to run was one of Dan Coleman’s Dungeons on Demand series. I’ve previously reviewed a few of Dan’s adventures, and they all struck me as being inventive and enjoyable – and fit very well into the length of adventure I needed.

Eyes on the Prize is an adventure for 10th-level characters. It’s set beneath an abandoned monastery, where many strangely-shaped chambers hold a variety of horrible experiments – oozes and undead in particular. One of its most distinctive features is that the tunnels between chambers aren’t horizontal: they’re vertical. Although this doesn’t have a big effect on the play of the dungeon, it helps make the dungeon feel different, and this adds greatly to its character.

The monsters are nicely judged, and were quite challenging for my group. The penultimate fight proved that the players can work around a nicely-detailed set of monster tactics; in this case, Otto’s Irresistible Dance (and my dreadful rolling) meant a demon couldn’t set off a bunch of traps and summon more monsters to fight the PCs, but as all the other fights went well (and required the party to rest before continuing), one “failed” encounter wasn’t too bad.

The adventure has a few tricks and traps that allow the players to feel clever when they overcome them, and has enough detailed descriptions for the players to be intrigued by what they find. As in several of Dan’s adventures, he’s provided an NPC who can accompany the party and give commentary on the various rooms, and point out things that they might not consider. It’s an interesting way of adding additional flavour.

The writing is pretty good, but there are a few editing glitches. I was most amused by “alter” being used for “altar” – a common mistake – but it being spelt correctly only four or five words later! Mostly, the adventure reads pretty well. The maps are quite clear, and the adventure is enhanced by a few pieces of black-and-white art; not of great quality, but good enough to help the players visualise what they find.

One of the more significant editing failures has the players come into an anti-magic field projected by a monster, only to have the monster not have that ability in its stat-block. This probably derives from a last-minute change to the monster it is, because of the restrictions of the OGL. It didn’t bother me that much, but it’s worth noting.

The adventure was very enjoyable to run, providing a good variety of encounters for the players. It doesn’t quite reach the heights needed to be an absolute classic of the form, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable dungeon crawl, it does that very well. Eyes on the Prize proves, once again, that Dan Coleman is an adventure designer to watch.

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