DDAL04-06 The Ghost is the mid-season finale of Misty Fortunes and Absent Hearts, the fourth season of D&D Adventurers League adventures. Or, at least, it could be if you squint really hard. Honestly, it’s hard to know what to make of it. Somewhere in the writing process – either in initial conception, its writing, or the editing – something went badly wrong with the story.
This is a pity, since the individual encounters in The Ghost are actually quite good.
The adventure suggests a number of adventure hooks for the players. For groups who have been playing through the series, it’s most likely that you’ll use the one where they’re sent to look for a missing Vistani, Donali. I wonder what happened to him? We started referring to him as “Sir Not Appearing in This Adventure”. He actually fares better than the Gur seer, Sybil, who is another person the players could be sent to find. She doesn’t get mentioned at all. Donali, at least, gets one mention – the players can find the dead body of one of his friends.
The intention of the hooks is to get the characters to visit the hag, Jeny Greenteeth, who was transported – along with the characters – from Faerun. With one exception, they’re not bad hooks. Unfortunately, most are never resolved. The adventure completely fails to mention what happens when the characters reach Jeny and ask her “Do you know where Donali is?” or “Do you know what this ichor is?” or “Where’s Sybil?”
It’s just incredibly incompetent.
The only question Jeny does get to answer is “Do you know where we are?” The adventure also allows her to answer “Do you know the way out?” which is the one hook that is directly answered in the adventure. But if you’re looking for missing people, they’re going to remain missing and you’re going to be none the wiser.
The bulk of the adventure concerns the road trip to find Jeny. The encounters are enjoyable, though they not particularly deep. They’re just challenges to overcome rather than pieces of a greater story. There’s some role-playing with Jeny, which – as noted – ignores the reasons players may have come to see her. And then there’s a quest that Jeny gives the players, which is the best bit of the adventure. It’s short, but creepy and well-judged.
The adventure is notable for giving characters their first way back home. It isn’t particularly well handled. The problem is that the choice between going home or staying is not a good one given the current state of the season. The adventure doesn’t set forth the reasons the characters would choose to stay. The meta-gaming one “Because we want to play the other adventures in this season” doesn’t make sense from a story perspective.
An explanation that only you could get home this way, as all of your other friends would still be trapped, would have been nice. At least, for good-aligned characters, that’d provide a moral dilemma. But, honestly, this really should be handled on the meta-game level. It’s too easy for the proper role-playing decision for the character to be wrong for the player’s needs. So, instead of framing the decision in the adventure as “you find a way home, do you take it?”, the players (not characters) should be given the option of leaving, and then those that choose to leave would have the encounter that gets them out of the realm.
Although billed as a 4-hour adventure, it took all three of our groups about two hours to play through the encounters. This is not because the adventure time was wrong (although it’s probably still short), but it’s a reflection of how much shorter adventures can run when you have 4 players at a table rather than 6 or 7.
I’d consider The Ghost, under most circumstances, to not be a bad adventure. It’s got some good encounters and a structure that mostly works. However, the complete disconnect between the hooks and the rest of the adventure is bad. It displays some woeful editing and development. If the adventure properly resolved the hooks, I’d consider it an average one, without a really compelling story to elevate it, but, as it stands, this is one of the weaker releases in the series.