There’s an excellent concept inside The Broken One, the eighth adventure of the current D&D Adventurers League season. It’s got some fantastic imagery, a moral dilemma and an exciting conclusion.
It’s also an adventure I found very difficult to run.
A large part of the reason for this is how dependent the adventure is on interacting with NPCs. This adventure begins with a meeting with the Burgomaster and his two tax collectors. It’s important to fix the impression of the tax collectors in the players’ minds, because they’ll be important later. Unfortunately, the adventure doesn’t really do that. There’s a lot of material on what the Burgomaster thinks and says, and not very much on the tax collectors. One of them has a dog. What exactly does each person say during the meeting? It isn’t specified. Instead, we’re instructed that what the three of them say as a group, which doesn’t do much to individualise them.
What The Broken One does is set up a situation and lets the player interact with it. Someone has been stealing sheep? There’s dark magic involved? They’re guarded by a man who has a temper? The adventure hints at being an investigation, although if the players don’t figure it out themselves, the situation will overwhelm their investigation and force them into action. How successful the investigative portion of the adventure will depend greatly on the group’s dynamics, and how well the DM has prepared.
It’s an adventure where the DM needs to know the material well, and have a good grasp of role-playing and improvisation.
Where it really gets into trouble is with the nature of Oraşnou. This small village is described in the introduction as having only 200 people. That is an incredibly small number of people. It needs recurring NPCs, but this series of adventures hasn’t managed to portray those. Five NPCs are named, only one of whom the PCs have met before. It’s a great hindrance in investing the characters in the village. You’d be well advised to have characters from previous adventures reoccur.
And how come anyone’s still alive in the village, anyway? Given the events of this season, it’s amazing anyone lives there at all!
Some of the editing is questionable. One set of boxed text indicates a body is found, the text surrounding it indicates only a head… and the latter makes far more sense.
Despite my problems with the adventure’s organisation, there’s no doubt that at the core of the adventure are some fantastic encounters and some very good imagery. It’s one you can really enjoy, though you will need to be familiar with it before running it.