5E Adventure Review: In Dire Need

In Dire Need is the fourth adventure of the Storm King’s Thunder series of D&D Adventurers League adventures. It’s a two-hour adventure for level 5-10 characters. As such, it’s short and to the point: A group of dwarves is trapped by a group of ogres and giants, and the adventurers need to rescue them!

The adventure structure includes the briefing, the travel to the dwarves (which includes a few random encounters, both combat and environmental), and then that most difficult part: first reaching the dwarves – as there are more than a few ogres in the way – and then rescuing them.

The way the designer handles this last section is by describing the situation and then letting the players determine how to approach it. This allows inventive players their chance to shine. The drawbacks are twofold: the first is that if you have players who are less effective at coming up with solutions to complex problems, this can be very frustrating for them; you’ll likely have to prompt them with potential solutions. The second is that it requires you, as the DM, to properly explain the situation to them. When you’ve got a situation that has so many moving parts, this can be difficult. It is something that I have struggled with.

The adventure suggests three main ways of getting the dwarves out: sneaking out, climbing the cliff walls, or riding an avalanche in a giant sarcophagus lid. The third is undoubtedly the most exciting end to the adventure, although it may be too improbable for some tastes. Don’t try to think too hard about it. The other solutions? Realistic, but a little underwhelming, unless run well by the DM. If you can keep up the tension, then they’ll work better. When the party just needs to make skill checks, it functionally works, but not in an exciting way.

The trapped dwarves are given enough attention that the DM can roleplay each of them distinctly, if he or she chooses, although it’s likely you only need to concentrate on a few. And there are a few ancient giant artefacts to make the setting that bit more interesting.

I like In Dire Need, but the adventure wanders into areas that test the limits of what Dungeons & Dragons is good at. There will be groups who really enjoy the adventure, but players who want more guidance may find it challenging.

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