Looking Over Dungeon Delve: Eye of Flame
A mysterious portal has opened near the party’s home city that leads to the Elemental Chaos.
Considering that this is an adventure about going through a portal to the Elemental Chaos which doesn’t actually get the party into the Elemental Chaos, the idea to expand the adventure by continuing it in the Elemental Chaos is not only obvious, it’s something that must be done to pay off the premise.
The sidebar for portraying the giant and the salamanders in area 2 is nice.
The retreat condition for the salamanders is welcome, though it’s too little too late to feel significant.
The mechanics for the magma wall are both simple and effective. The initial damage is woefully lacking, but the ongoing damage brings it into the neighborhood of a 60’ fall before the first save is allowed.
Being able to take cover with the giant furniture in area 3 is nice. Blinding opponents by hitting them with food from the table is great, even if it’s rather unlikely to come up much and somewhat overpowered if exploited.
The bone naga’s aura should have some flavor description while it is affecting a PC.
Likewise for the auras of the warriors and the tempestblade in area 3.
The lava in the rubble adjacent to the magma wall should do at least twice as much damage. 2d10 from falling “into hot lava” is a joke.
The blue flask begs some key questions, namely if it has a limited amount of contents, and if so, what happens if the PCs waste it without dousing the braziers?
As usual, if the magic item in area 3 is something that the giants could use, they should use it.
Where to even begin with the problems in the hook? It assumes the PCs are all from one place or at least that they all consider one city to be their home. It assumes the PCs are heroic. It assumes the PCs would feel responsible for looking after the welfare of their home city. It assumes that other settlements “and a nearby river” are threatened by a portal, despite the lack of evidence that the portal represents much of a threat to anyone who avoids stepping into it. The portal is supposed to lead to “the Elemental Chaos”, but it actually leads to an enclosed giant stronghold that is quite orderly. It is amazing how terrible those five sentences are.
The first three ideas for expanding the adventure are just to add a room with one additional encounter in it.
The helmed horror’s stat block feels like a creature lacking a sense of identity. It wants to be a tough guardian, but it lacks a way of punishing opponents for ignoring it (not even the standard marked status that the soldier-type giants in the rest of the adventure have), it lacks a way of restricting movement around it, and the mastermind from Hall of Echoing Screams had better damage output at the same level despite being a controller instead of a soldier (sure, elemental burst covers a larger area than mind blast, but close blast 5 is still a big enough area to likely hit the entire party while also dealing more damage and inflicting dazed and avoiding friendly fire and still causing half-damage on a miss, to say nothing of the mastermind’s two other 2-in-6 recharging standard actions). The sensible thing to do is to leave it as a low priority opponent, especially with the bone naga doing much to reduce the party’s damage output, at which point its durability just makes it a tedious annoyance.
Why does the fireplace in area 1 grant additional fire damage? That feels like a random detail to suit the tile art.
Why is the forgecaller carrying around a flask that just happens to be the only thing capable of dousing the braziers that just happen to be keeping the whole place together and powering the portal? This is almost as bad as the MacGuffin-chain in The Rise of Skywalker.
On the plus side, this adventure makes some interesting use of a few environmental features. On the minus side, that’s about the only nice thing I have to say about it. Fairly bland enemies, a senseless story, and an exit puzzle with a solution that’d fit in a J.J. Abrams movie is not a good blend. Add on that the adventure is at once explicitly impacting the imagined world in its hook and cut off from greater context almost completely in its execution, and it’s not getting better. Then finish it off with a complete lack of ambient environmental factors aside from a Metroid-style race to escape the collapsing lair after triggering the exit condition despite being set in an alien reality, and it’s just a complete joke.
All in all, the smattering of good bits in here isn’t nearly enough to overcome the uninspired deluge of mediocrity that it wallows in. Aside from pillaging those for use in better adventures, give it a hard pass.