Looking Over Dungeon Delve: Storming the Clouds


It's still just cover art

Premise

A pair of titans are using their semicentennial meeting to release a lost primordial being, so divine messengers beseech the party to intervene.


Good

The setting of a cloud temple flying about half a mile above a snowy mountain range is cool.


Doubling down on the flying temple motif by using areas of perpetual wind for the walls and ceilings is a nice touch, though the lack of guidance on whether it’s possible to fall out is a letdown.


Including a way to fall out of area 2, on the other hand, is wonderful, especially since it can be used against the champions.


The consideration to disable the fire walls in area 2 temporarily if the skill check was a narrow failure is nice, though I don’t see why they can’t be magical perpetual fires like the others in the same area.


Notwithstanding the silliness of the titans having “a deityskin satchel”, the idea of a ritual book that rages with elemental fury if touched with anything other than the skin of a god is cool.


Salvageable

The premise seems like a weak rehash of Temple of Primordial Flame. Surely there are more interesting things to be done with a pair of titans, like conjuring a global storm or consuming the essence of a rival primordial to achieve godhood.


Needing special seals to activate teleportation circles is a reasonable alternative to locked doors for a high-level adventure, but the party having simply been told about that in advance is a lame way of bringing it into play. If this is used as part of a larger adventure/campaign, the obvious solution is to provide interrogation opportunities for the party to learn that information. If it is used as a stand-alone adventure, I’d lean towards adding a creature in area 1 who will grab a seal and flee to area 2 after one or two rounds of combat as a way of indicating the means to progress.


The giants’, titans’, gorgons’, and colossus’s auras should have flavorful descriptions when they have detectable effects.


The champions’ furious blade should include the secondary effects of their basic attack, and their automatic save ability should be flavored as a boon from their titanic patrons rather than simply “shake it off”.


If the titans could use the magic item resting on the altar in area 3, the titans should use it.


Bad

While the broad idea to expand the adventure by using it as the endpoint of a larger complex/journey is fine, the actual examples given are of the “one more encounter” variety.


Minor nitpick, but the giants/titans and the dragonborn/dragonspawn can’t speak to each other because none of the creature stat blocks speak both giant/primordial and common/draconic.


The return of blood rock is still as dumb and marginal as ever.


The text for area 3 describes the gorgons as starting in the eastern end of the room, but the map shows them starting in the western portion.


Opening the boxed text for area 3 with “[w]ith a burning sensation deep in your stomach” doesn’t make me think of fire so much as it does spicy food.


Overall

I like most of the individual ideas and bits of flavor in this adventure, but the whole doesn’t really work for me, mostly because of area 2. The ice, lighting, and thunder stuff fits well with a flying temple located in a raging storm cloud, but the chamber of “fire and earth” sticks out like a sore thumb. I think the adventure would be stronger if that was cut out entirely.


Something that starts with the party being contacted by divine messengers has obvious need of greater context, and the players could also use something to signal that the ritual book will blast them with an array of damage if handled incorrectly. The consequences of acquiring the book should provide an easy way of branching off more adventures from this one. There’s some flexibility to the creatures, but keeping the location as a cloud temple is going to impose some natural limits on what could be found there.


All in all, while I’m mostly positive about this adventure, I just have a hard time getting excited about it because there’s the persistent feeling that it could be much better. I think using the maps/creatures/details as a starting point for building a new adventure would give better results than trying to polish this one.

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