The Sinister Spire
Written by Bruce R. Cordell and Ari Marmell
Published by Wizards of the Coast
64 black and white pages

If you look at the back of the Sinister Spire, youíd see that itís an adventure for 5th level characters. Nothing would indicate that itís actually the second in a three part adventure. Itís actually DD2. Something thatís not indicated anywhere on the cover. This adventure mainly takes place in the Underdark and also uses the tactical write up methodology introduced in Barrow of the Forgotten King.

So what didnít I like?
ē Start is weak. Itís heavily tied into the first book . On the other hand, itís very easy to adopt to whatever you want.

ē Itís expensive. Some may argue that itís what the market will bear, but WoTC provides other products in full color for the same price and page count like their Dungeon book.

ē Not a lot of art. I like visual guides and cues to show the players.

ē Monsters used from a variety of sources without noting those sources. Sure, you donít need them since the stats are all in front of you, but itíd be nice for those who do have them so we can grab the visuals.

ē Editing could use some work. While Iím not a stat block freak, there were several page references that didnít actually match up to the page reference.
In terms of the tactical encounter information, Iím a little torn on it. While itís nice to have all the detailed information in one spot, I hate flipping the book to those sections. Those sections also take up most of the space. Time will tell if this format, where a specific part of the map is reproduced with specific notes and comments on how the monsters react and what role the environment players, will continue onto 4th ed.
On the other hand, there were some things that I did enjoy.

ē It doesnít assume youíve started off in some village. It makes use of an Underdark Ďcityí, Pedestal, where there are lots of opportunities to get into all sorts of trouble.

ē While being open, there is a Ďmissioní so that players have something to keep in mind.
ē It uses legacy items. Some donít like them because of the penalties and costs associated with it, but as the items rise in power and donít require replacing every couple levels, itís a good mechanic to me.

ē Because thereís not a lot of art, there is more room for text.

For the price count, I wish that theyíd get rid of the blank interior first page thatís just the title of the book and the authors, and the last page which is a check list of more WoTC D&D items. In adventures, even with Dungeon magazine recently dead, there are plenty of sources for adventures that arenít linked to each other requiring a $60 investment.
Sinister Spire works best as a direct sequel to Barrow but the Underdark city itself makes for some potential reuse.