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Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus

SharnDM

Explorer
The team at Wizards of the Coast, with story consultants Joe Manganiello and Jim Zub, have cobbled together an excellent campaign here. Dungeon Masters wanting to run an epic game will certainly find what they need to do so. From the adventure itself to ways to bring that adventure to life with details of Baldur’s Gate and other lore, WotC has made it easy for a DM to bring game night to life for their players. Admittedly players don’t get much here in the way of concrete additions to the character sheet, but there are plenty of details included in the lore to help flesh them out. I find myself easily recommending this book for your table.

FULL REVIEW - Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus
 

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After succumbing to sandbox fatigue, my expectations for Descent into Avernus were low. I was expecting more of the same… but in the Nine Hells. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised how the adventure presented a linear adventure with a solid story that has an assumed climax and dramatic ending but is still flexible and allows exploration while accommodating PCs who attempt an alternate conclusion.

But… and it’s a “big but” the adventure is also deeply and inherently flawed.

You start the game with characters rooted in the background of one city, characters built for one kind of campaign with potentially book-supplied backgrounds anchoring them to that city, and then you’re just expected to put all that aside as the campaign does an abrupt 180 and completely changes in tone. It’s almost like a campaign where the first two or three sessions are all about piracy and all the characters are provided naval backgrounds then the adventure dumps them in the middle of a landlocked desert for the remaining 10 levels.

It might be tempting for DMs to surprise their players with the trip to Hell, and not tell their players the name of the adventure. I’d advise against this; Descent into Avernus is a perfect example of why most campaigns need a “Session Zero” where the DM tells you what the campaign is about.

It wouldn’t take much work to make Descent into Avernus an amazing campaign. A different opening with the adventurers sucked into Hell and spending their first few levels helping to save people and stabilize the city before being tasked with investigating and finding a way home.

Or building off the introduction where you face off against the cults of the Dead Three into a homebrew campaign of intrigue and corruption in the heart of Baldur’s Gate.

But it’s super weird that those two very different campaigns are supported by the same product. And the amount of homebrewing required to make a focused campaign is incompatible with the reasons Dungeon Masters purchase pre-published adventures.


FULL REVIEW:
Review: Descent into Avernus
 

Nebulous

Legend
After succumbing to sandbox fatigue, my expectations for Descent into Avernus were low. I was expecting more of the same… but in the Nine Hells. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised how the adventure presented a linear adventure with a solid story that has an assumed climax and dramatic ending but is still flexible and allows exploration while accommodating PCs who attempt an alternate conclusion.

But… and it’s a “big but” the adventure is also deeply and inherently flawed.

You start the game with characters rooted in the background of one city, characters built for one kind of campaign with potentially book-supplied backgrounds anchoring them to that city, and then you’re just expected to put all that aside as the campaign does an abrupt 180 and completely changes in tone. It’s almost like a campaign where the first two or three sessions are all about piracy and all the characters are provided naval backgrounds then the adventure dumps them in the middle of a landlocked desert for the remaining 10 levels.

It might be tempting for DMs to surprise their players with the trip to Hell, and not tell their players the name of the adventure. I’d advise against this; Descent into Avernus is a perfect example of why most campaigns need a “Session Zero” where the DM tells you what the campaign is about.

It wouldn’t take much work to make Descent into Avernus an amazing campaign. A different opening with the adventurers sucked into Hell and spending their first few levels helping to save people and stabilize the city before being tasked with investigating and finding a way home.

Or building off the introduction where you face off against the cults of the Dead Three into a homebrew campaign of intrigue and corruption in the heart of Baldur’s Gate.

But it’s super weird that those two very different campaigns are supported by the same product. And the amount of homebrewing required to make a focused campaign is incompatible with the reasons Dungeon Masters purchase pre-published adventures.


FULL REVIEW: Review: Descent into Avernus
That's a really good review. I ordered this off Amazon. I might run it with a newbie group after we finish Phandelver. They'll be 4th or 5th level. I like the idea of a party getting sucked into Hell by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it becomes more of a "how do we get home?" kind of thing.

How about sucking Baldur's Gate into Avernus, could you then still use lots of the city background, or would that be too weird and damaging to such a massive population? I imagine thousands of citizens would die or be possessed or whatever.

Would you recommend using a brand new party, or keeping currently characters?
 

HawaiiSteveO

Explorer
Really weird NPC info dumps in the first few sections, characters telling PCS what they need to continue adventure..? Ugh . Way too much information, and if party just stomps them the DM has to find other ways to keep the adventure rolling along.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
After play review of Descent as Adventure League DM. 4 out 5 stars.
The main problem is the players have buy into the plot and accept being cops. The second problem is if your group is over leveled for the chapter or encounter the book becomes a cake walk. The book does have some interesting npcs and encounters. Chapter 5 the final one is a hot mess, you will have to read the whole chapter and ask your players some questions about what to do.
My group did finish it in 12 sessions but we are known for pushing the pace to finish the book. As a DM I recommend you do homebrew as you can expand the various chapters.
 

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