Anyhow, Mad Mage is underwhelming. I think the designers of it don't expect anyone to run it - I think the idea is to steal bits of dungeon here and there for your homebrew.
I’ve been running it for some time now. We’re just about to hit the obstacle course on level 15. The PCs are all 13th level.
I’ve just been running it as an old school, kick in the door, beer and pretzels adventure, and my players have all been having a blast with it.
Yeah, there’s no plot, but my players don’t mind. They’ve been having fun exploring, killing the monsters (or making deals with them) and building their own story.
We even had a TPK early on (against the drow in the temple on level 3), and they wanted to keep going.
I told them at the start that we didn’t have to play through the whole thing. We’d just keep going till enough of us got bored, but so far that hasn’t happened yet.
I think for us it was just the right thing and the right time. I’d previously tried running Odyssey of the Dragonlords followed by the Acq Inc adventure (Orrery of the Wanderer). Both fizzled out. The pandemic was wearing everyone down. I sold Mad Mage as a simple adventure that wouldn’t require them to remember what had happened a few weeks back, let alone months before. They could just show up and kill some monsters. It’s been a real palate cleanser / stress reliever in that regard.