EN Publishing EN5ider Desert in the Road negative review


Mini adventures are supposed to be:
  1. self-contained side quests,
  2. structured to fill one or two game sessions,
  3. playable without much prep.
Desert on the Road does not accomplish any of those things.

* The cryptic note in the first scene is a mcguffin. No one the PCs meet, and nothing else the PCs find, has any information about Aldwyn, Calda, or the cult. The info only told in side notes to the DM. It puts the DM in the position of having to either invent a huge swath of content, or tell mystery-seeking players OOC to have their PCs ignore it. This is NOT SELF-CONTAINED.

* The Overview says "the other three elements—air, water, and earth—are scarce or useless". How is that supposed to work? No mechanics are provided. If the DM shuts down element-based abilities, half the PCs become almost useless. If they don't, then the entire desert exhaustion threat is negated by a 1st level spell (Create Water). If the DM has to work out a fair & challenge-appropriate option, that's A LOT OF PREP.

* As the tower description notes, it's possible to reach the roof directly and bypass the interior. The PCs might reach the finale immediately, or they might spend hours carefully working their way up. You also note that the salamanders can be a tense but non-violent conversation with no consequences, or be a brutal struggle that leaves them completely drained before they reach the roof. This is NOT STRUCTURED.

* The map doesn't match the text. There are a bunch of doors shown where they shouldn't exist. There's a mezzanine full of rooms completely skipped, including a hidden room behind a secret door. What?

* Final nitpick: an easily-accessed room says all the furnishings were "burned to ash", but over 4000 gold pieces, a fancy object made of silver, and a magic wand are lying there unscathed. It ought to be a half-melted blob, and it's almost as much gold as the PCs have gotten in their career so far. The players, unprompted, brought up the scientific inconsistency and said they were disappointed how easy it was to get that much loot.

Are the other EN5ider mini-adventures I've paid for similar to this one?

Note: the adventure was being run as-is by a rookie DM, with me assisting.

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Because my Zeitgeist campaign consumes most of my D&D-related hours & brainpower.
I need ready-to-play content for this co-DM game, and I was hoping EN would be more reliable than DM's Guild.
They're all written by different people. Dunno what else to tell you! You've paid for them, so just look at a few and decide for yourself.

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