Dragonlance [Let's Read] The Test of High Sorcery, a CYOA Dragonlance Adventure

Libertad

Hero
msn7gI7.jpg

DM’s Guild Page

It hasn’t been a full week since the DM’s Guild gave Dragonlance homebrew the go-ahead, but already we have several strong contenders. While there is the inevitable shovelware that looks hastily put-together at the last minute and titles tagged to the setting that have nothing to do with Dragonlance, the world of Krynn’s big strength is that it has a very passionate fanbase. Already we saw the Dragonlance Nexus release Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything plus Champions of Krynn, a general-purpose sourcebook and adventure full of options for both players and GMs. The Dragonlance Companion has been six months in the making and got a personal recommendation from Margaret Weis herself on Facebook. We even got an Aesthetic’s Guide to Ansalon series, a two-year project of converting the original DL1-16 adventures to Fifth Edition along with lots of other converted material set during that era from a variety of sourcebooks and novels. The original author of Chaos Reaver, a SAGA-era adventure from Dungeon Magazine, converted the adventure to Fifth Edition.

The Test of High Sorcery ranks among these passion projects in being the work of long-time fans touching upon an iconic element of Dragonlance. It is a choose your own adventure that can be played by yourself, with one player and one DM, or a typical group of one DM and several players. The idea is that the PC is a prospective mage who is about to undertake the Test of High Sorcery in order to join one of the three great Orders of arcane spellcasters of Ansalon. It is balanced around a single 4th level character capable of casting spells from the spell list of one of the arcane casting classes,* and can be played on its own or as part of the larger Shadow of the Dragon Queen campaign. In the latter case, the Test begins when the scroll is delivered to Wyhan in the city of Kalaman, teleporting the PC to the Forest of Wayreth.

*Which allows for some interesting possibilities, like an Arcane Trickster Rogue or someone with the Magic Initiate feat.

The product is structured in the vein of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, where you flip to specific sections (usually labeled things such as A5, B16, etc) based on choices the PC makes or whether they succeed or fail at a particular ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. Sometimes an action may result in the PC gaining a Trait, which has an effect on a later section or after the adventure ends. Some Traits are tied to moral actions or outlooks and can add points to one of the three Orders of High Sorcery, where the PC is inducted into the Order in which they have the most points. Additionally, there are no maps and this all takes place in the theater of the mind, and during the rare occasions when initiative is rolled the PC is encouraged to get into the mindset of the enemies and “root for them as much as your character” in a DMless game. Furthermore, to offset the disadvantages of a single PC they begin play with 5 Destiny Points. Destiny Points can be spent to avoid certain doom, such as turning a failed roll into a success, turning a successful attack into a critical hit, or regaining 10 hit points upon being reduced to 0. Remaining Destiny Points also determine how well they’re graded after the Test, with more Destiny Points resulting in increased rewards from the Order leaders. There are a few sections in the adventure that can restore a spent Destiny Point, but they’re rare and a PC may get 1 at most, 2 perhaps if they’re lucky.

Last but not least, there is the option for a lone mage to take allies on their Test, but this makes the Test more dangerous: the Destiny Points are shared as a pool, the hit points of enemies are doubled if there’s 2 PCs, the damage of enemy attacks are doubled if there’s 3 or more PCs, the DC for ability checks are raised by 3 if the Help action is taken on them, and depending on the group/DM discretion the party may roll as a whole for ability checks or saving throws regarding effects and events of the adventure.

Throughout the entire adventure the PC can take short or long rests at predefined points: specifically they can take 2 short rests and 3 long rests in total. While there are many sections with varying means of resolution, the overall structure of the Test remains the same in there being three major chapters, and some branching paths which put the PC in an environment to resolve a task. The PC can gain treasure and unique magic items along the way, although if being done as part of a larger campaign it’s up to the DM whether or not they retain such items afterwards. Outright combat is pretty rare, but virtually every encounter gives the enemy a weakness that can be learned based on prior checks and Traits such as a vulnerability for additional damage, or some effect that can cause the monster to flee, surrender, or otherwise not fight as well.

kcrkAwq.png

Chapter One: The Tower of Wayreth

Technically there’s a preceding section called Welcome to Krynn, but that bears little consequence on this adventure and instead covers a general overview of the Dragonlance setting and recommended reading you can easily find elsewhere. The adventure technically begins before the Test although even then the PC is still judged from afar. These sections are a gradual means of determining aspects of a character’s backstory and personality via Traits, like the opportunity to tell a ghost why the PC seeks to take the Test of High Sorcery which can determine one of the future tasks. Upon reaching the Tower itself have the opportunity to interact with other mages also seeking to take the Test. Kyrian in particular is a shy mousy-haired woman; interacting with her can determine whether a PC is confident in their abilities or also have their own misgivings about the difficulties about the Test, as well as whether the PC intervenes in standing up for her against a bully and potential rival.

The PC and fellow mages are led to a guest chamber with various creature comforts, and up to two kinds of activities can be performed in order to better prepare for the Test: taking a relaxing bubble bath can grant Inspiration and temporary hit points, using a scrying orb gives the opportunity to learn about a future task via a useful clue, a bookshelf can reveal more knowledge about the Test’s structure along with a communal “take a scroll, leave a scroll” program (stealing more than you need has consequences as Stole From the Community trait) , and a scavenger hunt where paper clues can lead the PC to a Wand of Fickle Luck that can auto-succeed a saving throw…or blow up in the wielder’s hand, damaging them.

The Test itself begins with the PC being interviewed by the three Order leaders, who make use of Detect Thoughts and Zone of Truth to learn about the PC. Answers to their questions can determine future tasks, such as being asked about whether they’re weaker in fortitude or subtlety (answering neither marks the Overconfident trait), or an analogy where if they were in a dangerous situation who is likeliest to be there as their “anchor in the storm” or if they’d brave the storm alone. The Black Robe leader casts a spell where the PC is plunged into a nightmare world where they must make three saving throws to push away nightmarish visions. Failing at least one of these saves determines the “final boss” of the Test, where the PC fights a great foe at the end. Nightmares of seeing their own funeral will pit them against a ghostly bard, a pack of laughing hyenas a gnoll shaman, a tormentor from their childhood a minotaur mage, and if they succeed on all three the final boss will be a maddened wizard in a pocket dimension.

The PC will wake up alone back in the guest room, and after a long rest they will be directed to the Testing Grounds. But before that happens they have an opportunity to peer into a featureless black portrait sitting among the likenesses of great mages from history. Although it’s not known until near the end of the adventure, the spirit of Fistandantilus will communicate with the PC, offering them a deal to grant them help in surviving the final task in exchange for a small portion of the PC’s life force after completing the Test. Spurning his help will anger him.

FNrMn7l.png

Chapter Two: High Sorcery

This chapter is far longer than the last one, and the first one with real stakes of danger. Several tasks can result in damage on a failed ability check or saving throw, and in a few very rare cases a level of Exhaustion or lost spell slots. In many cases the casting of an appropriate spell can grant advantage or automatically succeed on the check. Death in the Test results in the death of the PC, but there is a “safe” way of losing the Test in the fourth task of this Chapter.

The chapter opens up with the PC in the middle of a forest, where they are faced with one of 3 tasks based on the backstory Traits accrued during Chapter One. One such task involves the PC sailing on a Styx-like river full of spirits who try to instill doubt and psychic damage in their mind while being guided by a hooded ferryman. The second task involves restless ghosts guarding a treasure in some ancient ruins while competing against another Test-taker, and depending on how the PC resolves the check can grant them benefits such as temporary hit points or Inspiration. The third task involves the PC helping a siren look for a stone among a pile of rocks on a windy cliffside, where the correct stone is a new magic item that can grant temporary resistance to nonmagical damage, and failing to give her the right stone or trying to steal it can result in danger to the PC as they may get tossed off the cliffs from an earthquake or being pushed off by the siren.

After completing the first task, the next one is determined by what the PC answered as their weakness during the interview with the Order leaders. Lack of subtlety places them in a medusa’s cave full of petrified statues; the medusa has the key to a locked door to get out, and there is a mirror among one of the petrified adventurers that can turn her to stone. While there are various resolutions (break down the door, blackmail the medusa into giving you the key by threatening her eggs, steal it, etc) it is possible that initiative may be rolled. Although she is far weaker than the typical monster stat block (27 hit points, no multiattack, lower DC for petrifying gaze) it is still a deadly encounter for a solo PC.

If Lacks Fortitude was the gained trait, the PC must go through a claustrophobic narrow hallway full of swarms of crawling claws, and the doorway leading out requires the insertion of the caster’s hand as the ‘key.’

A PC who is Overconfident finds themselves in a dark room with a rakshasa who asks the PC to perform two challenges: to move the fire from the brazier in front of him without physically touching it, and then the PC’s choice of a challenge of knowledge (guess what kind of monster he is), a challenge of arcane power (PC casts a damaging spell upon the rakshasa who due to his magical immunity will resist it, and then he’ll cast a super-damaging fireball), or a challenge of willpower (staring contest as shambling undead try to distract the PC). Although unlike the medusa none of these challenges involve an outright battle, the challenge of arcane power is the deadliest as a PC will take 28 fire damage on a failed Dexterity save. While a Destiny Point may save them (and it’s encouraged to bring this up), the average 4th level arcane caster can be one-shotted this way. A D6 Hit Die class with 12 Constitution will have 22 hit points if average results are taken, and even a mighty Eldritch Knight with a 14 Constitution will have 36 for average results.

A short rest can be taken afterwards, and the third task is dependent on an event in the forest back in Chapter One that involved pixies dancing around an unholy circle of Takhisis that the pixies seek to weaken. A PC who examines the circle can be contacted by Takhisis who offers them power in exchange for driving away the fey. Depending on whether the PCs accepted or stole bread from the fey, or if they drove off or let the fairies do their work, determines one of two possible tasks. The latter gives the PC the Mysterious Stranger trait, but it is mislabeled as the rest of the book references a Mysterious Friend which is what is clearly meant in regards to the trait and triggering task.

The fey-themed option has the PC materialize in a hag’s cozy hut, where she will attempt to enchant the PC into helping her brew a potion…which requires either a still-fresh finger or eyeball as an ingredient. The PC can use bargaining or trickery in several cases to keep their body part, and a PC who ate the pixie’s bread if offered earlier has it activate, granting them temporary hit points and either reducing their Exhaustion level or regaining lost spell slots.

The other possibility for the third task places the PC in a forest near three bakali (lizardfolk) hard at work in making a pentagram dedicated to Takhisis. They believe that the PC is here to help them, and if the character is either honest or fails to lie it will cause them to turn hostile where they’ll decide the PC will make a good sacrifice instead. A PC who decides to play along can either sabotage the ritual or reinforce it, the latter of which earns the goddess’ favor and the rewarding of a new magic item if they declare their loyalty to her. The Amulet of Takhisis has charges which can be use to make a cone-shaped breath weapon attack like that of a chromatic dragon’s.

Even if the bakali turn hostile, initiative is only rolled if the PC opts to try to fight them rather than finding a means to stop the ritual. There’s 3 of them, and they are individually weak but their damage can add up against a lone PC. Their weakness is that the survivors will retreat if the PC kills an uninjured bakali in one blow.

After completing this task, the fourth and final one of this chapter is based on what answer the PC gave as their anchor in the storm. Each of these tasks has a unique event, where some advantage or ideal resolution can be gained if the PC willingly swears to give up (arcane) magic forever. In such a case the Test will end, but this won’t result in the execution of the PC. Instead they will be permanently severed from using arcane magic and teleported away from Wayreth. The PC can retrain as a new class, including divine casters, although they can never gain access to the spell lists of the arcane casting classes, whether by feat or subclass or some other method.

A PC who chose a lover as their anchor in the storm will be at a wedding for their beloved as the Cataclysm strikes. But it turns out they are to be wed to another, and won’t leave willingly as their bride/groom is trapped under fallen debris. The PC can save themselves, help their beloved, or convince them to come with the PC and let their betrothed die. A PC who opts to try and save one or both is faced with the opportunity to give up their magic to save their beloved, ending the Test so as not to see them die.

A PC who chose a more non-romantic companion will instead be placed in a giant arena with Kyrian and several other Test-takers. The arena announcer declares that the Trial of the Terrorwind challenge is one of survival, as the last mage to remain standing will be the winner. Alternatively, one could renounce their magic forever to save all of the survivors and end the challenge prematurely. A gaseous monster known as a terrorwind will be conjured, its airy form picking up all manner of weapons on the ground to turn into a hurricane of death as it literally carves a path of destruction across the arena. And all the while, mages will turn on each other, making the assumption that the challenge will be sped up the more people die sooner.

In spite of the immediate danger, this is not a “roll for initiative” type of task. Various actions can determine the PC’s moral compass or tactical nature, such as immediately running to help Kyrian vs waiting to try and analyze the terrorwind’s nature. The “will you give up your magic?” offer happens when Kyrian says she doesn’t want to be a mage if it will result in the death of others and says they can still have a future if they stop the Test.

If a PC has no anchor in the storm and is a pure loner, the task instead will take place in a maze of mirrors. They will have only their own reflection as company, literally. The reflection will talk back to the PC in a judgmental way, asking if the risks and sacrifices are worth it if the PC will become just another minion of the Orders. The reflection will impose various challenges, such as shifting around and crushing them, and also a trick question of if they’d want to become a renegade mage for freedom. A PC who says yes will have the Test momentarily suspended, causing one of the Order leaders to go “we cannot allow that” as the mirrors explode in damaging shards, with an admonishment that they take such declarations seriously and they “have taken note of what’s happened here.” The Test continues on to Chapter Three, although it imposes the Renegade Mage trait.

This task’s “give up magic” is when the reflection shows a possible future for the PC where they are living an ideal domestic life with a happy family, a fate the reflection will say is something not even powerful mages can readily attain.

LBbxnBR.png

Chapter Three: Soulforge

This is the final chapter covering the Test, named after the process during the Test that results in a permanent (usually physical) alteration to a mage’s body marking the sacrifices they made for magic. It is in this chapter that a PC may gain Traits which alter their form or impose some kind of persistent magical effect that can often only be reversed via Greater Restoration or more powerful magic. The number of Destiny Points remaining at the end of the Test can also cause permanent changes, although in those cases the player has the choice in what forms they take.

The first task is more of a resting point, where the PC can avail themselves of a long rest or in one case forgo a long rest and instead regain a Destiny Point. The PC’s choices are a cozy seaside town to stay the night, a scenic glade where a dead spirit will try to seduce the PC…and of course in reality she’s a corpse but still genuinely desires companionship. A PC who accepts still gets a long rest as they hug in the pond for hours. In each case a saving throw is done at the end of the long rest based on one of two choices, where success grants Inspiration but a failure can cause either psychic damage (hangover after partying in the town’s case, embracing the spirit in the glade’s case) or losing 2 spell slots. The exception is the childhood home where success grants nothing.

The third option is the PC’s childhood home, which is empty save for blue dragon eggs which are just hatching. The baby dragons are harmless, although the text mentions that the PC knows they grow up to become fearsome servants of Takhisis and the dragons cannot be taken with them.

Content Warning: Child Death

A PC who decides to kill the hatchlings gains the Dragon Murderer trait, and at the end of the long rest their death cries may haunt the PC’s dreams as psychic damage on a failed save. Not only is this recognized as a Black Robe aligned trait, killing the dragons has no benefits in this test for it will guide the PC to a much more dangerous task in the future.

A PC who decides not to rest and continues to journey gains a Destiny Point.

The second task has a storm come up, and the PC must either climb aboard a ship or go into a raised sloped leading into a tunnel for shelter. In the case of the boat it is occupied by a stereotypical bearded captain who talks like a pirate and demands to set sail as Zeboim herself is causing the storm. During this storm an amphi dragon will menace the boat, and if the monster was scried back in Chapter One the PC may be able to prematurely end its threat by attacking its tongue (also a weakness that causes it to flee if initiative is rolled). The captain, if rescued from falling into the sea, can aid in combat…via just granting advantage on relevant attack and ability checks. The amphi dragon is a very dangerous enemy, with a high amount of hit points (51) and an acid breath attack that can deal 17 damage on a failed save. The tongue can also be attacked during combat for the same results of it retreating.

Otherwise, the flooded tunnel is a linear series of challenges such as going through magical darkness, swimming out of range of a tentacle from an unseen creature, and the possibility of fighting a swarm of eye-shaped aberrations in the water. They are also deadly in that they can do a lot of damage and make the PC lose a Hit Die or spell slot on a failed Constitution save, but their weakness is that they are vulnerable to a wide variety of energy types (fire, lightning, radiant, thunder).

The completion of either task grants a short rest and regains a Destiny Point if spent.

n2aVWhT.png


The third task is based on another backstory Trait from the first chapter. A PC who has a dead loved one will find themselves in a misty graveyard, confronted with the ghost of said loved one who has a number-based riddle. The PC must choose either a red, black, or white rose laying next to a numbered tome. The black rose is the right rose, and choosing the wrong one has the spirit take one of the PC’s bones, imposing the Lost a Bone trait as well as necrotic damage. The ghost can also be persuaded to let the PC go, which if successful lets them go on to the next task with a heartfelt goodbye and the Ghost-Touched trait as their hair turns white. If the PC used the scrying orb to see this location, they will have seen a vision of themselves doing a handstand, which reverses the numbers in their vision that can point them to the black rose as the answer.

And of course, the specter can be fought in battle by a PC who doesn’t want to play along. It isn’t as tough as the previous enemies, but has many undead immunities and a variety of damage resistances. It has a once per day Ghastly Reveal which can paralyze for one turn on a failed Wisdom save, and age the PC 1d4 x 10 years if they fail by 5 or more.

A PC who showed themselves to be either charitable or greedy and ambitious during Chapter One will instead find their third task inside a temple dedicated to the three gods of magic. The temple holds one of the Dragon Orbs, an artifact of great and terrible power that can influence dragons. There is also a thief who will try to take the Orb for themselves. Even just studying the Orb is deadly, with several challenges imposing psychic damage and other maladies such as Exhaustion or becoming vulnerable to psychic damage until freed from its control. The task can be resolved via finding a way to control the orb, shattering it, or merely observing it at which point the thief may try to steal it, triggering a deadly trap. A PC who intervenes to save them or leaves them to their fate will have the Order leaders comment on their actions, their approval or lack thereof depending on their Order in question.

A PC who has none of the appropriate backstory Traits instead appears in front of an arcane door that can be opened if a hand (or skeleton hand from hidden tombs) is placed inside, where poisonous needles will pierce the hand in order to open the door. A PC who scryed this area back in Chapter One will see themselves running from a danger, which in fact is a gelatinous cube. The PC must outmaneuver said ooze in a series of narrow hallways, and is pretty deadly on account that if they get trapped they will take 11 acid damage per round until they free themselves with Athletics and gain the Ooze-Scarred trait. In such a case they may very well need to spend a Destiny Point to survive. The ooze is purely a skill-based obstacle and is not fought normally via initiative.

The fourth task has the PC encounter either a gold or red dragon. The former is less dangerous and can even give the PC a useful potion. What triggers is based on two prior moral decisions: if the PC stole more than one scroll from the “take a scroll, leave a scroll” program in the Tower’s guest room or killed the dragon wyrmlings, they will end up in the red dragon’s lair. If not, then the gold dragon’s.

The gold dragon can offer one of three potions whose effects last for an hour, although in exchange the dragon will impose a Geas on the PC in line with ensuring some kind of proper moral behavior such as telling the truth to those who deserve to know if the potion of insight is chosen. The dragon won’t say what the price is until the PC makes their decision. One potion if drunk can heal nearby allies whenever they cast a spell (choosing this is a White Robe trait), another can damage an enemy whenever a verbal spell is cast (this is a Black Robe trait), and the final potion can let the PC automatically gain insight into any viewed creature’s type, weaknesses, resistances, vulnerabilities, and immunities (this is a Red Robe trait). The PC can of course attempt to steal more than one potion, which pisses off the dragon and if they can’t be mollified will cast a deadly 44 radiant damage moonbeam spell which even if survived can impose the Moon-Scarred trait (claw mark appears during full moon on PC’s face). A PC can choose not to take a potion, in which case the dragon can cast Greater Restoration which is also capable of erasing one of the wound-based Traits attained earlier. The PC can also regain a spent Destiny Point upon saying goodbye to the dragon if they took no potion.

The red dragon encounter takes place in the treasure hoard of a great cave. A PC can take some gems and coins for themselves and sneak out, although the red dragon will wake up at the last moment and try to breathe fire on the PC for 27 damage on a failed save as they flee. Otherwise if the PC is initially detected the dragon won’t be immediately hostile, and instead will be more curious. Depending on what the PC tells them may impose various challenges, and if they Controlled the Orb in the last task may have advantage on said checks. Failing to entertain the red dragon will have him breathe fire on the PC, a deadly 55 fire damage on a failed save with the Dragon-Scarred trait gained either way.

The fifth task is another long rest point, albeit with the PC returning to a more forlorn and deserted version. The abandoned village will have the PC meet briefly with Fizban at a Temple to Paladine and gain a statuette that can restore Inspiration if taken. The glade will have burned down, and a PC who embraced the spirit will see them one last time before they disappear, also granting Inspiration. PCs who spared the wyrmlings at the childhood home will find a sapphire worth 1,000 gold that also grants Inspiration. If a PC didn’t stop to rest they will find themselves on an overlook with the abandoned village far below, gaining the benefits of a long rest as well as a regained Destiny Point.

After the rest, there will be one more optional encounter depending on whether or not the PC accepted or spurned Fistandantilus’ aid. A PC who accepted his offer gains 14 temporary hit points and advantage on all saving throws, albeit if they angered him will have the archmage express frustration upon finding that the PC cannot have their thoughts read or future predicted, looking like a strange ripple in the River of Time.

rWvGhjM.png


The final task is a good old-fashioned boss battle. In three out of four battles there is a pseudo-Lair Action where a d4 table is rolled on to represent some aspect of the enemy: the fractured mage and gnoll shaman causes shifting terrain, and the minotaur mage has Traps in the maze.

A PC who mastered all of their fears will face a Lost Wizard who died during the Test and was never able to pass on to the afterlife; he has aberration-like features such as multiattack tentacles, a rechargeable reactive barrier to reduce incoming damage, a once per day mindshatter that deals a deadly 22 psychic damage on a failed save and if both tentacles hit, and a ranged arcane bolt spell attack. His weakness is that he is vulnerable to piercing damage.

The gnoll shaman occurs if a PC has Fear of the Wild and will fight a gnoll shaman in the middle of a burning forest. He can multiattack with either a vampiric-style HP restoring bite, a flaming skull staff, can curse the PC to become vulnerable to fire damage on a failed Charisma save once per day, or also summon spirit hyenas once per day to impose the frightened condition and restore his own hit points. The shaman’s weakness is he fears the light of Solinari that illuminates a 60 foot radius patch of woodland, dealing radiant damage to him if he’s inside* and healing the PC an equal amount if they Chose Solinari as their preferred god during the interview in Chapter One.

*if the PC goes inside the radius, the gnoll will reluctantly follow them to do battle.

The minotaur is fought if the PC has Fear of Bullies trait, where a tormentor from their past appears to mock them before turning into a minotaur. This battle is one of guerilla warfare, where the minotaur can turn invisible as a reaction if he hits with a hurled bolt of (1d8 thankfully) lightning, allowing him to escape and forcing initiative to be rolled again the next time he’s encountered. The PC must make a Survival check; failure leads the PC into a trap before initiative is rolled, while success avoids the trap the next time they fight. This boss doesn’t have multiattack like the above two, but he can still hit very hard with a greataxe or charging gore attack. His weakness is he is vulnerable to psychic damage and can be taunted via Deception or Persuasion into triggering his own traps.

A PC who has the Fear of Death trait will find themselves in a tomb with named stone reliefs depicting the names of great heroes. A cheerful ghost of a kender bard will appear, asking why the PC “looks so grim” as death comes for everyone and the best they can hope for is dying for something that matters. The ghost bard is pretty weak having only 13 hit points and there’s no d4 environment table, but the boss’ unique feature is that he can possess the skeletons of one of four heroes, which have their own unique actions and basically refresh his hit points. For instance, the Knight Skeleton has a longsword that deals bonus radiant damage, the Soldier Skeleton can knock someone prone with a shield smash, and so on. And being a kender, he has a rechargeable Taunt ability, although this one forces the PC to reroll a successful ability check, attack, or saving throw if they fail a Wisdom save to resist the taunting.

The battle is ended if all skeletons are destroyed, although a PC who can shatter or move aside the tomb lids can destroy the skeletons via an action before they activate. The other big weakness is that the skeletons are vulnerable to bludgeoning damage.

By eyeballing the boss’ stats and tactics, the kender bard looks to be potentially the easiest, with the minotaur and Lost Wizard being potentially the deadliest. PCs who are stereotypical fragile spellcasters can be quickly overwhelmed by the minotaur’s hit and run tactics combined with the maze-like corridors and emphasis on melee and charge attacks. The Lost Wizard has some pretty damaging attacks as well as abilities that can mess with the PC’s action economy such as stunning once per day Memory Trap and a shifting terrain that can poison, knock prone, or make them unable to take reactions. There is one result of the souls of prior Test-takers crying out for revenge that can be helpful in stunning the boss, although it’s only a 25% chance. The kender wizard’s skeletons are individually fragile and their attacks don’t do much damage individually, so a PC with a familiar, summoned companions, or other means of immobilizing or doing AoE damage to take out both inert and possessed skeletons may very well be able to quickly finish up this encounter. As for the gnoll, like the minotaur it is also rather melee focused although doesn’t do as much damage, although if it gets the PC vulnerable to fire damage that may put it up there with the Lost Wizard or Minotaur.

W5ED2nj.png

Chapter Four: Epilogue

This chapter triggers either when a PC finishes the Test or voluntarily gives up their magic. Depending on the DM the PC may or may not keep the treasures they gained during this adventure and may or may not reach 5th level. In the case of giving up their magic they must retrain in a non-arcane class, and their order is determined based on how many Traits have been checkmarked in the below table:

H378vUp.png


If a PC has two or more traits in one category than others then they will be part of that Order. Having one more or the same amount or within 1 point lets the player choose based on what actions best represent that Order. If a PC doesn’t already have them then they will gain the Initiate of High Sorcery feat and one of the Robe Adept feats, both detailed in Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Additionally the number of remaining Destiny Points have the Order leaders make judgements, with more points granting the PC a free magic item of common to rare rarity, and those who have 5 Destiny Points also gain an additional feat provided they meet the prerequisites. At 0 points the PC’s exertion and injuries never heal entirely and cause them to act, look, move, think, or speak very differently than before. At 1 or 2 this is what the average mage has scored, and the PC has two lingering injuries that magnify in intensity on the night of a full moon. 3 or 4 has only one lingering injury that can be hidden from others. 5 or more has no lingering injury but the PC has a permanent physical change obvious to others. Additionally the Conclave is secretly terrified by the PC, as only a few mages in the entirety of High Sorcery’s history have done this well, and already they can respect and fear among Ansalon’s arcane casters. Raistlin notably scored this high on his own Test.

Finally, there’s a list of Traits and Future Adventures that goes over the consequences of certain Traits and what they mean for the rest of the campaign if not a one-shot. Even the ones resulting in the PC giving up their magic can generate future events, like being contacted by former mages who feel that the Tests are too cruel and seek to reform the Conclave via diplomacy (Life Over Magic), or a resistance movement impressed by the PC’s selflessness wanting to recruit them against the Dragon Armies or whoever is the BBEG if playing in other eras (Friendship Over Magic). The Marked by Fistandantilus trait has a direct benefit of giving +2 Intelligence but -2 Constitution to the PC, and several months later they get a letter of invitation to become the wicked archmage’s apprentice. The Renegade Mage trait still has the PC part of one of the Orders, but due to what they said during the Test they are kept a close watch and restricted from resources that other mages have access to, albeit one other mage is sympathetic to their plight.

These aren’t a complete list of long-term Traits, just illuminating several I find interesting.

Our book ends with several appendices, covering new magic items found during the Test or which are unique ones part of pregenerated PCs, NPC and monster stat blocks, and 4 pre-generated characters suitable for the Test.

Overall Thoughts: The Test of High Sorcery is perhaps one of the most well-known aspects of Dragonlance thanks in no small part to the legacy of Raistlin Majere. However, implementing it in a regular session of Dungeons & Dragons is hard: if done solo it runs into the Decker Problem where one player is doing something while others sit around, and as the Tower of Wayreth is in an isolated corner of Ansalon it may not be a reasonable goal for PCs to venture there depending on where the campaign takes place. There have been various workarounds in this product and others, such as the use of teleporting mages or letting the rest of the party accompany them. There does exist advice for crafting a Test as an adventure, although actual detailed steps don’t really exist in Dragonlance books save for the 3rd Edition Towers of High Sorcery sourcebook, although given the limitations of that system it is hard to create truly balanced encounters.

This product is the first to my knowledge that actually turns the Test into an outright adventure, and from what I can tell can accommodate solo gaming without resulting in the inevitable TPK, or Solo Party Kill to be more appropriate. The encounters are concrete enough, yet can be easily customized to suit the particular backstories of a PC so that the Test feels personalized to them. There’s enough branching pathways and Traits to make the choices a PC makes matter, and the potential to gain gold, magic items, and perhaps bonus feats makes completing the Test feel like a real reward rather than an in-universe obligation for playing an arcane caster.

My most immediate concerns are the lethality and fairness of a solo gaming format. Although it is rare, the parts where initiative is rolled can be very swingy and barring summoner-type mages the enemy can afford to focus all their attacks on a single PC who probably has a d8 Hit Die at best. The incorporation of monster weaknesses that can be learned and exploited takes the edge off a bit, but unlike the ability checks and saving throws that are more structured a battle can really turn things around for an unlucky PC. Even though the book says to play the monsters in an unbiased way for GMless play, there’s still that subconscious bias on the PC’s side of “if I die, I won’t get to experience the rest of this cool adventure!” While the adventure compensates by increasing task DCs and monster lethality for group play, taking on a full party still feels like a good idea if only to give a wider range of proficiencies and resources.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


Libertad

Hero
Just for fun, I decided to run through this adventure with 3 original PCs to see how things hold up. I used 27 Point Buy for generating stats and, barring an alternative take on the Kender from Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything, I stuck to official sourcebooks for character building. While there is some inevitable metagaming as I have read this adventure, CYOA books are meant to be replayed by design. Even so, I made each character different enough to have them pick “sub-optimal options” in line with their personalities.

I am happy to say that of the three, two managed to complete their test, with only one death. And that was at the final battle!

50cJSGv.jpg

Adventure1, Elf Wizard

For my first character I decided to make Azrifa Moondew, a stereotypical elven wizard. Given the emphasis on puzzle-solving over combat, I made her specialize in divination and chose a Stone of Good Luck as her free uncommon magic item. Combined with Portent, these were pretty powerful choices optimized to give her the edge in rolling the many ability checks and saving throws of the Test of High Sorcery.

In her playthrough Azrifa survived, and went for the moral yet practical-sounding options when possible. The idea was that she was someone who preferred to act when she had all of the information, and didn’t want to intrude into unknown territory. Particularly if it involved her owing a debt of nebulous condition to a greater power: she resisted Fistandantilus’ offer, angering him, and when confronted with the gold dragon refused his offer of a potion as she didn’t want to make a deal without knowing the price; in exchange he healed her Ghost-Touched trait that was gained from an earlier challenge. Azrifa also gave up her Wand of Fickle Luck instead of making a deal with the hag, also reinforcing her tactics of risk-minimization.

The final battle was with the Lost Wizard, and I have to admit the dice were luckily on my side, as the boss was unlucky with their own melee attacks and managed to exhaust their limited-use abilities. I won with 4 Destiny Points remaining.

Azrifa wasn’t lacking in spell slots; combined with Arcane Recovery and being a Wizard, the High Sorcery feats also gave me a decent amount of backup spells. Shield and White Robe Adept’s Protective Ward were also helpful in prolonging my life during the final battle, while Magic Missile and Scorching Ray were my primary damage-dealers.

Azrifa Moondew
Lawful Good Qualinesti High Elf School of Divination Wizard 4
Background Mage of High Sorcery
Armor Class 12 (15 with Mage Armor)
Hit Points 26 (4d6+8)
Speed 30 feet

STR 8 (-1) DEX 15 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 18 (+4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 10
Saving Throws Intelligence +7, Wisdom +4 (added +1 from Stone)
Skills Arcana +7, History +7, Insight +4, Investigation +7, Perception +4 (added +1 from Stone)
Weapons Daggers, darts, longbow, longsword, shortbow, shortsword slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows
Senses Passive Perception 13, Darkvision 60 feet
Languages Common, Draconic, Dwarvish, Elven, Istarian
Feats Adept of the White Robes, Initiate of High Sorcery

Equipment
Dagger
Component Pouch
Scholar’s Pack
Spellbook
Bottle of Colored Ink
Ink pen
Set of Common Clothes
Pouch
10 GP
Stone of Good Luck (+1 to ability checks and saving throws, attuned)

Miscellaneous Abilities


Adept of the White Robes: cast Locate Object and Mind Spike 1/long rest each
Arcane Recovery: 1/day choose up to 2 levels worth of spell slots to recover after a short rest
Fey Ancestry: Advantage vs charm, immune to magical sleep
Initiate of High Sorcery: cast Protection From Evil & Good and Shield 1/long rest each
Portant: roll and record two d20s at end of long rest, can replace any attack roll, ability check, or saving throw you or a creature you can see makes with the roll.
Protective Ward: use reaction to spend spell slot, reduce damage by xd6+4, with x equal to spell slot level
Trance: rest for 4 hours a day

Spells

Spell Save DC 14
Spell Attack Modifier +6

Spell Slots: 1st: 4/4; 2nd: 3/3

Cantrips: Dancing Lights (high elf) ©, Fire Bolt (feat), Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost

1st Level: Burning Hands, Charm Person, Detect Magic ®, Find Familiar ®, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Protection from Evil and Good ©, Shield, Sleep, Unseen Servant ®

2nd Level: Invisibility ©, Locate Object ©, Mind Spike, Mirror Image, Scorching Ray, Web ©

Feats: Locate Object 1/1, Mind Spike 1/1, Protection from Evil & Good 1/1, Shield 1/1

fykXhZ4.jpg

Adventure 2, Kender Mage-Thief

This was the only adventure which resulted in a death. My backstory was that an enterprising kender known as Carbery Tanglefoot happened upon a spellbook and began to study the arcane arts, thus the Arcane Trickster subclass for Rogue. I built her as more of a support mage or one that relies on hit and run tactics, with her primary damage-dealing ability being Sneak Attack and the bulk of spells being stuff that debilitates the enemy like Hideous Laughter or Color Spray. I chose the Winged Boots as my free uncommon magic item, which was helpful in the two battles but bad luck still did the poor kender in at the end. As I figured that this adventure may be part of an ongoing campaign, not all PCs are going to be built with soloing challenges, so Carbery is very much one of those “abilities best in tandem with other party members” kind of mages.

I played up Carbery’s incessant curiosity and good nature while also still being new to this whole world of magic. She examined the circle of Takhisis and watched the fey dance in the forests of Wayreth, tried to save two people at risk to herself during the terrorwind arena, “borrowed” some extra scrolls from the community pool, and was overconfident and managed to humor the rakshasa by talking his ear off about all the things she gathered from putting together his identity in the test of knowledge (“one of my favorite things is learning new stuff about the world!”).

Sadly, she took a beating during the two fights. The amphi dragon lucked out and was able to immediately recharge their breath weapon which it used once again, and I had to burn through Destiny Points to keep Carbery alive. As I didn’t have much in the way of damaging magic, I had to rely on targeting his tongue and hoping to roll high enough to do 10 damage. The advantage from the captain fighting alongside me in combat was canceled out by the disadvantage and I had spent my Inspiration already in hopes of hitting with a Sneak Attack (I didn’t), so I lucked out in rolling the best result on a 1d6+4 a few rounds in.

In hindsight I suppose I could’ve used Hideous Laughter or Color Spray to try and negate its actions, but as an Arcane Trickster I wasn’t brimming with spell slots. I also figured that given the storm my kender mage couldn’t fly around too much in what would at least be difficult terrain.

My end came with the final battle against the gnoll shaman. I suppose that a kender’s fear immunity* from a narrative perspective would’ve made them get the Lost Wizard but I still wanted to roll for the “master your fears” if only to see some variance in the boss battles. My PC took advantage of her winged boots to stay out of the gnoll’s melee reach, but his Fire Bolt cantrip combined with the d4 terrain causing fire damage on a few results caused the tale of Carbery Tanglefoot to come to a premature end.

*These rolls don’t specify how resistance or immunity to the frightened condition changes the challenge during the interview, and the Tasslehoff’s Pouches kender are immune to the frightened condition but not necessarily all forms of fear-based stuff.

Carbery Tanglefoot
Chaotic Good Wanderlust Kender* Arcane Trickster Rogue 4
Background Mage of High Sorcery
Armor Class 15 (leather armor)
Hit Points 27 (4d8+4)
Speed 30 feet

STR 10 (0) DEX 18 (+4) CON 13 (+1) INT 16 (+3) WIS 10 (0) CHA 10 (0)
Saving Throws Dexterity +6, Intelligence +5
Skills Acrobatics +6, Arcana +7, History +5, Perception +2, Sleight of Hand +6, Stealth +8
Armor Light armor
Weapons improvised weapons, simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortbows
Tools Thieves’ Tools
Senses Passive Perception 12
Languages Common, Ergot, Kenderspeak, Solamnic, Thieves’ Cant
Feats Adept of the Red Robes, Initiate of High Sorcery

Equipment
Rapier
Shortbow w/ 20 arrows
2 daggers
Explorer’s Pack
Thieves’ Tools
Leather Armor
Bottle of colored ink
Ink pen
Set of common clothes
Pouch
10 GP
Winged Boots (attuned)

Miscellaneous Abilities

Adept of the Red Robes: cast Blur and Knock once per long rest each, if roll a 9 or lower on attack or ability check can treat as a 10 up to 2 times per long rest.
Cunning Action: Dash, Disengage, Hide, or control Mage Hand as bonus action.
Expertise: Double proficiency on Arcana and Stealth.
Explorer: add double proficiency for History checks regarding geography
Fearless: immune to frightened condition
Kender Pockets: pull random item as a bonus action, roll on Kender Pockets table. Remains for 10 minutes, this can be used 2 times per long rest
Initiate of High Sorcery: cast Color Spray and Feather Fall once each per long rest.
Mage Hand Legerdemain: Use mage hand to also retrieve or stow one object in a container, use thieves’ tools to pick locks and disarm traps at range.
Sneak Attack 2d6
Taunt: bonus action targeted creature who fails DC 10 Charisma save is enraged, attacks against other targets take disadvantage and they cannot take disengage action. Can be done up to 2 times per long rest.

Spells

Spell Save DC 13
Spell Attack Modifier +5

Spell Slots 1st: 3/3

Cantrips: Gust, Light, Mage Hand (subclass), Message, Shocking Grasp (feat)

1st Level: Charm Person, Color Spray, Feather Fall, Grease, Hideous Laughter ©, Silent Image ©

Blur 1/1, Color Spray 1/1, Feather Fall 1/1, Knock 1/1

*Race from Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything

849S1L0.jpg

Adventure 3, Hobgoblin Battlecaster

I debated between statting up an Eldritch Knight Fighter or Hexblade Warlock for a “gish build,” but I went with the latter because it felt cooler. Unlike the prior two characters I went for a darker and edgier character: Ret’jarvo is a hobgoblin warrior who came upon a fell spirit that taught him the gift of arcane magic to give him an edge in battle. As he wanted to learn magic to better vanquish his enemies, his spells and invocations reflected this. The Fiendish Vigor Invocation guaranteed that he’d always have a reserve of temporary hit points to draw upon during the challenges, and Devil’s Sight plus the Darkness spell gave him a great edge during the battles. I chose an adamantine breastplate as the uncommon magic item, and chose Warcaster over an Ability Score Increase for 4th level so he can cast with a shield and have a sturdy 18 Armor Class. I chose to use the hobgoblin race from Volo’s rather than Mordenkainen’s on account that Volo’s is closer to classic hobgoblins than the fey retcon of the newer book.

Ret’jarvo was ambitious and used to currying favor with whoever seemed to be on the winning side, so he helped out Takhisis during the fairy and bakali encounters, threatened the medusa’s eggs into bypassing that fight, made a deal with Fistandantilus, kept the magic stone instead of giving it to the siren, and let the thief die when triggering the dragon orb trap. He chose to spare the blue dragon wyrmlings given their association with Takhisis, which in a rare twist was the moral choice for the wrong reasons. If anything, that decision came back to hurt him as the gold dragon geas for the offensive potion made it so that he wouldn’t slay innocent lives!

Ret’jarvo’s two battles were against the swarm of swimming eyes which was prolonged due to a lot of misses on both sides, but he used the Amulet of Takhisis’ charges to do a lot of lightning damage; his Dreamed of Drowning let him auto-know the monster’s weakness. The warlock was actually a pretty craven individual, as he had both Fear of Dying and Fear of the Wild from the “face your fears” interview with the Order leaders. I figured that he’d be more scared of death, so chose that for the final battle.

The battle against the kender ghost and skeletons was trivial. His pact weapon was a warhammer so he easily one-shotted each skeleton given their bludgeoning vulnerability, and given his high AC and temporary hit points he was able to destroy each one after the other. The skeletal knight was the most threatening due to its high damage with the lance, so he took advantage of the gold dragon potion by casting blindness/deafness to try and deal damage with it failing a saving throw in lieu of going for its AC.

Ret’jarvo, unsurprisingly, was inducted into the Order of Black Robes. But he also passed the Test with flying colors, having 5 out of 5 Destiny Points remaining by its end!

Whilst Ret’jarvo had the most hit points and a decent armor class which really helped him out, having a rechargeable pool of temporary hit points was perhaps the greatest boon. I tried to be “fair” in not refreshing it during times when the challenge had areas in which to be silent, like the medusa cave, in order to not trigger verbal components. Or when he had to avoid suspicion like with the bakali asking him for help. But I was able to more or less ignore the negative consequences of failing the less-damaging checks and he was able to perform the best when initiative was rolled.

Ret’jarvo
Lawful Evil Volo Hobgoblin Hexblade Warlock 4
Background Mage of High Sorcery
Armor Class 18 (adamantine breastplate + shield)
Hit Points 35 (4d8+12)
Speed 30 feet

STR 10 (0) DEX 14 (+2) CON 16 (+3) INT 8 (-1) WIS 10 (0) CHA 16 (+3)
Saving Throws Wisdom +1, Charisma +5
Skills Arcana +1, Deception +5, History +1, Intimidation +5
Armor Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools
Senses Passive Perception 10, Devil’s Sight 120 feet
Languages Common, Goblin, Ogre, Primordial
Feats Adept of the Black Robes, Initiate of High Sorcery, War Caster

Equipment
Mace
Spear
Component Pouch
Dungeoneer’s Pack
Leather Armor
2 daggers
Bottle of colored ink
Ink pen
Set of common clothes
Pouch
Shield
Adamantine Breastplate

Miscellaneous Abilities

Ambitious Magic: Cast Blindness/Deafness and Suggestion once per long rest each without using spell slot. Can spend a Hit Die (d8) equal to spell level to add to damage of spell if creature within 60 feet fails save of spell.
Hexblade’s Curse: as bonus action curse target within 30 feet for 1 minute. Deal +2 damage, crit on 19-20, if they die regain 7 HP (level + CHA). Can use only once per short or long rest.
Hex Warrior: Whenever finishing a long rest can touch one weapon that is not two-handed. Add Charisma modifier instead of Strength or Dexterity for attack and damage rolls, applies also to pact weapons.
Initiate of High Sorcery: Cast Dissonant Whispers and Hex once per long rest each.
Invocation, Devil’s Sight: See in both magical and nonmagical darkness up to 120 feet.
Invocation, Fiendish Vigor: Cast false life on self at will as 1st level spell without using spell slot or material components.
Pact of the Blade: use action to create a weapon with which you are proficient, is treated as magical. Can turn a magic weapon into a pact weapon, it can then be dismissed into extradimensional space.
Saving Face: If fail on attack or ability check, can gain a bonus equal to the number of allies you can see within 30 feet (max +5). Can use once per short or long rest.
War Caster: Advantage on CON saves to maintain concentration when taking damage. Can perform somatic components even when hands are full. Can use reaction to cast a spell at a creature as part of an opportunity attack.

Spells

Spell Save DC 13
Spell Attack Modifier +5

2 2nd level spell slots per short rest

Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Mind Sliver, Prestidigitation

1st Level: Cause Fear, Charm Person, Dissonant Whispers, Hex, Protection from Evil and Good, Shield, Wrathful Smite

2nd Level: Blindness/Deafness, Blur, Branding Smite, Darkness, Misty Step, Suggestion

Blindness/Deafness 1/1, Dissonant Whispers 1/1, Hex 1/1, Suggestion 1/1

If there's enough interest I may stream with an audience on Twitch, where we make an OC or use the pregens and run through this adventure with audience participation determining results.
 
Last edited:

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
Hey, thanks for going through this so extensively! I adapted the Test and Towers into my own setting for more practical purposes (to avoid wild magic) but I've always wished to have good example for what the tests were. More importantly I've wanted consequences, a feature with benefits and drawbacks.
I might pick this adventure up for ideas; thank you :)
 

Libertad

Hero
You're welcome!

Back when I initially reviewed this, the book was relatively new on the Guild. Now, it's one of the best-selling third party Dragonlance books on the site, which I'm very heartened to see. Turns out there's huge demand for solo wizard adventures, whodathunkit?
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top