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5E Problems with Tales from the Yawning Portal

pukunui

Hero
Hi folks,

Much like I did with Princes of the Apocalypse, I'm working on compiling a list of all the major and minor errors and discrepancies in Tales from the Yawning Portal. Considering that much of what was on the PotA list made it into that adventure's official errata, it's possible the same thing might happen here.

Here's what we've got so far:

MAP ISSUES
  • Map 1.1: Fortress Level, Room 10: The map shows a statue icon in every alcove, despite the fact that the text on pg 15 makes it clear there should not be one in the southwestern alcove (as that is where the quasit was originally bound as a guardian).
  • Map 1.1: Fortress Level, Room 30: This room appears to be an open balcony with a parapet on the map, although this is not backed up by the room's description on pg 21. [It is worth noting, however, that the read-aloud text from the original 3e module includes the following line: "The northern wall is smashed, opening on rubble-strewn darkness."]
  • Map 6.1: Hill Giant Stronghold, Upper Level, Room 5: The maids' chamber has no door. According to the map from the original adventure, there should be a door on the east wall, opening into the hallway.
  • Giant Strongholds, General: Most corridors in all three Giant Lairs are too narrow for the Giants to actually fight in without squeezing, which is a significant penalty in 5e. This is a hang-over from the AD&D days, when most giants were Large not Huge; the 5e maps have not been re-sized. DM's might prefer to enlarge the maps, or allow their giants to be Large, given it's assumed that the Giants built their own lairs hence would size them appropriately.

TEXT ERRORS

  • Ravine: The description of the ravine conflicts with the description of the ledge and doesn't match the map very well. Also the description of the age of the rope conflicts with the age of the camp fires, tracks, and introductory summary.
  • Dragon Door Lock: The description of the locked door in area 6 on the fortress level of The Sunless Citadel (pg 14) indicates that one can make a Dex check with thieves' tools to bypass the magical lock. This check should actually be for the mechanical lock.
  • Underdark Access: In area 23 of the fortress level of The Sunless Citadel (pg 19), the read-aloud text incorrectly puts the Underdark tunnel on the east side of the room. It is actually on the west side.
  • Practice Range: In area 33 of the fortress level of The Sunless Citadel (pg 22), it states that if things go badly, one of the goblins "attempts to warn the goblin warriors in area 39." The problem is, there are no goblin warriors in area 39. Presumably this is meant to refer to the goblin bandits in the area 36 to the north of this room (there is another area 36 to the south of area 39).
  • Tloques-Popolocas: They should have done a proper statblock for this guy. He's got some problems, as well as some fiddly and/or vague modifications. For starters, the text seems confused as to whether or not he's got a ring of protection. On page 68, it says he does, but then later it says his "normal AC" is 17. If he had a ring of protection, it would be 18. On page 69, under Treasure, it says he has a ring of fire resistance and a ring of animal influence. In the original adventure, he *did* have a ring of protection. I'm guessing they swapped it out for the ring of animal influence so he wouldn't have too many attuned items. On top of that, there is no spellcasting ability/save DC listed for his innate hold person spell, and his blood-drinker ability doesn't explain how he drains the blood out of the victim (does he still bite them, or does he cut them with a claw, or what?). It also doesn't say whether he regains hit points when he drinks the blood.
  • Trapped Safe: On page 107, in the "Treasure" section of the Terraced Aquarium room in White Plume Mountain, the text states that there is a safe in the north wall that is trapped, such that if it is opened incorrectly, it causes a vibration that breaks the glass walls of the aquarium. What the text does *not* state is how to detect the trap or remove it, which is odd given the effort the designers have put into doing just that for pretty much every other trap in this book.

STATBLOCK ERRORS
  • Giant Subterranean Lizard: It's subterranean, meaning it lives underground, yet it can't see in the dark! I reckon it should have darkvision out to 60 feet at the very least.
  • Champion: The Multiattack line in the champion's statblock indicates that it can make two attacks with its shortbow, even though it is actually armed with a light crossbow. This same error appears in the champion statblock in Volo's Guide to Monsters.
  • Choker: The choker's Challenge line reads "1 (100 XP)". That should either be "1 (200 XP)" or "1/2 (100 XP)". It is unclear which.
  • Conjurer: The conjurer's conjuration cantrips have asterisks, even though they are not "Conjuration spells of 1st level or higher". This same error appears in the conjurer statblock in Volo's Guide to Monsters.
  • Evoker: The evoker's Sculpt Spells trait reads: "When the evoker casts an evocation spell that forces other creatures it can see, it can choose ..." It would appear some words are missing, probably "to make a saving throw". This same error appears in the evoker statblock in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

MINOR DISCREPANCIES

  • Old Yarrack: In room 8 of The Forge of Fury (pg 42), room 11 is referred to after mentioning Old Yarrack. Room 11 has nothing to with Old Yarrack, and this should probably be room 14, the location of Old Yarrack.
  • Rug of Smothering: The rug of smothering in Arundil's Chambers in The Forge of Fury (pg 57) is described as being "Gargantuan" with a capital G. This suggests that we are meant to adjust the default rug's statblock to take into account its change in size, however the text does not note what all changes should be made. At the very least, it should have 63 (6d20) hit points. You may want to make it so it can grapple Huge or smaller creatures and perhaps even deal more damage. These changes may affect its CR as well.
  • Giant Crayfish: According to the statblock on page 235, a giant crayfish has an Intelligence of 1 and can't speak. However, the giant crayfish in The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (pg 66) can speak Olman.
  • Xipe: With one exception (his innate spells), Xipe the oni from The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan appears to use the default oni stats from the MM. This means he has chainmail armor and wields a glaive. However, it's worth noting that, in the full page artwork on page 60, he appears to not be wearing any armor and is wielding a cat-o-nine-tails scourge.
  • Conjurer vs Tarul Var: Both the generic conjurer and the conjurer lich Tarul Var have the Benign Transposition ability. However, while it's only a bonus action for the generic conjurer, it costs Var an action to use. Not sure if this was deliberate or an oversight. Also, while the abilities are otherwise effectively the same, they are worded slightly differently as well.
  • Demiliches: Acererak's entry in Tomb of Horrors specifically states that he is a demilich with the Trap the Soul action and access to lair actions. Kazit Gul's entry in Dead in Thay does not specifically state this. However, there is a paragraph talking about how souls trapped in his gem teeth can be released after he's been killed by crushing them. Since Gul does not appear to have the Trap the Soul action, this paragraph appears to be extraneous and should probably be ignored.
  • Sleep Poison: In the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, there are two instances where a kind of sleep poison (in gas form in area 7 [pg 67] and in liquid form in area 22 [pg 75]) can be dispelled with "dispel magic using a spell slot of 7th level or higher". Not only is this is impossible for PCs of levels 5-7, but it also goes against how the dispel magic spell works. One ought to be able to dispel the effect with dispel magic cast at 3rd level, as long as the caster succeeds on a DC 17 spellcasting ability check.

THINGS TO NOTE
  • Sorcerers: It would appear that, in this book at least, NPC sorcerers are assumed to have a number of sorcery points equal to their sorcerer level, which they have already spent on gaining extra spell slots. Cases in point: Yusdrayl, the kobold leader in The Sunless Citadel, is a 2nd level sorcerer with four 1st level slots, while Kaarghaz, the troglodyte chieftain in The Forge of Fury, is a 4th level sorcerer with six 1st level slots. Jeremy Crawford confirmed this via Twitter: "If a monster, like Kaarghaz, has more spell slots than normal and is a sorcerer, you know what it spent its sorcery points on."
  • Rat Swarm: The swarm of rats in the Court of Cemanhuac in The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (pg 71) says it is "made up of diseased giant rats." This would most likely mean that it is a Large swarm with 31 (7d10 - 7) hit points. Or you could just go with the "swarm of rats (diseased, as giant rats)" entry from the random encounters table (pg 64), in which case you just need to add the effects of the giant rat disease to the statblock.
  • Olman Scroll of Stone Shape: In The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, there is a scroll of stone shape that is "written in astrological symbols of the Olman" (pg 81). It is unclear whether this is just fluff text or whether it should have a mechanical effect (eg. Having the spell on your class spell list isn't enough to be able to cast the spell from the scroll, you must also be able to read Olman).
  • Ctenmiir: Vampires don't normally have truesight, but apparently this guy does. That's fine; it just doesn't give a range limit. 120 feet is a safe bet, though, as that's what all the monsters with truesight in the MM have. Also, Ctenmiir was originally a dwarf. This is not mentioned in the adventure text, but it is mentioned in the entry for Whelm in the DMG (pg 218). You might want to consider adjusting the vampire statblock to take this into account.
  • Waythe: The intelligent greatsword found in the hill giant steading is listed as having a Wisdom of 2. This may or may not be an error.

If you spot anything, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.
EDIT: I've made this thread a wiki thread. If you add something to the list, please try to keep to the above format.


Cheers,
Jonathan
 
Last edited:

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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Thanks for doing this - also you could make this into a Wiki thread? :)
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Hi folks,

Much like I did with Princes of the Apocalypse, I'm working on compiling a list of all the major and minor errors and discrepancies in Tales from the Yawning Portal. Considering that much of what was on the PotA list made it into that adventure's official errata, it's possible the same thing might happen here.
Didn't know about that handy thread of PotA - I've added it to the "Best of" collection!
 


jasper

Rotten DM
You may want to scan the writes I did of my sessions for Season 6. Maps are a main gripe of mine.
 



jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
Great idea. I have added this to the list of wiki threads in the sticky post at the top of this forum.
 


James Gasik

First Post
Oh man, my issues with Hidden Shrine, where to begin...

*A lot of encounters are vastly underpowered- this is a conversion of a 1st Edition adventure, and it shows: the traps are super-deadly, but a lot of the actual fights are barely a speed bump for Tier 2 adventurers. The only advice they give (and not even in the adventure itself, but in a "Hooks for the Hidden Shrine" article) is to "add one or two monsters". Gee thanks.

*The poison gas: the intent here is that players can't rest in the Shrine because of the d6 poison damage per hour. Also, every square inch of the place until you get to Room 39 is full of the stuff, which also lightly obscures squares (disadvantage on sight-based Perception). Which would theoretically make the traps much harder to find (and there have been a few DC 20 checks). This wouldn't be so bad by itself, but...

*Trapped in the Shrine: you can't get out. No going to town for you. Didn't buy potions or antitoxin? Oh darn.

*Cursed Items: this is an AL problem really. In a home game, a cursed item is something you generally get screwed over with a few times, then a simple spell lets you drop it in a hole somewhere. AL rules can lead to strange situations where a player chooses an item before they know it's cursed. Now, it's permanently a part of their character, quite possibly preventing them from picking up new items, even if they never use it. Worse, what if they go to someone else's table? Do I give them a sealed note with "FOR THE DM" on it, to say "by the by, they have this cursed item...". Or do I just tell them it's cursed before it triggers?

*Hazard Immunity: so the monsters in the Shrine are stated to be immune to a lot of it's hazards..."because". There was some heat about this from my group. It's one thing if you're in a poison filled room fighting a vampire, but when he summons 8 bat swarms, that raises questions.

*Room 1: not that any of these enemies are challenging, but they only appear if the party decides to pick up little figurines and set them on the floor. My group just pocketed them all, lol.

*Room 3: being knocked prone when you attack doesn't really mean much, it's your turn, you can just stand up again. I didn't see much reason anyone would want to dash.

*Room 5: so you need 48 Strength to move a limestone block that deals 1 acid damage per turn you touch it, and it takes 10 rounds to move it. My party was really close to saying "screw this", lol. Also, science in D&D!

*7: so many problems. Opening the door with lockpicks bypasses the trap automatically. DC 15. Searching for the trap is DC 20. Removing it is DC 20. Messing up unleashes a ridiculous hazard. Could the writer be a sadistic jerk who wants to punish you for having the nerve to search for traps?

*Sleep Gas: What. Just...what. So ok, every round you have to make a DC 10 save. Fine. If you fail, you are poisoned, and fall asleep, ok, fine. For 5000 years! Which is admittedly hilarious, but the weirdness starts when the adventure says how you can be cured.

"If magic is used to cure the poisoned condition, the recipient is immune to the poison for one hour". My reading of this was that poison cures suspend the effects of the sleep poison for one hour. Several of my players immediately fired off "rules-argument.exe". Their way of thinking was that removing the condition just works, and ALSO makes you immune for an hour as a side benefit. My evidence to support my ruling was the next bit:

*A casting of Dispel Magic USING A SPELL SLOT OF 7TH LEVEL OR HIGHER can also end the effect. So many problems with this statement. I mean, first of all, none of the party members should have access to such a spell. This hearkens back to old D&D, where many "magical effects" in dungeons were randomly cast at super high level, to prevent players from doing anything about it. So poison removal grants "immunity for 1 hour", Dispel Magic "ends the effect". It's also conceivable that the Dispel is intended to get rid of all the sleep gas and anyone affected by it, but the text is very unclear.

I ruled that poison removal or antitoxin suspends the effect for 1 hour, a normal casting of Dispel Magic ends the poison's effect for good (as it's semi-magical in nature). I thought I was being a fair DM; my players accused me of trying to "screw them over". LOL.

*The Glyph of Warding: by the rules, can be triggered by, heh, reading it. Which you kind of need to do, and really, how does detect such a trap? More of a problem with the spell...oh and what a spell. Save DC 17- by the rules, this Glyph was cast by a very high level caster. And even then, it cheats, because it hits every person in the tomb with Bestow Curse. And then...the adventure has the nerve to not say what effect the curse has other than a vague "every cursed violator receives a visit from Tloques or some other agent of Zotzilaha seeking retribution" 4d10 days later. Unless THAT'S the curse?

*The Battleaxe. No name. Powerful. Cursed. Unique rarity. Neat for a home game, trouble in AL. Also, why is there an option to "break" it's most interesting power? One of my Rogues removed the scroll thinking it was a map, message, clue, or just a spell scroll. Which is a reasonable interpretation...oops, he broke it. Which is sad because the Passwall might have gotten them out of the Shrine...

*Room 8: oh no, don't touch the walls, you'll take acid damage! Except...nobody has any reason to touch the walls? Ooh, fake green slime! Someone might have to waste a spell on...oh yeah, this is an edition with at-will magic attacks.

*Room 9: this one was hilarious. After making the check to realize that climbing up the statue would make it tip over, my Rogue asks "so how do we get the sword?". My reply "Well, that's just the easiest way to climb up. Nothing stops you from climbing the wall the regular way". Legacy of an edition where only Thieves could Climb anything, and with a set percentage to succeed based on your level.

Also, unique sword. Another AL gripe: so there's a lot of weird items in this book that aren't in the DMG. Some they bothered to put in the back of the book and give them a rarity. Others they didn't, so "since it has no stated rarity, you can't trade it". C- for effort.

*Room 11: more slippery surfaces that don't really matter. A solo enemy who goes on at length about how badass he is, then pleas for mercy. LOL. Then...a swarm of rats. Except it's a swarm of giant rats...who are diseased (yeah this was mentioned by the OP, but it bears repeating. What were they thinking when they wrote this?).

*Room 13: my group already had a brush with the badly written underwater combat rules at the end of Forge of Fury, during the Nightscale battle. It didn't go well, and they're still salty about it. Now a fight with another enemy who doesn't bother to come out of the water...and she's invisible! If looks could kill, I wouldn't be writing this now.

*Room 18: a random stretch of hallway full of 15 zombies. 15?! I mean, this is technically a proper challenge for the party, but...15 zombies? Except...these are no ordinary zombies! They're all carrying sewer plague! Yet another thing that spells are needed to clear. In a dungeon where you can't rest...oh did I mention that the super virulent plague manifests in one hour instead of 1d4 days?

*Room 20: a. single. wight. Come on, that's not an encounter at this point. Also, now I can gripe about the Amulet of Protection. So there's a few of these in the adventure, which basically say "nope, Turn Undead don't work on this guy". Again, this is a legacy of the olden days, when you had to have a Cleric, and the only real anti-undead power anyone had was Turning. Now of course, you don't need a Cleric, and they have more interesting things to do with Channel Divinity, so the only time they might try to Turn is when facing a room of undead...like, say, 15 zombies. Not for a lowly Wight.

And then it's presented as a magic item you could pick. For...reasons. I mean, I guess a budding Necromancer might want it. There's rumors that it could come in handy next season in AL...I don't know. I mean, if you could sell magic items...haha.

*Room 22: actually, these guys aren't a bad encounter, though for my group, I needed to add two more monks. This could be a social encounter, but there's no real motivations for these guys. This is a recurring problem for the adventure- it's obvious there's some really awesome backstory for the place, but it's never made evident to the players. Another recurring problem- NPC's in the adventure who don't know useful information about the adventure. A third recurring problem (for Yawning Portal in general)- NPC's who demand magic items. Of specific rarity! "Ok, ok, let's talk. Can I offer you this +1 sword we found?" "No, item is unique, and therefore cannot be traded to Fai Chen." "Uh...how about my Shard of the Ise rune?" "Ha! That's very rare! Powerful Giant item! No thanks."

*Room 24: so this is a classic trap. The walls close in. The room fills with sand. There's even a Will-o'-Wisp here to play the part of the Trash Compactor Monster from Star Wars! Just one problem. The time factor. 5 rounds before the trap starts up. 1 minute to give any penalties. 2 more to start trapping you in sand. 2 more makes it worse! 5 more before you die!

Now, since the game has six second combat rounds, what this means is, the party has (including the first 5 rounds before the trap starts) 104 rounds to get past the doors. Even the "bash it open for 100 damage" is more than doable in that time. An 8 Strength Wizard with a dagger has a +2 to hit and deals 1.5 damage per turn...no wait, would he have a staff for 2.5 damage per turn...no wait, this edition lets you use Dexterity with daggers...so um, 14 Dex means +5 to hit for 4.5 damage per turn, so if half his attacks hit the AC 15 wall...45 combat rounds to break down the wall. Not accounting for the fact he probably scored two critical hits in that time.

My friend is also running this adventure, and his group has, because we switched around players after Forge of Fury, TWO Barbarians wielding Shatterspike. So yeah, this trap needs to be massively speeded up to be a real threat.

*Room 25: a +1 dagger of unique rarity that breaks if you roll a 1! Wow, such amazing treasure!

*Room 28: a. single. gas spore. Well, the purpose of the spore is obvious, make silly players go "oh :):):):):), a BEHOLDER! Kill it, kill it!". Then it explodes, some damage is dealt, everyone laughs. I could add more spores, but since it's intended to represent the sun (which last I checked, we only have one of), doesn't make much sense. So this isn't properly an encounter at all, and the xp is negligible. I mean, I guess I could have the explosion alert nearby monsters and add a random encounter. Yeah, let's do that.

*Room 29: this is a massively cool encounter. I haven't run it yet, but I'm betting my party will just attack and destroy the ball. No treasure for you! Also, cursed treasure, very Pirates of the Caribbean! Of course, it's twice as powerful as Bestow Curse and has no listed ability for it's saving throw, oh well, I'll just refer to Bestow Curse...oh. According to the "Hooks" article, it's Charisma. Sure, why not.

*Room 30: an AL problem. Lycanthropy! Better get it cured or you can't play your character in AL! There's an awful lot of "cure this, or else" in this adventure.

*Room 32: opening a door unleashes a trap! It's 5 heavy crossbows, rigged to open fire...wait. Should the makers of the Shrine have crossbow technology? Earlier we found a "sword" made out of laminated wood and obsidian...in fact, how long has the Shrine been sealed? Who's been repairing these things, should they even work at all?

It's a minor nitpick, but it just raises too many questions.

*Room 35: are there rules for fixing a broken magic weapon?

This is about as far as my notes go, and that's probably enough. The main problem with this dungeon is it's a relic out of time, from a day when you were expected to lose characters, and you were meant to slowly crawl through dungeons, poking at everything with 10' poles and fleeing from anything remotely dangerous. It was also a tournament mod, where it was meant to be a challenge to complete.

The pacing has serious issues, since the adventure prevents resting, imposes nasty conditions upon you, and generally gives players the mindset of "oh man, we have to hurry up and get out of here"...in a dungeon where rushing into things will kill you. Dead, dead, dead.

My group is mostly of people who have played 5e adventures, but have little experience with "old school" play. They think every fight is winnable, most conditions are a slap on the wrist, and most challenges are fair. They run around like they're on fire (in fact, when they ARE on fire, they never bother to put it out- that's the Cleric's job!) until they fall down, at which point they cry for healing.

True story from last session-

(Cleric): Hey, what's everyone's hit points at?
(Fighter): Uh, hold on, let me do math. 3.
(Cleric): THREE?!
(Fighter): Yeah, I wasn't paying attention. It's ok, if I drop, you'll heal me and I can keep fighting.
(Cleric): (Speechless).
(DM): Shouldn't you have used Second Wind last turn?
(Fighter): Oh that's only for if the Cleric drops. I'm not a noob.
(Cleric): (Unable to properly speak, just makes strangled sounds of fury).
(DM): I'm starting to wonder if I need to scale up the encounters. You guys do all my work for me!
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Responses to James Gasik post.
I totally forgot about the poison. I suggest the monsters always have max hp and you add some more.
Room 20 I bought props for the protection amulets then just did not mention they were on the critter. As they don’t help a pc. Paladins could be turned in 1E.
Room 25 I have no problem with the dagger. This is totally sum up by the adventure having a lot of “screw you” things.
Room 35, broken magic item. I told the owner he could fix once he left the dungeon.
The tomb has more magic items than monsters.
Room 40. Monster is listed as Stone Golem by can only do 28 hp of damage. I suggest the dm cut the xp in half or more.

Summary of my writes running the book so far. LOTS AND LOTS OF MAGIC ITEMS. If you have 6+ players treat as a strong party regardless of math.
Sunless. Remember the dragon does not get liar actions. Enforce one check per person for secret doors. The map are bad, photocopy the 3E version.
Forge of Fury. Again bad maps except for the white arrows. Some of the maps are too dark.
White plume. Give all monsters max hit points if under 6 critters. Enforce the wandering monster checks.
 

pukunui

Hero
*A lot of encounters are vastly underpowered ...
Is this not mitigated by the inability to rest? The monsters might be underpowered, but when you're fighting your umpteenth one without having taken even a single short rest, that's going to make it harder, no?

this is an AL problem really
Seems like this applies to most of your complaints about the adventure. I don't play AL, and based on what you've said here, I'm rather glad of that.

*The Glyph of Warding: by the rules, can be triggered by, heh, reading it. Which you kind of need to do, and really, how does detect such a trap?
As per the spell description, you can detect a glyph of warding with an Intelligence (Investigation) check against the spellcaster's spell save DC.

Also, unique sword. Another AL gripe: so there's a lot of weird items in this book that aren't in the DMG. Some they bothered to put in the back of the book and give them a rarity. Others they didn't, so "since it has no stated rarity, you can't trade it". C- for effort.
That sucks. I would think it would be an uncommon item, since it's technically just a +1 longsword.

*Room 13: my group already had a brush with the badly written underwater combat rules at the end of Forge of Fury, during the Nightscale battle.
What is it about the underwater combat rules that make them badly written? They haven't really come up in any of my 5e games yet, but they seem OK on paper.

*Room 18: a random stretch of hallway full of 15 zombies. 15?! I mean, this is technically a proper challenge for the party, but...15 zombies? Except...these are no ordinary zombies! They're all carrying sewer plague! Yet another thing that spells are needed to clear. In a dungeon where you can't rest...oh did I mention that the super virulent plague manifests in one hour instead of 1d4 days?
You complained at the beginning that most of the encounters were underpowered, but now you're complaining because there's a souped-up version of sewer plague that makes the fight more deadly? You can't have it both ways, man!

*Room 24: so this is a classic trap. The walls close in. The room fills with sand. There's even a Will-o'-Wisp here to play the part of the Trash Compactor Monster from Star Wars! Just one problem. The time factor. 5 rounds before the trap starts up. 1 minute to give any penalties. 2 more to start trapping you in sand. 2 more makes it worse! 5 more before you die!
Other people have complained about this one. I don't know that it's a problem if you don't go into initiative.

*Room 32: opening a door unleashes a trap! It's 5 heavy crossbows, rigged to open fire...wait. Should the makers of the Shrine have crossbow technology? Earlier we found a "sword" made out of laminated wood and obsidian...in fact, how long has the Shrine been sealed? Who's been repairing these things, should they even work at all?
Good questions. D&D has always had anachronistic technology, though, and I guess magic keeps everything running?
 

James Gasik

First Post
Yeah, it's something I forgot from earlier editions- a lot of encounters are bare bones because the writers intended a lot of random encounters to occur during the course of play. But the tables in the Yawning Portal are pretty weaksauce compared to what I remember having to put up with- the original "Out of the Abyss", D1 Descent into the Depths of the Earth, has a random encounter with a lich. A lich! Just walking about the underdark, taking a stroll! ^-^
 

pukunui

Hero
Room 25 I have no problem with the dagger. This is totally sum up by the adventure having a lot of “screw you” things.
I have no problem with it either. I think it's more interesting than just a plain old +1 dagger would've been.

Sunless. Remember the dragon does not get liar actions.
I feel like this goes without saying. Calcryx is just a wyrmling, and she doesn't even have a lair. (Yes, she's made herself a little bed of treasure, but that room isn't *her* lair.)

The map are bad, photocopy the 3E version.
... Again bad maps except for the white arrows. Some of the maps are too dark.
Aside from the maps being too small and/or dark, have you noticed any actual errors? The first printing of PotA was riddled with map errors. So far I've only found one actual error on any of the Yawning Portal maps (the missing door in the hill giant steading).
 

pukunui

Hero
But the tables in the Yawning Portal are pretty weaksauce compared to what I remember having to put up with ...
I think this is a case of 5e being set to "easy mode" by default. The designers expect individual DMs to ramp up the challenge as needed for their groups. (It would be nice if they provided more guidance on how to do so in the hardcover adventures, like the AL does with its adventures, though.)
 

James Gasik

First Post
@pukuni

*The encounters: the real problem here is that the encounters are unbalanced. Some are super easy, some approach the proper levels of challenge, but don't make any sense- why is an encounter with a named, unique enemy less challenging than 15 random zombies?

You're right that the lethality of the Shrine would make the light combats more balanced, but the kicker is, the adventure doesn't say "give out xp for traps" (the book overall has this problem, a few traps/hazards award xp, but most do not). Now yes, in a home game, you could easily hand out xp as you saw fit, but the adventure gives no guidelines for this.

And in AL, well, I can only give out xp for monsters or when the adventure says to...

*Glyph of Warding states that the Glyph is nearly invisible and requires an Investigation check to be found. However, the Glyph's trigger can be (and in this case, most probably is, as the adventure doesn't specify) "seeing or reading the glyph". So how can I use Investigation to notice the Glyph is merely seeing it triggers it? (Another trigger allowed by the spell is "approaching within a certain distance").

I mean, unless it's intended that the player automatically makes the check before the Glyph would be triggered. That didn't strike me as the most intuitive interpretation of the spell when I looked at it before last session.

*the problem with underwater mechanics happens with the fight itself. The adventure tells you that Nightscale (the black dragon) lurks under the water of her murky lake, and only raises enough of her head and neck out of it to breathe acid. This gives her (according to the adventure) three-quarters cover.

So if raising her head out of water gives her 3/4 cover, then being totally under water should give her total cover, which broke the encounter because suddenly she couldn't be targeted by spells (and even area spells are blocked by total cover). Nobody wanted to get into the water because then she could attack them in melee.

When the Sorcerer actually did dive in to cast fireball, he almost flipped the table when I told him that, by the rules, a creature completely submerged in water has resistance to fire.

This does have the caveat that I could have been wrong to rule that being underwater grants total cover from those above it, but again, that call was based on the information the adventure itself gave me.

*If you're being attacked by a Will-o'-Wisp, then don't you have to roll initiative, trap or no trap?

ON LAIR ACTIONS-

It doesn't state taht Calcryx (or Nightscale for that matter) get Lair Action (even though you do face Nightscale in her lair).

However, I recently ran an AL mod (Shadows over the Moonsea) where (spoilers), you encounter a Wyrmling black in it's lair (a miserable cave in the swamp) and that dragon gets lair actions, so my assumption was that any dragon could/should?
 

pukunui

Hero
*The encounters: the real problem here is that the encounters are unbalanced. Some are super easy, some approach the proper levels of challenge, but don't make any sense- why is an encounter with a named, unique enemy less challenging than 15 random zombies?
Should all encounters be of the same difficulty? D&D has always been about having some easy, some hard, some in the middle ...

*Glyph of Warding states that the Glyph is nearly invisible and requires an Investigation check to be found. However, the Glyph's trigger can be (and in this case, most probably is, as the adventure doesn't specify) "seeing or reading the glyph". So how can I use Investigation to notice the Glyph is merely seeing it triggers it? (Another trigger allowed by the spell is "approaching within a certain distance").
Can you point me to the specific glyph in question? I'd like to have a look at it but can't find it with a cursory scan of the adventure.

*the problem with underwater mechanics happens with the fight itself. The adventure tells you that Nightscale (the black dragon) lurks under the water of her murky lake, and only raises enough of her head and neck out of it to breathe acid. This gives her (according to the adventure) three-quarters cover.

So if raising her head out of water gives her 3/4 cover, then being totally under water should give her total cover, which broke the encounter because suddenly she couldn't be targeted by spells (and even area spells are blocked by total cover). Nobody wanted to get into the water because then she could attack them in melee.
Ah, I can see how they might cause an issue.

When the Sorcerer actually did dive in to cast fireball, he almost flipped the table when I told him that, by the rules, a creature completely submerged in water has resistance to fire.
That at least makes sense, though.

*If you're being attacked by a Will-o'-Wisp, then don't you have to roll initiative, trap or no trap?
I suppose. But it's possible for the party to encounter - and defeat - the will-o'-wisp prior to entering the trap, in which case they won't be getting attacked by anything. But yes, I think the sand needs to flow faster.

It doesn't state taht Calcryx (or Nightscale for that matter) get Lair Action (even though you do face Nightscale in her lair).

However, I recently ran an AL mod (Shadows over the Moonsea) where (spoilers), you encounter a Wyrmling black in it's lair (a miserable cave in the swamp) and that dragon gets lair actions, so my assumption was that any dragon could/should?
Going by the rules for Legendary Creatures (MM, p 11), only adult and ancient dragons would have lair actions, since they're the only dragons that count as legendary.
 

James Gasik

First Post
[Edit]: Nevermind, I see it. I guess the writer of Shadows over the Moonsea missed page 11 as well.

The Glyph of Warding is on page 68, and I totally missed "if the crypt is opened by those who don't serve the god". Derp, here I thought it went off when read. It's still not clear what the curse is.
 
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Oh man, my issues with Hidden Shrine, where to begin...
This post was a great read! I've not read this adventure yet, so I had to get my book out to follow it, but it was definitely entertaining. It sounds like most of your problems are due to the Adventurer's League format, and it's a shame that the adventure didn't at least have a handout provided by the League for the DM to clarify some of the more obvious issues on that front.
 

pukunui

Hero
[Edit]: Nevermind, I see it. I guess the writer of Shadows over the Moonsea missed page 11 as well.
I guess so!

The Glyph of Warding is on page 68, and I totally missed "if the crypt is opened by those who don't serve the god". Derp, here I thought it went off when read. It's still not clear what the curse is.
Well, the bestow curse spell has several options, so I guess it's up to the DM to determine which one is applied in this instance.
 
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