War of the Burning Sky 2


First Post
Caveat: You should know that the author got a free version of this module from the publisher. You should also know that the author was a published theater reviewer and that free access to the product by reviewers is a standard in many media, arts and entertainment industries.

Product basics: The Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdar (IFFoI) is an adventure for 3rd level characters. It is the second adventure in the War of the Burning Sky Campaign Saga, which is a 12 part series of adventures designed to take characters from 1st level to 20th level.

Still, it works well as a standalone, site-based adventure. If the DM of a homebrew campaign did a modicum of planning (giving PCs access to a 1st level spell, placing the burning forest on his maps), the DM could integrate this into their campaign easily.

The download includes both color and b&w versions of the 42-page adventure. In addition, you get combat stats of antagonists and friendlies as a separate file and integrated in the text of the adventure, which allows DMs to choose which approach fits their table habits best. For the friendly NPCs who might travel with the party, there's versions of them at several levels, for your convenience. (It's such a pain in the ass to level an NPC on the fly.)

In addition, there's a separate file for maps, with both player-handout and DM maps of notable sites. The one downside to the maps is that one expects a map for every encounter in a pdf (as there's no page count limits), but some of the less notable encounters just have text descriptions of the area in the module itself.

The illustrations and cover art make for a professional impression at the table. Unlike some other 3rd party products for DnD, you don't find yourself wondering if this module makes you look cheap.:-S

At the end of the day, the presentation is helpful and readable, although there is room for improvement.

Adventure Summary (spoilers):

The PC’s main goal in The Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdar is to get out of The Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdar. The module supports a variety of motivations to accomplish that goal, making it useful for parties that are dastardly, mercenary and heroic. If your party wants to solve the mystery of why this forest is ever-burning and save the tormented furry creatures and fey inhabitants, there's a path for handling that approach. If your party just wants out, no matter who it hurts, there's a path for that.

So, how does the party survive a trek through a forest that's been on fire for years? There's an NPC that provides a cache of potions to start. You can find other potions from another expedition that crashed at the bottom of a ravine. (So, it should have been a wand, really.) And it's just a first level spell, so you can just give it to the party with little long-term consequence. Yet, the plot of the adventure explains why traversing this fire forest remains a heroic feat.

What happens while you're in the forest? The first encounter sets the tone of high moral drama. The party comes across the burnt bodies of refugees endlessly dying, kept alive by the same magic that keeps the burning trees alive. After that, there's an encounter or two with creatures that one would expect (a fire mephit, a hell hound) and normal forest creatures that have acquired a template that allows them to survive in these hostile environs. (That clerics can turn these templated creatures should be foreshadowed in some way, as its not apparent to look at them that they count as fire creatures and as undead for turning purposes.) The early encounters set the feeling of encountering the strange and fantastic that makes for an exciting few weeks at the gaming table.

My one caveat is that there's a rather straight path through the early part of the adventure. A few flavorful areas to explore would do wonders for a certain type of gamer.

Then we begin the plot. The enemies of the PCs have sent someone after them: a bearded devil. Fortunately for our 3rd level PCs, they are not expected to slay this creature at the outset, as the devil need not slay them to fulfill its bargain with their enemies. Given their inability to cure disease and the bearded devil's energy and spell resistances, this opponent might be a bit much for some parties. (The party should have gotten enough silver weapons in the prior adventure in the path that they can overcome its DR.) But the authors also nicely limited the very swingy summon ability to make it automatic, but only 5 lemures.

The devil wants to cut a deal. But author Jacob Driscoll has anticipated that many tables will regard accepting such an offer to be foolhardy. So the devil is patient; after all, the PCs are in a burning forest! And, if forced to it, this is the perfect opportunity to toy with its food. And another offer for an alliance comes in that's designed to be so ham-fisted as to put most players' back up, but still fits its character as the trapped, frustrated spirit that fuels the fire. Even better, there's at least two others that want the party to accomplish different goals too.

Still, there's plenty of time to explore ruins in the forest and discover the lost history of how the forest became as it is. That information, and the scattered forces of good that remain, help the party make informed choices AND give options for them to switch sides as they go along.

The information they recover directs the heroes down river to a vast lake, where a village of fey sing a magical song that keeps Indomitability trapped, and thus keeps the forest alive. The plot thickens and hard choices have to be made.

But it's here where there's a slight slip-up when it comes to the adventure. Driscoll "gets" the majesty of his setting. But he doesn't get the alien, puckish vibe of the fey at all.

I want you to imagine a village of six-winged fey in a perpetually burning forest… You hear their song on the hot wind… What architecture do you imagine you will see at this magical moment as the path’s winding reveals their home? Is it a dozen stone huts, some caves and a watch tower?

No. This is not the stuff of legend. And these fey are too human, too mortal. There's none of the frivolity, irrationality, alien values and haughty pride of the fey here. Part of that's the fact that they've sung to stay alive for the past few decades. But part of that is an inability to really get inside the skin of one of the main drivers of western fairy tales. It's a shame, since this is where the mystery unravels and the final fights occur.

Still, at the end of the day, these low level heroes will have done something remarkable in an adventure location no other 3rd edition module has ever used. And they'll have done it in ways that satisfy most types of gamers: exploring a fantastic setting, by solving a puzzle, RPing deals with interested parties, making difficult choices with high stakes and fighting in a cool setting.

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