This past Monday I have DM’ed an D&D Adventurer’s League module called the ‘Bane of the Tradeways’. Here is my quick feedback on it for new DMs that would like to run this module. This module even though is said to be 4 hours is actually shorter. I ran this module with no change in the encounter difficulties and we did it in around 2 and a half hour. This module requires a lot of reading and eventually you as a DM will only end up using a third of what you read.
This module provides the players with 3 options in the beginning and depending on what the original decision is, you will most likely follow one stream of events. I actually did some preparation for this module but nothing would have prepared me for what would happen in the actual game session.
As we are starting the module I tell the party of their purposes here as most of them are from a faction and it would only make sense. The introduction went by very quickly and we started with the quest. The introduction is after passing the town of Hillsfar, the party witness a fight between what appears to be bandits and the Red Plume, guards of Hillsfar. At this point both side called out for the party to help them and the story will move towards which side the party decide to help.
There were three options provided:
A. Help the bandits
B. Help the Red Plume
C. Do nothing
Well my party decided to throw a curved ball at me and decided to go with option D, prevent both side from attacking each other to figure out who is right and who is wrong. The party intention was to join neither side but still threatened both side by casting ‘Spike Growth’ on the battlefield. Now I had to make my decision, either I drop the battle and we go into blaming the other side or going with the bandit’s motive and stop the Red Plume cargo at any cost. I went with the latter and decided to ignore the ‘Spike Growth’ and keep fighting.
There was a lot of people on the battlefield and it was hard to keep track of them all. This battle was more geared toward what the party would do rather than the actual combat. So I summed up all the health and did a general role which resulted to the bandit winning the fight. Partly because the Red Plume went first, they took damage closing up to the bandits. The party decided to intervene and knock unconscious every body close to them, it did not matter which side they were on. This caused a lot of confusion from both side and eventually they managed to capture a guard as they were fleeing.
I did not expect that and I did not prepare to answer any questions or reveal the content of the cargo so soon in the game. So the guard being tortured by one of the party member was about to spill the truth when I used my DM power and created an arrow out of thin air which came out of the forest where the Red Plume fled and killed him. I don’t know if I was allowed to do that without rolling for an attack but it seemed very appropriate at that time!
Eventually the party started to converse with the Bandits and discovered that their intention was the same, to find out what was in those armored wagons that it lead to so many deaths and lies. For this mutual goal, the party and the bandits decided to join forces and started to follow the caravan’s trails. I was really happy to have gotten the game back on track as I would have to have brought my improvisation skills to a whole new level in the event that non of the sides were joined.
After 30 minutes of running they saw a trail of dust coming from wagons going at high speed. I read the box text and the chase was on.
This first part of the module was quite a challenge but definitely entertaining.