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Designed by: Chad Cray and Patrick Higingbotham (NZS Games)
Balancing a written adventure with the ad-lib nature of D&D is tricky. How do you create content when the players and DM are actively creating their own content while playing? If you go too broad you risk not giving DMs enough information; go to too narrow and you stifle any creativity from the players.
“Heaven is a Place on Faerun (Truly, Madly, Deeply Part 3)” suffers from the latter. It’s a short mini-adventure for a 3rd level party involving a town and a nearby dungeon that features a very specific delineation of events and characters.
A truly stellar story can make railroading your players worth it, and while the individually written characters are surprisingly deep, the actual story presented here isn’t very compelling.
I should preface this review by stating that I have not reviewed or read the first two modules of NZS Games’ Truly, Madly, Deeply series.
Judging from the prologue, the series has the players as an active party of low-ranking Harpers. They’re tasked with journeying to the mining town of Heaven and investigating a report of swarming insects wrecking havoc.
The adventure is divided up into three parts. The first encompasses the journey to the town, which entirely consists of a side quest that’s painfully obvious, irrelevant to the main plot, and frankly anticlimactic.
The party meets their guide, Wolf, and on the road meets a halfling family with a herd of cattle. Over the case of several days strange events occur over night, eventually culminating in the discovery that Wolf is a Jackalwere. The PCs can try and subdue him and have the spellcasting grandma of the family perform a ritual, but Wolf will eventually escape, rendering the whole thing a bit pointless.
In part two the PCs reach the town of Heaven, which is full of half a dozen NPCs that the party should speak to. This is actually the best part of the adventure as the NPCs are very well-written, with fun descriptions and quirks for each. A miner sings to himself in a beautiful voice. A priest designs all his own tatoos and art. The pub owner is a big animal lover and keeps pet ferrets. These are fantastic notes that a good DM can really take off with, provided the PCs are game to explore and socialize in town.
The map here is actually kind of unnecessary, although there is a slight chance for combat with a pair of jerk brothers (but they use the Commoner stat block so, yeah).
Once the PCs have been pointed in the right direction, it’s off to the forest and into a shed with stairs leading down to a fairly generic dungeon, which takes place in part three. There’s a few random fights with a nest of cockatrices, a grey ooze, and some animated armor, and a single elderly NPC butler the party can cajole into their service. The main baddie is a CR 5 elf wizard named Maescia with a Staff of Swarming Insects.
Oddly while all the NPC town members felt fleshed out, I’m still not sure what her motivations are. A CR 5 wizard sounds powerful on paper versus a 3rd level party, but she’s by herself, and any competent party will quickly shut her down before she can get more than a spell or two off.
The dungeon feels completely generic and uninteresting. Why wasn’t the insect theme explored? Why not replace some of the baddies with failed insect experiments or swarms of bugs? It’s a lot of wasted potential that makes the adventure feel too much like a Paint by Numbers exercise, and mostly forgettable.
- Lots of well-written, detailed notes on every NPC.
- Each of the three parts includes a battle map.
- Part One is excessively railroad-y, and ultimately unsatisfying.
- The dungeon in Part Three feels too generic and lacks cohesion.
- The final boss is too easy by herself and lacks proper motivation.
The Verdict: “Heaven is Place on Faerun” is Too linear and specific to be a drop-in adventure or framework and too generic and simplistic to make for a SATISFYING story-heavy adventure.
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