DMs Guild Review – The Lamenting Lighthouse

A one-shot dungeon crawl around a haunted lighthouse, for levels 5-10.

dms guild review

A review copy of “The Lamenting Lighthouse” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Sven Truckenbrodt

Between Ghosts of Saltmarsh and Call from the Deep there’s a solid amount of ship-based adventuring to be had in Fifth Edition. The Lamenting Lighthouse provides a tiny but unique dungeon setting that could make for a fun little stop during a sea voyage.

The titular lighthouse is set near the Moonshae Islands in the Forgotten Realms, though any location can suffice as long as your PCs need to get to it. It’s advertised for levels 5-10, but it’s specially designed for an APL of 6, with encounter adjustments for weaker or stronger parties (9-10 may be stretching things, though).

The adventure includes its own ship and captain, though I would imagine most campaigns looking for additional ship adventures have their own ship and crew already in play. The ship is outrunning a storm and and needs to use an upcoming lighthouse to navigate through some dangerous waters. Unfortunately the lighthouse has gone dark, so the PCs are sent out on a rowboat to investigate.

The lighthouse is perched on a tiny rocky outcropping of an island. About a week prior to the adventure, a pirate captain ran afoul of a cursed artifact that killed him and split his spirit and body into two separate undead forms, a wight and a wraith who rage against each other. The ship then crashed into the island, spilling out its undead crew and killing its inhabitants.

The island was also home to a secret coven of sea hags, which then ran afoul of the Dread Pirate Roberts, causing one to flee, one to transform into a wandering Allip, and one to be left as a whimpering wreck.

dms guild review

That backstory provides an excellent framework for a dungeon crawl, though the tiny dungeon doesn’t quite stick the landing. I was hoping we’d see more social encounters with the surviving sea hag and the two undead pirate captain manifestations, but instead the adventure mostly boils down to a series of standard undead battles.

The wandering Allip provides a spooky environmental hazard and the lighthouse itself could be tricky to battle in with larger parties, but otherwise it’s the usual zombies, ghouls, and specters. I was really looking forward to seeing the two undead forces clash and the ability to side with the corporeal or incorporeal boss monsters; instead they’re just two CR 11 boss fights.

It’s a shame because the designer is clearly well-versed in the three pillars of D&D gameplay – combat, exploration, and socializing, and makes a point to list the pillars in each major area and how best to use them. Exploration, for example, is primarily engaged by searching the storehouse and using the immersive player handout diary notes written by the former denizens of the island.

The maps are also a weak link. They’re black and white, with bare details and oddly no number annotations, making it seem more disorganized than it is.

Despite my complaints I found it a very well put-together adventure, and appreciated the amount of flavor text, encounter adjustments, and statblocks and handouts that are included. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a combat-heavy dungeon crawl, and it’s short enough that it doesn’t wear out its welcome, but it could have been so much more memorable with a stronger focus on unique social encounters.

Pros:

  • Unique haunted dungeon setting with its own backstory.
  • Excellent notes on utilizing all three pillars of D&D play (Combat, Exploration, Social) as well as sensory perceptions for each area.
  • Over a dozen NPC and monster statblocks, including two new CR 11 undead bosses.
  • Encounter adjustments from very weak to very strong for every encounter.
  • Player handouts for magic items, diary notes, and story rewards.

Cons:

  • Skips interesting potential social encounters for more combat.
  • Black and white maps are poorly annotated.

The Verdict: THe Lamenting Lighthouse Provides a combat-heavy brawl in and around a unique, if tiny, dungeon design.

A review copy of “The Lamenting Lighthouse” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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