DMs Guild Review – Weekend at Strahd’s

A radical one-shot adventure filled to the max with totally awesome 80s references, dude!

dms guild review

A review copy of “Weekend at Strahd’s” 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: Anthony Joyce and Oliver Clegg

I can now check off “adventures based on entire decades” off my review list. Weekend at Strahd’s is technically a one-shot D&D adventure for levels 5-10. But in reality it’s a goofy, over-the-top collection of references from the 1980s masquerading as a D&D adventure.

Your love of 80s pop culture (80s movies in particular) will directly affect your enjoyment of this otherwise well-produced, richly formatted one-shot.

Weekend at Strahd’s is unabashedly 80s, from its constant nudge nudge references and humor to its absolutely delightful formatting and original artwork. As much as I dig the art, I was bummed to see a complete lack of maps. The adventure requires the same Castle Ravenloft map from Curse of Strahd, though with an emphasis on role-playing and social encounters it’s less of a glaring gap compared to other dungeon crawls.

The adventure itself is very brief, clocking in at a little over a dozen pages, but unlike the mostly bereft 2112, it uses its time wisely, cramming lots of fun scenes into a handful of locations.

The story, if you could call it that, picks up at the end of Curse of Strahd. It opens with the PCs standing over the recently deceased body of the infamous vampire lord. He’s suddenly00 infused with the power of love, as the DM cues the most excellent song by Huey Lewis and the News. Their new mission is to collect pieces of the Pentaforce scattered around Castle Ravenloft to defeat Strahd once and for all.

The collect-athon is an excuse for the party to re-explore the castle, encountering a series of goofy scenes, like the Brunch Club who are being contemptuously held by Strahd, a priest of Lathandar who represents Saint Elmo (and douses the chapel in fire), and a trio of snotty women named Heather whom the players must beat in a deadly game of croquet.

If these scenes are bringing a smile to your face, then you are the right audience for Weekend at Strahd’s. I enjoyed them, though I also recognize that the adoration of the 80s has been mostly played to death over the years.

dms guild review

I preferred the scenes that were a bit less literal with their references. Seeing a foursome of ghost hunters or break-dancing zombies might be worth a sarcastic chuckle, while a prom scene involving a young man who wants to dance with Strahd, and includes all the players taking on different roles and skill challenges, was much more intriguing.

The adventure features 10 of these different scenes around the castle, most of them geared more toward skill checks and role-playing than straight-up combat encounters – a major plus for a one-shot.

The party needs five pieces of the Pentaforce, rolling for which locations they’ll need to visit to get them. Or as DM you can simply pick and choose your favorites, like the zombie aerobics class or the fabulous ghostly fashion designer.

One of the best elements of the adventure is the music. Music was a huge part of 80s culture, and the designers smartly include their own curated list of 80s hits with the official Weekend at Strahd’s playlist – one for every single event and area in the adventure. Playing the music tracks (helpfully hyperlinked to Spotify) should be a requirement for running this adventure, immersing the players with George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, and Rick Astley.

For the most part I enjoyed the cornucopia of 80s references, but the adventure lost me when it inserted real people from Wizards of the Coast and Critical Role as random NPCs. I have no idea why “Kris Purkens” is summoned at the end of the adventure. He’s a great DM but has nothing to do with the 80s theme. Likewise for the odd inclusions of Jeremy Crawford and Matthew Mercer.

If you want to include obvious D&D references, why not dive further into the era and use the Satanic Panic of the 80s? A group of angry evangelicals could show up at the castle waving torches and pitchforks, wanting to shut down all the zany fun. Thankfully they lost, we won, and now we can enjoy entire D&D adventures based on the decade of excess.

Pros:

  • Radical 80s-inspired layout and original art.
  • Solid collectible narrative structure that maximizes constant 80s references. No duh!
  • Totally bitchin’ 20-track playlist of classic 80s tunes.
  • Hyperlinks to songs (Spotify) and statblocks (DnD Beyond). Far out!

Cons:

  • 80s references are one thing, why insert D&D designers and streamers? Take a chill pill!
  • Requires Curse of Strahd for maps – bummer, dude.

The Verdict: Weekend at Strahd’s is less a D&D adventure and more an extended series of 80s references, jokes, and characters, infused with self-aware humor and a totally awesome art style.

A review copy of “Weekend at Strahd’s” 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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