DMs Guild Review – Baldur’s Gate: The Fall of Elturel

A level 1 mini-adventure that serves as an alternate introduction to Descent Into Avernus.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Baldur’s Gate: The Fall of Elturel” 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, with Justice Arman

One of my biggest gripes with last year’s Descent Into Avernus 5e campaign was the introduction. Dragging an entire city into the depths of Hell is an awesome opener, yet the fresh party of PCs only witness the aftermath as refugees arrive at Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur’s Gate: The Fall of Elturel attempts to rectify this opening by introducing the cultists, the Hellriders, and the city of Elturel before its fiery plunge. The production values are impressive, though it doesn’t take its alternative opening as far as I’d like.

The Fall of Elturel is one of the most attractive products on the DMs Guild I’ve reviewed to date. Full color, half page artwork adorns every page, including a full color battle map from Elven Tower Cartography. Despite clocking in at only 22 pages, the first page Adventure Primer lays out how the adventure unfolds over four chapters, and which factions DMs can use to tie the players into the story.

The adventure is designed to bring the level 1 PCs who are starting Descent Into Avernus much closer to Elturel where they can witness its, ahem, descent into Avernus first-hand, while also introducing the Cult of the Dead Three. The PCs are sent out on a mission with Reya Mantlemorn and the Hellriders to investigate Dragon Cultists, whom they have recently tracked to the woods north of Elturel.

In a fun twist, the group arrives to find the Cult of the Dragon dead, and the Cult of the Dead Three performing profane rituals with their bodies. Cultist on cultist crimes! I always enjoy the trope of introducing new villains by having them take out the old ones.

The Eltugard Woods lead to a straightforward series of fights with the cultists. Defeating them provides the location of their hidden lair below the bathhouse in Baldur’s Gate, effectively skipping the lame Elfsong Tavern bar fight opening from Descent Into Avernus.

dms guild reivew

As the party leaves, however, the nearby city of Elturel is catastrophically pulled into the first layer of Hell, and the PCs help Reya guide the surviving refugees to Baldur’s Gate, kicking off Descent Into Avernus.

It’s a much improved opening, though I wish it went a bit further. One of the chapters before the cultist fight has the PCs dealing with two encounters outside of Elturel. They’re simple and designed to ingratiate the PCs to the city and its denizens. But we still don’t get to actually step foot in the city. I would’ve liked to see that chapter greatly expanded with lots of fun activities or events to help the PCs care about the city, aside from the obvious personal hooks of having some (or all) of the PCs call Elturel their home.

In addition to the alternate opening, we also get three new backgrounds to tie into the main factions dealing with the event: the Order of the Gauntlet, the Flaming Fist, and the Hellriders. The Hellriders in particular would make for an awesome backstory, tying a PC into both Elturel and its history with Zariel. The new backgrounds round out a short but excellent adventure to properly kick off Descent Into Avernus.

Pros:

  • High quality production values with professional layout and gorgeous artwork.
  • Effectively creates a better introduction than Descent Into Avernus, and ties into Tyranny of Dragons.
  • Three new character backgrounds themed for Descent Into Avernus, including Hellrider!
  • Full color battle map and separate player handouts.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t do enough with Elturel.

The Verdict: Stunning art and layout help make The Fall of Elturel a much better alternative introduction to descent Into Avernus.

A review copy of “Baldur’s Gate: The Fall of Elturel” 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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