DMs Guild Review – Baldur’s Gate: City Encounters

40 urban encounters tied to Baldur’s Gate, with a tension meter as the city falls towards oppressive order or bloody chaos.

A review copy of “Baldur’s Gate: City Encounters” 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: Justice ArmanAnthony JoyceAnne GregersenGordon McAlpin

Although the city name is right there in the title, Baldur’s Gate is only featured in the opening chapter of the D&D 5e adventure Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus, mostly serving as a low-level series of quests to get the party leveled up before going to hell.

If you’re looking to expand that chapter, or use the city in your own campaign, Baldur’s Gate: City Encounters features 40 events and encounters tailor made for the City of Blood, providing the perfect mix of serious, meaningful encounters as well as fun, flavorful events.

The supplement features a professional layout and style with urban and cult-themed art befitting the troubled city. The 40 encounters are divided into two categories: Tension Encounters and Neighborhood Encounters.

Tension Encounters use a new Tension Meter, which represents five different levels of order and chaos that the city can range between, with four encounters per level. If playing Descent Into Avernus, we should start in the middle, at the Status Quo. Depending on the choices the players make, the city will move toward instability and chaos, or oppressive rule.

It’s an incredibly neat system, creating reactivity and consequences to player actions. If they see the Flaming Fist chasing down some wererat thieves, do they help the thieves, or stop them? No matter which areas the city leans towards, there are always interesting problems cropping up, like a Flaming Fist leader getting potentially assassinated in the middle of a proclamation, a violent showdown between the city watch the mercenaries, or even blood rituals in the streets as dark cultists come out of the shadows.

It’s not all terror and war, however. You’ll also find a cow stampede, and street urchins hurling rocks at passersby. You damn kids!

dms guild review

The neighborhood encounters, which make up the other 20 encounters in the book, bring another solid mix of exciting combat, intriguing role-playing, and full-fledged side quests.

Some are as simple (and gross) as eating really disgusting meat pies from a sweet old halfling. Others could spin-off into their own entire side quests, including infiltrating the Flaming Fist treasury with gang leader Nine-Finger Keene, stopping a politically disgruntled priest from blowing up a courtroom, and helping Risla Rael cement her hold over Little Calimshan.

The neighborhood encounters are divided into the Upper City, Lower City, and Outer City districts. They expand upon the wealth of information provided in the Baldur’s Gate Gazetteer section of Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus, utilizing the many locations and characters presented there – though you don’t technically need it to run these encounters.

With these encounters so carefully tied to the City of Blood, its history, and its characters, it makes them harder to use in other urban cities and locations. And I would’ve preferred that each of the Tension Encounters included specific directions for moving the tension meter. Yes I can assume that siding with Flaming Fist in one encounter will move the meter toward order, but it would help to see everything laid out for each encounter.

These niggling issues pale in comparison to how fantastically well-written and designed this encounter book is, creating one of the best campaign supplements I’ve seen on the DMs Guild.

Pros:

  • Tension meter creates meaningful choices and consequences with 20 new encounters.
  • 20 Neighborhood Encounters expand on story hooks and characters from the Baldur’s Gate Gazetteer.

Cons:

  • Determining Tension meter results from each Tension Encounter is left to the DM.

The Verdict: With some of the best urban encounters I’ve seen on the DMs Guild, Baldur’s Gate: City Encounters is an absolute must-have For Descent into Avernus, or any extended stay in the City of Blood.

A review copy of “Baldur’s Gate: City Encounters” 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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