DMs Guild Review – A Manse of a Special Purpose

A tier 3 dungeon crawl through a mansion transformed by multiple planar incursions.

DMs Guild review

A review copy of “A Manse of Special Purpose” 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: Jake Friday

I rarely go out to a seafood restaurant (wife isn’t a fan), but when I do (and there’s no pandemic), I like to order a sampler that combines several different entrees. A Manse of Special Purpose is like ordering the sampler at the D&D planar restaurant.

A nobleman researcher has bitten off more than they can chew, unleashing a multi-planar catastrophe on their mansion and all their inhabitants in this tier 3 adventure.

The 24-page adventure could possibly be played as a long-ish one-shot. There’s not a lot of combat, and the entire adventure takes place in and around the titular Anchorin Manse.

The premise is one I’ve seen many times before (as recently as The Mansion of Duke Brago): noble man does dark things, dooming their family and their home until some adventurers come along to set things right.

A Manse of Special Purpose avoids the usual undead haunting, instead using a custom new eldritch being, along with all the major non-elemental planes of the D&D universe.

Unfortunately the dungeon is designed as entirely theater of the mind – no maps whatsoever. I’m never a fan of this method. A normal map may have been impossible due to the surreal nature of the mansion and the rooms within, but maps of individual rooms would have been very helpful, at least as DMs visual aids. Worse still, the product is nearly devoid of any kind of artwork.

dms guild review

The adventure focuses more on immersion, mood, and story-telling than a traditional dungeon crawl. Each room of the mansion features a unique scene from a different realm for the party to deal with, such as the vampire mother wanting to save her child from a magical deathtrap in the Shadowfell dining room, a pit fiend looking to make a deal in the Nine Hells game room, and a magnetized lab partially invaded by the realm of Mechanus.

The player characters can visit the rooms in any order, with the goal of collecting certain items to unlock the final area, including meeting with the decapitated but still living head of the person who caused all this.

The final boss fight with a being known as The Sentience looks incredibly cool. It possesses Legendary Actions that include using a PC’s own resource-costing abilities (like Channel Divinity), and tethering their life force to that of a PC. When low on health, the Sentience can abandon its host body and try to attach to a PC, possibly severing their head in the process, though they’re still alive. Hope you have some Verbal-only spells prepared!

There are lots of clues for players to discover, survivors to talk to, and puzzles to solve – though I’m still scratching my head over the math-based puzzle near the end. The adventure isn’t bogged down by random combat encounters or empty rooms. Everything is placed for a specific purpose that propels the story forward, even if it’s a story we’ve heard several times before.

Pros:

  • Excellent balance of exploration, role-playing, and combat.
  • Fun use of different planar realms and beings from D&D lore.
  • Epic final boss with unique abilities and stages.

Cons:

  • No artwork.
  • No maps.

The Verdict: Featuring an immersive dungeon full of memorable encounters, A Manse of Special Purpose is the appetizer sampler of extra-planar adventures.

A review copy of “A Manse of Special Purpose” 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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