DMs Guild Review – The Day the Sky Shattered

Explore a trap-filled Netherese crypt in this lair adventure for 4th level.

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This review has been sponsored 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: Wildfire Works (Clark Harper and Jessica Carter)

The Day the Sky Shattered is a single dungeon lair adventure designed for fourth level parties. What begins as a routine hunt for a kobold lair reveals a much larger, more ancient Netherese crypt with automated defenses, a thrilling escape, and a gauntlet of traps and clues that would make even Indiana Jones blanch.

Some kobolds are terrorizing a village, and naturally it’s up to a group of heroes to go take care of them. Not exactly a compelling adventure hook, but thankfully there’s much more to be discovered.

The kobolds carved out a lair in the entrance to a crypt belonging to an ancient Netherese sorcerer, who happens to posses an incredibly powerful artifact in her final resting place.

The party isn’t aware of any of this, however, and the kobold encounter feels a bit weak and underdeveloped. The initial cutscene alludes to some fun role-playing opportunities, but the adventure assumes combat will play out, and the PCs will kill or capture their leader, a dragonborn wizard named Kryseox, as he flees into a hidden staircase.

Kryseox knows about the crypt but hasn’t mustered up the courage to explore further, which involves pulling three separate levers to unlock the way forward. Pulling the first lever activates the animated armor, flying swords, and rugs of smothering.

The party is free to explore the relatively small dungeon, pulling levers, avoiding traps, and fighting constructs. Hopefully they’ll find and at least partially translate a poem that holds clues to surviving the gauntlet of traps in the lower crypt. The poem is provided as a handout with three different versions with certain words blurred out, giving the DM fun options on how to present the useful information.

The adventure is well-organized, with an entire intro section that provides the story overview and adventure hook, as well as notes on the Netheril, Kryseox, and the crypt’s defenses.

dms guild review

My favorite component is the full color battle map of the dungeon. It’s rich with details, and the map is further broken up into chunks throughout the product, minimizing the time I spend flipping back and forth. Gridded and non-gridded versions are provided¬† in a separate ZIP file, along with 10 pre-generated character sheets with thoughtful backstories.

When all three levers are pulled the party battles a Nether golem mid-boss, but surprisingly there’s no final boss encounter when they reach the lower crypt room. Instead the dungeon pays homage to the climactic sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as the party uses the poem to decipher clues on how to tackle each trap-spewing segment, such as blinding light, collapsing floors, and skewering spears.

Hopefully the party can’t leave a tomb un-robbed once they reach the sarcophagus. Stealing the Sky Shatter device sets up a thrilling escape sequence as the entire dungeon begins crumbling around them. The PCs are directed to enter initiative for each room they reach and must overcome different complications, such as collapsing stairs, choking dust, and crushing rocks.

Unfortunately the compelling escape runs headlong into an egregious Deus ex machina. The Sky Shatter rips open a hole in space, as a gigantic astral dragon emerges to wreck havoc. Should’ve done your Netheril homework, kids! But then Elminster himself randomly shows up, blasts the dragon, and has a chat with the heroes, most likely rewarding them with some magic items.

It’s a weird footnote of an ending that tries to make the Sky Shatter a proper world-ending threat but also keep the adventure completely self-contained. Better solutions would have been to dial back the Sky Shatter’s power, allowing the PCs to deal with it themselves, or keep it hugely world-ending and thus the focus of the rest of their campaign.

If the PCs don’t take the device, they don’t get the fun escape scene, and Elminster even more randomly shows up to congratulate them on being super lame and boring.

Despite my misgivings with the very beginning and ending, the bulk of the adventure is excellent. The poem-clues and traps is a really fun concept, and I love how detailed the escape finale is.  The extra character sheets and detailed map elevate the solid dungeon crawl into an easy recommendation.

Pros:

  • Dungeon features a good balance of combat, role-playing, and exploration.
  • Trap-filled final room with poem handout full of clues, and multiple stages of translation.
  • Exciting escape from the collapsing dungeon, with round-by-round complications.
  • Full color, detailed battle maps with grid and non-grid versions.
  • 10 pre-generated level 4 PDF player sheets.

Cons:

  • Kobold entrance is under-developed.
  • Dues ex machina ending via Elminster.

The Verdict: The Day the Sky Shattered explores a netherese crypt with an excellent balance toward fun combat, duplicitous NPCs, nasty traps, and an exciting getaway.

This review has been sponsored 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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