DMs Guild Review – The Dark Tide of Damodan

A dungeon crawl through a sunken keep for levels 5-8.

dms guild review

A review copy of “The Dark Tide of Damodan” 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: Crit Academy (Justin HandlinGarret ThomasTravis Legge)

The Dark Tide of Damodan is an aquatic-themed adventure for level 5-8, with a dungeon crawl in a partially sunken keep. It checks all the boxes for combat, role-playing, and exploration, though the dungeon crawl is a bit too by-the-numbers.

People are getting sick in the coastal town of Havenword, and even dying. When the party arrives, the town is being violently attacked by Kuo-Toa, who are kidnapping townsfolk using thrown vials of Aboleth Mucus.

After repelling the invaders, the party learns that several folks have been kidnapped, but the villagers managed to capture one Kuo-Toa alive. The party can engage in a skill challenge to discern as much information as possible, but most importantly they learn the whereabouts of the dungeon where the rest of the adventure takes place.

Getting to the sunken keep requires another skill challenge as the party weathers a violent storm. Several options are provided, such as managing the sails, repairing damage, and rescuing fallen sailors, using several different skills. The degree of success determines if the party loses hit dice, or incur a level of exhaustion.

Their mission is to rescue the six missing townsfolk and recover the town’s artifact, an orb that serves as a universal translator. Time is a factor as the PCs will need to manage their water breathing (either through their own spells or the Aboleth Mucus vials) as well as the oxygen of the folks they’re trying to rescue. Definitely no long resting in here!

Despite the exciting set-up and unique dungeon location, the sunken keep is disappointingly straightforward. Each room is either empty or has aquatic enemies (kuo-toa, merrow, sharks, etc). There aren’t any traps, treasures, or puzzles to break up the room by room fighting.

Even a mid-boss battle with a sea hag doesn’t include any role-playing. How can you squander a hag, the chattiest of enemies? Don’t let a little thing like being underwater stop her from having some fun.

dms guild review

The captive townsfolk save the dungeon from being one long combat slog. All six are found in different rooms throughout the dungeons, and each has their own distinctive backstory and information on the dungeon they can give to their rescuers. Some of them can even join the party as NPCs, like the town guard and junior wizard.

Once everyone’s been rescued and the orb recovered, the party can make their escape, triggering the final encounter.

The titular boss, the aboleth worshipping merrow Damodan, has been completely absent until then. When he shows up he’s only a CR 3. We learn nothing about his motivations for the kidnapping, the aboleth connection, or this lair. Not exactly a satisfying ending.

Worse still, the entire dungeon map is printed as a tiny half-page image, barely big enough to make out the rooms (some of which are missing numbers). When you rely on a single location for the bulk of your adventure, and you have a map to work with – give it the full page treatment!

I was also confused about the layout, namely which rooms are underwater, or partially submerged. Details like that are incredibly important, and I was left guessing.

The rescue mission and underwater dungeon in The Dark Tide of Damodan are solid ideas, but they needed more details, and the dungeon could use a bit more, ahem, depth.

Pros:

  • A rescue mission where each captive can impart information about the dungeon.
  • Detailed notes on over a dozen NPCs.
  • Solid balance of combat, exploration, and socializing.

Cons:

  • Formatting errors and omissions.
  • Tiny embedded map, and confusion on which rooms are underwater.

The Verdict: A rescue mission in a partially sunken keep forms the compelling backdrop of a briny-themed adventure in The Dark Tide of Damodan.

A review copy of “The Dark Tide of Damodan” 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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