DriveThruRPG Review – Rescue at Griffoncrag Pass

Discover the monstrous threat behind a sunken ship in this tier 1 campaign for D&D 5e.

A review copy of “Rescue at Griffoncrag Pass” was provided by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Chad M. Lensch

If I gave out individual yearly awards, the 80+ page, tier 1 adventure Rescue at Griffoncrag would be an instant nominee for Best Layout and Design. The PDF is nothing short of a joy to flip through, with frequent full page artwork, dungeon and region maps, and individual, gorgeously commissioned art for over a dozen major NPCs. The linear story is logically divided into seven parts, each with their own overview of what’s going on, and what the DM can expect.

I quickly fell in love with this adventure. The opening quest of investigating poisoned fish and the small coastal town full of interesting NPCs kept me hooked, at least up until the point where we lose sight of the rescue and become embroiled in a bizarre telepathic spider civil-war.

Part one introduces the town of Gullport, which makes Saltmarsh look like a sprawling metropolis. Gullport is filled with memorable NPCs, like Poppin Brizzibritches, the cheerful halfling tavern owner – and mayor, and Borba Vamm, the bitter half-orc store owner who’s jealous of Poppin. There’s also Agatha Trustin, an old lady harbormaster who’s secretly a were-shark, and the town’s frightening priest, a sahuagin cleric named Yiss Krakkas.

In part two the party is hired by Finney Meerschaum, the underhanded owner of the fish market, to investigate some poisoned fish, leading the players to a group of frog-folk. Weirdly that plot point ends there, and mainly serves to level the party up to two for the real adventure, which begins in part three with a town meeting.

The town meeting is a great opportunity to introduce the rest of the cast, though the resolution of the arguing townsfolk doesn’t really matter, as Poppin takes the players aside afterward to give them the quest to investigate a recently wrecked ship in nearby Griffoncrag Pass.

broken dagger crew

As the party boards a small ship we meet more fun NPCs, older Captain Salty Sally Mims, her loyal dwarven first mate Braedon (who keeps a pet frog in his beard) and the superstitious deckhand Corvin (who can’t swim!). I love that we’re given just enough information on each NPC to make them shine without needing paragraphs and paragraphs of backstory.

The ship is attacked by anglerfolk, a fun twist on merfolk or sahaugin, before making its way to the lighthouse, currently besieged by griffins. The griffins have been displaced by a terrible monster that’s shown up in the crag, and was responsible for the destruction of the wrecked ship.

After a long rest and level up to three, the party then travels to the crag to investigate the wreckage. The ship is fully submerged and destroyed, however, with only two survivors hiding out in a nearby cave.

At this point some wasp spiders make their way toward the beach. Although these unique spiders are classified as beasts, they have between four and six Intelligence and can communicate their emotions telepathically. They attempt to tell the party about the manticore that’s moved in and disrupted everything — then the manticore herself, Naleetya, shows up, kills one of the spiders, and cruelly taunts the party.

Up until this point I was enjoying this adventure, even despite its linearity. But the spider thing is weird, and the way the manticore is portrayed is disappointing. Manticores are evil and decently powerful (CR 3 with three attacks) but at this point the party is fully rested and level three. I’m confident the average party can take on a manticore, yet this is supposed to be a terrifying moment that sends everyone screaming into the spider caves.

It’s also a missed opportunity for a morally complex villain. The displaced manticore is here with her young children, trying to keep them alive after one has already died, to which she blames the spiders. But she’s played so comically villainous it’s impossible to feel any sympathy for her.

The spider thing is also weird. The ensuing cave dungeon is nicely laid out, with underground rivers, treasures, bone piles, and webs, but semi-intelligent spiders who betrayed their queen for the manticore is goofy, and the spider queen tells the party to do what they’re already going to do anyway: take out the manticore.

The manticore’s lair is atop a crag beyond the spider caves. It’s a large boss arena with webs and tunnels. It’s an interesting layout, though I’m still not convinced a manticore, even an upscaled CR 4 manticore with Legendary Resistance, poses much of a threat to a now level four party. She has exactly one CR 2 spider minion with her, though she can also summon her children (CR 1/2) to fight with her, once again eliminating any interesting moral quandaries or diplomacy.

The brief epilogue mentions possible future adventure hooks that parties could explore, such as killing a giant crocodile who ate Agatha’s hand. I would’ve loved to see these side quests more properly integrated into the story, so Gullport feels more like a hub town and the adventure feels less linear.

I really enjoy the NPCs, the opening quests, and the art design of Rescue at Griffoncrag Pass, but the back half loses sight of the actual rescue mission, and becomes a generic monster hunting quest that arachnophobes should stay far away from.

Pros:

  • Simple but effective plot is well-organized and easy to run.
  • Immersive art design and fantastic original character art for major NPCs.
  • Role-playing references for over a dozen NPCs.
  • Low-level adventure that doesn’t resort to goblins or kobolds.

Cons:

  • Emotionally telepathic spider civil war is a bizarre plot point that dominates the latter half.
  • Naleetya the manticore BBEG is portrayed as a comically sadistic villain.

The Verdict: Rescue at Griffoncrag Pass doesn’t quite stick the landing after its excellent first half, but it’s a worthy low level adventure elevated by beautiful artwork and intuitive design.

A review copy of “Rescue at Griffoncrag Pass” was provided by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

2 thoughts on “DriveThruRPG Review – Rescue at Griffoncrag Pass”

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