DMs Guild Review – The Orb of Goodbyes

Seek out a magical orb that manifests past memories in this one-shot adventure for level 4.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Designed by: Marcos Lopez

The 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind plants an intriguing twist on the romantic comedy, by exploring the human mind through past memories. The Orb of Goodbyes doesn’t go nearly that far, but does feature an interesting little dungeon crawl based on experiencing scary, sad, or harrowing memories that others have chosen to forget.

At only 12 pages, The Orb of Goodbyes is short even for a one-shot adventure, and takes place almost entirely in the Broken Blades Cave where the titular orb resides. It’s designed for a level four party, and thanks to its unique memory-based encounters, should make for a memorable little dungeon crawl.

The adventure begins in the small farming town of Laerton. The townmaster, Anton, a former soldier of Waterdeep, is retiring. He aims to promote his old friend and comrade from Waterdeep, Brigita. From one of their previous missions they both carry secret knowledge of a resting place of a Thayan wizard and a powerful artifact that they helped seal.

Anton had found a cave near Laerton that contained an orb that erases memories from a willing person, and used it to erase the memory of the wizard’s tomb, protecting its secret. He’s offering this memory-erasure to his former partner in exchange for her replacing him as townmaster.

Only problem is, the militia he sent to retrieve the orb never returned. Send out our player characters!

Along with an excellent, well-organized synopsis and background, the adventure also provides wonderfully written role-playing notes for our two primary NPCs, Brigita and Anton. Brigita could also accompany the party on their quest.

The rest of the adventure takes place in the cave dungeon. The actual militia are all found outside the cave, unconscious and wet, with only vague memories of what happened inside. It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing, along with the names carved on a rock by the entrance, dictating the last few people to enter the cave and reach the orb, including Anton.

The Broken Blades Cave features several caverns with pools of water, and it’s from these pools that the erased memories of previous orb-users come to life. The party will have to complete all three memories to fill the pools in the primary cave and unlock the orb.

cave of broken blades

The first memory is a social encounter, as the party sees a gnome who was spurned by their friend. While I’m more than satisfied with having at least one purely social memory encounter, it’s a bit boring and lame as they comfort the sad gnome.

The second memory is that of a scary encounter with a pair of Yeti in an ice cave, as falling icicles threaten to pierce the party members.

The final memory is Anton’s, showcasing he and Brigita fighting undead minions as they seal the wizard’s crypt. In this scenario, the party could choose to help Brigita defeat the ghouls, or take on the Flameskull, or all of the above.

After each memory has been completed, the pools in the central cavern fill up. When all three are filled, they reveal the Orb of Goodbyes, along with a final climactic flood that threatens to shove everyone back outside. There’s an odd discrepancy between whether the flood forces the party to start all over (obviously bad, but makes sense for the militia’s situation), or if it’s simply one final hurdle they have to overcome (makes more sense, but makes the militia’s situation more confusing).

An appendix at the end includes an optional d6 table for using different memory encounters, such as a dragon attacking a village, or fighting a vampire spawn in a castle. It’s a nice addition, though I would’ve preferred more scripted, meatier encounters that a DM could swap in and out with the others, creating a more modular dungeon crawl. And, of course, if your player characters have tragic or dark memories, perhaps they’ve visited the orb before, triggering their own forgotten memories, or wish to use the orb for themselves?

Despite the brief run-time, the adventure also includes full color grid and grid-less maps for the cave, as well as each individual memory, since each memory encounter takes place on a wildly different biome, just as the frozen cave for the Yeti fight.

Though I wish the adventure had a bit more going on (particularly with the nearly inconsequential militia side-plot), exploring forgotten memories is an excellent and creative approach to designing a unique dungeon.

Pros:

  • Exploring others’ bad memories as encounters is a creative concept for a dungeon.
  • Wonderful role-playing notes for the two primary NPCs.
  • Full color grid (and grid-less) battle maps for the cave, and each memory.

Cons:

  • The one social memory is simple and boring.

The Verdict: By building interesting encounters through memories, The Orb of Goodbyes creates a unique one-shot adventure that’s unforgettable.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more 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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