DMs Guild Review – Academy of Adventure

Graduate from an adventuring academy in this campaign kick-off for level 1.

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: Scott McClintockMarc AltfuldischKathleen Harrington

One of the more challenging scenarios for a game master to concoct is the initial meeting of the player characters. To help avoid the “you all meet in a tavern” trope, the Academy of Adventure drops level one PCs in an adventuring school for young adults.

The Academy is located near Mirabar and Lurkwood, and is attended by all races and classes. It might have been interesting to make the PCs start at a theoretical level 0 and actually train in their chosen class, but instead everyone begins at level 1, and takes two semesters, each lasting four tendays and ending in a midterm, before a final exam.

The 50-page adventure is broken up into four chapters, and an Introduction that details the academy, faculty, and students. This isn’t Strixhaven with its sprawling campus and dozens of NPCs. The more humble Academy of Adventure (which could’ve used a proper name) includes classrooms, a library, and arboretum, training grounds, and a zoo of exotic creatures.

The faculty aren’t particularly memorable, but I did enjoy reading about the different students, who are divided into several adventuring parties, including the arrogant, bullying Demodragons, the partying Marauders, and the naïve kobold team, Meepo’s Minions. There are fun details and artwork for some of the groups, including unique statblocks for the Iconics, a group of good-natured adventurers meant to mimic a PC party.

academy iconics

The semesters are detailed in each chapter. The first is basically a tutorial for D&D combat, which is great for neophytes but easily skippable by everyone else, while the second semester includes a series of skill checks and challenges. Semesters are broken up with events, encounters, and trials, with the PCs reaching level three before the final exam.

The first trial is a simple survival/horde mode event against a bunch of killer frogs. Thankfully the other three encounters are way more compelling, including rescuing the Iconics from a cave of undead, infiltrating a small drow compound, and stopping a ritual by a bunch of Orcus cultists summoning a tentacled monstrosity. Each of these events includes a full color battle map, and opportunities for role-playing and investigating.

On the other hand, these encounters aren’t really connected to each other. Though it had some faults, Strixhaven’s semesters link with each other and build toward a proper villain and a satisfying ending. But here, the encounters are more like one-off excursions. In fact, they’re all supposed to be illusory exercises (as a safety net for the PCs, I think), but it’s unclear whether that’s meant to be a shocking twist or not.

The one big story twist comes in the form of an optional ending, which the designer calls “Doomed Forgotten Realms.” If you choose to run it, the PCs are forced to battle the Iconics in a fight to the death, and it’s revealed that the students, and the school, are all cultists of Vecna, a major villain in the D&D universe. This crazy twist could make for a startling, dark campaign for the right group of veteran players, though you’ll need to wait until Volume Two to see where the story goes from here.

Pros:

  • Interesting low-level monsters and detailed NPCs to interact with.
  • Excellent character art and full color battle maps (including separate player versions).
  • Solid balance of combat encounters, investigation, and role-playing.

Cons:

  • The adventure lacks an overarching story, and none of the encounters are linked together.

The Verdict: Though it’s no Strixhaven, the Academy of Adventure provides a solid introductory D&D 5e experience and a fine way to kick-off a campaign, with memorable NPCs, helpful combat tutorials, and interesting encounters.

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

One thought on “DMs Guild Review – Academy of Adventure”

  1. Thank you so much for the thorough and thoughtful review. We appreciate the kind words as well as the constructive criticism regarding areas we might improve. Our intention was to provide a modular adventure where DMs could pick and choose whatever content they felt would resonate the most with their table. The disconnect you felt between encounters might have been an unfortunate consequence of this design choice. That said, our hope is that the Iconics can provide some connection between the encounters since the majority of the encounters are designed to deepen the PCs relationship with this “rival” adventuring group. Unlike Strixhaven, the Academy of Adventure is not intended to be an entire campaign but rather a relatively short springboard (a reskinned tavern, to borrow your own cool comparison) into some other campaign — be it a homebrew, a WOTC hardcover, or the next installment of our Age of Vecna adventure path (which we promise has an epic and interconnected plot!).

    Thank you again! Ive been following you since 2018 and have always enjoyed your thoughtful and humorous content as well as the service you provide to the community.

    Like

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