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Designed by: Crit Academy

An encounter is a single one-off event. A lair is a self-contained dungeon crawl. An expedition, from what I can tell, is the next step toward full-length adventure.

Extraordinary Expeditions (also available on the Crit Academy website) includes ten mini-adventures, from levels 1 – 10. Each expedition is 10-12 pages in length, and typically features outdoor monster hunts rather than dungeon crawls.

The quality varies; I enjoyed some of the expeditions far more than others, but the overall layout, presentation, and organization is top-notch.

Each expedition includes background, overview, and notes for expanding the expedition. It’s easy to parse the theme, setting, and characters right away. The expanding sections offer several neat ideas for lengthening the content into a larger adventure — often making the expedition itself feel truncated.

Many could be run as one-shots, with an emphasis on climactic boss battles. The lack of Adventure Hooks creates a jarring introduction, but focusing on exciting endings is probably the right call.

The three-act structure helps organize each expedition into specific scenes, though some scenes are little more than a series of random encounters. “Den of the Skull Dragon,” “Darkfathom Crypt,” and “Zenith Athenaeum” all rely on encounter tables through dangerous outdoor areas.

One of my chief complaints for Extraordinary Expeditions is an overreliance on encounter tables and skill challenges. Used sparingly they aren’t bad inclusions, but seeing them pop up in nearly every expedition is disappointing.

The worst offender is the fake boss fight in “Far-Touched,” which involves convincing an aboleth to avoid a dangerous fight through a challenging skill challenge. Just let players role-play!

The anthology’s biggest strengths are the rich variety of exotic settings, and awesome creature combinations.

redhold outpost

The opening level one adventure is just plain fantastic, as our newbie heroes run around saving villagers from the devastation caused by a kaiju battle between a storm giant and a purple worm. I love the bold choice to eschew combat in favor of helping people from collapsed buildings and raging fires, while two titans battle in the background.

“The Magmaforge Outpost” is a tiny but well-designed dungeon crawl set in a canyon over a river of lava. The PCs fight their way inside to close a breach to the elemental plane of fire, and deal with newly hatching red dragon eggs.

“Alluring Mesas” showcases harpies by pitting them against hapless villagers around a canyon trade post, where their luring song can quickly murder the population — not to mention their lair full of pits, spike traps, and a gelatinous cube!

Over 20 monster statblocks are included, drawing from 5e’s Monster Manual, Kobold Press’ original Tomb of Beasts, and Crit Academy’s own Memorable Monsters.

I was particularly impressed with the undead-plant monsters used in “Darkfathom Crypt.” The statblock for the Corrupted Treant is nearly an entire page long, with the neat side objective of dislodging their embedded artifact using Thieves’ Tools to disable its undead powers — all while it’s summoning trees, grappling enemies in branches, and draining their strength!

Fun original character art is used for many of the important NPCs (based on some Kickstarter backers, I believe), and each expedition includes one or two maps. The map art and detail is lovely, but they unfortunately lack color, making them a no-go for virtual table tops.

On top of these ten expeditions, Extraordinary Expeditions also includes four new subclass archetypes for players: the Monk Way of the Wild, Ranger Huntsman, Rogue Sawbones, and Wizard School of the Emerald Conclave.

These new subclasses are anything but an afterthought, offering impressive ideas and filling gaps that are increasingly harder to find this late in 5e’s life cycle. The monk’s animal stances look like a blast to play around with (and only get cooler as they level), and the Huntsman can choose between a list of traps to craft and deploy. Excellent!

My rankings of the expeditions:

  1. The Magmaforge Outpost
  2. Collateral Damage
  3. Den of the Skull Dragon
  4. Alluring Mesas
  5. Darkfathom Crypt
  6. Zenith Athenaeum
  7. Gromblekin’s Arena
  8. Far-Touched
  9. The Hunter
  10. Don’t Kill the Messenger


  • Ten well-organized mini-adventures, spanning multiple maps.
  • Neat ideas for expanding each expedition.
  • Nice variety of genres, themes, and settings, from kaiju battles and gladiatorial arenas to classic monster hunts.
  • Over 20 monster statblocks.
  • Original character art for many NPCs.
  • Four interesting new subclasses.


  • Overreliance on skill challenges and random encounter tables.
  • No Adventure Hooks.
  • Maps lack color.

The Verdict: Occupying that tricky length between an encounter and an adventure, Extraordinary Expeditions offers a solid variety of easy-to-run, bite-size adventures from levels 1 – 10.

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