A review copy of “Rise of the Genie Lords – Part One” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Designed by: Brian Hamilton

Rise of the Genie Lords is a five-part adventure series that create a lengthy campaign. Each part aims to tell a complete mini-adventure, not unlike Pathfinder’s Adventure Paths. The desert setting of Calimport is a refreshing backdrop compared to the overused Sword Coast, but opportunities for exploration and side quests are mostly squandered in Part One.

The adventure begins with the player characters in Luskan — because even when adventures take place far away, we still need to start in the Sword Coast, apparently.

The PCs have been hired to bring a McGuffin all the way to a disguised djinni in the Calim Desert, an eight-week voyage across the sea.

If you’re wondering about the level range for Part One — so am I. In what may be a first for an adventure I’ve reviewed, I couldn’t find any information about what level the PCs are supposed to start at, or when they’re supposed to level up. Bizarre oversight for a such a critical component to adventure design.

Travel is typically the weakest component in a D&D adventure, and Part One falls victim to relying on random encounter tables and tedious saves for diseases. I’m probably not the only D&D player who would prefer not to worry about contacting scurvy while on a lengthy sea voyage.

As for travel encounters, they can be effective with expanded details, lore, and context. Many of the 5e campaigns do a pretty good job by providing short paragraphs that detail each encounter, and utilizing a mixture of non-hostile events, exciting ambushes, or natural hazards.

But the travel encounters used for the sea voyage, and while traveling in the Calim Desert, have none of those details, just the tables. Blah.

genie lords p1 ruins

The city of Calimport is a sprawling metropolis. The designer spends an astonishing 10 pages of the 40-ish page adventure intricately describing the various districts, wards, and buildings. But for what?

There’s nothing for the PCs to actually do, other than shopping. No side quests, no important NPCs, not even the dreaded random encounter table.

If this were a sourcebook that one’d be thing (although still far too dry and not player-focused enough for my taste), but as part of the adventure, Calimport is literally pointless, a speed bump on the way to the Calim Desert to deliver the artifact.

Once the PCs reach Ereshka, she gives them a follow-up quest to delve into some nearby ruins, using the artifact to unlock the temple within and retrieve the treasures inside.

The Temple of Akadi is a solidly-designed mega-dungeon of 20+ rooms, divided into three subsections. The party must recover the orbs of dust, smoke, and ice from three different paths in order to unlock the Vault of Air.

The dungeon provide an excellent mix of combat, traps, and puzzles, including a labyrinth of illusion, battles with undead cultists and mummies, and a puzzle-platforming section. The dungeon is enhanced with full-color, detailed battle maps, though we’re only ever given small slices of each subsection rather than the entire thing (and no separate image files).

In the end the party realizes they’ve been working for the bad guys, or at least one of the bad guy factions who are trying to bring back their genie lord and resume a centuries-long war. Whether the party decides to continue working for Ereshka, or try and destroy the newly acquired artifact, the main quest path appears to be the same.

I glanced through Part Two (the designer sent all five parts), and it does appear to have better pacing, more interactive elements, and an even more intriguing setting as the PCs travel to the City of Brass in the Plane of Fire. But still no information on level progression.

I was ready to fall in love with a lengthy campaign that takes place entirely outside of the Sword Coast. Rise of the Genie Lords – Part One is so obsessed with its own lore that it forgot to provide a compelling adventure.


  • Refreshingly doesn’t take place anywhere near the Sword Coast!
  • Temple of Akadi is a big, 3-in-1 dungeon crawl with a solid balance of combat, traps, and puzzles.


  • A quarter of the adventure is dedicated to Calimport, where there isn’t anything for the PCs to do.
  • Potentially interesting travel excursions are reduced to random encounter tables and saves-for-diseases.
  • No level progression?

The Verdict: Part one of Rise of the Genie Lords smartly uses an underused corner of the Forgotten Realms: huge cities, dangerous deserts, and ancient ruins, but focuses too much on world-building rather than creating a compelling narrative or interesting characters.

A review copy of “Rise of the Genie Lords – Part One” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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