What Do I Know About Reviews? The Feybane Gauntlet (Dungeon Masters Guild Adventure)
The Moonshae Isles have long been a special place in the Forgotten Realms. Originally created by Douglas Niles before the Realms became TSR’s new D&D playground, it is a setting heavily influenced by Celtic folklore. Over the years, it has often felt both an integral part, and forever separate, from the rest of the Forgotten Realms. While Baldman Games recently announced their agreement with Wizards of the Coast to produce exclusive Adventurers League content in the setting, that’s not the only product you can find on the Dungeon Masters Guild that utilizes this corner of the Realms.
The Feybane Gauntlet is a Dungeon Masters Guild adventure set in the Moonshae Isles, by Simon Collins. Full disclaimer, I was given a review copy to look at before writing this review.
What’s the Craic of It?
The Feybane Gauntlet is a 17-page adventure, with a handout page, a map page, and 3 pages of NPCs and monsters. The adventure uses primarily line art, and is set on a faded Celtic knot background, with green sidebars.
The introduction includes a section detailing the assumed levels of the PCs and how long the adventure should take, then moves into a paragraph long adventure summary, and another paragraph on the isle of Llewellyn in the Moonshaes.
The adventure assumes that the adventurers need to enter a portal to another plane of existence that has been warded against the fey, who have a strong presence in the Moonshaes. There are three potential adventure hooks for why the PCs would need to brave this warded portal to another world, but none of them are expressly written into the adventure as core assumptions.
This adventure doesn’t waste much time. Once you have selected a reason that the PCs need to travel through the portal, you are given the name of the lord who controls the dungeon complex guarding the portal from the fey, an NPC for the PCs to interact with, and a mission to do to gain permission to enter the Feybane Gauntlet.
The side quest to earn access to the gauntlet is quickly resolved, but it doesn’t feel perfunctory and it also plays up one of the themes of the Moonshaes, the tension between the isles and the outside nations of Faerun. In this instance, the PCs will be tracking down evidence of an Amnian spy, but the flavor of the encounter is very much in keeping with previous Moonshaes material.
The bulk of what comes next is navigating the corridors of the Feybane Gauntlet until the PCs find the portal that the dungeon was built to guard. The adventure introduces lodestone as something particularly anathema to the fey, and while I like that touch, introducing it will mean that you have established a wide-ranging fact about fey creatures. There are also a few other materials introduced that specifically target fey creatures, but these take the form of local wards or special poisons. Player character elves are specifically noted as being susceptible to a reduced form of harm from some of these items, but a group without elves is going to miss out on some of the thematic danger. As an aside, I would almost be inclined to throw gnomes to the proverbial wolves as well.
The Gauntlet, itself, is a relatively short dungeon that has a few nice twists and turns in it. There is some combat, but much of the Gauntlet relies on traps, puzzles, and the Guards and Wards spell to make things interesting.
There is one trap that feels a bit rough, especially since the adventure only specifies “Tier 1 Characters,” and it requires a DC15 save with 55 damage on the line, and that trap is sandwiched (or at least it’s origin point is) between two other traps that become a lot more dangerous once this trap is in play. Given that falls into the “deadly” range for traps for characters 5-10, I would probably at least look at bumping it down to 4d10 (22 damage). While that’s still a lot, it’s way less likely to not only take a PC to zero, but to also do enough damage to kill them outright in one shot.
There is another trap predicated on the fey and being fascinated with human concepts of morality, and while I like the concept of the trap, given the very traditional and sexist behavior of one of the characters outlined in the scenario (even if they aren’t being portrayed in a positive light), I may have subverted tropes a bit to present the moral dilemma, both to make it more fun, and to avoid some awkward stereotypical situations. Without giving too much away, it’s a hypothetical situation presented as part of a trap, and the characters and their behaviors are presented in story form, with the PCs determining who is in the right and who is in the wrong in a given situation.
Unlike the traps presented in the adventure, the final fight is presented with suggestions on how to scale the encounter for PCs of different levels.
Where the portal leads is variable, depending on which option the DM decides to go with. There are alternate endings leading to the Feywild, the Shadowfell, or even a pocket dimension with portals to various outer planes. Depending on which one the DM chooses, the PCs may have one last fight on their hands, or at least a tense situation. Each of the locations has a new monster created for that location.
While the Feywild or Shadowfell ending works fine, I really like the conclusion that brings the PCs to the Ley Hound, a new creature that specifically guards portals to other worlds. This encounter essentially has the Ley Hound trying to talk the PCs out of using any of the portals, because mortals aren’t meant to casually stroll through the multiverse, and could provide some fun tension and roleplaying if the hook the group came up with at the beginning of the adventure is strong enough to really push them to enter the unknown to resolve something compelling.
The Path to Glory
This adventure does a very good job of providing a tightly focused dungeon, with a quick but effective opening scene, and an evocative resolution that could lead to long term campaign fodder. I’ve seen much longer adventures fail to encapsulate a few simple elements that are hallmarks of a setting the way this adventure does right at the start.
A Giant, Crushing Weight
The Lodestone vulnerability of the fey could be a fun addition to a campaign, but it may also be an element you don’t want to introduce, in which case, you lose a good amount of flavor in the adventure. The fable introduced in the fey morality trap plays with some unfortunate “inconstant woman” tropes, and at least one of the traps seems way dangerous for the level range of this adventure.
Qualified Recommendation–A product with lots of positive aspects, but buyers may want to understand the context of the product and what it contains before moving it ahead of other purchases.
If you aren’t looking for an adventure with Celtic or Fey themes, some of the nuance may be lost on you, but this adventure does provide a focused experience that cuts right to the chase, although you may want to tinker with damage ranges or a few minor story details before you use it.