I really wanted this to be a 5/5 module, this season has been filled with fantastic modules and after running the Tier 1 season finale I had high hopes but after reading through this module and listening to other DMs who have run it and recorded their games it is obvious that the module fails in several areas. Thankfully, I haven't run it yet, and I plan on making modifications to fix the obvious issues I've found so far to the extent that Adventure’s League allows me to.
The players are confronted with their Kobiashi Maru situation, they cannot possibly defeat Jarl Ryndolg who has come to destroy/enslave the Hartsvale and instead the players find themselves investigating a beast that Ryndolg has summoned which turns out to be Hartkiller himself(ancient good-aligned giant who still wishes to see giants take control of worldly affairs through force if necessary), the players are ambushed along the way but the combat should be relatively easy at this point and aside from some environmental factors all the monsters have likely been faced before. The players have some interesting role-playing choices at this point which help shape the world of Toril depending on what they do with Hartkiller and whether they survive the side-quest he gives them. From here the module splits off into several paths and there is no easy way to list/review them all here without copy/pasting the module itself.
1) Role-Playing: this module features roleplaying opportunities that allow the players to feel like they have truly arrived as the king and SEER basically beg them to help save the town. Always nice to prop the players up a little just before...
2) Surprise Boss Battle: there is an optional boss battle in this module (although I figure most players will probably choose to fight it rather than not) that is not expected and it's placement in the module makes it extremely difficult because veteran players will be trying to conserve their resources for what they believe will be an epic battle and one or two of them could outright die before the party realizes they need to ‘fire everything’.
1) The Final Battle has a 50/50 chance of being mainly box test: You still get a final battle; it’s just with a frost giant lieutenant and a hobgoblin devastator who haven’t been mentioned in the season story arc so far as I can recall which feels like a very cheap way to cap off a season compared with the tier 1 season finale which involved players facing waves and waves of giant themed enemies including a giant knight riding a mammoth. It is true that if you make certain role-playing choices you could end up fighting an epic final battle to finish the season off BUT, it is nowhere as difficult as fighting the Beast of Talos from earlier in the module, and doesn’t involve any special mechanics, environmental factors, or strategy that the players haven’t encountered before which feels very anticlimactic.
2) Lack of real consequences/failure story award: Yes, if you fail there is a chance that a population of 10,000 could perish but almost all of these modules this season revolved around SEER, HSING, and possibly 2 other NPCs. So I don’t really get why the players should be invested in the 10,000 people that they haven’t heard from before. Also, if you fail and the 10,000 people do die, there is no lasting effect on your character except whatever you decide to add to their personality from witnessing this ‘horror’.
3) Poor Magic Item Choice: A dagger of venom? Really? It takes an action just to activate the thing, the only saving grace is that it doesn’t take up an attunement slot.
4) Typos: To be fair, I’m sure this review has typos in it, but I’m not asking someone to pay for this review or use it to provide entertainment to a group of gamers.
SUMMARY: This module is the Tier 2 Finale for Season 6, and I wish it weren’t. In any other season this would be a 4/5 for me but because it’s supposed to be representative of a finale and then there’s a very good chance the party will completely bypass the Jarl who they’ve been undermining the entire season, because the 10,000 villagers are just numbers and not faces or NPCs that the party has interacted with before or become interested in, and because the party hears all season about these legendary horns/axes and then gets a dagger of venom as an award the best I can give this module is a 3. A lot of that 3 is due to the surprise boss battle which reminds me of Forgotten Traditions and tests whether the players and their characters have advanced enough to combat truly difficult foes.