Voivode's Taking Notes

Sunless Citadel: Tricks of the Trade

The Sunless Citadel is the first adventure in Tales from the Yawning Portal.

I’ve started reading Tales from the Yawning Portal. I figured that if the adventures in there were worthy of republishing in a later edition, they must be good. So far, I’ve read the first in the book, The Sunless Citadel.

I don’t usually run modules or published adventures. They break something in my brain, and I can’t roll with the players as well as I usually do. I feel committed to the story as written and have a hard time improvising. This includes coming up with off-topic dialogue for NPCs. I’m not saying modules and adventures are bad, just that they don’t work for me. Because of that I haven’t really read many of them. This has been an oversite on my part, so I’m going to begin reviewing these materials for content that I can repurpose. and I did find a few interesting things.

The Sunless Citadel (#6PbP) - Play-By-Post - D&D Beyond General - D&D  Beyond Forums - D&D Beyond
Fortress Level Map, Tales from the Yawning Portal, page 13.

Thing 1: Vertical Space on a Map

Vertical space is always a challenge in Dungeons and Dragons. This is true even with a good virtual tabletop like Foundry. I’ve seen other published maps that deal with elevation, but they usually sacrifice the y-axis for a z-axis. They are 2 dimensional, just in a different orientation.

This map provides really elegant solution. Provided the image is at the right angle, and the playable areas are small enough, you can accommodate width, depth and height in a convincing fashion. I’m working using this to make a map for the coliseum, seeing how far I can push the size before it doesn’t work. Sooner or later, large enough platforms will break the illusion due to issues with perspective.

Thing 2: Sunless Citadel Factions

The Sunless Citadel is occupied by three factions: kobold, goblins and an evil druid. This isn’t unique among the adventures that I’ve read. That said I really like the way it’s set up in Sunless Citadel. Firstly, all the factions have clear motivations and are able to be negotiated with. None of them are flat evil targets for PCs to kill. The kobold are pitiful, the goblins craven and cunning, and the Druid will gladly leave the party alive if they become his servants. I’m sure the players can work something out with him….but perhaps a more likely solution would be to get both the goblins and kobold on your side and have them do the fighting and dying for you.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon with notes on the second floor of the citadel, the Grove Level. If you wanna see what I’ve been working on in the mean time, I’ve got a module about the Dungeonsports Coliseum on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, and I’ve got some sketches of modules, and some nasty little beasties too.

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