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Friday, October 6, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Ruins of Mezro

You can buy Ruins of Mezro right here.

We just finished playing part of Ruins of Mezro, a DMs Guild adventure by Will Doyle. This adventure was released as part of the Guild Adept program, where certain creators were allowed to make books linked to the Tomb of Annihilation.

In the Tomb of Annihilation book, Mezro is mentioned, but not detailed. This book describes Mezro, the creatures that inhabit it, and the secrets it contains.

The book is broken up into 4 main sections:
  1. A description of locations in Mezro.
  2. A big list of encounters that could occur in the city.
  3. Three adventures, each two pages long.
  4. A pile of monster stats, including the living trap, which I love.
Player Stuff: There's a few things for players in here:
  • Background: Heretic. There are a bunch of options as to what your heretical belief is. I like the one about the divine sphere of annihilation made by gods to kill mortal wizards. I also like the one about Waukeen and Graz'zt, a callback to For Duty and Deity.
  • Cleric Domain: Entropy. You draw power from a divine sphere of annihilation. You gain advantage on death saves, have an aura that disrupts spellcasting and force exhaustion on spellcasters. Seems fun!

The Premise: The ruins of Mezro isn't the "real" Mezro. The real Mezro is safe in a pocket dimension, and it won't come back until Chult is a safe place.

The adventurers can go through these ruins and piece together what happened to Mezro, and they can also get clues that direct them to Omu.

Artus Cimber is looking to find a way to get to the real Mezro or to bring it back, but he hasn't been able to figure out how. His home is detailed in this book.

Factions: There are a bunch of groups exploring or inhabiting the city:
  • Flaming Fist: 98 soldiers! They have a base and a tavern and everything.
  • Cult of the Crocodile: This cult worships a mudmaw - a crocodile that can see the future.
  • Cult of Entropy: Their leader has a sphere of annihilation!
Easy to Read: I usually have a hard time reading and preparing adventures, but I blew through this one in a few hours. It's very breezy and concise.

The Map: This adventure comes with a really awesome map of Mezro. There's a version to give to the players and it is a big help.

Layout: This looks very good, very similar to the official books. It even has those weird green text boxes for certain sidebars.

The Monsters: I love the living trap! Love it. It's a really fun idea, and it definitely fits the whole theme of the Tomb of Annihilation.

The City: The locations are all very cool, but too sparse for my liking. You really can't run some of them out of the book. For example, there's a wizard college with shifting corridors, doors that lead to different rooms each time they're opened, and weird gravity that might have you walking on upside down stairs.

That sounds really cool, but there's no map, no room descriptions, nothing. The entropy cult is lurking in the college, in a room where "a large sphere of water hovers over a stony pit." Again, awesome idea, but what does that mean? What do I do with that?

When I buy an adventure, I want those details. For this wizard college, I would have liked a description of 4 rooms and more of an idea of where the cult is and how that encounter might go.

Treasure: One of the main draws of Mezro is supposed to be that there's tons of great treasure, but many times when the group comes to a spot with treasure, you're asked to roll on the DMG or the Tomb treasure charts. Again, I want that done for me. That's why I buy adventures!

Encounters: There are some good encounters on the big list. There are also a number of encounters that I think could have used a bit more pizzazz - some are more or less a list of monsters. The ones I pulled out to use in my game:
  • A hippo is stuck in mud, dinosaurs ambush those who try to help it.
  • The living trap.
  • The mazewalker looking to get into a holy place so that he can die.
  • The triceratops babies.
Traits of Mezro: One of the coolest things about Mezro is the weird magical effects. I think that if you run this, you might want to sit down and make a cheat sheet to refer to so you don't forget them. You should list:
  • The cursed gold effect.
  • The insects.
  • What happens when you drink water.
  • A reminder that the obelisks are outside most buildings (described on pg 26).
  • What triggers wild magic.
  • Notes on the special district effects (residential maze requires a group check, etc).
My Version: When I ran this, I chucked all of the factions. I love the idea of the city being a wild, overgrown, rarely-explored locale. I made up a demented pterafolk guy who thinks he is the ruler of Mezro and reveres the mudmaw.

One of the main stories here is that there's a statue of a king holding a tablet that contains vital clues on how to get to the real Mezro. This tablet was broken off and is missing. In the book, one of the cults took the tablet.

For my version, the crazy pterafolk guy did it. He used his sword Shatterspike (from Tales of the Yawning Portal) to slice off the arm holding the tablet. He knew people would want it, so he hid it. If they want to use it, they have to swear fealty to him and do things for him, first.

There's a really awesome location in the city - a ruined marketplace full of hundreds of zombies. My crazy pterafolk guy lodged the tablet into the torso of one of the zombies.

When I ran it, the group had to figure out how to get that tablet out of the marketplace without getting devoured by zombies. It involved a weasel and it was hilarious. You can never guess what players will do!

Overall: I like this book and I think most people will, too. You just have to keep in mind that this book is more of a sourcebook/toolkit. You will have to fill in some of the fine details. It is not hard to do.

So, if you're OK with that, you'll love this. If you're looking to run this right out of the book, definitely check out the preview first and make sure it's got enough for you to go with.

It took me about an hour to create my own version of Mezro, which really isn't long at all. Once I get the completed artwork, I'll post episode one of Ruins of Mezro on Youtube. Was a lot of fun!

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