I am back once again with the penultimate episode in the Deconstructing Dungeons saga! Seems like it hasn’t been that long since I started, but we’re nearly done already. This week we’re taking a look at The Theocracy, part of the Dragon Relics campaign in which the characters have to face off against an ancient dragon. It’s based on my home campaign, which is slowly moving toward its finale!
For those that don’t know, Deconstructing Dungeons is an article series where I look at my published adventures, give you a brief synopsis of them and then talk about what went well and what went poorly during the process of publication. I’m hoping it will help out new writers who are looking to publish on DMsGuild and give me an excuse to talk about my work. Remember that I give away 5 copies of the adventure each week, and one copy of the compendium it can be found in!
The Theocracy is a 5 – 10 hour adventure for 11th – 16th level characters (Tier 3). This alone makes it something of an anomaly on the DMsGuild, as most of the adventures are, I believe, for Tier 1 & 2 characters. It currently has one 5 star review and rating, but hasn’t hit the best seller ranks at all (sad face). I find this slightly odd, especially because Beneath the Sands (the other released Dragon Relics adventure) managed to make it to copper best seller quite quickly.
In The Theocracy, the characters are trying to uncover one of the four dragon relics; the dragonfall horn. This magical item is being held in the holy vaults of The Theocracy and is under lock and key at all times. The Theocracy itself is a fanatical city-state of religious worshippers. As written, the Theocracy worship Tyr, a god from the Forgotten Realms, but it could easily be changed to whichever deity or power you deem appropriate. The force of the Theocracy is strong enough to repel any open violence on the side of the characters, and thus they are forced into a heist situation in which they attempt to smuggle the horn out of the vaults without being noticed.
The heist can be achieved in a multitude of ways, each of which is detailed within the adventure. The rest of the product consists of a room by room breakdown of the central temple in the Theocracy, which spans two floors above ground and one below. Each of the rooms has its own individual purpose, though continues the theme of the religious temple. Many have been specifically designed to deter intruders, even those who have access to high level magic which might otherwise make a heist incredibly easy.
Within the Theocracy are a few other factions including a subfaction of the Harpers called the Sound of Silence, whose bards are famous for subterfuge. Devils too make an appearance in the prison cells of the Theocracy, as does the enigmatic rakshasa named Father Odo.
My main aim in this adventure was to create a heist scenario which would challenge even high level characters, and I think I succeeded in doing so. There are many traps, puzzles and tricks that should vex characters of all levels and which cannot be overcome by simple magic. The sheer number of theocratic soldiers alone should rule out combat as an option, but characters who do go down that route will have to face dozens of dynamic combats with a whole host of creatures designed to tax their expendable resources.
The cover for this adventures comes from an Arcana Games stock art pack (which I can no longer find), and all the interior artwork is from the DMsGuild Creator Resource Packs, WikiCommons or other sources of royalty free artwork. All of the cartography was done by myself in Photoshop, and I think it’s some of my better work (though I’ve since gone back to hand drawn maps). The layout was done using homebrewery, a tool which many of you will already be familiar with.
What I did well: I think I did a superb job of posing a moral quandary to the characters; they need the horn, but should they steal it? I also think I created a heist environment that will challenge high level characters, but could also be run for lower level parties. When it comes to re-releasing this adventure, I think all I really need to include is some custom artwork. I also created a load of new monsters!
What I did poorly: The setting of the adventure is a little week, but that’s been left intentionally vague to help DMs use it in their own settings, or throw the adventure into an established campaign setting. Other than the lack of custom art I think the production quality is good, and I’m quite happy with how this particular adventure turned out!
GIVEAWAY! If you like the post on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be entered into a giveaway to win one of five copies of The Theocracy. If you retweet or share the post, you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Adventure Compendium Vol II, which contains all of my adventures from 2017.