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Dungeon Magazine #221 - Lowdown in Highport Review

 
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Luz
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Joined: Jan 05, 2007
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Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 8:36 pm    Post subject: Dungeon Magazine #221 - Lowdown in Highport Review Reply with quote

Dungeon Magazine #221
Lowdown in Highport
by Thomas M. Reid
An adventure for 6-8 characters of levels 3-5
Published by Wizards of the Coast 2013

Back in June of 2013 Wizards of the Coast released Against the Slavelords, part of a collection of limited-edition hardcover books that compiled classic modules from the AD&D era. This volume included the entire A1 - A4 series of modules, as well as an additional "prequel" entitled Danger at Darkshelf Quarry (you can read my review of that module here). To support the book, two supplemental modules were released that same year via digital format: The Last Slavelord in Dungeon Magazine #215 serves as a direct sequel (or perhaps an encore) to the original series, while Lowdown in Highport (published in Dungeon Magazine #221) serves as a segue between A0 and A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity. This review covers Lowdown in Highport, continuing a series of reviews that follow the modules in the order which they are meant to be played. Also note that these reviews are based on play with the 5th edition rules of the game, making direct one-for-one conversions where necessary to maintain the integrity of the Slavelords campaign.

The adventure begins in the city of Highport, following the events of A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry. Having tracked the slavers' activities to this nefarious city, the PCs are met by a priest of Trithereon who is part of a covert network devoted to freeing the shackled in Highport. The priest has a group of recently liberated slaves that he needs to smuggle out of the city, so the party is tasked with clearing out a subterranean route connecting the sewers beneath Highport to some sea caves outside the city walls. The set-up is excellent and offers plenty of intriguing possiblities: slave rescue, covert networks, and sewer escape routes in an orc-occupied city? Sign me up!

The party is then directed to a location just outside the city, along the coast to a sea cave entrance. The Trithereon priest explains that these sea caves should connect with an abandoned sewer system that leads into the city and needs to be cleared of any hazardous monsters, so that freed slaves may be escorted safely out of Highport. From there, the adventure becomes primarily a dungeon crawl. The sea caves and sewer tunnels are well thought out and provide some fun, engaging challenges. There is a good mix of environmental hazards, monsters to slay, and even a potential diplomacy scenario. An effective tide dynamic is also provided, adding a little more tension to the adventure as certain sea caves become flooded over the course of the day. All of this in a mere twenty-six encounter areas, which I found to be just the right length for this sort of quest.

Lowdown in Highport does a lot with very little. The monsters and environments are nothing the party or DM hasn't already seen before, being little more than a series of well-presented random encounters. This adequately serves to introduce the PCs to the city as well as provide them with a means of coming and going unnoticed, but nothing more. In that respect, Lowdown is a bit of a letdown. Or at least a missed opportunity. I'll confess: when I sat down to read this, I was really hoping it would be more of an urban adventure in the City of Chains - a place with so many adventure opportunities. Perhaps a "prison-break" scenario with some slaves, cultivating uneasy truces with dubious guards or allies, fending off orc patrols, etc. The introduction certainly did much to whet my appetite, but the end result was a little disappointing. Instead, the PCs are relegated to pest control as they clear out a small dungeon area. Linking this adventure into the next module of the series, A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity, is weakly provided at the end of the module: once the party is finished, the NPC priest simply points them in the direction of an 'abandoned temple' where there is slaver activity. Its merely an afterthought.

This module is a decent diversion that offers the party a little more xp before moving on to A1, nothing more and nothing less. It was fun for our group, but a lot more work was required by me to mesh it smoothly with the Slavelords campaign. Considering its a pivotal location in the series, its too bad Highport continues to be a source of untapped potential in Greyhawk. There is a lot of fun to be had there...somewhere.

I give Lowdown in Highport 6.5 out of 10
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SirXaris
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Joined: Jul 26, 2010
Posts: 2421
Location: LG Dyvers

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for that review, Luz. I haven't had a chance to run, read, or play through Lowdown in Highport yet, so I appreciate the non-spoiler information you provided.

SirXaris
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Mystic-Scholar
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 2780
Location: South-Central Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your review is appreciated. I haven't been keeping up with Dungeon magazine, or the new Against the Slavelords, so this review is even more timely.

I'll have to look into this little adventure. Thanks Luz.
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smillan_31
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Joined: Nov 07, 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice review Luz. I used an adapted Lowdown as a lead-in to A1 by connecting location 22 in Lowdown with location 9 in the Sewer Level of A1. Of course I had to reverse one of the maps to get it to fit together, but it worked really well.
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Luz
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Joined: Jan 05, 2007
Posts: 203
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

smillan_31 wrote:
Nice review Luz. I used an adapted Lowdown as a lead-in to A1 by connecting location 22 in Lowdown with location 9 in the Sewer Level of A1. Of course I had to reverse one of the maps to get it to fit together, but it worked really well.

That's a great idea, smilian, I wish I had thought of that. It seems a much better way to connect the two modules. My group is about 75% finished A1 now and have freed a bunch of slaves. Linking the two maps together would sure make it easier to move all those slaves out of there.
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Sheepdog
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Joined: Apr 21, 2013
Posts: 318
Location: Minnesota

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smillan_31. I may be running that module as a lead into A1 as well. I like that idea. I was planning on having it come out at/near the temple for reasons similar to what Luz has commented on. Your idea may get plundered and repeated.

Thanks y'all (if the southern folks on this site do not mind a Minnesotan saying y'all instead of youbetcha. It is a habit I picked up from my buddy from Texas).
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smillan_31
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Joined: Nov 07, 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you guys liked the idea. Yes, it would have made it easier to move the slaves out if one of the party members hadn't tried to murder an NPC that they hired while they were still in the sea caves by kicking him off the rope they were climbing. It ended up with the NPC being left unconscious while they continued ahead, so of course when he woke up he went back to the cove entrance and signaled the ship to send out the prearranged boat for pickup. He then told them the rest of the party had died in a cave-in. Cue the party returning to the cove, finding the ship gone, then having to hotfoot it back into the sewer level and make their escape from the temple before the guards changed and the alarm was raised. Then they have to spend a month slogging north through the Pomarj and Suss Forest to escape to Elredd. It was beautiful, and all because the party's warlock got offended by the NPC and decided to get his revenge. Laughing
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Sheepdog
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Joined: Apr 21, 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is too funny. I bet the mage was pretty sheepish when they discovered the boat had left. If he knew it was his fault anyway.
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