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I currently DM a party that is on the cusp of finishing Lost Mine of Phandelver and has just attained level 5. I plan to next have them begin Dungeon of the Mad Mage. I have read just enough of DotMM to have a plan for getting them from one to the other. As a modified version of the Throne of the Coronal hook, the two surviving Rockseeker brothers will find that the Forge of Spells is not fully functional because the throne from the Temple of Dumathoin in Wave Echo Cave is missing. The party wants their 10% share of the mine, but it will not be able to produce anything until the throne is found. Sister Garaele's Harper contacts will be able to track the throne to Undermountain and off the PC's go.

My question is how useful it would be to supplement the adventure as written with the adventures available from Season 8 of Adventurer's League, starting with Into the Dark as appropriate for party level (and especially if that or another 5th level AL can be a better motivation to get them from Phandalin to Waterdeep)?

'Utility' for me would come mostly from helping the party of four bridge any gaps in XP needed to be appropriately leveled for the next level of the main dungeon, especially if (1) there are times when they can find access to another level without having completed a floor, if there are 'secret sections' full of xp they might miss, or (2) if there are combats they might be inclined to avoid, and thus might be 'jumping ahead'.

Also, if there are story items needed to access the next level that could be easily-missed, it might make more sense to have them locate said item in a side-quest rather than laboriously searching the level they are on.

Lesser utility might be achieved by interesting story lines or sub-plots that help the main adventure make more sense, but the party are not strong role-players and don't worry too much about plot.

Utility could also be found in a particular magic item well-suited for a character or that would help in a particularly difficult or frustrating section of the main dungeon.

The party consists of a War domain cleric of Tempus, a Bear totem barbarian, a Raven Queen hexblade warlock, and a multiclass dragon blood sorcerer / monk who is currently 4/1 and plans to go 5/1 before starting to advance as a monk.

They are mostly hack n' slashers, enjoying combat challenges and dungeon exploration but not difficult puzzles or role play. They tend to treat NPC's as 'what's in it for me?' unless they are particular sympathetic. Fetch quests are okay so long as they are rewarded and not tedious.

Please keep your answers to 'good subjective', using your experience with both the main adventure and the specific AL quests to identify ones that would or would not work well for my needs.

Note to reviewers: I understand that product recommendation questions are off topic. I believe that I have scoped this properly by asking for an evaluation of the utility of a defined set of adventures for a stated purpose. If there is a way to better scope this question I would appreciate suggestions for edits.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast TY for the edit \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 5 at 4:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you also be open to experiences from other supplemental material (that are not official AL content), or are you concerned that this would lead to question closure? If the latter, I can share a bit in chat, instead. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin Something that was strongly tied to Waterdeep and interacted well with the mainline story as I have asked for could be an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 5 at 17:56

2 Answers 2

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You can try the DotMM Companion

As you stated in the comments you are open for other sources, whilst I have no experience with the AL Season 8 Material, I have experienced the use of the Dungeon of the Mad Mage Companion, which is available via DM's Guild, and is specifically made to expand upon the module, and which has a 5/5 Star rating from 45 reviews. From the cover text:

The Complete Edition of the Dungeon of the Mad Mage Companion is your one-stop guide for running and fleshing out Dungeon of the Mad Mage!

The module as written consists of mostly disconnected individual levels which are pretty bare-bones dungeon crawls. To give you some ideas of the expansions that this provides, based on what our DM has disclosed, for example

  • the revamped Dweomercore level that presents a deranged wizard school has been remade into a Hogwart's-like experience complete with Wizard tournament.
  • the remade Tobriand's Graveyard level has been remade from a simple cave into a a Mad Max: Fury Road-like desert scenario, complete with hobgoblin biker gangs.
  • the companion provides a lot of deeper internal logic and overarching motivating plot than the original module.

While we have pretty thoroughly scoured each level, even with the DM only awarding basic monster XP without any multipliers for large encounter sizes, and not awarding any roleplaying or story XP, and only awarding XP for monsters outright killed, not circumvented or pacified, and even with some of the levels ending up being vacated due to our actions (for example, the drow in the Troglodyte Warrens evacuated themselves after we decimated their base in Murial's Gauntlet), we have not had any problem leveling up to match the levels as guided.

Apart from a few issues we had with our DM struggling to keep things challenging for our overpowered gloom stalker ranger or my use of the Rod of Rulership we found, it also has been A LOT of fun to play so far (we are on Seadeeps currently). Based on my play experience, I can recommend it.

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“Utility” is up to you

D&D 5e is a very forgiving system once you reach tier 2. A party of 4 PCs can handle several “deadly” encounters in a row. If the DM really tries hard they might kill a PC but a TPK requires considerable effort and a sadistic personality.

So, if these adventures are fun, play them. If they aren’t, don’t.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with your answer, it still begs the question of given the kind of things that party thinks are fun, do the AL adventures have that kind of fun? Someone who has experience with them can answer that; I cannot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 5 at 17:54

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