Role-Playing Module Feature Review

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  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
  • Author: Bruce R.Cordell
  • Format: Softcover Role-Playing Game Module
  • Price: $9.95


New Dungeons and Dragons rules are emphasized

By James T. Voelpel     July 26, 2002

BASTION OF BROKEN SOULS is the last of Wizards of the Coast's 3RD EDITION DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS adventures created to help players and dungeon masters learn the inner workings of D&D. These paths of adventure began shortly after 3rd edition (or 3E for short) D&D came out in late 2000. It helped rookies and veterans of role-playing games understand the nuances and subtleties for the new version of the grand daddy of RPGs.

Beginning with THE SUNLESS CITADEL, these adventures led characters from 1st level all the way to 20th at the end of BASTION OF BROKEN SOULS, each new module adding new uses for the 3E rules and how to deal with them. For dungeon masters it demonstrated how to accent their adventures with more flavor and realism and still keep a handle on their characters as they grew in level and complexity. Bruce Cordell, the author of many of these adventures is back for this high level conclusion. One of 3E's more prolific authors and an ORIGINS award winner, he has authored or co-authored some of D&D's most important books, such as THE PSIONIC HANDBOOK, THE MANUAL OF THE PLANES and TOME AND BLOOD.

The plot of BASTION OF BROKEN SOULS should remain somewhat spoiler free but here is a quick overview. Throughout the world, children are being born without souls, and a member of the party is the key to understanding one of the greatest potential tragedies to encompass the multi-verse. Your band of heroes must travel to many planes, find an imprisoned god and unravel the nature of one of the most famous Demon Lords.

This is all that should be revealed about Cordell's amazingly fresh take on high level modules. How many veteran D&D players have endured endlessly stupid high-level adventures that are long on endless hack and slash, but short on story and originality? Not only is this module's storyline fresh, but the lessons on how to run powerful adventurers is probably the most invaluable. The suggestion for using "Power-Up Suites" is ingenious and simple, a system for running monsters that ready themselves to face your party of heroes. The quick gist is that many monsters or characters that your party will meet up with have many innate or item related powers. The "Power-Up Suite" is a list of these powers and how it will change the foe your party will be meeting, making them infinitely more dangerous. It will list what the power is, how long it will last and how it makes the monster more powerful when it has time to ready itself. This reduces the complexity of running enemies in high level adventures who always have an almost endless repertoire of spells and powers, some of which are overlooked. A monster prepared with this system is more of a challenge and more realistic than when a dungeon master tries to run these foes "on the fly."

For people who have never run D&D or any role-playing game, this will mean nothing - those who have will know what it means. The module itself is twelve pages longer then most of Wizards of the Coast modules, which means more adventure for your buck, though the artwork within is serviceable albeit a bit spartan. A few more drawings of the strange planes and entities your players will meet would have helped dungeon masters in their description of these outlandish environments and beings. Other then these minor complaints, BASTION OF BROKEN SOULS is a fine addition to any DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS campaign or just as a single adventure for veteran players.


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