Short Module Review: Heaven is a Place on Faerun (NZS Games): 3.5 Stars
“Remember, I’ll meet you in Heaven in three weeks. You lot may not look like Harpers, but i’m sure you’ll act like ones in Heaven. Don’t make me regret having brought you into the fold!”
This title is the fourth installment of the Truly, Madly, Deeply series published by NonZero Sum Games. This short (about 6 hour) module is great for a party of new players, especially if they’ve played the previous adventures in this serialized campaign (links at the bottom). The adventure offers a good balance of interesting and engaging roleplay and combat encounters, but overall presents a very linear and narrow track for players to travel from beginning to end. While it is probably possible to play this without playing the previous adventures, as someone who hadn’t read the previous three installments, I was left confused at the basic plot and some of the NPCs.
Still, the artwork by Joseph Garcia is absolutely amazing, and the encounters (especially the combat ones) present interesting, and even unique, opportunities. Players will find a nice variety of challenges vacillating between easy (who’s going to fail a DC 8 passive Perception check?) and difficult (DC 20 checks, and a CR 5 boss battle). This variety adds a lot of depth and realism to the module
Artwork. Joseph Garcias’ artwork is evocative and engaging. It draws the reader into the world and brings the NPCs to life. This alone is enough to elicit the curiosity to purchase the module–who is this web-wrapped character and what secrets does she hold? The art definitely elevates the work as a whole.
Encounter Breadth. The variety of encounters in this module provide a exciting and realistic experience that surpasses the “slash-and-grind” or “incessant chatter” present in some modules. While there is potentially only about five “programmed” encounters, they skirt an appropriate line between roleplaying and combat, easily overcome and potentially life-threatening.
New Player Friendly. The module is friendly toward newer players and DMs, providing detailed yet semi-flexible instructions for the Dungeon Master, while giving the players with chances to learn, then take what they learned and shine. This, in my understanding, is one of the best qualities of the entire Truly, Madly, Deeper series. It seems that eventually (hopefully), new players may be able to walk through the entire series, from character creation to high levels, and learn the “ins-and-outs” of the mechanics along the way. The value of such a series should not be overlooked.
Editing. The editing is excellent–no distracting or noticeable errors–and the style and flow of writing is good enough to present a quick and easy read. It’s not amazing or captivating, but it serves its purpose well. The NPC dialogue, however, is excellent and brings to life the few NPCs in the story. This means the Dungeon Master doesn’t have to worry if they’re getting the right message across. These dialogue boxes are another valuable feature that elevates this adventure.
What Didn’t Work
Print Quality. There’s something about the print quality of the module that was distracting to me. Every “l” seems bold-print and stands out “like a sore thumb”. Also, a couple of the monster stat blocks are a bit “wonky”. It’s very nit picky, and not a reason why this module is rated lower, but I found it very distracting. TROUBLESHOOTING: To avoid this problem, make sure you are viewing the document in Adobe PDF reader.
The Plot. The biggest difficulty I had with this module is the overall plot. As a whole it wasn’t bad, but in its simplicity and linearity, it failed to really excite or engage me as a reader/DM. Sure, there are a few twists (some predictable) but it didn’t come off as something I would remember being riveting or gripping to play. Secondly, there seemed to be plot holes and NPCs that are randomly or carelessly inserted. We never find out the bigger reason behind the first major encounter (does it serve a larger purpose in the plot?), and when the boss is introduced there’s hardly any description of her or her history. Not only did I want more, I felt a sincere lack of understanding for why this character was here. My immersion was broken. It’s possible this is because I didn’t read the other modules… but I suspect its just an over sight, albeit a large one, by the authors.
This module, and the series of which it is a part, definitely has a lot going for it. However, the nature of its plot was so disjointed for me, that I have to give this 3.5 Stars. That said, I recommend this for new players and DM’s but would suggest picking up and playing the previous Modules first. You can buy Heaven is a Place on Faerun by clicking on the picture below!