Module Review: The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple (David McDonough): 5 Stars
The small town of Whitehaven is beset with undead. The residents are quick to blame the so called Witch of Whitehaven, who lives nearby with her partner in the Surbrin Hills. Yet a more insidious evil lurks in the midst of town, cloaked in a holy man’s robes, and far underground, an ancient evil artifact stirs. The town is in need of heroes. Will you answer the call?
The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple is the breakout module of premier author David McDonough–and as a first module, it exceeds most expectations. The writing is both captivating and near perfect, flowing from the pages in a succinct, yet engrossing fashion. The plot and history of the area are detailed while still allowing the players and DM adequate flexibility. Finally, there is an expert balance of roleplay and combat options, much of which is up to the players to decide.
While containing an element of mystery (who is responsible for the undead attacks?), it is less a story of discovery and more so one of greed, redemption, and personal choice. Players can engage on a surface level, or delve deeper into the moral and metaphysical themes presented throughout the story–choosing for themselves which moral codes they will uphold. Throughout the module, which will most likely take 12-15 hours, the players will combat mostly undead, but may also battle various bandits, commoners, constructs, and soldiers.
This module is not playtested, neither by myself nor the creator, but I believe the encounters to be relatively balanced for 4 players of level 2, and the milestone leveling assures that the players will be right on track. One of my few concerns with the module is the seemingly profligate rewarding of gold and magic items, which when tied to a greater campaign, may lead to overpowered 3rd level characters.
The Technicals: The level of editing for this work was professional and will not distract from the experience and preparation of the module. Stylistically, the writing is engaging while also being brief–while there is a lot of reading in this module (nearly 40 pages of it), it doesn’t feel burdensome. The artwork, while not original, is well selected and actually expresses the content of the module. The maps are a mix of original and selected, and leave the DM to fill in the blanks while providing appropriate layouts for the encounter.
Engagement: The plot, while not complex and relatively direct, is filled with a series of engaging encounters. Combined with a detailed history of the area, and a wide variety of NPCs, there will likely be few, if any, dull moments for both the players and the DM.
Flexibility: The flexibility of “PWLT” lies not in the elasticity of the plot itself, but in its ability to translate easily into future adventures. While the module itself provides a few different options for how it is completely, it is still appropriately linear. Depending on the desires of the players and how they solve the “problem” at Whitehaven, there is the option for nearly half a dozen “offspring” adventures. The detail of the history and NPCs in the module assure that the DM is well prepared for these options.
Encounters: There is the potential for many different encounters, which balances out the plentiful roleplaying. While many encounters are “guaranteed” to occur, there is the option for various random encounters as well. I believe they are well balanced, and they use creatures from nearly every source book. If you don’t have the appropriate book (like Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes), the author gives you a suggested substitute. The combats are a smattering of varying difficulties, terrains, and creatures.
Roleplaying: “PWLT” is filled with a variety of NPC of different races, personalities, and motives. There is the possibility for a lot of roleplaying depending on the desires of the PCs, and the DCs for the encounters ranges from 12 to 20, presenting a nice smattering of difficulties for the characters to navigate.
Difficulty: Because of the significant amount of reading and the amount of NPCs present in the module, I do believe that “PWLT” is more appropriate for the experienced DM. It also is more attuned to players with past experience–some encounters could kill the players if handled poorly. Players who like to “kill first, ask questions later” will find it difficult to complete the objectives set forth before them. New players and new DM’s could be fine, but in my personal opinion, its better to pass on this one if you’re new.
Loot: Players who complete this module can potentially gain a list of relatively powerful artifacts (a few +1 weapons at level 3), and a large amount of gold (potentially a few thousand). While issues of balance are always up to the discretion and preference of the DM, this module seems boarders on excessive rewarding of magic and gold.
Despite its few imperfections, The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple comes Highly Recommended with 5 stars. At 40 pages, it is well worth every penny, and can be run multiple times by different groups while still offering something new for the DM. Pick it up by clicking on the picture below!