Short Module Review: Wizard’s Egg (Shadows of Pindus): 4 Stars
Neither blight nor pestilence heralds it’s coming, the ‘why’ unimportant in the face of the “what”. A slow withering and failure of carefully tended crops and then, The Invader. A writhing jungle pressing forward, at it’s vanguard clouds of choking spores, followed by wild fanged creatures, and shambling vegetation that rends all in its path before smothering its remains.
Wizard’s Egg is a tier 1 module by “Shadows of Pindus”, an arcanepunk setting for 5e with rich characters and evocative imagery. With a heist-based plot and an interesting “dungeon” backdrop, Wizards Egg could be something greater than the sum of its parts if it didn’t spend so much time attempting to be a Science-Fantasy novel. As it stands, Wizards Egg is a fun and interesting adventure that presents a lot of different opportunities for roleplaying, but is probably more for combat-lite focused tables.
Arcanepunk. While I’m sure arcanepunk isn’t completely unique, I’ve never had the opportunity to critique one before, and I’m intrigued by the setting. A mix of magic and technology, arcane punk is the perfect blend of fantasy and science fiction–and it permeates the Shadows of Pindus. I love the feeling of this setting and want to know more about it in a separate setting book. If there’s one thing the authors did right, it’s suffusing the module with this ambiance. In my opinion, the coolest part about it is how it’s integrated into the heist/sabatoge plot of the module–the setting is intrinsic to the narrative, so it was nice to see the author actually make use of the arcane-tech rather then just waste it by having the narrative be set there but the technology serving no real purpose to this specific adventure.
Skill Challenge. I always love to see skill challenges incorporated into adventure modules. This carryover from 4e is becoming increasingly popular as players and DMs realize how useful it can be! In addition to one high-stakes skill challenge scene, the rest of the module also relies heavily on skill checks, including some that are often underused like athletics and acrobatics. Because of the combat-lite nature of the module, and the fact that it’s an “infiltration” style adventure, skill checks hold a lot of weight and consequence, which players should enjoy navigating.
Plot. The plot is an engaging heist/sabotage driven narrative which still leaves lots of room for player agency. There’s a couple points within the module where players must decide with whom they side, thereby changing the potential options and outcomes of the entire adventure. The plot is fun, generally well written, and involves excellent application of the setting’s arcanepunk. Both players and DM’s should enjoy it, and it is likely a narrative that the table will talk about in sessions to come.
Roleplay. This is a roleplay heavy module, and the opportunities are well done and actually meaningful to the outcome of the adventure as a whole. The roleplaying interactions with NPCs are not just shopping or asking for information–they are relatively difficult encounters which, if failed, could seriously complicate the mission or even lead to the character’s death. These opportunities should evoke some great moments at the table, especially for players who like roleplaying.
Backstory. There’s a lot of fluff and background in this module. Chapter 1 starts on page 11, and most everything before that is text-heavy backstory and setting information which, very often, is not necessary to run the adventure well. There’s a column and a half of side bar about one of the guilds you’ll be interacting with, which while minimally interesting, could be published in a whole different campaign setting book without adding to all the reading needed to prep this module. If a side bar is more than a half page, it’s probably not actually a side bar. While the setting is interesting, and some people might like 7ish pages of background, it made for over writing in my opinion.
Difficulty. This module is on the more difficult side, especially for 1st level characters. While the combat is minimal, the skill checks involved, including to avoid falling to your death, are relatively high and have a high probability of serious consequence if they are failed. This isn’t a bad thing, but definitely a fact that players need to be aware of, and it might not be a good fit for players who are just learning the game.
Wizards Egg involves an engaging setting and plot, but with a large amount of background to get through and heavy roleplay over combat, it’s probably not universally appealing. This one-shot module gets 4 Stars and is recommended for experienced players who enjoy it’s arcanepunk setting and challenging skill encounters. If you appreciate these reviews, and plan to pick up this module, click the picture below to do so.