Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Keep on the Shadowfell FREE

Hey - here's news. Wizards of the Coast are giving away the PDF of Keep on the Shadowfell for FREE.

I paid $35 AUD for this module and felt incredibly cheated. At the very reasonable price of FREE it's a much more recommendable product, particularly if you're new to 4th Edition. It comes complete with the Quick-Start rules so you can squeeze a good six sessions of play out of it even if you haven't bought a copy of the Player's Handbook yet.

What's more - this version is significantly better than the retail edition. There are major changes throughout the module, addressing many of my complaints. For example, the errata are incorporated, including the alternate skill challenge for closing the rift in the final encounter. The finale's meager scattering of enemies is replaced with a complete platoon of skeleton sentinels. Traps are properly formatted and their areas-of-effect are clearly marked on maps. Loot is more plentiful and the skill challenges are fixed. A spectral version of Kalarel has been added to the Burial Site encounter to create an earlier introduction to the main villain and more closely tie that encounter to the main plot. The various kobold ambushes have been corrected, and the punishing Irontooth battle appears to have been slightly retooled, presumably to make it easier. Typos are corrected throughout.

Go get your copy on the D&D Test Drive page. And thanks to commenter Anders for the heads-up!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow they went above and beyond on this....i guess they kinda had to though...

Greg Tannahill said...

Well, it's now up to the standard it should have been when first published. Only took them about a year...

Jake said...

No way! Better late than never, and this might be also a partial reaction to the outrage over the new PDF policy, but I'd rather run an improved version than the original. I'll have a peek and see how it looks.

Be sure to comment on the new version, especially as it came out so soon after you wrapped up your review, but please don't put off thunderspire now that you've started!

Greg Tannahill said...

I wasn't planning to make further comment on the new PDF. Partly because it'll be largely repetitive of what I've already said, and partly because noting a series of minor improvements is neither thought-provoking nor funny.

I've been doing Keep for three months now; I'm a little over it. Suffice to say that if you're going to play it, this is the definitive edition.

Maelora said...

I really hate to excuse WotC over anything, but I suppose it's nice that they have actually improved their product and reissued it for free. A shame we had to pay for it initially, but there you are.

I get the odd feeling WotC are reading Eleven Foot Pole and using Greg as an unpaid quality checker! Now we just need to get him on the WotC staff so we might have some quality products in future...

Anonymous said...

This site stinks.

I am annon because I have no interest in creating an account simple to post this one message.

Greg Tannahill said...

Thanks anonymous! I really appreciate that you hated the site enough to post a comment! If I can't be memorably good I'm very happy to settle for memorably bad!

Maelora said...

Any anonymous poster spends three words saying that he doesn't like something, and a dozen words explaining why he's anonymous...?

Oh well, I guess this is the 'internetz'...

Lucky Adrastus said...

I just found this site through your comment on the Wizards forum re: the free .pdf. I just wanted to say this is a fantastic site! I'm currently running my group through Keep on the Shadowfell, and I really appreciate your comments and analysis of the dungeon.

I'm going to make some changes based on them too (i.e. have the non-minion skeletons in the sarcophagus room pop up to push the PCs towards the altar to Bahamut).

I'm looking forward to reading your analysis of all these adventures (if you choose to continue it) as I plan to run the whole series, time allowing.

Greg Tannahill said...

Thanks Adrastus. Running the whole series is a bigger chore than it looks, which I'll be talking about shortly. 4E is supposed to be all sweet spots but there's a very non-sweet spot over levels 4 and 5 where the rush of early-game evolution stops dead and the game starts feeling stale. I'm hopeful though that after pushing through that it starts picking up again.

Lucky Adrastus said...

Hmm... very interested to hear more of what you mean by that. Do you mean in these adventures specifically the sweet spot isn't there, or for 4.e in general? Either way, I'm happy to keep reading as long as you are interested in writing. I think your site and writing are very perceptive.

Greg Tannahill said...

4E in general, in as much as level 4 is a flat level with no new powers and level 5 you effectively just get a daily. Considering you start with a fair few powers and you pick up new ones at level 2 and 3 there's a sudden very sharp dip into the doldrums across level 4 and 5, where the player has pretty well mastered their opening options but doesn't have anything new to do.

Thunderspire exacerbates that weak spot by not offering up any new types of encounter or gameplay across the levels in question. New content types really only appear at the Well of Demons, which is about when players are hitting level 6 anyway. It's the first time in the module that puzzles, traps, magical effects, teleportation or skill challenges appear - up to that point it's combat and/or deception throughout the first two mini-dungeons.

jpw002 said...

On the one hand, it's disappointing to discover the module _still_ riddled with typos and errors.

On the other hand...hey, it's a free module.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, they didn't fix the kobold minions. They still have Stealth +5, Thievery +5 but they should actually have Stealth +4, Thievery +4.

Greg Tannahill said...

I'm curious about those kobolds. Does it matter? Are they actually going to be using Stealth or Thievery?

I'm not entirely certain why monster stat blocks show their Skills or Abilities at all.

doubleofive said...

I just started reading your excellent analysis of Thunderspire that I'm about to start with my group this weekend. I'm going to use your critiques to try to better my players' experiences.

Keep was my first campaign that I've run, and I finished it a few weeks after the PDF was released. I wish that they had said on the site that it was enhanced, because last week I ran the final battle with Kalarel and was really disappointed at the whole thing. Now I read that they made it better and I'm glancing through the PDF now wishing I had done this before!

Will England said...

Link changed:
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/h1.pdf