Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem! is an adventure for three to five characters of levels 5-8, by Tim Bannock.
The characters are asked by githzerai monks to investigate why the river coming down from the mountain is running dry. This puts their village in danger and they can’t go by themselves because a red dragon has appeared in the mountains. Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than it seems. And by a bit I mean a lot.
On the mountains there’s an abandoned Modron research facilities that’s semi active and, apart from its guardians, two other groups are already there, each with a different goal in mind. The first group is a coalition between Githyanki and a red dragon. The second group is a group of Mephits guided by a rogue Modron. And as I mentioned, most of the guardians of the facility are still active and consist of a Couatl, various elementals, constructs, and more. I believe mayhem was the right word to use for the title of the adventure.
This adventure is a dungeon crawl. You’ll get to explore three levels of a Modron research facility, one of which is a set of floating islands. There’s a chapter for each level. They are kinda big, with each having quite a few areas. But no matter how many they are, all of them are very well detailed.
Apart from Tim being a good author, there’s another reason why the areas are really detailed. In the dungeon, there are rooms that have levers which operate various mechanisms. In some cases, things can get complicated and overwhelming for both the Dungeon Master and the players. But this is taken into consideration and that’s where the detailed descriptions help a lot. However, there are also simpler explanations where needed. Personally, I suggesting seeing some of the rooms as puzzles.
Moreover, there’s a lot of freedom on how the characters can explore the dungeon. Of course, they’ll have to visit specific areas in order to gain access to others but, other than that, there isn’t any other restriction.
In this adventure you’ll get exploration, social interaction, and possibly challenging combat. There aren’t a lot of social encounters, but the ones that take place are important. All of them play a role on how the story will unfold and how hard things will be for the characters. By the way, they’re based on the social interaction rules of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The characters can actually ally themselves with two of the three groups inside the dungeon. Also, some combat encounters(more on them a bit later) can be actually avoided because deals can be made with some groups of monsters.
I have only one concern about the social interactions. There are a couple of them that would be awesome to turn out good. However, depending on how bloodthirsty the players are, negotiations may end really quickly. Still, this won’t make the adventure unplayable, but it’d be a shame to miss things or have a less fulfilling ending because the players weren’t patient enough. But that’s just my opinion.
As for traps, technically, there are a couple of them but there are also some areas where the environment is perilous. I wouldn’t call them traps but the best way to deal with them would be by facing them as such.
When it comes to combat encounters, there are a lot of them and are balanced. The best part about the possible combat encounters is that they’re accompanied by a tactics segment. It includes information about how the enemies may react depending on the how the battle goes, and in a couple of cases tips on how to increase the difficulty on the fly.
There’s a great variety of monsters. The most common are Githyanki and various elementals, mostly water and fire ones, but the characters will also have the chance to fight gelatinous cubes, displacer beasts, phase spiders(one of my favorite spiders in D&D), and more. And let’s not forget the red dragon at the end.
Finally, apart from the “fixed” encounters, there are also tables you can use to add more if you want. The dungeon is big enough to house more encounters and that’s a fact stated by the author as well.
Personally, I like the cover art. The style the Mephits are drawn is interesting and I really like how the Modron is depicted. Inside you’ll find some beautiful black and white art pieces, most of them depicting monsters.
As for the maps, they’re amazing. Dyson Logos is a very talented individual. I don’t think I need to say anything more. Also, there’s an appendix where various versions of the maps are included.
In the beginning of the adventure there are an encounter and an NPC index. They are pretty much lists of the possible encounters and the NPCs you can meet, divided by areas. I think that’s a pretty handy.
Also, apart from the map appendix, there’s another one with the stats of NPCs and all the monsters you may face in the adventure, except for two that come from Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
One thing before I dismiss you
I generally believe that preparing your sessions is a good thing. Even when you’re running a ready one, it’s a good idea to at least read it once. In the case of this adventure, I suggest doing more than just reading it. Preparing some of the encounters beforehand will make your life easier and will help you provide a much better experience to your players.
Overall, Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem! is a really good dungeon crawl. The adventure is set in a distinctive location and provides a good variety of exploration, social encounters, and combat. Also, it gives a lot of space to add more content if you wish, which increases its value even more.