Finders Keepers is an adventure for 20th level characters, by Janek Sielicki.
The adventurers find themselves in Phlan, of the Forgotten Realms, just before an ancient red Dragon attacks. After they’ve taken care of the attack, which wasn’t a coincidence, they need explore his lair, in which they find out that the location of one of the Books of Keeping has been discovered. Then they have to travel to the place where the book is located, which is actually a pocket dimension in which the body of a slain god rests, and manage to find it. During this time, other powers that want the book will be fighting with each other, as well as the players.
The adventure is divided into four chapters. The first one is an introduction that provides the background of the adventure and a few plot hooks. It also includes a few notes on how to prepare the adventure, since it’s a 20th level one which means it needs extra care.
The next three chapters cover the three areas the characters will visit. The second chapter covers the attack of the red Dragon on Phlan and also maps his lair, which the characters will have to explore. The lair takes up most of the chapter because, apart from the battle with the dragon, there’s not much else to do in the city in this adventure.
The third chapter is the largest one. It covers the area the characters will probably spend most of the time of the adventure. I said probably because, depending on their luck and how they will approach the situation, they may finish things up faster than expected.
The fourth chapter covers what happens after the characters have acquired the Book of Keeping. They will have decide what to do with it and, depending on their decision, fight with at least one of the three parties interested in getting the book for them. The adventure is pretty open ended, with quite a few possible choices.
It isn’t easy to provide a challenge to 20th level characters. However, I do believe the author has done a good job.The dragon can be a good challenge, and so can his lair which is filled with a variety of monsters, as well as traps. In case you think the dragon isn’t enough of a challenge, there are a few options on how to increase its difficulty.
The second area could be considered a big skill challenge. It relies heavily on exploration and social interaction, and the players will have a better experience if they decide to have this kind of approach. They can try a brute force approach but it’s probably not going to be as entertaining and there’s a great chance of failure.
There are combat encounters to be found here but, until the characters find the book which will trigger a battle between the various parties, they probably won’t pose a great threat. I believe that’s because the adventure wants the players to focus on the other pillars here, other than combat.
In the third area there will be some social interaction, which will actually decide if there will be any allies in the upcoming brawl between the various parties. Depending on how the characters will do in the last battle of the second area, this one could be skipped, but that wouldn’t be that easy.
The cover art is a combination of two public domain art pieces. After reading the adventure the cover actually makes sense so props to that. There are also quite a few nice art pieces, of various styles, inside the adventure. As for the maps, there are a couple of them. There isn’t a great need for maps in the adventure, however the existing ones cover the areas that need one.
There are pre generated characters included in the adventure which, especially for this one, is really helpful. There is one pre generated character for each class, with two versions, one which includes magic items and one that doesn’t. They are quite detailed and the character sheet also features a player reference, with various information on combat options, conditions and more. There’s no backstory included, so the players can create one for themselves. Creating a 20th level character with magic items would take me more than half an hour, so I do think that’s helpful.
Another really interesting addition to this adventure is an article about how it was created. It contains information and tips based on the experiences of the author. Even if you’re only interested in the adventure it’s a really nice read and provides some insight on how to create published adventures, and the difference between them and the content you create for your gaming table.
A couple of notes
It’s really important to note that this adventure isn’t for anyone. It requires at least some experience on 5th Edition by both the Dungeon Master and the players. The players will need time to get used to their characters, so I suggest that they should create them at least a day before, or get one of the pre generated characters and study them. If they aren’t used to higher level play, they will definitely get overwhelmed by the amount of options they’ll have and, if they don’t prepare, this could create issues during the session.
The Dungeon Master should also get used to the abilities of the characters, as well as spend time preparing the adventure. This is actually a challenging adventure. Having some experience will help a lot so I advise against using this adventure if you are a new Dungeon Master. i’m not saying this because it’s a bad one but because you probably won’t be able to handle running it.
The editing good and the layout is exceptional. There are, however, a few errors here and there. For example, the second area is called a couple times with a different name.
Finally, if I understood correctly, the lair of the red dragon is protected by scrying but it is mentioned that someone managed to scry on someone who was in there. This could raise some questions from players, because it plays a role in the story.
Overall, Finders Keepers is a good adventure but requires a little bit of polishing. It provides a really interesting story, and a great experience for the players, that features exploration, combat, and social interaction. If you want to see how 20th level play feels like, as well as get some insight on the process of creating published adventures, you could check it out. However, you should be prepared to run a challenging adventure.