After my last review of a Menagerie Press product, I signed myself up for notifications and backed a second as soon as it was announced. This is two for two for them with the sort of high concept D&D I’m a sucker for. And once again, they don’t make you wait until level 20 to do it.
The Dream Prison is a single adventure for characters of 6th to 8th level, and has enough content they should expect to level once. It says to run with 7th level characters, but I’d probably lean towards 6th. The plot is fairly straight forward and easy to follow, and the focus is on the fantastic setting, and its denizens. The party is approached by a noble, he hires them to go find a princess who is the lost heir to a throne, and then immediately has his court wizard magic them away to the Plane of Reverie.
That’s not to say that the noble isn’t interesting, and the set up isn’t well done, its just that this module knows you want to play in the Dream Prison, not wander about the material talking about how it would be cool to go there. Menagerie Press is batting 1000 with me, as far as adventures go. My favorite part of the entire book though? And what tells me these folks are very much in mind with my sensibilities? The book makes mention that this noble lord who seeks you out and needs your help has heard of you, knows some of your accomplishments, and thinks you are just the best. You’re 7th level (probably). You’ve certainly done something to gather some renown. Too often these adventures have your 12th level PCs get treated like absolute dirt by the folks trying to hire them, and this is just not the case here.
Lord Stolobi, the noble, has the party meet them at a dinner, and he’s got enough opinions, information, and details provided that you could probably make an entire session out of it, if that’s your thing. I see it being more like an hour or two. Then we are whisked away to the Plane of Revelry. In Revelry, you take the traditional boat down magic dream rivers, and they provide a couple of random encounters and a guide, but make allocations if you tell the guide to pound sand, and even decide to wander away from the river and just refuse to participate in the obvious narrative structure. The river is a clear railroad, but its also short and serves to introduce the players to the setting, and some of the metaphysics to play with.
Alaman the boat guide is really interesting to me. He knows enough about the setting to be able to give info the PCs, but not a whole ton about who they are and what they are doing. So he’s not there to push the plot along, just tell them about this whole plane, the major city, and he’s even got his own deal going on that is totally unrelated to the plot at hand. He would be a good reoccurring NPC if the group wants to keep coming back, or they can even potentially use him as the next adventure if they want.
The Gray City is the next arc, and its all about the city proper. Unlike Adûl, this is a living, breathing city. There are some vignette slice of life aspects, and it really seems like this could be a great place to set up shop for an extra-planar base of operations. There isn’t really a direct railroad to follow here, like the river, but they do provide a collection of encounters you can run through to get a feel for the city. It also provides a group of guides who I got a kick out of. Five “Dream Cats”, tasked by Prince of Cats to provide help. I’m not normally a cat guy (putting it mildly), but these are funny, and catlike. They are exactly the sort of helpful companion character I like to see in games. They help, but sometimes its clear they are full of it. I got a special kick out of the results for failing “Cat Fight” encounter.
The Dream Prison itself is exactly what I like to see in a magical extra-planar prison. The prison itself is a gemstone palacine, contained in a pocket dimension accessed through a pearl. This is the end of the adventure, and the first true dungeon crawl style part. We do a railroad with some stops, and then a meander through a city, and they both certainly have fights, but this is the first true “break out a map and go through a series of rooms” style dungeon crawl.
Overall, I’m a big fan. This is a great follow up to their previous effort, and I can see either being a solid level long break to your existing game. When you don’t want to do a whole 6-7 session arc, and just need to do something fun and different. This is well worth the purchase, even if only to keep on the shelf for that one time your game wraps up at 6th level, and you have a great 8th or 9th level next arc.