Citadel of the Raven by Paul Bimler
Lately, I have been on a solo gaming kick and Citadel of the Raven is helping me get my fix. I’ve been keen on such tabletop titles as Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares by Fox Tale Games/Renegade Game Studios, Roll Player by Thunderworks Games, and, most recently, Scythe by Stonemaier Games. But even more recently than that, I started trying out solo D&D games and I’ve found that I love them! There was a time I thought that playing a tabletop game alone was the upper-crust of antisocial nerdery. However, I’ve since reconciled that notion with myself. I view solo gaming as no different than playing a video game alone, reading a book, or watching a movie. Playing Dungeons and Dragons alone is good entertainment and you could do far worse than to spend your time journeying through Paul Bimler’s Citadel of the Raven.
What is the Citadel of the Raven?
If it sounds familiar it’s for good reason. The Citadel of the Raven is a fortress in the Dragonspine Mountains and part of a Zhentarim stronghold near Moonsea. This standalone solo campaign is part of an ongoing adventure for a level 3 player. Following up on its predecessor, Tyrant of Zhentil Keep, you are on a mission given by the Knights of Myth Drannor. Your mission: find your way inside the Citadel and kill the Zhentarim spies. The knights have implicated the spies in killing one Galauntar Hawkhelm.
Since it’s a solo adventure, Paul has provided a couple of modified house rules within the adventure to simplify things and level the playing field. For example, there are no death saves in this adventure. After all, who is there to staunch your bleeding if you are unconscious? However, you get max HP since you have no companion with you to serve as your meat-shield.
Is it cumbersome?
As a child, I loved reading the choose your own adventure books. But if I’m honest with myself, and with you, I sometimes got frustrated at flipping to page 12 if I go through the door only to flip to page 78 after only a paragraph. Rinse and repeat. It seems that Paul Bimler was cognizant of that frustration when he wrote this adventure. When viewing as a PDF and it tells you to turn to some other section all you have to do is click and voilà! You’re there. It’s like…magic! You could still print this and play from the hard copy if you wanted. But I wouldn’t advise it.
All of the stats for the baddies you will face are conveniently moved to the end of the adventure so you don’t spoil anything if you’re flipping manually through the pages. These also link back to where you are in the adventure. Also included in the adventure are maps for each potential combat encounter. You could print them, pull them up on a second monitor (as I did), load them up on a tablet, or drop them into Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds if you like. Just don’t look at them yet. It’s not a huge spoiler if you do. But if you were playing with a group you wouldn’t look ahead…right?
This product is 167 pages but don’t let that overwhelm you. Due to its “choose your own path” style, you will not get through everything in a single session. You may finish the adventure in single sitting. But this adventure is not designed for endless exploration. This is great for replayability. I played as a dwarf paladin and found ample opportunity for good roleplaying decisions as well as some satisfying moments of combat. Since there is so much left unexplored, I’m considering playing again soon. In fact, I intend to create 2 or 3 characters and start them back at the beginning with the first adventure, The Death Knight’s Squire, and carrying on until Paul stops writing these. Somewhere around level 20.
You may, if you wanted, adapt this for a DM + 1 player or even DM + 2 players. There are guidelines included within the product for doing so.
Paul has put together a great solo adventure and, as previously stated, inspired me to continue down the solo adventuring path. I have included links below to all three of Paul’s adventures I’ve mentioned (he’s written more than that). Take a look. Read the descriptions on DMs Guild. Read the reviews. Notice that they’re all bestsellers. There’s a reason for that, guys. These are great products. Wonderful narratives, inspired encounters, interesting missions, and intuitive layout/design. Have fun!
The Death Knight’s Squire [Platinum Bestseller]
Note on 7/24/18. When I originally published this article I stated that The Death Knight’s Squire was for a level 1 player. It is, in fact, for level 2.
The Death Knight’s Squire is “a 100+ page solo adventure for D&D Fifth Edition, set in the Forgotten Realms. This adventure has been created for individual play without a dungeon master, and is is a great way to scratch your D&D itch between regular adventures with your DM. Or, it can serve as a way for a player who cannot find a group to get a taste of the game.”
First in the series and intended for a level 2 player.
Tyrant of Zhentil Keep [Electrum Bestseller]
Tyrant of Zhentil Keep is “a 160+ page solo adventure for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. This adventure is designed for one 3rd-level PC of any race or class, without a DM. Tyrant of Zhentil Keep continues the narrative of The Death Knight’s Squire (the first solo adventure in this series) but can be played as a standalone also. It follows the story of your PC as they continue their journey across Faerun, a lone adventurer wandering wherever the wind takes them. Eventually, it takes them to Zhentil Keep in the Moonsea Region, a strange city, full of secrets. There they begin a quest which takes place over two books, this being the first one, part 2 being Citadel of the Raven.”
Citadel of the Raven [Copper Bestseller]
Citadel of the Raven is “the third in our series of solo adventures. [It] is the sequel to Tyrant of Zhentil Keep, but is also playable as a standalone solo adventure. The first solo adventure in this series is titled The Death Knight’s Squire.”
It also includes 24 .jpg maps as a .zip file.