Sorrow’s Ruin by Blaise Wigglesworth
After I reviewed Citadel of the Raven by Paul Bimler, several people started asking me about 1st level adventures. I gave them some suggestions that I’d played before but I didn’t have any that I’d specifically reviewed. As luck would have it, Blaise Wigglesworth reached out to me and asked if I’d review Sorrow’s Ruin for him. This adventure just happens to be for 1st level characters. If you are also interested in a good adventure for 4 to 6 1st level PCs please continue reading. Maybe even share this with a friend. But please use discretion! While I do my best to try not to ruin too much, you may not want your players reading this before you’ve had a chance to DM it for them.
There was a time when I didn’t care about a story’s background. Was there a dungeon nearby? We’d go rattle some skulls and loot the thing! Why? Because it was there. If we asked questions, that came later. I was very much into rollplaying back then. These days though, I see how valuable a compelling backstory is. In Sorrow’s Ruin, a town cleric appointed a tiefling as guardian of the Grotto of Forbearance and she has stood vigil over the grotto and as the protector of the Shrine of Tears for 5 lonely years. She has obviously been faithful but this tiefling, who answers to the name “Sorrow”, has a greater destiny to fulfill as Ilmater’s prophet. The only way to free her of her watch is for the PCs to retrieve an artifact: the Martyr’s Heart, a fist-sized ruby valued at roughly 500 gp…if the PCs were foolish enough to sell it.
The PCs have found themselves in Secomber after traveling the “Delimbiyr Route” from Waterdeep after protecting a caravan. They are delayed and are now without any income until the caravan gets underway once more. To while away the time, the PCs hang out at the Seven-Stringed Harp drinking cheap swill and pecking at bland food. One night a frantic woman enters the inn covered in mud, tears, and wounds. She recounts the events of Brother Drander’s kidnapping and that in her efforts to help, she was knocked unconscious and left for dead. The woman can’t offer much, but between herself and the innkeeper they offer 5 gold pieces and 10 days’ of rations to each PC if they will save Brother Drander. It’s a pittance, but you are growing restless and bored in Secomber. Will you accept? Negotiate for more?
Time to Adventure!
Once you’ve accepted the woman’s terms it is time to get busy. You have several options regarding the gathering of intelligence but it should be noted that it is raining so if you’re relying on any Survival skills to track the kidnappers then you might want to get a move on. However, there may also be benefit in interviewing the locals for information as well. Or both! Blaise does a wonderful job of presenting information for various DC levels. You may try persuasion. Or even intimidation. Fail a check and the information you get may seem helpful. But if you roll well then the details are even more forthcoming. Unless you’re meta-gaming, your PC will likely never know the difference.
You will also find ample opportunity to employ strategies and tactics for a small siege in your efforts to recover Brother Drander. After all, while we enjoy roleplaying, D&D is all about champions engaging in battle at its heart, right? This is where the plot thickens and you find yourself right in the middle of something even more sinister than just your average ol’ kidnapping. Brother Drander may not have been the true target. He was just in the way of the true target of the servants of Loviatar: the tiefling, Sorrow. Brother Drander will ask you (if you save him) to escort him back to Secomber to make preparations to save Sorrow. He believes that Ilmater had a hand in sending you to his rescue. And you wouldn’t defy fate, would you?
As you progress through Sorrow’s Ruin you will encounter a pack of wolves, some boars, cultists, and some undead. The excitement really dials itself up once you reach the Grotto of Forbearance. It’s dark and a bit marshy. It’s filled with magic and wandering monsters and unholy spirits. Hopefully your team can unlock the magic, vanquish some foes, and retrieve the Heart and relieve Sorrow of her long watch.
You may recall that you accepted this adventure for a paltry sum. Even if you successfully renegotiated your rate it wouldn’t have been for much and you’d be hungry again in a few weeks. But your selflessness will be rewarded. Have you ever dreamt of owning real estate? Well, now’s your chance. Granted, it’s a fixer-upper but you’re good at finding income, yeah? Oh, and there’s also some magic rings you might earn as well. They let you travel back to the fortress they were given. If that’s not a reward then I’m not sure what is!
I love this adventure. The as I mentioned before, the backstory is compelling. And Blaise has set a wonderful hook for a follow-up adventure, Sorrow’s Mirror. As newly appointed Valeguards, you will be assisting Sorrow once more. This time you’ll be investigating some higher profile kidnappings in the Misty Forest.
To say the writing is well-done should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway. The imagery is vivid and the author has gone to great lengths to give you NPCs that are three-dimensional. The hook and the encounters are all inspired. You will find yourself with chances aplenty to apply yourself whether you’re a rogue, a spellcaster, a bruiser, or a cleric. This adventure has something to keep you engaged regardless of class.
Finally, Sorrow is such a wonderful NPC that you’ll want to learn more about. She has been marginalized her whole life. Is it just because she’s a tiefling? Or is there more to it? Inquiring minds want to know!
Grab your copy of Sorrow’s Ruin by Blaise Wigglesworth on DMs Guild here. If you have questions feel free to comment and I’ll address them as soon as I can. If you’ve played the adventure let me know your thoughts too!