Storm King’s Barrows—A DMs Guild Review Synopsis

Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North is a DM’s Guild product with ten dungeons in the northern Sword Coast area. This is a summary of the overall product. I will not cover the individual adventures in this post. If you’re interested in them, you can read them at the links below. In fact, I encourage you to do so.

Storm King's Barrows

Storm King’s Barrows

Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North

Writer(s): Jason Bakos, Matt Butler, Andrew Dempz, Christian Eichhorn, David Flor, Edward Gioffre, Darren Parmenter, George Sager, Rob Twohy, Christopher Walz, and Micah Watt

Publisher: DMs Guild

Cost: $14.95

Product Length: 135 pages

Type: Adventures

Level(s)/Tier(s): 1st-15th/1st-3rd

 

First things first. This review is of version 1.3 of the product so if there are any inconsistencies between any factual comments I make regarding Storm King’s Barrows and what you believe to be accurate, please ensure you are referencing the same version I am. Otherwise, please feel free to contact me! There is an ink-friendly version which you will want to take advantage of if you plan to print any of these adventures on your home printer as the background for the high-res PDF is sure to be an ink hog.

General Information

Like I stated in my opening paragraph, Storm King’s Barrows is set in the northern parts of the Sword Coast. Of course, with a little DM ingenuity you could drop any of these adventures into just about any setting that you wanted. I imagine the one that would be most challenging to a setting other than a tundra would be Christopher Walz’s The Great Worm Caverns (check the 4th review in the series for more). As I have already written five separate reviews for this product I won’t belabor any of the nitpicking details that I might have called out in my previous articles. Instead, I will assess the product as a whole and give it my final rating.

Actually, let me start with my rating first. Then I will follow up with justification after that.

5-stars for Storm King's Barrows

5-stars for Storm King’s Barrows

Justification

How did I decide to award 5 stars to Storm King’s Barrows? Through careful consideration, of course! But no, seriously. Let’s start with the authors and their work. Each of them is a competent writer and every story in this compilation is compelling and convincing. They all make good use of a wide range of mechanics (from Arcana checks to cover to springing traps). Some are heavy on roleplaying and some are wonderful puzzles. Some will challenge greenhorn PCs while others will stymie even the veterans. There are lots of unique NPCs and treasures for characters to meet and earn. Not only can they make use of them in these adventures, they might even prove convenient in subsequent adventures! These are all truly inspired works and the authors took pride in their work.

Editing

Ken Carcas and Robert P. Davis had their work cut out for out for them with editing. I’ve never edited a DMs Guild product like this but I have served as a mentor to college students who were only months away from graduation. I can say that it is not easy to tell someone when the work they have spent countless hours on has fallen short of the mark. Or to tell them that perhaps they did not put forward their best effort. But that’s the only way to be truly successful. To push yourself and to be pushed. Ken and Robert clearly pushed these creators to do their best and the final product reflects that.

Art

Artists Luke Instone-Hall and Christian Eichhorn did a phenomenal job in creating wonderful handouts, maps, dungeons, and drawings for this adventure. These are all available in the PDF version of the file as well as separate high resolution graphics which are perfect for printing or using in virtual tabletops.

Cost

Finally comes the price. $14.95 is wonderful price for so many great adventures. Ten of them to be exact. If you were to break that down to a cost per hour of enjoyment, you’d be talking pennies. Storm King’s Barrows is MORE than reasonably priced.

You may recall that in the previous entries for Storm King’s Barrows that I gave each adventure only 4 stars for cost since they weren’t free. Upon reflection, I feel this isn’t the best approach. Free is obviously a better price for a consumer than is anything priced at ≥ $0.01. But there is a fine line between knowing something’s cost and knowing its value. $14.95 is an incredibly justifiable cost for the value you get.

Final Thoughts

There are a couple of more things I should include in this synopsis. First, Christian Eichhorn deserves a huge congratulations. Not only did he write one of the adventures and submit art for this project, he was also the offical “Dunegeoneer’s Pack Lead”. I’m not entirely sure what all that entails but it sounds like it should rhyme with “herding cats”. To make a product of this magnitude requires a gargantuan effort. He tied together all the loose ends and streamlined a great compilation of adventures. It should be added, in print, to your shelves right next to Storm King’s Thunder at your earliest convenience.

I know. It’s not currently available for print-on-demand. I know it’s not even formatted for that. Yet.

I also want to include a couple of things that did bother me about this work but I didn’t feel it was appropriate to do so in the individual reviews beyond a simple passing statement.

Spelling and Grammar

Let me first clarify something: the mistakes were minor and infrequent. But noticeable enough to call out. Sometimes it was a simple keying error with a missing space between two words. Other times it was either transposed letters or just a simple oversight. That’s bound to happen in a work this long. However, I would like to see them corrected if this were to ever go to print. Another thing I took issue with was foot vs. feet. A room is 30 feet by 30 feet and not 30 foot by 30 foot. As an example, “he hit me with a 10-foot pole!” is appropriate. “The pole he hit me with was 10 feet long!” is also appropriate.

Maps

I’ve already told you the maps are a great quality. I’m not complaining about that. My nitpicking issue is that all of the adventures go to great lengths to describe their dungeons yet all of them have the dungeons at the end of the adventure. For whatever reason, I like them included sooner. Perhaps its so I could study them prior to reading about their locations. They are all included as separate high-res downloads so including lower resolution pieces in the body of the adventure would have been nice.

Average Party Level

Each adventure has some kind of acknowledgement of the type of PCs it is geared towards. However, some say something like it “can be run for 4-7 7th to 15th level characters…it is optimized for 4 characters with an APL of 7″ while others might only say “it is optimized for 4 characters with an APL of 7” ONLY or “can be run for 4-7 7th to 15th level characters” ONLY. I’m not sure why they weren’t all consistent and either include both ways of communicating the target PCs or just one. I like consistency.

None of those are strong enough to pull a full star (and I prefer not to give a partial star in a final rating since I can’t do the same on DMs Guild) from the overall rating even if you consider that some individual adventures might’ve only gotten 4 stars. Indeed, if I may borrow a cliche, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Go buy Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North right now. It’s worth every penny!

Thanks again, Christian Eichhorn, for the review copy of Storm King’s Barrows: Tombs and Crypts of the North. This is one hell of a product!

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Have your say!

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks a bunch for the review series! A few things: You are certainly right about the editors, they squeezed until all that delicious adventure juice came out. That’s disgusting. Anyway, one additional thing: The missing spaces are due to the fact, that I’m still using a buggy Word 2007 which randomly deletes spaces and didn’t catch all of them during layout. There will be a version 1.4 and they will be eradicated (or rather reintroduced)!

    Reply
    • Ohhhh. That makes sense! Office 365 is the best way to go.

      Reply

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