The Executioner’s Daughter by Ashley Warren
Now available on the DMs Guild, The Executioner’s Daughter by Ashley Warren is not your typical Dungeons & Dragons adventure. It’s actually “an interactive story for solo players” and this means you don’t need a DM. You are both the PC and the DM. If you are fortunate enough to recall the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 80s and 90s then you are familiar with the style of narrative in this product. You choose how you want to react to a given situation and proceed accordingly. But there is more to The Executioner’s Daughter that makes it worth owning.
The Executioner’s Daughter opens with you (your character) in the Plaza of the Sun in a city called Soldra. You watch as a priest selects who—yes, who—this year’s offering will be to Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon. Tradition dictates that each year on the Day of Sacrifice one of the Daughters of Soldra is to travel to Garra’s Peak to be consumed by the dragons that would otherwise plague the city. The astute adventurer would know that this kind of sacrifice is actually antithetical to Bahamut’s virtues. But the Soldrans are honest and devout. What gives?
Once the Daughter is selected there is dissension amongst the gathered crowd and the royal family alike. Some call the random selection a mistake while others call it fate…Bahamut’s will. With some calling for another Daughter they ultimately select the executioner’s daughter instead—to her credit, she readily agrees. And here is your opportunity to intervene. Will you? If so, in what way? It is your choice and you should consider what motivates your character before deciding.
I don’t want to take you through the entire adventure. You can do that on your own if you decide to. But I can tell you a little more about why I think it’s worthwhile.
I Think You Should Own The Executioner’s Daughter
When I settled in last night to read The Executioner’s Daughter I was immediately gripped by Warren’s descriptive writing. I expected the usual (and perfectly fine) descriptions like a “tall stone tower that blocks out the sun” and “a large crowd has gathered” and so on. But what I got was “In the shadow of the stone tower that looms above the plaza, it is cool—but the many bodies standing in close proximity have made the air humid.” The author isn’t telling us what we’re seeing. She’s showing us instead. We can feel how imposing the stone tower must be. It does offer shade. However we still stand clustered in with several other onlookers. We may even feel mildly claustrophobic. Or, hopefully, at least a little anxious.
Some passages cut right to the heart of matters such as my favorite one from the story. “The hangover is collective, and like every year, the drinking was a coping mechanism.” I can think of no better way to summarize The Executioner’s Daughter. That is the heart of the story for me. With masterful storytelling, Ashley Warren has woven a great tale that is as equally suited for an engaging D&D adventure as it is a compelling piece of short fiction.
Two additional adventures will follow this one. The trilogy, Tribunal, according to Warren, features a woman in each story engaged in some challenge or other against her society. It is up to you, the PC, to decide whether to help these women or not. Either way, the adventure is rewarding (and I’m not just talking about treasure and experience points).
Thoughts after reading The Executioner’s Daughter by Ashley Warren
- I cannot wait to adapt this slightly to play with my daughter and her new 3rd-level tiefling warlock
- I also cannot wait to explore more of Warren’s work…not just the remainder of Tribunal
- The highly adaptive story could be great for an adventure hook to a larger story arc
- If you’ve just created a new 3rd-level character this adventure is perfect for a backstory
- Or you could simply take a break from your busy day and enjoy a story about hard decisions and superstitions
Find more of Ashley Warren’s work on DMs Guild. She’s got 4 best sellers to her name with a fifth not far behind if my prediction on this one proves accurate. You can also find her at https://www.ashleywarrenwrites.com/. She is on Facebook and Instagram @ashleywarrenwrites. You can find her on Pinterest and Twitter as well.