The Malady Codex and The Malady Workshop are two enormously successful DMs Guild products. The primary creators of those products, Themis Parskevas and Jason Bakos have other titles in Malady line that are also bestsellers. Now they’re back with a collection of adventures that seeks to capitalize upon its predecessors’ success. They and nine other authors have created The Malady Chronicles. It’s an anthology whose purpose is to take what you might’ve learned already and implement it into your adventures effectively.
The Malady Chronicles
Writer(s): Themis Paraskevas, Jason Bakos, Blaise Wigglesworth, Dylan Hyatt, Richard Malena-Webber, Chad M. Lensch, John D. Parker, GM Lent, Ciaran O’Halloran, Tal Aviezer, and Clan Crafter Hralding
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 192 pages
Available Format(s): PDF and/or Hardcover
Upon a quick inspection, it’s easy to see that this product has a lot going for it. It’s got a lot of clever magic items, fully-fleshed NPCs, and nine adventures for player characters from first level all the way to fifteenth. Each adventure can serve as a standalone but they are also loosely tied together such that if you chose, you could run them as a multi-session campaign, advancing the same players from green rookies to seasoned veterans. Provided they don’t die that is.
Each adventure focuses on a different disease (mostly) and while I do think you would be remiss to own this title and not also at least own The Malady Codex, it’s not required. There is enough information within these 192 pages that you really don’t need anything else to run the adventures. Except, perhaps, the core books and Xanathar’s and Mordenkainen’s. But even still, you could easily get by with those additional supplements.
The writers each did a good job creating fantastic stories and presenting the players with compelling reasons to set out on their adventures. Even though the adventures share some overarching plotlines, the DM doesn’t need intimate knowledge of all of them to effectively run only one of them. That’s a huge boon to someone wanting to use diseases more yet doesn’t want to run every adventure in the book. If only the third, seventh, and ninth adventures appeal to you, so be it. Run those three and skip the rest. Of course, the DM is always free to pick and choose. But this collection seems particularly flexible in that regard.
So now that I’ve laid out what the creators did well I want to pick a couple of nits. First, the formatting is mostly great and always aesthetically pleasing (spacing and font size). But a book this big should have bookmarks for those of us who read on a laptop/desktop. Secondly, there are several times where art begins a page in the upper left and a column of text on its right side. What this does to the reader is to make them instinctively start reading the text after glancing at the art. The problem is there is almost always text BELOW the art that precedes the top of the right column. See below.
And speaking of art, you all know I’m no art critic and that I’m also not hard to please where it concerns the artist’s talent. But there are too many different styles. It makes the product feel less like an intentional compendium and more like a corraling of adventures written by creators who had a similar inspiration. I understand the desire, and the need, to let each creator’s style shine. But when some maps are isometric and some are hand-drawn two-dimensional or when some art is pencil sketch quality and others digitally altered photographs, it feels like a variety pack. The art doesn’t unify the overall product.
While The Malady Chronicles may not achieve the success of the first two titles in this series, it is nonetheless, a good product and the creators should all be proud to have contributed. I’d advise you stick with a PDF for this one. If it turns out that you like all of the adventures enough to own it in physical form you can always order it. But $14.95 is comparatively cheap insurance to check first.
- good writing from all the creators involved with each adventure focused on different level PCs (through level 15)
- wonderfully developed NPCs and magic items
- inspiring storylines
- inconsistent art and map styles throughout bring the overall product down some
A review copy was provided by the creator.