I played in high tier with a group of 5 players.
There is quite a bit to like about the adventure. Characters, scenery and story is all nicely done with very few exceptions.
I have some issues with design choices though I will explain in my constructive criticism in spoilers:
Our group somehow managed to never encounter the killer which caused us to lose quite a bit of gold reward, prestige and another boon because we lacked one appreciation point for the orc lady we could have gotten by finding the killer earlier. I wasn't happy about that because neither our rolls nor our choices or ideas about the plot were stupid or wrong. We might have been a bit unlucky and our GM wasn't very lenient about us having warned all the late victims (some were killed anyway). Still I think something like that could have been avoided by some GM instructions about what npcs do when warned about a poison killer and some better clues that actually looking for the killer makes sense.
We only had one chance to actually expose the killer in the distillery but we chose to talk to the owner in private and decided against "looking around for poisoners in a city full of assasins and poisoners" among the patrons which seemed pretty wise. So the killer just waited till we were gone, poisoned the lady at the distillery even though we told her not to eat or drink any food whe isn't sure about and we never saw him again after that because of the schedule that didn't line up with our timing.
Just adding infos about what npcs do when warned and still getting full reward when not running into the killer on accident I would have liked more.
Also the plot poison that you can't stop with normal means is a bit heavy handed but I guess it's needed to actually get the adventure going. Our druid would have cured the venture captain twice if it weren't for that.
Im played this in high tier with a full group.
Overall it was pretty fun and the challenges were unusual and worked pretty well.
I have some major issues with design choices though.
See more in spoilers:
The "reward" for not fighting the dragon is a bad joke. Especially in hier tier when you identify the brine dragon and see its size it's downright madness to just fight it. It is very hard to exactly identify that it's not exactly a large dragon you have there, unless the GM helps you along a lot. The negative boon is way too punishing and both getting a teleport scroll on a chronicle till level 6 and the fact that a brine dragon can ruin your reputation is pretty ridiculous.
Much worse though is that players who thought "We should not be facing a large dragon in this subtier and were not warned about it, I bet we can kill it somehow" get rewarded by metagaming like this. The boon also invites players to metagame for that teleport scroll chronicle.
Very bad choices that will neither make players nor GMs or developers happy in the end.
I usually don't review things but for this scenario I make an exception.
I'll mostly just echo what others have said about it but I think it's important to make the points real clear.
Things I will not complain about:
- The race, all the flavour, even the little RP in the beginning is good
- The new rules set for the race actually kinda makes sense in this scenario. It might not have been necessary to introduce it, but the rules are fine and never caused any real issues at my table.
- The winderness survival was something players would expect from the scenario, so having a lot of those checks was fine
- Having a set of restrictions that has vastly different impact on characters is really bad. Especially if you don't know about it beforehand.
- All the combat encounters are designed in a way that, again, some characters have huge advantages over others. This adds additional variance and makes the whole scenario either real easy (with the perfect group) or almost impossible (with the wrong group).
- Some early skill checks in the scenario have a huge impact on some groups of players and are both too difficult (at least in low tier) and too vague for players to follow up on
- The fact that the players might still lose some (not insignificant) amount of rewards on the chronicles even if they win the race is pretty insulting given the circumstances of the scenario
All of those problems could have been easily avoided by only slightly tweaking some of the restrictions, encounters and scenario rules.
Please just don't release this kind of scenarios that make a fair amount of players miserable while and after playing if they don't have insider information what to expect.