I finished running my first published adventure late last month; the Wages of Vice from Journey through the Radiant Citadelwritten by T.K. Johnson. In the past, I had been skeptical of published adventures as I was worried about integrating them into a current campaign and it felt like “cheating” in terms of adventure prep. I always took pride in creating my own worlds (the current incarnation is Feyruin; a collaborative world created by our game group) and writing my own stories (and we know what they say about pride).

This is an image of the cover of the Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel; stylized beings in rainbow-like colors.

However, when Wizards of the Coast released Journeys through the Radiant Citadel I loved the concept, and I picked it up on launch day.My first campaign in our shared world ended over the summer and then we had the game search project though we had space in our schedule amid the winter holiday schedule toss-up.

Since we have a collaborative world, I had been tentative to read the full book as I didn’t want to spoil adventures that others might want to run themselves. After negotiation with the group, I picked Wages of Vice as it matched the needed level, and this spotlight article from Polygon made the adventure sound fantastic:

Your heroes arrive in the city of Zinda, and it’s a festive atmosphere. It’s time for the March of Vice, a Carnival-like celebration where revelers sweep their sins and vices into the sea. It’s loud and colorful. There’s street food and rides and a huge Mardi Gras-style parade. And then they trip over a dead body.

A  male presenting human wearing a white mask with long flowing robes and bedecked in flowers amid a crowded street.

I normally am a Lazy DM and thought it best to read through the adventure to get a sense of the full story and pacing. After that first reading I was hooked; the adventure immediately grabbed my brain and made me excited to run the story. I decided to set the location within our shared world rather than include the Radiant Citadel and nestled the setting into Feyruin. Then I took the characters from the prior campaign and rolled the adventure premise into their backstory making a nice holiday special style-adventure.

The adventure is great. After a brief introduction to the mini-setting, the author lays out the encounters with narrative threads to drive the story. The encounters include combat and social elements with call-outs for major non-player characters and mechanics for story elements 1. After the adventure conclusion, there is a gazetteer that provides more information on the mini-setting and includes other adventure hooks for exploring the setting.

I completed the adventure in 3-sessions and it went well. My fears and pride were squashed outright.

  • I was able to add the adventure into the world and modify the hook to mesh well with the character.
  • I was able to make the adventure my own by modifying the NPC motivations and the backstories. And I could not have come up with as vibrant an adventure on my own without the framework.

The only issue I had with the adventure was my own. The character had a small NPC entourage (the group traveling about trying to garner support for a rebellion, which is what brought them into the adventure). I had trouble working with them during the encounters, and juggling them with the player to scale the combat encounters properly.

Another issue(s) I had was pacing the encounters and making sure I had the threads straight between the different sessions. We managed though I think more experience DMing will make this an easier skill. I want 2023 to be a year where I run more games and I am trying to look at DMing as art; it is never perfect and I will always be growing.

  1. There are no stat blocks given in the book and instead, the author refers to the Monstrous Manual to provide that information.