I feel a little bad, realizing now that i kept almost no notes about our group’s trek through the Tomb of Annihilation. At the very least, i could contribute my voice to whatever conversation surrounds the module.

It was okay. Our DM did a fine job. I had more problems with the adventure itself than how it was presented, and then i don’t know how it might have been better without having read it myself. So i think perhaps what i should do is a walking review of Tomb of Annihilation with my notes about how our group handled certain encounters.

All told, for this weird remake (or reboot, or sequel, or whatever it is) of a classic tournament module, there were definitely some cool things to take away. But it seemed at odds with itself. In an edition of the game where death is more elusive than ever, it “dared” (?) to introduce “permadeath.”

I have seen D&D permadeath a few times. Some spells whose effects target spirits or souls and bring about “true death.” A word spell from the 3e Tome of Magic that unmade a creature from existence. There was the leviathan elder evil whose presence actually destroyed the souls of the dead. 4e suggested that immortal souls weren’t, actually… and that most faded after a scant few centuries.

ToA suggested that souls were being intercepted on their way to the afterlife and collected (later we learn, consumed) to fuel some nefarious scheme.

I’m not sure if that’s the best idea for a big adventure, or the worst. The default setting is the Forgotten Realms, where intercepting the souls of the dead isn’t just difficult… given how active the gods are in FR, it’s tantamount to suicide in the grand cosmic sense. Like hanging a “kick me” sign on… your soul.

What I’m saying is, the players shouldn’t have an opportunity to complete this adventure — there are so many badasses in FR that heroes would be falling over themselves to kill the villain. Then of course there’s the plot hook…

“Adventurers who died and returned to life are mysteriously falling ill and… dying. Again.” (Not an actual quote.)

There is nothing inherently wrong with that as a plot hook. It could be good. I couldn’t help pointing out how small the population of affected people is though. Adventurers who returned to life? So, only people with access to a 9th-level cleric and 500+ gold pieces.

That’s a vanishingly small minority. Who even necessarily notices something like that happening on a wide scale? How do you corroborate it? Who even reports it, and to whom?

Imagine for a moment that people who had received CPR were mysteriously falling ill and dying. How would you know that it was the CPR they had in common?

Even kings and nobility who might have the coin to burn don’t necessarily have access to the magic. So I’m afraid to say the premise isn’t actually very compelling. We don’t know right off the bat that souls are being prevented from passing on, which is actually the more compelling hook. (As far as I’m concerned.)

I mean, that effects EVERYONE, from kings to peasants to merchants and everyone in between. Adventurers too, but they’re already a minority. See, I’d totally adventure to save the world, but not JUST to save adventurers who coincidentally had died and been brought back to life. By the way, you can’t save anyone who was already consumed, so good luck there? You just have a sad ending for grandpa and whoever else was already.