Hey All-sorry for the book. But I've committed myself this year to providing constructive feedback to all designers whose adventures I have the opportunity to present and offer some insight into how I have/will successfully present their works, in hopes that my player's experience is as enjoyable as I can make it and that perhaps this courtesy will be reciprocated at some point in my future design efforts.
I had a chance to play this adventure and it was enjoyable. I am a fan of RP, so it did not disappoint in that respect. I believe my DM breathed some life into it as well (no pun intended). Now, I as prep it for one of my groups, I saw a few things that I felt warrant mentioning.
I'm not really sure why the amount of charges in Soul Coin is important at all to the CTA. I prob won't even mention it. DMs-please read the Dramatis Personae at a minimum, unless you already have some knowledge of Mahadi's Traveling Emporium from BG:DiA or other adventures in Tier Two where The Emporium appears. The adventure can come to a screeching halt if players do not barter with Mahadi. Some of the terms seem reasonable for T3 characters; however, the bartering can also be overcome with players meeting one or two of the conditions for barter. Making the group check that the modules advises garners more insight into Mahadi and the galal, but do nothing to affect the terms offered by Mahadi. There appears to be no cause/incentive for even attempting the check other than being given more background into Mahadi and perhaps some fodder to use in RP in the Second Part of the adventure.
Part 2 gave me the feel of the DDOPEN 2018. Heavy RP and again a pat down that may rattle players feathers, but they will get a chance to hide weapons and the weapons are just being checked-in storage here, so they aren't being stolen. I would encourage DMs to read Appendix Three, present the guests as people that, "catch their eye", "bump into players" or have them overhear something that might appeal to their background or ideals, bonds, flaws, etc. I intend to use events from the BG:DiA hardcover or the other Tier Two adventures plots as gossip for the party. To set the players up with options to complete the adventures objective, be sure to engage them with the bulleted list in 'Use the Clues' section in Part Two and gauge your audience when you present the Qirroz option please. Escaping after the chalice has been lifted is relegated to one check like in Part One, but I think the designer did a good job of offering options for DMs to present Exploration and Social Pillars to gain some insight into things that can help them. Players already familiar with Mahadi's rules or some behaviors in BG:DiA, should know that combat in a gala filled with all manner of devils will not end well for them.
In Bonus Objective A, I thought we could be provided some insight into what the nature of the deal between Galabraga and Mahadi was. Since its not provided, I see it as an opportunity for DMs to add a little something of their own to the adventure. I appreciate that the designer has good adventure flow back to the main story line from both Bonus Objectives.
In Bonus Objective B. What is presented here could easily be captured in a chase using chase rules. I'm a little bit surprised its not presented as such, but this is easily remedied by a three to five round chase scene. Use the Chase Complications in BG:DiA for Infernal War Machines.... add a distance trigger, and the chase rules to escape, and I think that could also meet the spirit of the chase (pun intended this time). The Social Pillar of Play in this Bonus Objective seems to be a 'No Go' from the start. I don't see any player group giving up The Chalice after what they had to go through to get it, or giving up 25 souls coins that they probably gave up already to Mahadi to get to this point in the adventure. I did enjoy the No Exceptions! Story Award, I think that it is approriate tormenter and suitable consequence for the realm that these adventure take place in; however, the other story award in this adventure is devilishing brutal. I don't imagine players being too eager to continue their travels in Avernus in the throes of the exhaustive nightmare of these two story awards working in tandem on them. I'd be working with Mahadi to book the first flight back to the Prime Material PLANE (oh, there I go again).
Alright. Seriously, I do find this adventure an enjoyable read and I know my players will enjoy it too. This adventure provides opportunities for DMs to focus on NPC presentation and amplify descriptives to help with scene immersion. If your players are looking to just chop up evil devils, this is probably not the adventure for you. I'm not a fan of "One way out" meta (One check stops/impede/complicates adventure flow), but there is enough here to work with, meet the spirit of the story the designer presents, and end with entertained players. Pick this adventure up if you haven't already!