H3: Pyramid of Shadows is the third adventure in the “Heroic” series from Wizards of the Coast. It is written by Mike Mearls and James Wyatt for use with the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition role-playing game. This review contains spoilers, so do not read it if you intend to play a character in the adventure.
The adventure is set near the locations of the first two entries in the series in the Nentir Vale. The Vale is also described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide giving dungeon masters a large amount of detail about the region. The characters travel north from the Vale into the Winterbole Forest where they are then trapped in a magical pyramid.
Once the characters have entered the pyramid, they uncover an artifact known as the Head of Vyrellis which delivers the main goal of the adventure, defeating the wizard Karavakos. The villain is one of the adventure’s best elements because rather than a single entity, several versions of Karavakos exist within the magical pyramid. There are three aspects of Karavakos, a shadow duplicate, numerous false shards, and then the true version. In order to complete the adventure the players must eventually defeat each of these aspects which provides a unique feel to the adventure and helps to make the tiefling wizard a memorable villain.
The interior of the pyramid is divided into several regions which are each controlled by a different faction. For example, there is a garden-like series of rooms controlled by plant-like humanoids known as arboreans and another series controlled by a white dragon with eladrin servants. This layout is the one thing that disappointed me about the adventure. The close proximity of factions described as being enemies of one another tends to make the dungeon unbelievable. I would have preferred some more “wilderness” between these factions whether that meant breaking the pyramid into multiple smaller dungeons or simply providing a better explanation for why the factions haven’t finished each other off. This is something that I feel H2: Thunderspire Labyrinth handled much better.
The new monsters included in the adventure are interesting additions to 4E. The arboreans, violent plant-like humanoids, provide a great race of villains for a dark forest. The eaters of knowledge are introduced as extensions of the god Vecna that seek out lost lore in order to increase the god’s knowledge. I could see both of them starring as villains in their own adventure, so they are a nice addition to the value of this adventure.
While not what I would consider a top-tier adventure, H3 is a solid product with good production value and some interesting and fun encounters. The core ideas are creative and well-done providing a solid foundation, but I think I will most likely change a few parts of the adventure before running it. If I do that, expect a future post describing the changes.