The Burning Plague


The Burning Plague

Author: Miguel Duran
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Level: 4-6/ 1st level PCs
Pages: 11
Rating: 9 out of 10
Retail Price: Free

The Burning Plague is a free adventure available from the Wizards of the Coast website. It is suitable for a party of 1st level PCs and seems to be written with a new DM in mind. The basic premise of the adventure is that a small town has begun feeling the effects of a strange disease, which is killing off some of the weak and young. All signs point to a nearby mine, from which the miners haven’t returned. Obviously, the miners are all dead, killed at the hands of a band of kobold raiders, who have also begun dying from this strange sickness. The sickness is being spread by an orc cleric with a beef against the town. In a perfect world, the PCs show up, eliminate the kobold threat and kill the orc cleric, thus dispelling the effects of the magical disease he was spreading.

I have run The Burning Plague twice, for two separate groups of players. Both times, the group really seemed to enjoy the adventure. One of the two times, I used the adventure as a backdrop for bringing the party together, which was done by having two of the PCs hired to help, one of the PCs as a friend to a lost miner and one of the PCs as a town local. This helped the story along in quite a few ways.

The adventure was written for version 3.0, though requires little to no addition to make it playable under 3.5. In fact, the few tiny errors in the writing lead me to believe that the adventure may have been at least partially written before the release of 3.0 entirely. For example, the open lock skill is referred to as “Open Locks” and the mayor of the town is listed as being a “Nob5” instead of “Ari5.” It seems a safe bet to assume that these are no errors so much as things that were changed prior to the system release.

On the whole, the adventure is pretty good. There are few plot holes that a good DM couldn’t cover up and the story is fairly believable. The only real issue I take with the adventure is that the disease is extremely easy for a PC with a low Fortitude save to contract, and difficult for them to throw off. At 1d4 Con damage per day, it can be a potential killer for 1st level PCs that are forced to rest between encounters.

Still, I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Burning Plague for any DM. The obvious benefit is that it’s a free download, so the group has more money to spend on snacks. A secondary benefit is that it is short enough that the group is not likely to gain a level during the adventure, so it makes for a good means for the party to gain a little bit of XP before they move on to a bigger, tougher adventure. Another benefit is that it’s written with a new DM in mind, as it constantly points things out and gives the DM reminders that generally aren’t present in higher-level adventures. Lastly, it’s just a well-written story that has the potential to spawn several dozen plot hooks.