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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > Adventure Hooks  > Classical Style and Impactful 5E D&D Adventure Meet in Tartarus | Journey Into the Underworld
tartarus journey into the underworld persephone 5E D&D dungeon masters guild adventure

Classical Style and Impactful 5E D&D Adventure Meet in Tartarus | Journey Into the Underworld

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Salutations, nerds! We’ve got something particularly interesting to chew on today as Elise Cretel brings us Tartarus | Journey into the Underworld! I don’t have any real complaints about this fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Those of you who haven’t died of shock, please read on.

5E D&D adventure that feels right

If you’re looking for a quick read 5E D&D adventure for 12th level characters this is an excellent choice. The premise is simple — Persephone wants to overthrow Hades and rule the underworld.

I cannot state emphatically enough how well-researched this adventure is throughout. References to Greek mythology are everywhere and you can trace every one of them back to the source material. Hades himself has always been a point of contention and you should go into this adventure prepared to run him as the bad guy with no redeeming qualities, which is okay! The adventure needs a bad guy and if you go by the story of Persephone printed in most mythology books then Hades is pretty much the best choice.

This Dungeon Masters Guild adventure makes excellent use of existing stat blocks, with two new monsters that are giant versions of mephits. There are also two new magic items, one of which is pretty powerful and interesting. If you’re getting into this because you want the extra content at the back of the adventure rather than the adventure itself you might look elsewhere. The strong points of this piece reside in the adventure itself.

“I am thrilled to have the freedom to mix mythology and Dungeons & Dragons on the same page and to write new mythologies for some of humankind’s most legendary deities. These characters have been kept alive over time through books, theater, and even older editions of D&D allowing newer generations to enjoy their ancient mysteries.” — A Note from the Author, Producer and Project Lead Elise Cretel in Tartarus | Journey into the Underworld

Tartarus takes you seamlessly from one location to another in a trap-filled perilous 5E D&D version of the underworld with the kinds of tricks and tests that belong in a Greek myth. Everything is very on flavor and it’s full of smaller treasure caches. Maybe they’re not unique magic items but as I was reading through it I got the impression every loot drop had been carefully tailored to the area in which it resides.

Virtuous heroes will thrive here. Selfish ones will probably have a much harder time but there’s a place for this as well. There’s always something fun about watching the miserly ones scramble at an offended demigod’s wrath.

The whole thing clocks in at 20 pages and took me about 15 minutes to read, even stopping every so often to check a stat block in the Monster Manual.

The NPCs had good agency all throughout and most of them are women. For me this is a huge plus, if only because you don’t see this nearly as often as the male equivalent. It only feels right that once in a while the script gets flipped entirely.

One more thing before I close out. The adventure makes it clear at the end that what the party does in this adventure has a big impact on the rest of the world. This is not an adventure you can just mess up and then turn your back on. If you fail it matters to more people than just yourselves and the NPCs involved and I love this aspect.

I recommend this to:

  • DMs who need to prepare a fun adventure in a short amount of time
  • DMs with a 12th level party who like to really impact their setting
  • DMs with gaming groups who care about whether or not the women in their game have agency

I do not recommend this to:

  • DMs who are buying products just for the bestiary section at the end or the maps
  • DMs with groups who are likely to scowl and ask, “Why are all the good NPCs women?”
  • Hades apologists

All right! If all this sounds good to you then head on over to the Dungeon Masters Guild and grab yourself a copy of Tartarus | Journey into the Underworld here. As always, feel free to comment below or tweet me @Pyrosynthesis, remember not to cut the hydra heads off and of course, stay nerdy!

*Featured image — Persephone is the queen of the underworld and symbol of spring. She is forced to spend part of the year in the underworld after being abducted and tricked by Hades. Every year she returns from the underworld to usher in spring and rebirth to the world. [Art by Lessie Nieves-Paugh]

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Robin Miller

Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Robin Miller lives in southern Ohio where they keep mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. They have a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and they are happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Their fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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