Eye of Pain (1996)

Before we get into the substance of this adventure, let as pause to appreciate the cover art, by Dana Knutson, which features some poor bloke getting his face melted off. You just don’t see that anymore in D&D, and we’re poorer for it, I think.

Anyway, this is Eye of Pain (1996), the first in a trilogy of beholder-centric adventures. The introduction warns that treating this like a typical dungeon crawl will likely result in disaster, and instead encourages players to explore the settlement and unravel the plot. There is a lot of plot. It isn’t quite so bad as many of the Ravenloft modules of the 90s, where players tend to witness narratives rather than take part in them, but there is still rather a lot of it laying around for players to trip over. Most of it involves the machinations of a single beholder variant and while I enjoy ambition in my villains, the power struggle at the heart of this module seems all too human. I expected something a bit more alien from the floating eyeball monsters, honestly.

For what it is, though, it’s fine, a decent enough on-ramp for a mini-campaign. This is phase one of the villain’s plan, in which it is attempting to bait a group of adventurers into being its unwitting cat’s paws. A little dungeon, a little killing, a little treasure, the usual.

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