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This supplement contains adventure material from Dungeon® magazine, the digital magazine that provides DMs with monthly support content. Inside this book, you’ll find a total of five adventures spanning two campaign settings and over twenty levels of play.
Dungeon Magazine Annual, Volume 1 (2010) is the first collection of selected adventures taken from the all-digital Dungeon Magazine. The intent is to showcase some of the best work done in the first year of the newly re-envisioned magazine, and they've done a fine job in reprinting fun and varied adventures.
Heroic to Epic. The five adventures inside run the gamut from low levels to the heights of epic adventuring, with the expected wide array of locations and imaginative challenges. There's a range of settings, including Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and even an adventure from the Scales of War adventure path, but I consider that a strength; DMs learn to adapt by reading a variety of good adventures and stealing the best ideas from each.
Collections of adventures like this are a good tool for both experienced and fledgling DMs. One of the great advantages of 4e D&D is ease of preparation; using a pre-written module (especially one that's cinematic, well-structured, and fun) becomes an object lesson in good adventure design. Even better, DMs get to see how adventures change in nature between heroic and epic tiers. A good epic adventure looks different from most other types of D&D gameplay, and there aren't a lot of good examples out there for DMs to see.
Snow and Towers. There's a theme to the adventure selection that might not be deliberate. Sean Molley's low-level adventure "Menace of the Icy Spire" features a tower encased in ice and some extremely unnatural weather. Fun, twisted monsters make the dungeon crawl something special. Stephen Radney-MacFarland follows this with the epic adventure "Winter of the Witch"; here, ice-cold fey walk the land, and the "witch" brings snow and blizzards with her, while demons seek to take advantage of her return in perpetrating their own hideous plans. “Storm Tower,” by Christopher Perkins, brings back the tower theme by reprinting the same adventure that was used in the high-publicized Penny Arcade podcasts of Acquisitions Incorporated.
Eberron and the Scales of War. It's a little surprising that a Scales of War adventure was selected for inclusion, since it's a component of a continuing adventure path, but they picked a good one: “Throne of the Stone-Skinned King,” by Logan Bonner, is a paragon-tier adventure that brings the heroes into the feywild to take down a fomorian king and a shape-shifting green dragon. Fomorians, the misshapen and corrupted giantkin that raise cruelty to a new art-form, are one of the most interesting of the giantkin. This adventure features some fascinating and tense negotiation, alongside superb combat scenes.
The Eberron-based adventure is “Heart of the Forbidden Forge,” by Luke Johnson. This features a memorable villain you won't run into anywhere else. There aren't many warforged dragons around, and that's a pity because this one makes for a terrifying villain.
Borrow With Abandon. It hardly matters that the adventures in this compilation take place in multiple campaign settings; the encounters and concepts are largely transferrable. I think that's one of the most important lessons of this sort of collection; good design is good design, and it isn't hard to file off the serial numbers and change a few villains' motivations, if needed, in order to fit an adventure seamlessly into your own campaign. That's particularly true with 4e D&D, where the adventure format has separate encounters pulled out into their own one- and two-page spreads for easy reference.
Even if you never run every adventure in the book, chances are you'll find yourself borrowing set-pieces and monsters for some fights that your players are going to hate you for.
About the Creators. Logan Bonner ("Throne of the Stone-Skinned King") designed and edited 4e D&D products between 2006 and 2009 before becoming a freelance editor, writer, and designer. Luke Johnson ("Heart of the Forbidden Forge") is a medical student when he's not writing D&D adventures. Sean Molley ("Menace of the Icy Spire") is a technology executive for the healthcare industry who has also written for games such as Arcanis and Witch Hunter from Paradigm Concepts. Christopher Perkins ("Storm Tower") is a 15-year veteran of Wizards of the Coast and also the most prolific adventure writer in Dungeon's history. Finally, Stephen Radney-MacFarland (Winter of the Witch") is a 4e author for supplements such as Dark Sun, Martial Power 2, and Underdark.