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August 3, 2018

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast – D&D 5e Module Review

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast is a D&D 5e module written by Remley Farr. It’s an adventure with an excellent story, fun combat, and is easily incorporated into any campaign. The module is targeted towards a group of 3-5 players at level 8. It also comes with a homebrew cleric domain which has a lot of excellent flavor.

My group has previously played Fishing for Gods in Strade’s Gallows as well as The Sun Goes Down with a Ruby Smile by Remley Farr and have enjoyed both. In fact, The Sun Goes Down with a Ruby Smile is pretty much my go-to adventure for introducing new players to D&D 5e.

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast checked off a ton of boxes for me when deciding on a one-shot to run for my players. I wanted something not low-leveled and I’m a sucker for the Underdark in general. Since we’d had great fun with the other modules Remley has written this was an easy purchase.

If you’re a player be warned – there are spoilers ahead!

Pre-Game Preparation

Formatting

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast is extremely well formatted and the format is documented and explained prior to any of the background information for the module. That being said, the format is very easy to read even without going through the introduction which speaks towards its quality.

Each relevant section of the module is properly titled and there are subtitles for the rooms and parts within that portion.

There is also a block of text for each of these portions that convey a description of the room or scene that is meant to be read to the party. These were particularly great and were very detailed and descriptive.

Every relevant spell, item, and creature has a label for what book and what page it can be found on. For the record, the only books you need to run this module are the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Background Information

The first 2 pages of The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast include a run-down of the module’s story as well as the backstory that led up to the events that the party will witness.

The backstory was so well-written that I elected to read it out loud to my players when they befriended the blind mind flayer, Jeeyan.

The backstory consists of a conflict between the Spider Queen, Lolth, and the Demon Lord of Feasts, Shomarrah. The two betray or wrong each other and Shomarrah ends up slain and anchored to the material plane.

Shomarrah’s body has become a monument to Lolth. Within it are rumored to be vast riches. This could be conveyed to the party in the form of rumors or they may be able to find a map leading to Shomarrah’s Maw off of the corpse of a drow as the module suggests.

Regardless, The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast flows well as both a part of a larger campaign in the Underdark, or simply as a one-shot. There’s enough lore surrounding it that it can be drawn out, or fully contained in 1-2 play sessions.

This is a huge positive for me when I run premade modules. I love having the option of including them in my campaigns, but I also love when they work well separately. In general it was a great introduction to the Underdark and all the lore within it.

Battle Maps

I love the art style and artwork in Remley’s modules by himself and Shawn Daley. They’re cartoony, but they do a great job of conveying the emotion of scene or setting.

The battle maps that were included were particularly great. There were 2 battle maps included, Orlenggin D’Winress and Shomarrah’s Belly. These are the two locations where the 2-3 important combat encounters will take place.

These maps had 2-3 versions each – grid-less, with a grid, and with a grid and numbered (for the DM). This was great as it saved me quite a bit of preparation time since normally I would make my own.

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast Shomarrah's Gullet

My map of Shomarrah’s Gullet. Feel free to use it!

One thing missing from this module is a battle map of Shomarrah’s Gullet. About half of the encounters take place in there so I knew we would need one. It’s essentially just a 500 ft. x 30 ft. straight line so it was not particularly difficult to make, but it would’ve been nice to have all 3 maps in the same style.

Additional Materials for the Players

Handouts are not necessary for The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast. Any of the clues that come from excerpts from books or poems found in Orlenggin D’Winress can be quickly read out loud.

Included with the module are pictures of some of the key characters and locations. These pictures could also be shown to the players. These are included as separate files as well as within the PDF which I thought was a nice touch.

However, if you’re playing in person (unlike my group) it would definitely be fun to write the excerpts down and give them out to players. You could even use this technique to age the paper as all the books, people, and possessions found in Orlenggin D’Winress are extremely old.

Running the Module

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast Cover

Cover art by Shawn Daley. Maps, additional art, and writing by Remley Farr.

The Setting

While The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast does take place in the Underdark, it doesn’t take place in the Underdark proper. However, it does a great job with conveying the overall theme of the Underdark.

The entirety of the module takes place within Shomarrah’s corpse, but it has been overgrown with fungi and creatures of the Underdark. For example, bioluminescent mushrooms light the outer part of Orlenggin D’Wenress which help to set the dark tone of the Underdark.

As I mentioned before, the setting descriptors were particularly great. They helped set the tone as well as describe the location that the party was about to delve into. I’m definitely going to try to incorporate these into my own dungeons and quests as they worked very well.

Combat Encounter Balance

Overall I found the combat to be fluid and balanced. We were playing with only 3 people which was on the lower-end of the recommended party size, so I opted to let each character have 1 rare and 2 uncommon magical items each. The encounters were still plenty challenging for the party.

One thing I would stress is to not give the party a long rest throughout this module. It’s very quick and only consists of 5-6 total encounters which makes up a very balanced adventuring day. Giving them a long rest in the middle of the module would definitely make the encounters a cake walk.

If your party has lots of magical items and/or has 5 people I’d recommend tweaking the numbers a little bit in your favor, or simply add a minion or two to the encounters against Hylari and Sot’Zerrik.

Characterization and Storytelling

As a whole the major NPCs all had great characterization. Each NPC has a reason they’re trapped inside of Shomarrah, and they all have their quirks.

The module does a great job in the backstory section with preparing the DM for how these NPCs are involved in the story. All of the NPCs have a stake in Shomarrah living or dying and will interact with the party accordingly.

They were each fun to role-play in their own way and the party made an effort to interact with each one.

Jeeyan and the library can be used to relay the backstory and lore to the party. Much of the story of the module can be relayed through these two methods as well.

The story of the module has a few ways of being told. NPCs and cryptic hints and clues can hint towards what NPCs are doing or feeling and the party can make many assumptions based off of this. Jeeyan and the library are again both great tools for conveying the story to the party should they be interested in a more detailed account.

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast

You can’t have the Underdark without bioluminescent mushrooms! Art by Labeckinator.

Multiple Ways to Solve a Problem

There are many encounters in The Fasting Web at the Spider Feast can be solved in multiple ways. The module does a great job of informing the DM of some of the options that players may have that will solve the puzzle or make the encounter easier on their end.

The best example of this is when the party tries to find the way to open the secret entrance to Sot’Zerrik. Jeeyan knows the password, but he will not just give it away. This information can be found in one of the books in the library. There are clues within the room that holds the entrance that will entice the party to go explore different sections of Orlenggin D’Wenress as well.

Having a character that knows Undercommon or has a way to read Undercommon is very important if you decide to kill Jeeyan. Otherwise they will never find the clue to opening the secret entrance to Shomarrah’s Belly as it is written in one of the books in Undercommon.

Moral Quandaries and Plot Twists

The Fasting Web at the Spider Feast does a good job at presenting the party with some plot twists and moral quandaries. It does a good job of relying on the party to be very hesitant to blindly trust the creatures and denizens of the Underdark. It exploits this distrust and will reward players and parties that simply throw caution to the wind and accept chaos.

The mind flayer, Jeeyan, can be befriended by the party and sees them as a viable option for escaping the fort. If your group is like mine, they will assume that he is angling to devour their brains.

99% of the time they’d be right, but this module uses this assumption to its advantage. It wants to make the party hesitant to accept Jeeyan’s help which can make finding Sot’Zerrik much more difficult.

After the party learns more about Shomarrah and Lolth’s conflict they may be hesitant to try to awaken Shomarrah. Many groups may not want to deal with either demon lord’s potential wrath or trickery. It’s possible for them to walk away from the conclusion of the story entirely.

Homebrew Content

Feast Domain Cleric

I haven’t had anyone play a feast domain cleric yet. However, it seems to be a very flavorful cleric domain and fits the standard format of the domains.

The feast domain revolves around dealing acid damage and supporting your party. This is done by granting advantage on Constitution saves and temporary HP.

The domain spell list is well-suited to the flavor and role of the domain. It gives the cleric some extra acid damage spells and a bit more overall support. Another perk is the ability to cast Heroes’ Feast as a 5th level spell.

My only issue with the domain is that Communion seems to be the domain’s 17th level feature, but it is not labeled as such.

Overall the feast domain seems like a fun cleric option. I certainly wouldn’t mind letting a player use it in a future game.

Final Thoughts on The Fasting Web at the Spider Feast

You can purchase the module here for $1.99. Personally I think this is a steal considering it took my group around 5 hours to complete. It honestly took me roughly an hour to prepare before we played, and the vast majority of that was reading the module and the backstory.

The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast did a good job of including something for every play style. Combat, role-playing, puzzles, investigation, and lore were all present throughout the module.

I particularly liked that the players constantly had options on how they wanted to tackle a challenge. There were so many choices that the players could very-well avoid the conclusion of the module outright.

The module requires very little backstory or setup and even suggests ways to introduce the plot hook to your players. It also generates several plot hooks following the events of the story depending on the choices your players make. This makes it a great choice for both a one-shot and a part of a campaign.

I’d absolutely recommend The Fasting Worm at the Spider Feast or any of Remley’s other modules.

If you enjoyed what you read be sure to check out my ongoing review for all of the official D&D 5e books!

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