Captured by Slavers – Dungeons & Dragons Module Review

Doesn’t exactly sound like the best of times, but there’s fun to be found in mandatory bondage.

Captured by Slavers is a campaign module for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons written by Petr Joura for first level characters. The premise is rather simple, your band of to be adventurers have been captured. A ruthless slaver bested you all, and now you’re in his lair. You start the adventure with practically none of your gear and little hope. Your goal is simple, escape! But Petr has layered in more plots than one for intrepid explorers to discover.

So what stands out about Captured by Slavers? The development of the primary antagonist, Vladim Krutass, I found particularly entertaining. He’s an absolute monster, just as happy to mind control his crew into subservience as he is to toss them to the sharks. To me he was the clear star of the show, even my players felt a little too invested in him. They had a chance to kill him, to reap bloody vengeance for their incarceration, but they let him live. The exact line: ‘No, he’ll make a good recurring villain, he needs to come back again.’ To have a character that evokes such a response from the players sets a module in good stead with me as a Dungeon Master.

Hmmm, snake themed pirates…wonder where that’s leading…

The setting itself was exciting, dank dungeons and dingy cells all around. The choice to strip gear from the players was one that at first bothered me though. Equipment plays a huge part in determining the effectiveness of a character. Taking that away means players are less able to do the things they’re built to do properly. But my concerns were unfounded, and careful play mixed with liberal interrogation returned their gear to them. Thus is a sub-goal set; get re-equipped, and to the players that was the priority. Everyone they beat into submission they tortured to find their missing items. It is astounding how quickly typically heroic players can turn dark when you threaten their loot.

Any excuse to bust out a giant crab monster is a good one in my books.

Due to their initially poorly equipped starting position, encounters are tough. Monsters that rarely pose any threat at all are suddenly enormous obstacles to overcome. Captured by Slavers uses statblocks from the mainline D&D sourcebooks, with a few tweaks here and there. This helps maintain a generally pretty solid level of balance throughout the campaign. The only fights that felt weighted against the players were ones they should have avoided (see above image of a giant crab) or the boss battle. There wasn’t much in the way of cake walks either. If a player went down, their response was typically lamenting their missing equipment. But my players weren’t just whinging there, they were actively enjoying playing D&D in a way they hadn’t really done so before.

As with all good campaign modules, Captured by Slavers ends on the note of how to carry it on into a full campaign. This part is incredibly well done, key moments are highlighted and the players see their choices impacting the world. This fits with the whole theme of Captured by Slavers, you are in a helpless situation where you feel powerless. But you have choices to make, actions to take, and they are all powerful. The module considers a lot of choices players can make. Players typically have a knack of doing the one thing the campaign writers never expected, but Petr has fleshed out all the paths my players took. This is incredibly valuable to a novice Dungeon Master, and a breath of fresh air to a veteran one too.

This is what freedom looks like…or is it?

Finally, the art within the book is all created by the author, and I always love seeing people’s own work in their settings. There’s a little repetition in the art throughout, but the overall quality is quite impressive for what looks to be a solo operation. Especially the giant crab above, but really all the art shows a lot of effort went into this module. That’s the key point I want to raise in this review, Petr hasn’t just slapped this together to make a quick buck. There’s real care and passion in here, and it can be felt throughout.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend Capture by Slavers to anyone looking to start a new campaign. It’s an excellent way to bring a disparate party together and play differently from the standard ‘heroes for hire at a tavern’. We played for a little over four hours and my players are happy to come back and finish the module. That’s exactly what you want from a module, people keen to come back to it. We’re going to try carry on a full campaign off the story hooks left behind from the escape, and I suggest you give it a shot too, your party will thank you. Eventually. Once they forgive you for stealing their gear.

You can find out more about Captured by Slavers or pick up a PDF copy for $3.99 USD here – https://www.dmsguild.com/product/304219/Captured-by-Slavers

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