Szass Tam, the lich lord of Thay, and his Red Wizards threaten to dominate all of the Sword Coast. The Bloodgate, an elemental node of power, must be destroyed in order to stop him. This adventure is part two of the Dreams of the Red WizardsSundering storyline, directly tied to Scourge of the Sword Coast, and loosely connected to the events in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle.
Dead in Thay is a tribute to Tomb of Horrors, The Ruins of Undermountain, and other killer dungeons. The monsters, traps, and hazards in the adventure create a deadly challenge.
"Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay" (2014), by Scott Fitzgerald Gray, is the adventure for Season 18 of D&D Encounters. It was released in April 2014 as a PDF-only book on DnDClassics.com.
Continuing the Encounters. The D&D Encounters program saw major changes beginning with Season 15's "Murder in Baldur's Gate" (2013); Season 18's "Dead in Thay" continued some of the changes of previous seasons, but reversed others.
"Dead in Thay" was the fourth D&D Encounters that was sold into the mass-market rather than being made available only to D&D Encounters GMs. Like its immediate predecessor, Season 17's "Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast" (2014), it was released PDF-only. The sale of "Dead in Thay" into the mass-market once more allowed for a beautiful production, in advance of what was possible in the first 14 seasons. It also allowed for a longer, more detailed module that provided detail on things other than the encounters themselves — such as the NPCs, who are highlighted throughout this adventure.
Season 16's "Legacy of the Crystal Shard" (2013) had initiated another big change: the D&D Encounters adventures stepped away from the D&D Encounters format, which had traditionally laid out specific events for each week of play. This was a change that "Dead in Thay" reversed: it featured specific encounters for the first and last week and confined plays to individual zones of a dungeon during each other week of play. It was an interesting compromise that allowed for play through a large, coherent dungeon while still keeping individual weeks of play separated. It was also a marked contrast to the much more episodic dungeon crawl of Season 1's "Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice" (2010).
However the biggest innovation of "Dead in Thay" was the introduction of an Event Coordinator — a role used in D&D Game Day's "Vault of the Dracolich" (2013), but never before used in Encounters play. The Event Coordinator managed the interactions of multiple groups of players, all playing the same adventure. In "Dead in Thay" they might directly interact during the first and last weeks of play, but as they adventured through the dungeon, they could also change its state for subsequent parties. This idea could be as big and innovative as the Encounters program itself, as it allowed multiple groups in a game store to all interact in a meaningful way, really taking advantage of the environment that the Encounters programs was played in.
As with Season 17's "Scourge of the Sword Coast", "Dead in Thay" was released for D&D-Next play only. It was also one of the highest-level D&D Encounters adventures ever, running from 6th to 8th level. It began play on May 10-11, 2014 with a special weekend event, then ran from May 14, 2014 to July 23, 2014.
Continuing the Story. "Dead in Thay" continued a story of troubles in Daggerford that began in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (2013), then became part of the D&D Encounters program with "Scourge of the Sword Coast".
Continuing the Sundering. "Dead in Thay" also continued the story of the Sundering, Wizards of the Coast's tale of changes in the Forgotten Realms that led it into D&D Next. This multimedia event had already run through three previous seasons of Encounters: "Murder in Baldur's Gate" (2013), "Legacy of the Crystal Shard" (2013), and "Scourge of the Sword Coast" (2014). As with most of the Sundering tie-ins, the connection is not very explicit.
Adeventuring Tropes. For the most part, "Dead in Thay" is a classic, old-school dungeon crawl of the sort you could find back in the '70s. However, it presents a more mature, more active dungeon, where the rulers of the realm can react to the players' actions … and where the players themselves could change an environment.
About the Homage. "Dead in Thay" explicitly says that it's "a tribute to Tomb of Horrors, The Ruins of Undermountain, and other killer dungeons." It also returns to the "elemental nodes", a part of the classic adventure T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985).
Expanding the Realms. The beginning of "Dead in Thay" is set in Daggerford, which was the heart of "Scourge of the Sword Coast" and several other Realms adventures, dating back to its origins in N5: "Under Illefarn" (1987). "Dead in Thay" minorly expands the area by finally revealing Bloodgate Keep.
However, as the title of the adventure promises, much more of "Dead in Thay" takes place in Thay itself. Mind you, it doesn't necessarily expand the land a lot since it's all about a previously unknown dungeon. Thay itself entered the spotlight in FR6: "Dreams of the Red Wizards" (1988) and has received attention in any number of campaign sourcebooks.
About the Creators. Though "Dead in Thay" was his first adventure for D&D Encounters Gray is also the author of "Vault of the Dracolich" (2013), which introduced the Event Coordinator role.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.