Cover of The Sunless Citadel 5e

The Sunless Citadel 5e

This adventure concerns a once-proud fortress that fell into the earth in an age long past. Now known as the Sunless Citadel, its echoing, broken halls house malign creatures. Evil has taken root at the citadel's core, which is deep within a subterranean garden of blighted foliage. Here a terrible tree and its dark shepherd plot in darkness.

Publication Year
Battle Mats?
Includes Characters?
Level 1
Boss Monsters and Villains
Common Monsters
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spinningdice has played this adventure and would recommend it.

In response to @B-E-T-A, some of the criticisms sound like DM issue, not adventure issue. At least one or two of the goblins should be open to talking. If you accept the Kobold's deal the Dragon focuses attacks on it's former master and ignores the PC's. It's still a very difficult encounter, but shouldn't be a overwhelmingly so (though if the Dragon is lucky with it's breath recharge I could see it rapidly being terrible). The Troll should be severely weakened when encountered, again a difficult encounter, but it shouldn't be wiping out the party. There should also never be too apples, as they're supposed to mature in different seasons, it also doesn't try to trick you? The Red Apple is good the white one is bad. Assuming your DM fiddled it to make it 'more interesting' the good apple is supposed to heal you 70 hp and cure all conditions/diseases, if you weren't damaged when eaten I guess it did nothing?

Overall I think this is a good, simple Dungeon Crawl with some interesting political play. It could do with additional alternative routes and paths, but it has it's roots in the 3e adventure where it was the starter adventure.

B-E-T-A has played this adventure and would not recommend it.

Disclaimer: Player Perspective: I have not DMed this adventure so I am not sure what it is like from the other side of the screen, but as a player I can say it wasn't very great. Perhaps it was our DM, or perhaps it was the adventure, I can't tell you for certain. But here are my thoughts:

  • The adventure is just a big sprawling dungeon crawl, which is not bad in itself, but there is a pitfall a lot of these can fall into and that is to have a lack of RP opportunities. Through our exploration of the dungeon the only thing which talked to us was some Kobolds who wanted their dragon back. Everything else, from the dragon in question, the goblins, and the strange druid at the bottom attacked us on sight as "intruders". Now again I refer back to my earlier statement about this might be the DM rather than the adventure, but it still made the whole thing feel like just a slog to go through.
  • Encounter balance isn't that balanced. This a dungeon that allegedly is designed for 1st level characters to go through, leveling up to 2nd and 3rd level as they go. And yet this adventure contains monsters that punch waaaaay above that weight class. There is a White Dragon Wyrmling who's breath weapon can insta-kill (not down, kill) several 1st-level PCs in one-hit. Our wizard was taken from max to immediately dead even after succeeding her save. Some of the other PCs were down, but at least succeeded the save so they didn't die immediately. There is also a undead zombie troll later on in the dungeon (or earlier if you take the wrong path and stumble upon his tomb, as it is right next to the entrance!) that was capable of TPKing our 6 PC 2nd-level party by itself (Ok, one PC survived, but he committed suicide because everyone else was dead). It wasn't a fun time overall.
  • The adventure tricks you. At the bottom of the dungeon there is a tree that has two fruits. One big healthy looking melon, and one diseased looking apple. Now the Kobolds earlier had told us that one of the fruits gave life and the other gave death. So we figured we'd try to test which might be which. With our knowledge, herbalism, and alchemy checks coming up short I decided to be brave and try take a bite out of each fruit. So I cut out a piece of the melon and ate it. Nothing happened. Then I cut off a piece of the apple and ate it, and took 70 necrotic damage imemdiately. Even if I had been at full health at 3rd level (which I wasn't) I would still have died immediately from the massive damage. Now I wouldn't be so angry about this if it wasn't for the fact that the other fruit did nothing! Some of the other PCs tried eating from the healthy looking fruit as well, but appearently it just didn't do anything.

Anyway, that is my overall perspective as a player who went through this adventure. Do not let this discourage you from running it however, just be aware of some of these pitfalls I have experienced.

Xylock has played this adventure and would recommend it.

Straightforward and simple dungeon for newbies DMs & players alike. But nothing very extremely interesting for more veteran players.

I enjoyed playing up the slight politics between the kobold & goblin denizens of the dungeons. That’s easily dropped though if your players just want a bit of thoughtless “loot-em-up”.

The adventure itself has a small section in a town for the hook before the dungeon, but it is extremely bare bones. It at least makes it easy to port the adventure into your own homebrew setting. But for newbies I’d suggest simply skipping straight to the dungeon itself unless you’re willing to build out the town a bit yourself.

Greggles has played this adventure and would recommend it.

Good for new players to the game. Easy and relatively straightforward to run. A good dungeon crawl.