D&D Quests from the Infinite Staircase review: Strong adventures form disjointed whole

Noelle Corbett

The anthology Quests from the Infinite Staircase remasters classic adventures for Dungeons & Dragons’ busy 50th anniversary year.

Between its long-anticipated Core Rulebook revisions and the game’s golden anniversary, 2024 is a busy year for Dungeons & Dragons. Quests from the Infinite Staircase is releasing as Wizards of the Coast is gearing up for the release of the Player’s Handbook (2024), presenting TTRPG lovers with what looks like a bright future for the incredibly popular game.

However, this year is just as much about celebrating D&D’s past as it is about looking ahead. We’ve already seen that through releases like Vecna: Eve of Ruin, a high-level adventure that takes players across the multiverse through various classic settings as they take on one of D&D’s most iconic foes.

As an anthology, Quests from the Infinite Staircase isn’t that same kind of epic and singular adventure. Still, it does serve as an excellent celebration of D&D history, even if the format sometimes causes it to fall short.

Key details

Quests from the Infinite Staircase cover

Price: $69.95 (physical/digital bundle), $29.99 (digital only)

Release date: July 17, 2024 (full release), July 10, 2024 (early access on D&D Beyond and local game stores)

A journey through D&D’s past

Quest from the Infinite Staircase is an anthology of D&D adventures from its early days. This includes work from Tracy and Laura Hickman (who went on to create the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings) and even Gary Gygax himself.

This premise gives the book a historical and celebratory feel that makes it worthwhile for veteran fans and those curious to see how D&D evolved into what it is now. All the adventures were clearly selected with love for the game and its unique settings, monsters, and more, so it’s no surprise that they’re pretty solid.

There’s something for everyone on the Infinite Staircase no matter your playstyle. Those who love dungeon crawls will enjoy exploring The Lost City, Pharoah, and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, while Expeditions to the Barrier Peaks’ futuristic sci-fi theming has made it a longtime fan-favorite – with TV icon Stephen Colbert even calling it “the best campaign.”

That said, the two that stick out to me are When a Star Falls and Beyond the Crystal Cave, which (coincidentally or not) are both early adventures from UK-based designers. These two are notable for their focus on narrative, something that wasn’t particularly common in an era of D&D that focused on hack-and-slash combat and dungeon crawls.

It’s clear these modules were ahead of their time, particularly the Shakespeare-inspired Beyond the Crystal Cave, which promotes problem-solving and role-playing above all else and can even be completed in its entirety without violence.

However, while each adventure is strong on its own, as a singular package, Quests from the Infinite Staircase can feel disjointed.

The book is designed so Dungeon Masters can run the adventures individually or as a continuous campaign that takes players from level 1 through level 13. But, while the Infinite Staircase framing helps ground the universe hopping, the types of adventures and order inadvertently discourage you from playing this way.

Half the adventures are just dungeon crawls, with the aforementioned narrative-centric ones sandwiched between The Lost City and Pharaoh.

This isn’t to discount the other modules, which have their own interesting stories and secrets to uncover. But the fact is, the kinds of players who’ll get the most out of an adventure like Beyond the Crystal Cave (and the kinds of characters they make) may be less interested in, say, The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and vice versa.

Unless you have a group that is okay with jumping from long periods of dungeon crawls to narrative-focused quests and back, I definitely recommend running Quests from the Infinite Staircase’s adventures individually rather than following the book to a T.

Infinite potential on the Infinite Staircase

Longtime D&D fans will know that the Infinite Staircase is nothing new, having been introduced way back in Second Edition. It’s a multiversal hub that’s full of doors leading to different locations across the planes.

What is new is Nafas, the genie who graces the book’s cover and comes with plenty of lore. He’s said to have formed from the planar winds that flow into the Staircase whenever someone opens a door, resulting in a noble genie who watches over but cannot leave the Infinite Staircase.

Because of this limitation, Nafas serves as a quest-giver for the adventures, sending players to grant wishes on his behalf. Each chapter starts out with him sharing a wish with players before sending them off to fulfill it.

The Infinite Staircase and Nafas provide a strong framework for the adventures – one that could also be a useful tool for DMs planning their own universe-hopping campaigns. However, because of the nature of the anthology, neither is used to its full potential, at least as far as the book itself goes.

Conveniently, for those running adventures independent of the Infinite Staircase, the designers included other potential adventure hooks that don’t involve Nafas or wishes. While that’s helpful, it does mean you can play all of the book’s adventures without ever visiting the eponymous location or interacting with the character on the cover.

Nafas on the alt cover of Quests from the Infinite Staircase

I do hope we see Nafas again in a format where he can really thrive, whether that’s as part of a future adventure or a Xanathar or Tasha-style sourcebook.

I can understand why the designers focused on the adventures rather than Nafas – these are remasters of classic modules being released to celebrate 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons, after all.

Still, it has me wondering why Wizards decided to name the book for something that comes off as an afterthought, compelling as it may be, rather than putting the classic, celebratory nature of the collection front and center.

The Verdict – 4/5

Quests from the Infinite Staircase is the perfect example of strong pieces comprising an imperfect whole. Each of the adventures is incredibly compelling and, as intended, provides a nice look at the early stories and dungeons that allowed D&D to become the juggernaut it is today.

Still, the Infinite Staircase framing itself goes underexplored, and running its six selections together will likely make for a disjointed campaign experience.

With that in mind, I definitely see myself running Quests from the Infinite Staircase’s adventures individually or incorporating them into an existing campaign rather than treating it like a continuous campaign.

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