Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hoard of the Dragon Queen – D&D Adventurers League introduction



I got home this evening and found something in my Inbox, the introductory scenario of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the first release in the new D&D Adventurers League (the 5th edition equivalent of organised play) for the Tyranny of Dragons storyline.  I need to disclose that I have not paid for the aforementioned product, although the question of whether I would have done will be resolved by the end of this particular review.  With it being prerelease, I can't show any of the interior pages, which is a shame, because it's really worth the look.

Weighing in at 37 pages long, it’s comparable in size to the Pathfinder Organised Play modules/scenarios, and it’s designed for three to seven players, with the optimum number being four.  There’s clear guidelines on how the program is going to work and links in the document to the free rules online and the extended network that is now in place for the Adventurers league.

So what about the product itself...?

First impressions are that a lot of work has gone into the artwork and layout, there are a number of maps to cover the different encounters and then an overall map of the Sword Coast that ranks as one of the better maps I’ve seen in recent times.  Each chapter is prefaced by a full colour image that presents an idea of the events of the chapter and interspersed throughout the book are other images, mostly of characters that are encountered and creatures to be fought, all of it to a high standard. It is noted that some of the artwork in the scenario can be found in the starter set, but only two images, with the rest being original for the scenario.

The writing is crisp and clear, lots of explanation in there as to options the characters have, possible difficulties the GM will have and potential ways around both, which is very useful for those just starting out in the game.  In the opening writing, there are guidelines on the different parts of the scenario, together with what can be expected of the players in each one, a good touch for beginning GM’s.

The scenario itself presents in three sections, Greenest in Flames, Raiders Camp, and Dragon Hatchery, with the characters starting on their way past the town when a Blue Dragon and several members of the Cult of the Dragon attack the town.  From there, they have to find out what caused this and finally track down and finish the threat to the village.  There’s a lot more to it than that and the scenario has been designed with beginners in mind, so there aren’t many complex issues to deal with, the rules required are easily to hand, and there are no moments where the GM has to break plot to go and find a reference.  The primary differences between this and the Pathfinder scenarios are the increase in artwork and the lack of creature stats by the side of the encounters in this scenario.

The three parts to the scenario won’t take long to get through, but I’m presuming that they’re being pitched at the same level as the Pathfinder organised play which will give you a number of hours per product. In itself, this whole scenario is only part one of three that are going to be released for this storyline, all of which will be available at the same time as the players handbook.  There’s an indication at the beginning of when the seasons will run from and to and the number of support links within the document is massive.  As part of rolling out the new shiny, WoTC are giving this out for free to all stores that stock D&D, together with a DM’s kit, faction folders, magic item cards and the starter set itself.

Overall, very polished, very professional, and above all...

Fun...

It’s a very good start to the Adventurers league and something that is certainly going to get some dice time here, so in the matter of did I have to buy this?

No...

In the matter of would I buy this?


Absolutely...

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! This is a late response, but as a fellow player of D&D I've known and loved D&D for many years, but it wasn't till 3rd-3.5 Edition that I got into playing and shortly around the end of 2006 my main group that I played with split up. After that I didn't know anyone to play with. But now I'm getting back into the groove of playing, just introduced my BF to D&D and we've started up a kind of homebrewed campaign with me DM'ing for the first time. I currently own Monster Manual 3.5, Book of Vile Darkness, Deities & Demigods and Sandstorm that I've had for many years.

    With the advent of Tyranny of Dragons heralding in the 5th edition of D&D, I am beyond ecstatic! Tiamat is my favorite Deity and possibly my favorite character in D&D, so it goes without saying that Rise of Tiamat is on my order listing. I'm also going to pick up the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master Guide and the Monster Manual (despite owning one, i'm excited to see new creatures and changes to favorites+ the artwork!).

    Now, my long winded setup for this question. With all of these new goodies springing up and despite coming out months apart, it's still quite an enormous amout of pages and with them $ to purchase. I'm wondering if Hoard of the Dragon Queen despite being the setup for Rise of Tiamat, is worth it if the adventure will still point to the direction/events of the cult raising Tiamat? D&D has always been flexible with changes, variations and homebrews, but I've never bought or played through an adventure campaign set out by WOTC, so it's something new for me. With four other books that I def want, should I possibly skip out on this one or is it really meaty and enjoyable to be included in the whole package of 5th Editions coming?

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