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Hoard of the Dragon Queen (D&D Adventure) Hardcover – August 19, 2014
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Top customer reviews
Production Value - The book is indisputably high quality. Full color printing, heavy duty binding and fantastic artwork makes the book a pleasure to use.
Layout - The layout is extremely clean, with nice use of color to delineate sidebars and "read-aloud" text.
Writing - The writing is well done, by some big name pros in the industry including Wolfgang Baur and Steve Winter. It's got enough flavor to paint a picture, but is short enough to not overwhelm.
Structure - The adventure is put together in an episodic format throughout the book and each episode has sub-missions that can, generally, be done in whatever order the GM / Players choose. This may not be true for each chapter, but is certainly true for the first.
Cons (I would not actually say there are any *real* cons to this product, but I would like to address some issues other users have mentioned):
Level Range Visibility - Some users have pointed out that it does not state the level range. It does, on the back cover of the book it states that it is from 1-7.
Monsters - There are certainly monsters mentioned that are not found in the book. The reason that this was done is up for debate but you DO NOT need to wait until the Monster Manual or the Dungeon Master's Guide come out. They state in the first pages of the book that there is a free online supplement that they have released that has all of that information (and then some). That info can be found simply by googling "Hoard of the Dragon Queen Free Supplement."
This is a great product that is extremely high quality and should make for the beginning of a very awesome campaign! You would do well to pick yourself up a copy.
The first 3-5 chapters are detailed and fun, but the rest of the book is a bit disorganized, suffers from glaring errors, contains boring mechanical magic items, is very linear and suffers from pacing issues.
Ok, I have waited a while to submit my review in order to give a fair assessment of this module. I will try to omit as many spoilers as I can. Let's discuss some of the nicer parts of this campaign book. It is a hardcover, and the artwork is nice. The first three-to-five chapters of the book are very good. Paths that the adventurers can take are covered in fairly good detail, meaning there is little scrambling the DM has to do.
However, the adventure quickly begins to fall apart once the "caravan" chapter comes into focus. We are introduced to a bunch of NPCs, many of which you may never use, and two semi-important NPCs that aren't fully detailed. Personally, I would like to know the description of the NPC, what their ultimate goals are, and what they are wanting in the immediate. This is not fully explained, but even more disappointing is that there are very few NPCs that "stick around" to be memorable.
Also, while I understand it is now "theater of the mind", could we at least get some player-friendly maps? The kind that don't reveal every treasure, secret and door? A page I can open to and show my players and say, "Before you stands this...". I digress.
The book also contains a litany of errors; some are minor, some are actually fairly major. There is a major name change/omission in a random encounters section, and there is one encounter that WILL kill your party if read-as-written. This was apparently an oversight by WotC as the encounter was written before the stat blocks were, making the encounter much more deadly than it was designed to be. New DMs won't necessarily know that, and it could prematurely end up killing your party.
Magic items are scarce, but when they do exist the majority of them are boiled down into mechanical basics. I.e. "+1 longsword". Seriously, WotC? After hyping up the "three pillars of adventure" and magic item rarity your answer to an exciting magical item is that? Not, "You pull aside the sackcloth that covers this oddly-colored blade. Strange runes have been stamped into this hilt of this blade, and run down the length of its fuller. They glow faintly as you grasp the leather-wrapped handle."
Nope. +1 Longsword. It seems even in a pre-published adventure, they want DMs to make up whatever details they want. To me, that is laziness on the part of WotC. If DMs want to change the description, let them - but give them something to start with if they aren't prepared to answer the question of, "what does it look like?".
Finally, the pacing of some of the fights can be very pitched. There are some parts that force the party to press onward, but other times there is nothing to say they can't make camp in the middle of a cave or forest or wherever. This means some fights can be more balanced as the party is "worn down" a bit, but other fights become too easy for the PCs as they just roll over the villains with reckless abandon at full strength. The first few chapters do a good job at this, the later ones not so much.
Overall, this module is "OK" it is better than nothing at all, and will give an introduction to D&D, but it doesn't highlight the things that can make D&D great. There are only a few traps, and nearly no puzzles. Very few skill/social challenges. The overall plot/story is pretty cookie-cutter, but is not terrible either. It is a hold-over until the Dungeon Master's guide is available with details on traps, treasure, etc. If you can wait until then, I would pass on this.
Most recent customer reviews
The bottom of the spine came damaged.