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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 paper quality is thicker and the artwork above what I consider industry norm. You get a lot of descriptive substance for rather than a book full of stat blocks. While some reviewers have griped about not having monster blocks, this has allowed the writers to instead fill the book with more illustrative details of NPCs, encounters, and role-play notes. You can download monsters, magic items, and spells from the module for free along with the basic rules, allowing this module to be played without the Monster Manual or a Dungeon Master's Guide. The adventure starts gripping, immediately beginning with action with a town under attack and a series of forays that can occur to stave off the invaders. This leads to a linear progression of adventuring where the next step is to find out who and why, leading to deeper mysteries. Players expecting "sandbox" (go and do whatever you want) will not find such here. If the players fail to follow the adventure hooks, there isn't really anything else to do. The module has a lot of opportunity for combat if players wish, but just as much there are chances to use creativity in avoiding them.
The adventure starts strong, but the wheels fall off quickly. The adventure devolves into a series of "go fight this, then this and then this." There isn't much room for choice (and those times you do have choice are illusory, see the finale battle in the village in chapter 1). Also, while there is substance in some areas, it's very lame in others. Many times it's a "you run into 1d6 kobolds." This forces DMs into one of two options: play as-is or take some serious editing into play to make things uniquely memorable. Further, there's little emotionally compelling reasons for the party to get involved with the adventure other than "we showed up for our Saturday afternoon game." The designers will spend a significant amount of space describing an NPC (e.g. the caravan) only to make them irrelevant to the story. While it can be supposed the DM can work with this, players could simply sit through a caravan ride interacting with no one and it wouldn't matter a lick to the story. In a sandbox adventure, players will come back to NPCs, interact with them, and hence description is needed. It's another failing in game design. Since they freed up 30 pages with the online download, I expected more nuanced descriptions, even a 1-liner, ascribing some role-play detail to the bad guys (in case they're captured, etc.) Instead, we get a ton of description for people who last no more than one scene in the adventure.
There's also absolutely no "troubleshooting" section (like previous editions had, including 2nd) whereby players do something unexpected (such as wiping out the cultists in a certain part of the module where the adventure presumes the players do not attack the cultists). I suppose the answer to that is the adventure is over, because there's really no rational way it could continue (see chapter 3).
Additionally, we were promised more descriptive magical items than previous editions, but instead we got bulk +1 armor and +1 weapons. It wouldn't have taken any effort to spice things up (e.g. the Black Blade of Doom, borne by blah and while a +1 sword roars out the abyssal name of a creature slain by it and briefly causing the user's skin to grow dark scales (+1 AC) for one round or until hit by an attack). Something would have been nice and this is just the same mechanical crap as before.
In summary, for the flagship adventure of D&D, it's a sadly disappointing module with some roleplay opportunities and promises of high adventure but in a generic and very boring linear fashion of "go here, kill this" and no real discussion of alternate choices. This can work for easing new gamers into the fold as "sandbox" (free-form) can be intimidating with a new rules system. For those asking for more, it's a letdown.
Finally, those bred on "grid" maps will be thrown off by theatre-of-the-mind gaming, so a DM should be prepared to create maps on the fly (e.g. open field with a fence, a few trees). The module doesn't make clear that until November rolls around, gamers will need to visit Wizards of the Coast's website to download the free materials necessary to run it. This is not a negative; you're getting 30 more pages of content instead of stat blocks. However, I wish they'd put more effort into the product. I'm playing it because the Monster Manual and DMG are not out yet, and I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The bottom of the spine came damaged.