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Princes of the Apocalypse (D&D Accessory) Hardcover – April 7, 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
Some spoilers ahead for players.
I ran this through to completion with my group and I'd say it ran fairly well and we all enjoyed it. It's a sandbox so you have some frustrating jumping back and forth in the book for references but overall it is not terrible. The dungeons are fun and have some interesting encounters. However I found that some of the encounters required the cults to be unreasonably naive especially near the end of the campaign which required a little bit of adjustment,
As with any sandbox you need to either adjust dungeons to meet a party's level or forewarn them to run away or avoid things that are too strong for them. This does lead to interesting dungeon runs if your players are particularly stubborn though. The first fire temple dungeon will forever be known as hamburger hill in my heart.
One beef I have with the setting is that you can play through the entire campaign to level 15 which is not an insignificant time investment and you only fight 1 of the princes. Personally I leveled everyone up to 20 after they killed their prince and them had them fight it out in a battle royale against all 4 of the princes at the same time. Naturally the party got some cool magic items to help them out.
My last criticism is that the dungeon crawl can get a bit much. All the dungeons are interconnected so once you get underground there's really no driving reason to leave the dungeons especially if you are using the flag system. We decided to have a side quest day to switch it up a bit but really once you are in the dungeons it is just a huge dungeon filled with monsters without much to pull them out.
I recommend this campaign for people who prefer a good sandbox and dungeon crawl. I do not recommend this adventure to groups that want a ton of social interaction with NPCs in towns in between dungeons, or always want to fight level appropriate monsters. Naturally a good DM can fix any of those issues it just requires a bit more work.
It doesn’t seem that long ago I was pining for Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons to finally be released and here I am, less than a year later, staring at the second Super Adventure released for the product line. Fifth Edition is here in earnest, and I’ve seen nothing but quality books coming off their presses. Princes of the Apocalypse (PotA) is no different. Coming in at a bulky 256 pages, PotA provides a full campaign arc that borrowers on a bit of nostalgia by using touches of a D&D classic The Temple of Elemental Evil.
Quality of the Product
There’s not much to be said here that I haven’t mentioned before with this edition’s quality. Wizards of the Coast has brought us a book every bit as sturdy as its predecessors in this edition, great binding, solid hardcover. Nothing new to relay there. Just quality craftmanship.
The artwork is every bit as strong. If the design team set out to evoke the feeling of immersion into the elemental forces your players will be dealing with they certainly succeeded. There’s a great use of artwork here and I am a sucker for anything based on the elements to begin with. Loved seeing scenes from the book brought to life for this.
The campaign arc represents the meat and potatoes of the book. The core story is a Super Adventure meant to take characters from level 3 to 15, with a number of adventures in the “Alurms and Excursions” portion of the book that will help characters get to level 3 if you are starting from scratch. Another nice touch is a series of hooks you can use to bring players over who have finished running Lost Mines of Phandelver.
The Elemental Princes are all wildly interesting antagonists, as are their cults, and the adventure paths your players will take may differ wildly from another tables. I am happily surprised at the openness of this campaign. Tyranny of Dragons had a bit of sandbox to it but PotA does the better job of it. Especially because while the players are meddling there are ways for the cults they face to react to said meddling, as one would expect to be honest. Plus I love that the whole thing is contained in one book. Hopefully we see that more often going forward.
Along with a solid Campaign to run WotC, and their partners for this endeavor Sasquatch Game Studio, have presented a number of new player options as well. Within the pages there are a number of new magical items for the DM to reward players with, or ruin their day with if the items lay within the grasp of their enemies. We are also greeted with a bevy of new spells for the various classes that use them, most spells having a bit of that elemental slant to them you would expect from such a story. Lastly we have a brand new race for players to begin using, the elemental focused Genasi we know and love from previous editions. One of the cooler aspects of this additional player content is that you can find most of it, the Genasi details and the spells, in .pdf form on the WotC website. The magic items are adventure specific though.
I continue to be a fan of the physical materials Wizards has been putting out. I love that they have been working with different RPG studios to create the content as well. Both Kobold Press and Sasquatch Game Studio have brought unique elements to their work they’ve done with the design team proper for Dungeons and Dragons. I like that trend and hope it continues. If you’re looking for some great DM content or even an entire Campaign arc for your table check this book out, it’s a great read and some solid adventuring!