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Storm King's Thunder (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – September 6, 2016
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Top Customer Reviews
Better DM material in the front of the book, including a flowchart of events, NPC description, an overview of the forces at play in the adventure. Basically everything that was asked for after Out of the Abyss hit the shelves. I'd rate this section a SOLID 10/10. Hope to see the same sort of thing in future prewritten adventures.
The adventure itself is a 9/10. I absolutely love this thing. It's about the same level as Curse of Strahd, if not better. Very very pleased. Well organized - probably the best organized book dropped for 5e besides Lost Mines. And speaking of Lost Mines, there are adventure ties in one of the appendices that let you go nearly seamlessly from the end of one adventure to the other (does not include Curse of Strahd, as one would expect, but most other official 5e adventures are supported). The best of these in my opinion is the link from Lost Mines. Feels like the two books were literally made for each other.
The expanded setting of north Sword Coast is pretty sick, and offers quite a bit of material that I will use for homebrew after the campaign I'm running comes to an end.
Unfortunately this book suffers from some major flaws that prevent it from being used as a stand-alone campaign. It's a shame, because the content is well-written and the interior art is gorgeous. But since the 5e line as a whole is well-written and has gorgeous art, that isn't enough to save this module. It tries to find a middle ground between the sandbox-style modules that allow players to choose multiple paths to victory (such as the superb "Princes of the Apocalypse" and the excellent "Curse of Strahd") and the more traditional, linear modules (such as the mediocre "Hoard of the Dragon Queen" and the much better "Out of the Abyss").
While the branching path is a tried-and-true design method, in this case the branches are rather anemic. The most damning decision is in the middle of the module, where players choose one of five evil giant lords to battle. At least in the classic "Against the Giants" adventure there was a sense of obvious progression as you fought larger and more powerful giants, but this bizarre design allows players to easily bypass 80% of the content designed for that level of play.
Another issue is that though the book is billed as being for levels 1-11, in truth if your party is less than level five they will be stuck running a very linear series of encounters to put them into the "real" adventure. None of the early content is particularly compelling, so you're probably better off running the free (and superior) Lost Mines of Phandelver adventures. There is also some advice in the back of the book for how to link this module with others, but the ties seem tenuous at best and would potentially derail huge chunks of content given the very specific challenge ratings involved. What you are left with is a module that covers levels 5-11 decently well, but it is distressing as a long-time DM that Wizards seems unable to seriously support low-level content (which is vital for introducing new players to the hobby) and high-level content (which seems a tacit concession to critics of 5e that high-level play mechanics are broken).
There is still plenty of content and colorful characters to mine from this material, but if you plan on running the story it will likely require some extensive modification to fit with your party and style. If this is your group's first rodeo, definitely run "Princes of the Apocalypse" instead.