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Tales From the Yawning Portal (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – April 4, 2017
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Enter Tales From the Yawning Portal. I have not personally run my players through any of the adventures yet, but I have read through each one pretty extensively. The way they are set up is brilliant, and even as a new DM it seems that they will be very easy to run. Tyranny of Dragons has a good story from what I've read through, but it doesn't seem to be set up in a way that is easy to DM, with a lot of fill work required on your part.
Tales is a little different however from the other full campaigns in that they are meant to be sprinkled in bigger campaigns/adventures, not necessarily stand on their own as one over-arching campaign. That being said, you can do that, as the levels of the adventures compliment each other; the first one is 1-3, the second 3-5, then 5-8, etc. There won't be any over-arching story, but that doesn't matter too much. My personal plan is to run Horde of the Dragon Queen next (I will have to modify it as my characters are level 4) and when they are done with that, I will run them through one of the Tales adventures before moving onto part two of Tyranny, Rise of Tiamat. I had already bought those books, and their characters tie in nicely with the story. For the most part though, I can't wait to get to the Tales adventures. After the full campaign is done, I might run them through Tomb of Horrors, the last adventure in Tales. I am doing that last, because of the looks of it, it will kill them.
The last thing I wanted to mention about Tales from the Yawning Portal is that the adventures feel very much like they were taken from past editions, but that's not a bad thing. I have several AD&D books that I've skimmed through, and the adventures seem very similar in terms of traps, puzzles and choices the characters can make. Also, most of the adventures seem, at least to me, that they are deadlier than the current 5e lineup. Many sections require smart thinking on the part of the players, not something that is easy to hack and slash their way through with min-maxed characters. The last adventure, Tomb of Horrors, looks especially devious. It was originally created by Gary Gygax himself, as a way to humble even his strongest players. These adventures are tough, but look to be extremely rewarding for those who survive.
All in all, this is a solid, easy to use product that adds much needed content beyond first starting level. I highly recommend it.
First off, the binding is the same quality as the last few releases from Wizards. I have a page that is half out of the binding already, after a mere week and a half of light use. This is simply unacceptable after the same issues have happened with every other book release. Almost all of my purchases from Wizards have had some sort of defect in their binding.
The content, however, mostly makes up for this. I and my crews are having a great time running (or rather, attempting to run through) these adventures. These are faithful renditions of classic adventures. I am especially pleased with tomb of horrors.
I really, REALLY wish that they would finally release some full sized maps to go with some of this stuff. It really sucks to have to trawl the internet for the artist's personal websites in order to buy digital copies of the maps for $30.
However, I have reservations about the quality of the binding, we'll see how long it lasts (hopefully longer than the original fifth edition PHB!). Another small quibble is that I ordered this item via Amazon Prime, and while it did arrive in 2 days, the box was not taped shut (the flaps simply tucked into the box) and I'm frankly astonished that everything - this book and seven sets of polyhedral dice - I ordered managed to arrive intact. The book did come with several small scratches on the cover and some slightly squashed corners, so it already comes with that 'played' look at full price. Sweet. It's admittedly disappointing that they couldn't spare a few cents and put some tape or padding for the products we order.