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Tomb of Annihilation (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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There are two parts to the adventure, the first, and smaller aspect, is one of being in a town where players have to uncover the mystery, find clues and become prepared for the trek into the trackless jungle. There is politics, backstabbing, along with lots of potential palace intrigue, areas to poke around in, a whole culture to explore. Plus, dinosaur races!
Not into that? Flip past it and dive into the jungle. Lots of encounters and adventures are outlined to keep your party busy and interested. Explore ruins, encounter never-before seen creatures, find treasure and magic items. Zombies, dinosaurs, and zombie dinosaurs! It's a vast, unexplored jungle filled with things to visit.
The final episode, delving into the lost city itself, is filled with puzzles, danger, and very nasty creatures. All the while the danger of the Death Curse hangs over your and everybody in the world's head. Come out victorious and your players could become the heroes of all of Faerûn!
This adventure is probably one of the best WoTC has put out in a long while. The book is packed with ideas and fascinating settings. As a DM, this book really gets my imagination going, and really gets me excited about the kind of things my party will encounter. The situations and people in the book feel really well-rounded and full of potential. The mechanics of the travel through the jungle will be fun and add incredible dimension.
I would say this is not a good book for a beginning DM. It requires a good understanding about how D&D module books work and how to use them to create a campaign. They aren't scripts, they are outlines that require the ability to fill in the gaps, use your imagination, and be able to react to situations. This book benefits from a good amount of preparation prior to each session, mapping out potential encounters and situations. I extrapolate and invent, expand parts of the book I find interesting and skip over parts I don't. If you really want to run this adventure, but would like help, there are companion pieces available for purchase on the Web (I use the DM's Guild). These will help you understand and greatly expand the potential of the book. Don't think the book is the extent of the module. The adventure is what you make it!
I guess my only big complaint would be that the maps are too small, as always. I wish there could be full-page maps for every encounter, but that would be prohibitively expensive. It does come with an immense map of the entire map of the Chult peninsula, that is two-sided, showing both undiscovered and fully-discovered aspects.
This is one of the most interesting and unique campaigns I have seen. Think how many adventurers have been brought back to life via magic. Those people now risk dying. It also brings us somewhere new, namely the island of Chult, and that is always good. Much like how Out of the Abyss opened the Underdark to us or Curse of Strahd brought us to Barorvia, I like a campaign that takes me out of Waterdeep or the Sword Coast.
Outside the walls Port Nyanzaru, the island's only city, Chult is a savage, brutal and violent jungle land filled with ancient ruins of Chult's long ago past, legions of undead, dinosaurs, yuan-ti, strange and exotic beasts and plants and a variety of peoples calling the island home. Inside the walls, players may be safe. Outside, this island will kill you, and the safety net of bringing back a character from the dead will no work this time because it is gone.
As much as this book is about death and trying to avoid it, there is humor. D&D turned to Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time to input humor into this campaign, and he has certainly delivered with a wide array or unusual creatures and situations that will bring humor to a dark campaign. And then, there is the Tomb itself. Acererak, who many know as the lich featured on the cover of the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, is also the creator of the legendary Tomb of Horrors we saw restored in Tales of the Yawning Portal, so you know this is going to be a death-trap filled murder dungeon, heavy on the death.
And yet, it is as great as the stories of triumphs, of saving the day and killing the monster are, every D&D player has a great death story that has made us laugh, put a smile on our faces or left us amused but scratching our heads.
Even if you do not run the campaign, this book still serves as a great source book for the island of Chult if you want to take your players to somewhere new. We get the Chultan ethnicity for humans, and the Anthropologist and Archeologist backgrounds.
All in all, a really well done book, interesting campaign and a great source book.
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