- Series: Dungeons & Dragons
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (September 19, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786966106
- ISBN-13: 978-0786966103
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 157 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.
First, exploration of Chult got simplified: rather than using the provided fold-out map with all the blank hexes, I scanned the DM map from the book and photoshopped all of the location names out. This meant no need for a giant bulletin board (which the game store where we play doesn't have) and also no cartography skills needed by the players.
Second, I integrated Lost Shrine of Tamoachan and Dead in Thay from Tales from the Yawning Portal into this story. Lost Shrine became a way for them to discover a map to lead them to Omu, and Dead in Thay was made into an epilogue.
Third (and this was a really tough decision that the players will never never know about), I decided not to run the city of Omu the way the book says. It was going to be a massive pain, so I just wrote a script for events that would happen each day they were in the city. So, they thought they were moving around on the map, but in fact I had them arbitrarily find what I needed them to find. So, no random encounters, and no measured movement on the map. I picked the five shrines I thought the group would have the most fun with, and guided them to those; all the others they found pillaged. So yeah, maybe that makes me a crap DM, but it's all about having a good time, and that was the best way.
Fourth, I had to give a lot - a lot - of ad hoc XP awards to keep the party at a reasonable level. Random encounters just aren't enough if you only use them as often as the book says. So ad hocs for each puzzle/room/trap, and that keeps the party level just about right.
Finally, a mistake I should have seen coming and didn't: don't give your players 50 temporary HP each turn during the fight with Acererak. I think 20 or 25 would be better. With 50, you have to do more than 50 damage to any player each turn in order to make a dent in them at all. Seems obvious, but even Acererak had a hard time putting out that much damage. And that's assuming they don't use healing potions or spells! When I manage to kill only one player character in the final showdown, there's a balance problem.
Anyway, those are my lessons learned. It's been a great time for everyone, and I'll definitely do this campaign again some day. Cheers, everyone, and carpe DM!