You get glimpses every now and then that they are trying. The governor, wounded, trying to marshall a desperate defense but its just a glimpse and then its gone. Rather than coming across as a desperate town under siege with a beleaguered leader instead you get generic-ville, population you. i dont get. Im not asking for full on gore mode but theres hardly any flavor here at all. Oh, wait, wait, i forgot.
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The issues extends to the maps, or lack thereof. The church, mill, stream bank, are all supposed to be exciting encounter locations. I can understand not want to enable the tactical miniatures boardgames crowd, but it wouldnt kill you mens to provide a small map of the environment with some interesting shit on it for the players to key off. Reeds to hide behind! Pile of hay, smoldering! If you put the party will encounter 3 groups of kobolds on the way to the inn in the adventure then that is exactly what is going to happen. The asshat dm is going to say ok, you encounter kobolds, roll init and then they are going to say it twice more. I know the rules cant cure stupid, or a bad dm, but you can at least give the tool something to work with. You encounter a group of kobolds rolling ale help barrels down the road. That provides so many more options!
Yes, the dm must bring the encounter to pdf life, we all know and accept that. But the designers job is to give the dm the tools to do that. This dont do that. The vast majority of the text is spent on bullshit superfluous text instead of communicating an evocative and dynamic encounter. The cult of the Dragon led by dkjsdfkhd kdfgwkdgf the high K:WDH:KE:H of K@wgkegke@ is Ug! How about instead you tell me that the encounter with the dudes at the stream bank has them about to drown a group of townsfolk? That would be cool! That create something to work with!
Why the hell did they even both? Give the thing some life! How about those 6 kobolds have a wagon piled high with bed frame and dressers? Of the bandits are rolling assignment some kegs of ale down the road? It wouldnt kill you to add shredder a single sentence each and it would do wonders to help bring the scenes to life. This same thing is the problem with the rest of the first episode. The encounters are presented as generically as possible.
Ok, thats not bad. It even makes sense! But then the encounters ug! 2 cultists and an acolyte. Thats what passes for creative content from Wolfgang winter. You get exactly one interesting option: 1d6 townsfolk being hunted by raiders. Thats something a dm can work with. But just a generic list of monsters?
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You want to give the players missions. But there should be lots of ways to do that without forcing them in to the keep and setting up some kind of epic moment when the gates are barred statement behind you. What about the same thing in the church? Or a family in a cellar? Or any of a dozen other things that could have been added?
But no, rather than the thing being run as a dynamic environment with brief suggestions it instead has to be run as a railroad. Like i said earlier, i could quibble with the nature of how the episodes are done, and make comments on how they could be less railroady but ok, i guess I just did. The generic content though is what breaks this. There is something that quite literally looks like a skill challenge. To sneak through town you need to make stealth checks. For every two you have a random encounter.
Time to maybe branch out and try a hook with some life to it? And both times its been a complete throwaway. The hook is literally maybe the players are caravan guards. So lame that it makes me think they are pushing some kind of agenda. Idle speculation is idle though; in the end the hook is lame and reflects badly but accurately foretells what it to come. You come upon a town being looted by monsters!
Mercenaries, kobolds, and a dragon zoom about through the streets! Youre then presented with 8 little encounters to run, one of which should be done first. The first is a family being chased by kobolds. The goal is to rescue the family and then theyll tell you to take them to the central keep, where in you can pick up the rest of the missions. The kobolds ignore you, thinking you are their allies. If you escort the family to the keep then you are the last ones through before the gate is barred right before the keep is surrounded by enemy forces. It all smacks me as a little forced. Look, yeah, i know why.
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They have chosen a very conversational style that contributes to a wall of Text issue. There is not enough use of offsets entry and bullet lists and the like to allow the dm to reference important information quickly. This conversational style confusion tends to mix with some some poor choices for organization of text. In episode 8, for example, the first part involves getting in to the castle, but this information is scattered throughout the text of the first part. Three are issues with railroad, with lack of player agency, with villain monologues and pass a skill roll if you want to go on the adventure, but these are minor and more easily fixed, both by the dm and by the designers in the next. Episode 1 town under siege, while pursuing the most generic hook known to man: caravan guard. In the first 2 d d products thats twice now that its been used.
They will provide reams of data on the paper over-arching story and plot but then when you get to the actual adventure there are words like throw a couple of encounters at the players with nothing else present. Or they clearly have an idea of how the adventure should proceed, like with the lizard man allies in episode 6, but are terrified of being accused of railroading. This extends to the descriptions, which are almost universally uninspiring. They feel flat and boring. The magic items are completely generic 1 sword, and the titular hoard of the Dragon queen is actually abstracted throughout most of the adventure. The text does not inspire you, the dm, and that may be the most important sin. It is very rare for me to complain in a review about formatting I care much more about the content and the imagination present in the adventure, but this time i feel I need.
and making it feel less railroad, but I get. No, the adventure is of lower quality because it feels like a 4e episodic adventure. A potentially exciting and dynamic environment is introduced! And then they screw it up with the details or lack thereof. As a dm player you have a lot choices in what system you play and which of the tens of thousands of published adventures you play. There is no reason to play this except for its what everyone else is playing at the game store on Wednesday night. I see a few major issues with the adventure. Its very non-specific, so much so that it seems like the designers are actually afraid of offering details.
Churchill is believed to have said to rufus: don't look now, dear. I'll tell you about it later. Wolfgang baur steve winter, wotc, d. Levels 1-7, in an audacious bid for power the cult of the Dragon, along with its dragon allies and the red wizards of Thay, seek to bring tiamat from her prison in the nine hells to faerun. To this end, they are sweeping from town to town, laying waste to all those who oppose them and gathering a hoard of riches for their dread queen. The threat of annihilation has become so dire that groups as disparate as the harpers and Zhentarim are banding together in the fight against the cult. Never before has the need for heroes been so desperate. This is an 8-episode adventure that is, generally, not very good.
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Amusing anecdotes many times find their way into wedding receptions, family reunions and any other first gathering of people who know each other well. Teachers and educators often tell classrooms of pupils anecdotes about famous people. The anecdotes are not always flattering, but are usually revealing of character and invariably amusing. Here is an example of an anecdote about Winston Churchill: Winston Churchill was very fond of his pet dog Rufus. He ate in the dining room with the family on a special cloth and was treated with utmost respect. When enjoying movies, rufus had the best seat in the house; on Winston Churchill's lap. While watching Oliver Twist, Churchill put his hands over Rufus' eyes during the scene where bill sike's intends to drown his dog.