The Second PRINCES OF THE APOCALYPSE Review
  • The Second PRINCES OF THE APOCALYPSE Review


    EN World member Brian Michaluk is the second person out of the gate with a review of Princes of the Apolocalyse, the upcoing D&D 5th Edition hardback adventure. He says it's much better than the previous three adventures (by which he means Lost Mine of Phandelver, which I thought was rather good, Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat). His review follows Fildrigar's last week.

    The full review is below. Brian also answers questions in the comments, indicating there are 40 new monsters (including Howling Hatred Initiate CR 1/8, Eternal Flame GuardianCR 2, Razerblast CR 5, Olhydra CR 18, Ogremoch CR 20)

    Wrote up a review on the new module. Honestly its miles better than the last three.

    http://5eddnd.blogspot.com/2015/03/p...pocalypse.html

    At first glance this module is of far higher quality than the first 3 that were published. It even includes a section on adapting for other worlds including Darksun, Dragonlance, Greyhawk and Eberron. From a skim through of the meat of the adventure it seems well designed and could easily keep a group busy for a long while. There are creatures with Challenge up to 20th level included as well as a printing of the free materials that wizards put out for players.

    The modules real starting point assumes 3rd level characters but it does include a mini adventure in chapter 6 for running pure 1st level characters up to 3rd.

    Set in the Dessarin Valley http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Dessarin_River this module is close enough to waterdeep, neverwinter and balders gate to offer a familiar launching point. The included map has more detail for the area than I have ever seen before in previous products. The town of Red Larch http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Red_Larch gets more use in this adventure than I think it has in the past.

    Good old day / night Random encounter charts make a real comeback in this adventure and will definitely add a good element of tension every time the party comes to a rest.

    At the adventure start it seems to be assumed that the GM will be using the faction system but it does allow for a nonfaction start as well. The adventure is quite non linear in approach with included side quests and adventure locations that dont have to be done in order though it could be dangerous taking 3rd level pc's into the 6th level site for example.

    By chapter 4 the party should have advanced to level 6 and by chapter 5 10th level. The adventure seems to finish around 15th or 16th level so truly this is a full campaign in a book.

    The standard monster manual will get heavy use through the running of this module and will be required for play.

    Artwork is top notch I was quite impressed. Well detailed NPC's very cool magic items and fun new monsters including the reappearance of some favorites of older elemental evil products.

    Overall the module reminds me of the crammed in wealth of info from old 2nd edition products and the well written approach of 4th edition.





    Comments 59 Comments
    1. Chocolategravy's Avatar
      Chocolategravy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Michaluk View Post
      Doing a quick scan through the book looking for monsters not in the basic package. Scout - MM only Veteran - MM only Ankheg - MM only Merrow - MM only Jackelware - MM only that's 3 pages looked over and found 5 monsters already so yes MM is needed
      Ugh, it's much better if it's just in the book itself. Having to use an additional book is annoying, worse when there are multiple monsters on multiple pages for the same fight. So much handier if there was a PDF we could have on a tablet or print out...
    1. Brian Michaluk's Avatar
      Brian Michaluk -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chocolategravy View Post
      Ugh, it's much better if it's just in the book itself. Having to use an additional book is annoying, worse when there are multiple monsters on multiple pages for the same fight. So much handier if there was a PDF we could have on a tablet or print out...
      Personally I prefer no stats in the module and have it packed full of more adventure which this module seems to have done really well. I always liked having my adventure book open on the left and monster stat book on the right at my game table but I built a custom game table out of an old pool table

      When they provided all stats in each encounter it uses up a lot of pages.

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    1. Chocolategravy's Avatar
      Chocolategravy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Michaluk View Post
      Personally I prefer no stats in the module and have it packed full of more adventure which this module seems to have done really well.
      I think you mean "art" not "adventure". Thanks to sections of 5E books being half art we have common rules missing like no lava in the unusual terrain section or 8 sample traps compared to 4E's 23 sample traps.

      Rule repetition by putting in monster stats is space filler, much like repeating the rules for extra attack 8 times in the PHB, but so is an over abundance of art, but the art is less useful.
    1. Uller's Avatar
      Uller -
      Would WotC be cool with someone publishing all the Basic and supplement monsters in one handy database that produces nice formatted printed stat blocks? Or would Cease and Desist letter be arriving via a Sending spell?

      I don't have time to put something together like that but I bet there are a few folks out there that could easily do it...

      I like that we don't have stat blocks in every encounter description. Most of the time I modify the encounters to fit my group. Sometimes I add monsters. Sometimes I swap monsters out for others. So it really is wasted space to me. I'd rather have the monsters in a free pdf than pay more or have a shortened adventure.
    1. Brian Michaluk's Avatar
      Brian Michaluk -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chocolategravy View Post
      I think you mean "art" not "adventure". Thanks to sections of 5E books being half art we have common rules missing like no lava in the unusual terrain section or 8 sample traps compared to 4E's 23 sample traps.

      Rule repetition by putting in monster stats is space filler, much like repeating the rules for extra attack 8 times in the PHB, but so is an over abundance of art, but the art is less useful.
      seems your assuming this book is the same as some other book without ever seeing it. Most pages are like the following (made small and blurry so it should be ok to post)

      Also the book is not made by wizards of the coast. Its by Sasquatch game studio which seems to be mostly ex wizards employees so I am thinking some corporate shuffling for cost savings or something. Just glad its not kobold press again like the last modules.

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    1. Staffan's Avatar
      Staffan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chocolategravy View Post
      I think you mean "art" not "adventure". Thanks to sections of 5E books being half art we have common rules missing like no lava in the unusual terrain section or 8 sample traps compared to 4E's 23 sample traps.
      It should be fairly easy to adapt these rules to 5e.
    1. Brian Michaluk's Avatar
      Brian Michaluk -
      Part of the back of the book

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    1. Drammattex's Avatar
      Drammattex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Michaluk View Post
      Also the book is not made by wizards of the coast. Its by Sasquatch game studio which seems to be mostly ex wizards employees so I am thinking some corporate shuffling for cost savings or something. Just glad its not kobold press again like the last modules.
      Sasquatch is Rich Baker, David Noonan, and Stephen Schubert. Rich began at TSR in the early '90s and worked at Wizards until recently. Dave and Steve S. worked on D&D at Wizards for much of 3e/3.5 on many books and adventures, and Stephen Schubert led D&D Miniatures for the second half of its run (one of my favorites that Dave and Steve S. both worked on was Heroes of Battle; I still use the rules and guidance in that book to run mass battles). The freelance writers Sasquatch hired were Ed Greenwood, Robert J. Schwalb, and Steve Townshend (and I believe Jeff Ludwig was brought on for the Earth Node). Kobold is made up of legendary game writers Wolfgang Bauer and Steve Winter. They're a great studio.
    1. ingeloak's Avatar
      ingeloak -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffB View Post
      Im odd , then

      I run a game for group of 15-16 year olds. My son and some of his friends. Been doing it for 4 years. They have absolutely no interest or desire buying rulebook or learning the rules in depth. They just want to play and have fun, no work desired , just like popping on the Xbox or what have you.

      As mentioned elsewhere, I have not invested in the 5e books partly because of the group and their desire not to be bothered with details,but mainly because I am not happy with what WOTC is not producing for 5e as regards to advnture material, and with my work and family obligations, my little prep time is better spent reviewing than converting. Sessions suffer when I spend more time on stats than getting to know the material. It's easier and adds up to better play experiences to run Pathfinder BB with PF adventures, OD&D/OSR adventures with S&W, or even come up with a couple of ideas and improv with Dungeon World.

      I. have pre ordered POTA because of positive banter, but if WOTC is not planning a web supplement like they did with Tyranny, then I will cancel my pre-order and just move on. I have come to realize I am no longer in the target market and this rollout/business model of 5e isn't going to work for me like every previous edition . If I didn't enjoy 5e gameplay as much as I do I wouldn't care that much, but thems the breaks
      that's pretty cool, actually. wish my dad had done that. honestly though, if you are doing this on a regular basis, you probably need to invest in the 3 main books. they are a wealth of knowledge and are very nicely compiled and illustrated. if you are a veteran gamer, you could probably just get the MM and use the basic freebie rules for the rest. that said, the DMG has a lot of nice magic items and is worth it just for those
    1. casterblaster -
      I was being serious about selling my copies of HoDQ and RoT if any one is interested. I will never run it and they are pretty much brand new.
    1. casterblaster -
      Quote Originally Posted by ingeloak View Post
      that's pretty cool, actually. wish my dad had done that. honestly though, if you are doing this on a regular basis, you probably need to invest in the 3 main books. they are a wealth of knowledge and are very nicely compiled and illustrated. if you are a veteran gamer, you could probably just get the MM and use the basic freebie rules for the rest. that said, the DMG has a lot of nice magic items and is worth it just for those
      Yeah if the kids are content with the basic class and race choices I would highly recommend buying the MM. The DMG is a great book and ha a lot of cool stuff in it but I don't see it as a must have item for a veteran DM. I agree I wish my dad or my older brother had done this with me. All I had was the ADnD starter box that game with an audio cd and very skimmed down rules. Learning ADnD 2e on your own is a challenge to say the least.
    1. raphaelus's Avatar
      raphaelus -
      Awesome to hear. And 40 new monsters?! *-*
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Why does the Ogremocha sound like the Fantasy version of a really large coffee to me this morning?
    1. Osgood's Avatar
      Osgood -
      I'm pleased to hear there is actually some guidance for converting the adventure to other settings. I'm particularly interested in how the story fits into Eberron and Dark Sun. Any chance we can hear how long/detailed the conversion section is? Hopefully more than a paragraph or two.
    1. Brian Michaluk's Avatar
      Brian Michaluk -
      Quote Originally Posted by Osgood View Post
      I'm pleased to hear there is actually some guidance for converting the adventure to other settings. I'm particularly interested in how the story fits into Eberron and Dark Sun. Any chance we can hear how long/detailed the conversion section is? Hopefully more than a paragraph or two.
      Well the darksun section is 2 1/4 pages long. talks about the setting, background options, athasian cult changes for the elemental eye cult and how it interacts with the elemental priesthoods. Factions on athas fills out the rest. Its really well done actually. I ran a darksun game once for 2 years real time so I am pretty familiar with the old stuff and this all makes sense for the setting

      Dragonlance gets a page and a half mostly on background and factions.

      Greyhawk gets 2 pages Setting, background factions as well as an "other elements" area that talks about changes to worshipers for the npc's

      Eberron gets 2 pages as well, the setting section is bigger than the others got. It offers multiple locations to set this module in and its other elements is also very inclusive with a lot of suggestions.


      FYI awesome tidbit. 2 of the most awesome artworks in the book are OBVIOUSLY darksun
    1. Osgood's Avatar
      Osgood -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Michaluk View Post
      Well the darksun section is 2 1/4 pages long. talks about the setting, background options, athasian cult changes for the elemental eye cult and how it interacts with the elemental priesthoods. Factions on athas fills out the rest. Its really well done actually. I ran a darksun game once for 2 years real time so I am pretty familiar with the old stuff and this all makes sense for the setting

      Dragonlance gets a page and a half mostly on background and factions.

      Greyhawk gets 2 pages Setting, background factions as well as an "other elements" area that talks about changes to worshipers for the npc's

      Eberron gets 2 pages as well, the setting section is bigger than the others got. It offers multiple locations to set this module in and its other elements is also very inclusive with a lot of suggestions.


      FYI awesome tidbit. 2 of the most awesome artworks in the book are OBVIOUSLY darksun
      Awesome! Thanks for the info. Looking forward to the book.
    1. MonsterEnvy's Avatar
      MonsterEnvy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chocolategravy View Post
      I think you mean "art" not "adventure". Thanks to sections of 5E books being half art we have common rules missing like no lava in the unusual terrain section or 8 sample traps compared to 4E's 23 sample traps.

      Rule repetition by putting in monster stats is space filler, much like repeating the rules for extra attack 8 times in the PHB, but so is an over abundance of art, but the art is less useful.
      You're not even right about the Lava.

      Page 249 of the DMG beings up lava in improvising damage. Wading through lava and being submerged in lava are given as examples for 10d10 damage, and 18d10 damage respectfully.

      Also who have 23 sample traps is not that important. They got all the ones needed with the 8.
    1. MonsterEnvy's Avatar
      MonsterEnvy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      Why does the Ogremocha sound like the Fantasy version of a really large coffee to me this morning?
      "Ogrémoch" No A and a little thing above the e.
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by MonsterEnvy View Post
      "Ogrémoch" No A and a little thing above the e.
      I think the fancy writing makes it sound even more delicious.

      "Ogre size me, Barkeep! And dont stint on the mocha!" Mmmm, Ogrelicious.
    1. Obvious_Ninja's Avatar
      Obvious_Ninja -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Michaluk View Post
      Just finished a full read of chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 2, The Dessarin Valley, Is awesome. Really excellent detail, plenty of npc notes location notes towns inn's etc etc I have a feeling that I will be referring back to this module for years and running adventures in this area well beyond whats published in this adventure. This module will be sitting in the forgotten realms reference shelf in my library for good I think.

      For reference this module is set in 1491 DR - The year of the Scarlet Witch
      Actually the year is what I needed. Thank you!
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