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    It’s been less than three months now since the latest edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Role-Playing Game was released at GEN CON 2014. And gamers are already utilizing the two Core Rulebooks to which they already have access – the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual – with the third – the D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide – coming out (hopefully) before the Holiday Season.

    But even without the new D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, there is still content to play both in personal gaming circles and in organized play activities. The Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure series has by all accounts sold very well – a top seller on Amazon.com in its initial release – and it has provided gamers with content for the first eight levels of play under D&D 5th Edition rules.

    And once again, Wizards of the Coast has teamed up with Kobold Press and designers Wolfgang Baur, Steve Winter, and Alexander Winter to design the second half of the first official adventure series of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. The Rise of Tiamat takes off where Hoard of the Dragon Queen left off, and pits a seasoned party of heroes against the might of the Cult of the Dragon and potentially Tiamat Herself - with the fate of all Faerûn in the balance!


    The Rise of Tiamat (5th Edition D&D)

    • Designer: Steve Winter & Alexander Winter
    • Adventure Contributors: Mike Mearls, Christopher Perkins, Matthew Sernett, Chris Sims, Rodney Thompson; Jeremy Crawford
    • Illustrators: Michael Kormarck (cover); Jean-Paul Balmet, Nicole Cardiff, Guido Kuip, Marcel Marcado, Bryan Syme (interior)
    • Cartography: Jared Blando
    • Publisher: Kobold Press / Wizards of the Coast
    • Year: 2014
    • Media: Hardbound (96 pages)
    • Price: $29.95 (Available from Amazon.com in Hardbound for only $18.94)


    The Rise of Tiamat
    is the second half of the first official adventure series released for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This adventure arc is designed for four 7th to 8th Level characters to begin an epic quest and progress all the way through 15th Level by the climax of the campaign. The book’s episodes contain information required to run the adventure, including plot descriptions and read-aloud text, full-color maps, monster stat blocks, NPC backgrounds, experience point rewards, and treasure.


    Production Quality

    The production quality of The Rise of Tiamat is just as excellent as its preceding sourcebook, containing some top-notch writing and a lovely user-friendly layout. Steve Winter crafts a considerably detailed and involved plot for this Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and is a more advanced sort of adventure for a DM who completed the first half of this series with their players.

    And like The Hoard of the Dragon Queen, this new book has a solid binding and is sturdily hardbound with a glossy cover. The Rise of Tiamat is a full sized tome weighing in at about 21 ounces, with heavy weight paper for the pages which have a crisp standard (non-glossy) finish. The book has a detailed table of contents with page references to each episode, the episode’s major events, and to each map as well.

    The illustrations and artwork in The Rise of Tiamat are really gorgeous, right from the first glimpse of cover depicting Tiamat being summoned into the world of Faerûn! The interior art is equally dramatic and beautiful, but disappointingly, is quite sparse in appearance given the page-length of the campaign. There is quite of few sections where “wall of text” is unrelieved for several pages in a row. However, quite a bit of the artwork depicts scenes and NPCs the heroes are likely to encounter so could be quite useful at the gaming table. And the same cartographer created the maps for The Rise of Tiamat as in The Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and these all have some great “fantasy world” embellishments like runes and decorations which make them lovely bits of art in their own right.


    Dracopocalypse 2014!!!
    The Rise of Tiamat continues the adventure arc which began in The Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and consists of nine episodes all around the Sword Coast of the Forgotten Realms… and beyond! The adventure series is balanced for a 7th to 8th Level four-person party of D&D heroes, but the author does briefly discuss rebalancing encounters for more characters (or less?). A fiat experience point method is recommended such that the heroes will gain about one level per episode to top out at Level 14 or 15. Dungeon Masters may also tally experience points for encounters and quests normally, and even include side adventures of their own devising to keep the progression on track with the campaign’s expectations.

    ***Spoiler Alert: Although spoilers for this adventure arc will be kept to a minimum while discussing the product, those planning on playing The Rise of Tiamat might wish to skip directly to the bottom for the conclusions and scoring. ***

    As the cover of The Rise of Tiamat will tell you, the player-character heroes are to be tasked to “Avert the cataclysmic return of Tiamat…” …and the authors are not kidding around here in the least! The events set forth in The Hoard of the Dragon Queen are moving directly toward an epic climax where Tiamat will be summoned into the world of Faerûn and herald a draconic disaster of apocalyptic levels!

    The adventures encounters draws on monsters that can be found in the new D&D Monster Manual, with a supplemental listing of special monsters and NPCs which can be found in a section at the end of the book. But while mundane treasures are taken care of in the adventure text, magic items seem to be expected to be referenced from the as yet unreleased D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, which might prove a bit of an issue – although to give WotC their due, they did put out an excerpt of magic items and monsters specifically for use with HotDQ, and could do the same with TRoT.

    The authors open The Rise of Tiamat with a quick overview of the last campaign arc and about a dozen pages devoted to explaining the story arc and episode design to the DM. It contains information about potential allies and enemies of the adventurers, and features information on main NPCs found in the Factions for the Adventurers’ League. A central part of this campaign arc centers on gathering an army of allies to face off against the forces which are being recruited by the Cult of the Dragons in preparation for an epic showdown, and the heroes are right in the middle of the action as “movers and shakers” in the world now. As such, the campaign arc becomes a bit less sandbox-y in its movement from episode to episode, however, it does focus more on the direct actions of the heroes as they take on quests and resolve issues to garner favor from among some often strange and dangerous allies.

    In fact, TRoT employs a faction “scorecard” which is used to tally up the favor and disfavor that result from the actions of the heroes. Some outcomes during the adventures earns favor with one faction, but might cause another faction to become angry or more mistrusting… something the heroes cannot afford given that Tiamat is on her way into Faerûn, and the characters will need all the allies and resources they can get! So roleplaying and creative problem solving become rather important in this higher level of play, and the players will really be able to bring a lot to the table as the let their heroes come into their power as leaders on the world stage in the Forgotten Realms.

    The settings for the adventures range from the Council Chambers of Waterdeep, to the icy Spine of the World, the perilous lands of Najara and the Serpent Hills, and even a quick teleport into Thay! Not surprisingly, the heroes end up having their final showdown at the infamous Well of Dragons, but not before tramping all up and down the expanses of the Sword Coast. One frustrating aspect of all this travel is the lack of a Sword Coast map in The Rise of Tiamat – DMs had better have the preceding book on hand for that reference map. And some of the locales where the heroes visit are not shown on the map – an adventure to The Misty Forest for example will be a bit annoying without a quick reference to the Forgotten Realms Wiki to learn that it is “…located just west of the High Moor, just south of the river Delimbiyr.” There is a forest on the map in Hoard of the Dragon Queen – but it is not labeled at all. At least two other locations mentioned as adventure sites are equally… unmapped.

    That being said, the adventures in the episodes themselves are quite well written and contain a number of exciting moments, from dungeon delves to outdoor explorations. The encounters are pretty well balanced against level appropriate characters, assuming that the adventures are run in a particular order – going too far out of order would result in either too easy or too hard encounters.

    And the final showdown at the Well of Dragons is quite spectacular – as well as potentially lethal. And not just for the heroes, but for the Faerûn as well! The imminent threat of Tiamat’s summoning to the Forgotten Realms is not merely a “cut-scene” for dramatic effect, but an all too real menace which could change the very nature of the Realms forever if the Queen of Dragons is loosed from Avernus. The authors provide the stat-block for Tiamat in The Rise of Tiamat, and odds are that most adventuring parties will face some aspect of this dragon goddess – and oh yes, Tiamat is completely OP and will likely kill off the heroes in a few rounds if she gets out of Hell!

    Obviously, the trick is to make sure Herself never gets out the netherworld to begin with… and Good Luck with that!


    Overall Score: 8.2 out of 10.0


    Conclusions

    The Rise of Tiamat
    is an epic and smashing conclusion to the campaign arc that began with Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and will likely be one of those adventure series that players and DMs will be discussing with the same fond-dread as Tomb of Horrors and The Drow Series/Demonweb Pits from earlier editions. While perhaps not the sandbox of the earlier adventure, the outcome of The Rise of Tiamat does depend considerably more on the creative roleplaying, diplomacy, and problem solving of the player-characters. There choices during the course of the episodes will, in essence, transform them from mere adventurers to epic heroes of the Forgotten Realms.

    The production quality of the book is high, but there were a few flaws that were hard to go unnoticed, such as the sparseness of the interior illustrations leading to “wall of text” syndrome, the reliance on downloadable content or the not-yet-released DMG for magic items, and the missing Realms map and locations. But despite a few rough edges, The Rise of Tiamat is an awesome first epic campaign for the new Dungeons & Dragons edition.

    And the price for this huge epic dragon-filled adventure is quite reasonable when it goes on sale on Amazon.com in just a couple weeks! Check out the pre-order for the release on November 4th!

    Editorial Note
    : This Reviewer received a complimentary playtest copy of the product in hardbound format from which the review was written.

    *** This Reviewer would like to extend a big Thank You to the PR folks at Wizards of the Coast for the opportunity to have a pre-release review of The Rise of Tiamat this week! ***

    Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 10)

    • Presentation: 8.5
    • - Design: 9.0 (Exceptional writing; great layout; a good-looking tome overall)
    • - Illustrations: 8.0 (Beautiful artwork; beautifully rendered maps; some “wall of text” here and there)
    • Content: 7.5
    • - Crunch: 7.5 (Very cool encounters; good use of mechanics; lack of access to magic items a problem)
    • - Fluff: 7.5 (Truly epic storyline; good use of lore; lack of maps and locales could be frustrating)
    • Value: 8.5 (Big epic adventure for a great price!)

    Tuesday, 21st October, 2014
    DMG Preview #3: Magic Rings! 
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    The next D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide preview is here. This time it's a selection of magic rings! Also see the previous previews - figurines of wondrous power and the deck of many things. [54 comments]


    Tuesday, 21st October, 2014
    DMG Preview #2: Figurines of Wondrous Power! 
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    by

    As previously mentioned, WotC is releasing 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide previews in exchange for charitable donations to their Extra Life efforts. The first of these, the Deck of Many Things, was unlocked last week, an the next goal, $30K, Figurines of Wondrous Power has just been unlocked too. You can donate to Exra Life here. [59 comments]







    Saturday, 18th October, 2014
    DungeonScape Q&A Video 
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    by

    The link I posted yesterday was wrong, apparently. Sorry! But here's last night's DungeonScape Q&A video. If it works!


    by

    DungeonScape Update

    The folks at Trapdoor Tech, who are building DungeonScape, the 5E electronic tools suite will be running their first public Dev Call today at 4pm MST. I'm not sure what that means, but here's the link. And here's the status of beta invites:

    As of this moment we’ve sent out 9016 web beta invites and are up to August 10th.

    We’re sending out between 200-400 invites a day.

    We’ve sent out 1100 android beta invites.

    We are still waiting on pricing approval for iOS submission : ( Once we have the golden ticket, we will immediately submit the Players Release (Home Module, Character Module, Library Module) to the App Store and we will let you know as soon as that happens.

    Southlands for Pathfinder

    Kobold Press' Southlands Kickstarter is on its last day. Wolfgang Baur says "The project includes 10 adventures, a campaign setting, and a full-color bestiary. Ends at 9 PM Pacific, midnight Eastern, today."



    Feng Shui Kickstarter

    Robin Laws' Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter is in its final hours. It has over $170K, and 11 hours to go at the time of writing. "It’s back in all its explodey, chi-blasting glory: Feng Shui, the classic game of Hong Kong-inspired cinematic action, refurbished with a fresh bag of ammo for a new roleplaying generation! Original designer Robin D. Laws rushes your way on a bullet-riddled gurney to serve up the thrills fans remember, furiouser and faster than ever."



    Eyes of the Stone Thief

    The Eyes of the Stone Thief is a hardback book mega-adventure/campaign for 13th Age. "The Stone Thief is an ancient and cunning living dungeon, a monster that preys on cities and castles – it swallows fortresses and places of power, then remakes them into more deathtrap-filled dungeon levels inside itself." Below is a preview of the interior.




    N.O.W. it's a Ninja!

    This is a ninja from N.O.W. The Roleplaying Game.



    Friday, 17th October, 2014
    D&D Spell Cards Arriving 
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    by

    Various people have let me know that their D&D Spell Cards from Gale Force 9 have arrived, and others are posting on the forums. The Arcane, Paladin, & Ranger spell decks are currently available. Michael Long has a (short) review/first-impressions post, which you can view by clicking on the photo of his newly arrived spell cards, below. [51 comments]





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    Dungeons & Dragons News





    Other News





    What's O.L.D. is N.O.W. err... N.O.W.

    Mike Myler has been busy working on the playtest document for N.O.W. The Roleplaying Game (the companion to O.L.D. and N.E.W.) You can EXCLUSIVELY(!) preview the first chapter of the document by clicking on the image below.


    Thursday, 16th October, 2014
    The First 5E DMG Preview: DECK OF MANY THINGS! 
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    by

    I mentioned yesterday that WotC would be releasing 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide previews in exchange for charitable donations to their Extra Life efforts. The first of these, the Deck of Many Things, has been unlocked. Some of the page (other items, I guess) is obscured. No, I don't understand why either. But here's the Deck of Many Things - enjoy! You can donate to Exra Life here, and at the next goal, $30K, Figurines of Wondrous Power will be unlocked. [45 comments]

    WotC's Trevor Kidd says "The Deck of Many Things continues on to a third page. We'll save that one for the DMG release. This first preview shows the layout/treatment, descriptive text and a lot of art. Sorry for those who wanted a full item they could use now."




    Wednesday, 15th October, 2014
    Top 5 RPGs from 2004-2014 
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    by

    Yesterday, I put together a compilation of the icv2.com quarterly retailer surveys of Top Five Roleplaying Games. They are generally compiled quarterly (with some exceptions). ICv2 notes that "the chart[s] [are] based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers." Thanks to jodyjohnson for sterling compilation work and to ZsuEtAm over on WotC's D&D forums for finding the pre-2008 entries. [26 comments]

    It will be fascinating to see what the Fall/Winter 2014 rankings looks like. ICv2 generally releases these things the quarter after, so we won't start seeing any effects from D&D 5E's launch until early 2015.

    • These are not based on actual sales figures. With very few exceptions, sales figures are not available for any of these products.
    • These do not take into account online sales, Kickstarter, direct sales, Amazon, or anything other than hobby retail sales.
    • These are based on interviews with hobby game retailers and distributors.
    • As such they don't prove anything, and this certainly does not constitute a valuation of the quality of your favourite game.
    • Also see: So Who's Playing What? Pathfinder Dominates Online Games But D&D Is Closing Fast! [60 comments]

    For timescale context, I highly encourage you compare chart changes with events listed in my chart TSR, WotC, & Paizo: A Comparative History.

    Click on the graph below for the actual chart and more information.



    Tuesday, 14th October, 2014
    DMG Preview Content In Exchange for Extra Life! 
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    WotC has indicated some of the content from the DMG that's going to be previewed in coming weeks. It's an assortment of magic items, the table of contents, and an interesting entry which reads "Fire arms, explosives, and alien technology". There's a caveat, though -- they will only release these previews if they hit certain fundraising goals for their Extra Life charity efforts this year. "If you haven’t heard, the D&D community is coming together this fall to participate in the Extra Life charity event, which raises money for kids at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. The Wizards of the Coast team will be livestreaming its 24-hour D&D charity game on October 25 – 26."

    So here are the previews they'll release. Right now they're at $18,000 with their fundraising efforts. The previews will be released at the following stretch goals:

    $25,000—Deck of Many Things

    $30,000—Figurines of Wondrous Power

    $35,000—A selection of magic rings.

    $40,000—Eye of Vecna, Hand of Vecna and the Orb of Dragonkind

    $45,000—Fire arms, explosives, and alien technology

    $50,000—Table of Contents

    All donations to Extra Life go toward CMN hospitals and are tax deductible. To contribute, visit WotC's team page and choose a team member to sponsor.

    Page 1 of 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • The Rise of Tiamat: Kobold Press & WotC...

    It’s been less than three months now since the latest edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Role-Playing Game was released at GEN CON 2014. And gamers are already utilizing the two Core Rulebooks to which they already have access – the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual – with the third – the D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide – coming out...

    Read More

    DMG Preview #3: Magic Rings!

    The next D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide preview is here. This time it's a selection of magic rings! Also see the previous previews - figurines of wondrous power and the deck of many...

    Read More

    DMG Preview #2: Figurines of Wondrous Power!

    As previously mentioned, WotC is releasing 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide previews in exchange for charitable donations to their Extra Life efforts. The first of these, the Deck of...

    Read More

    DungeonScape Q&A Video

    The link I posted yesterday was wrong, apparently. Sorry! But here's last night's DungeonScape Q&A video. If it works!

    Read More

    SOUTHLANDS and FENG SHUI Kickstarters Ending! ...

    DungeonScape Update The folks at Trapdoor Tech, who are building DungeonScape, the 5E electronic tools suite will be running their first public Dev Call today at 4pm MST. I'm not sure what that means, but here's the link. And here's the status of beta invites: As of this moment we’ve sent out 9016 web beta invites and...

    Read More

    FULL D&D 5TH EDITION RELEASE SCHEDULE &...

    Details of official D&D 5th Edition products coming in 2014 - rulebooks, boxed sets, adventures, miniatures, digital tools, PDFs, and more!

    Read More
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