Dungeons and Dragons Adventurer Issue 1 Review

The Grinning Frog

Explorer
Publisher
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So I drop the in-laws off at York train station and call into Tesco on the way back home as I'm planning to work from home today. Getting some essentials of course means browsing the magazine isle for anything interesting - boom! Dungeons and Dragons?! So, I missed any news about this coming out so it was a total surprise.

As someone who publishes a monthly RPG magazine, my first reaction was - nice to see another one, my second reaction was £1.99 - I can always keep the dice if the magazine is rubbish (I was also expecting the dice to be average at best.) I can confirm that my local charity shop will receive a set of polys to put on sale...

Yes, spoiler alert, this is a terrible low effort, cash grab from WOTc. But hey, you probably want some more details so see below. Before I trash this thing, can I just say that it pains me to do this. Those of you who know me, know that I'm a positive chap who likes to find the good in things. However, when something isn't fit for purpose, that has to be said.

Contents:

Main magazine (A4 size): Page Count 28pgs inc. cover
The included adventure is 6 pgs including two half page images, a page on stat blocks and a magic sword. Note The cover says ' New & Exclusive Adventure' what you get inside is Adventure 1 - Encounter 1 and it refers to itself as an encounter and nowhere in the encounter does it mention that this will lead on into something bigger in later issues. Which I assume it will, but don't know for certain.
8 Page (A5 size) Booklet on how to run combat
Set of poly dice: Okay weight to them, black dice with red lettering makes them not perfect to read. Okay for an emergency set of dice if you aren't a dice snob. I am so these won't cut the mustard and they can go to charity. The magazine itself is going in the bin.

Could break down the other sections and give you a page count but it is such a hopeless mess that I'm not wasting my time on it.

Purpose

The purpose of the magazine is to enable newcomers to play a very basic game of dungeons and dragons. (I know this, not because it says it per se, but because I've read it and that's the only thing it is even vaguely good for.)

It introduces the very basic core concepts - character classes, what a roleplay game is, equipment etc.

To illustrate the depth this goes into, character classes are covered in two pages - both pages having half page pictures on them.

Speaking of the pictures, I see five pieces of artwork that have been on the covers of other books. I don't have all the 5e books so I can't say if the other art is new but I suspect not until you get to the adventure.

The adventure - in theory the big part of the magazine. This is worse that the rubbish you get on DrivethruRPG and we all know how bad some of that stuff is. And, my frustration here, is that it features one of my favourite creatures - giant rats! They are a ton of fun at first level yet they way it has been implemented in the adventure is woeful. Even though they've used Cranium rats to spice things up.

The map wants to make me weep. I'm no cartographer but even I could have produced a better looking map than this and it sums up the low effort approach to this whole thing (the first map is slightly better but not much btw):

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And if you want detail outside of the S6 and S7 marked areas, good luck. For the Upper Floor you get 'Each of these guest rooms contains a bed, dresser, and storage trunk.' Evocative, right?

In other words, NOTHING is of interest in the upper floor, or ale cellar unless its in the S6 room, or the s7 area.

I get that this is aimed at children, new comers to the hobby, but how about making an attempt to excite them with some detail? What we have here is simplification to the point of blandness. And, things don't get better when you get to s6. You know who's in s6? Yes, spoiler coming, avert your eyes now... Toblen, the innkeeper and his UNNAMED cook and four UNNAMED guests. Oh, and there are ZERO other details give about the cook and the four guests. Good luck to the kid who wants to roleplay this adventure.

Yes, there is another NPC character in the adventure - who does get a name, and even a picture (which is decent) but they won't come with the characters exist purely to explain in one exposition dump what happened in the inn.

Will Doyle wrote the adventure - which you only know if you go to the legal credit section at the front of the magazine. I don't know him, maybe he's a great writer who was forced to simplify, simplify, simplify... we will likely never know but I'm sorry Will, this is dreadful as it stands.

Inconclusion

I think this product is condescending to the audience I believe it is aimed at.
I learnt to play DnD aged 11 and I didn't need someone to reduce the game down to this level when I was reading the Basic, then Expert ruleset. Nor did any of my friends. And the detail in those early books? Those fired my imagination. This is a damp squib in comparison.

For experienced DMs there is NO value in purchasing this. Let me be clear - none, nada, zip...

For those collectors - have some standards, skip this, the ring binder and the other dross that is being given out in upcoming issues. It's worthless tat.

For American readers who felt they were missing out - you are not.

This is a 1 star product, and only if you make me give it any stars.

Consider this a public service review - avoid at all costs.

And no, buying it for your niece or nephew in the hope it will inspire them to play the game is a bad idea.

Where's that recycling bin...

Stephen
(Normally a really upbeat bloke - honestly!)
 

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That is significantly worse than I would have imagined it would have been.

Normally you'd want to frontload some excitement and so on, but it seems like they decided to maybe do the opposite?
 


DragonBelow

Adventurer
This is the equivalent of $2.5. You can't get much for that amount of money. Dragon and Dungeon magazine, which ended circa 2007, costed significantly more. I think a 10yo kid would be excited.
 


This is the equivalent of $2.5. You can't get much for that amount of money. Dragon and Dungeon magazine, which ended circa 2007, costed significantly more. I think a 10yo kid would be excited.
I dunno if they do this is in the US, but this is typical with UK hobby magazines - you take a big hit on the first issue then the rest are significantly more expensive - as @June Soler shows, this is exactly what they're doing here.

This has been "a thing" in the UK since when I was a little kid, so like 40 years.

As someone who remembers being a 10-y/o, no I wouldn't have been excited by this. I might have been excited to GET it, but then I would have been disappointed by what was in it.
 


Whats the deal with Hachette? Never heard of them, but seams part of WOTC..?
They're not. They're a French publishing company. If you go up their ownership chain, they're ultimately owned by Lagardère S.A., a French/international corporation.

So this would have been licensed to them by WotC, given it uses the D&D name, branding, ampersand, and so on. Which means WotC would have had approval, but didn't specifically say "Do this" - indeed, this is classically Hachette's approach to hobby magazines - they have a pretty rip-off-y 40K one for example.
 

Oligopsony

Explorer
This suggests a challenge/contest: if the viable market rate is £9 for 28 pp., say that you’ve got 6 pages to work with (is this A4? A5?) for £2 or $2.50, and that you’ve got to write at an eighth grade reading level (with allowances for a few particularly evocative words to send kids to the dictionary,) for people who’ve never played or heard of the medium before, it has to be compatible with the 5e rules, and, most importantly obviously, it has to get them playing something like the game. No forcing little Timmy or Adele to squint at the font, either.

(I might try my hand at this, if only because OP has set the standards so low.)
 


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