Review Dungeons of Drakkenheim - 3rd Party Review


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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'll note that there is a new book, called "sebastian Crowe's guide to drakkenheim" that is really worth looking into for fans of the setting.

It has some very interesting character options. One is the Apothercary, an int-based, short-rest based caster with multiple subclasses that play very differently. A chemist blows things up, while a mutagenist which turns themselves into a hulking monster... Other highlights includes 2 monk subclasses, one (way of the arcane hand) is a 1/3 caster that doesn't use Ki to cast spells (but has extra spell slots!).
 



ROBMONGAR

First Post
Are you familiar with GW's old Mordheim skirmish game? The ad for this struck me as very much a copy/paste of that lore/setup, and I'm curious if it hits many of the same points.
I'm pretty certain that Monty specifically referenced that as an influence during a VOD.
 

zakael19

Villager
One thing my group (and me as a player) is struggling with, and talking to some other folks on a different forum who are playing through DoD are as well - is player character motivation. I think DMs planning to run this need to be very clear up front that a) this is actually a dungeon crawl and b) you have to really buy into your chosen character quest and/or form close bonds as a group, since that's what's impelling you forward into magical Chernobyl. I wasn't fully cogent of the lack of a classic WOTC-style externally driven 'plot' so we're at 5th level trying to figure out what to do with a significant magical artifact & it's hard to figure out what our way forward is. I know there's some groups and players out there where just fortune is enough, but that doesn't work for me and I think a lot of people expecting another heroic adventure need their expectations calibrated before starting.

From a DM side, love what they've done here. Going to shortlist this to my things to run with teh appropriately interested group for sure.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Yeah, I picked this up. It's a really tightly composed campaign.

I love that each player starts by choosing a personal quest, with a tangible reward offered at the end. One thing I might do is add a powerful magic item as an alternative to the ability score increase or feat. But having the personal quest is a great way of getting players to think in terms of their character's arc, and I look forward to seeing how beginner players respond.

In terms of gameplay, the Haze, a sort of magical dust cloud that inhibits rest and recovery, is an interesting device that is clearly designed to minimize "rest and reset" structure that often dominates 5e campaigning, and therefore raise the stakes while forcing players to be more conservative with limited resources like spell slots and certain abilities (rage, etc.). This makes it a bit more of a gritty style of play than some groups might be used to, but you could simply ignore that aspect of the Haze and just use it for aesthetic purposes if preferred. I am very much looking forward to seeing how it affects play.

One plot point I find odd is that if nothing is done the Haze could spread and basically wipe out the region "in 150 years" and the entire world two centuries after that. Who cares? If you are going to add that subplot, make it a ticking clock, so that the campaign has some real teeth. But I plan to just ignore that plot point, since I will be transplanting this adventure to Exandria, where I set most of my games, or possibly to The Forgotten Realms.

The heir to the throne subplot is not for me, nor am I particularly interested in the faction stuff. Mostly because I will be transplanting this adventure. But they are very well thought through.

The introductory hook, where the party of level 1s accompany a caravan to a village, face down a simple bandit encounter, pick up some interesting rumours, and acquire supplies is very well designed for an first game. The challenge is nice and simple, so should work for beginners, but there are plenty of sandbox elements, so players won't feel like they are on a railroad after they get to the village.

I haven't fully analyzed the rest yet, but on a first casual read, this is a first-rate adventure sandbox, with plenty of options that will allow the players to largely determine the shape of the campaign through their choices and discoveries. The art is excellent, and the maps are clear and useful. The overall tone is kind of reminiscent of Scholomance, in World of Warcraft, which I consider a classic RPG setting. There are plenty of interesting twists, puzzles and choices that will engage experienced players, but can be toned down as well.

Keeping in mind that I haven't actually played DoD yet, my initial reaction is that this is an excellent adventure, particularly if you want a little more challenge. It's better than most of what WotC has put out for 5e, frankly. I wish I had had it when I started my latest beginner campaign, as I'd prefer running it to the updated Phandelver.
 
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