5E Hoard of the Dragon Queen: As it Turns out, it's Pretty Good (so far)

GX.Sigma

Villager
Please appreciate that I come to this as someone who played in the session -- not as someone who ran it.

The DM has about 30+ years experience as a DM, makes up a LOT of things up on the fly and spends a lot of time differentiating the context in which combats occur and in adding the flourishes which could make a real difference in how I received those combat encounters.

What I am trying to say is that I enjoyed it a lot -- but I can't say for sure that I enjoyed what was on the page -- or maybe I just enjoyed the flourishes he added to it. I'm not able to confirm that with you either way.

I can say that we initially:


  • investigated some mysterious deaths, ascribed to a disease and then later investigated to be poisoning;
  • fought some kobolds and cultists in the forest who were attacking some women who were fleeing Greenest; this may be an entirely made up encounter - I just don't know. There was a fair bit of roleplaying and moral choices which transpired out of this combat by reason of the capture of the kobold and cultist and the fact we did not trust these ladies we were rescuing;
  • We got to the town managing what we had left of the caravan to find it under attack by a dragon (Blue or black was unclear -- probably blue) and many cultists and kobolds. The Big Ass dragon scared the bejezus out of us and we cowered like little bitches, but we got our hero on as we saw the kobolds and cultists attacking the city and killing civilians with kids in tow that were running towards us for safety as we watched the horror spread out before us as we crested the hill and looked down on to Greenest;
  • The variation in the three combats with the Cultists/kobolds was differentiated through the threats posed to the civilians and the city streets/houses where the combats took place. They got a little "samey", but that had more to do with the effectiveness of Sleep and FireBolt in 5E then it did with the tactics and environment, imo;
  • We avoided a final encounter with winged kobolds when my familiar spotted them on the wing and we ran and hid to avoid them. (Did I mention we ran heroically to avoid them?);
  • We also had a brief exploration of a sewer/ sally port entrance into the Keep where we dealt with 2 rat swarms in 5e. While not as large as 3.xx/PF swarms they were mostly just as annoying; and
  • We ended it off with a roleplaying encounter with the local lord and his dwarven castellan.
It sounds like you have a really awesome and creative DM, because most of that is not in the adventure as written. The first two points aren't in the book at all, and the rest seems like a really good DM's interpretation/improv of encounters that are barely described in the book.
 

fanboy2000

Villager
I find the adventure, like many of Kobold Press' / Baur's publications, very well thought out. And while it IS very railroad-y at the beginning, as to be expected as it's setting up the ToD 'story', it gets more open in the latter part of the book.
I have a few small concerns about the adventure myself. But I agree that it opens up quite well. Episodes 2 and 4 are quite well put together.
 

Haffrung

Explorer
I really hope 5E adventures are not all written with the organized play in mind. Organized play operates under fundamentally different assumptions as regular home play. I love the 5E system and intend to use it going forward. But if this (and Dragonspear Castle) are to be the norm for 5E adventures, I'm going to have to put aside my hopes for strong adventure and setting support and prepare to run a completely homebrewed campaign.
 

Mad Zagyg

Villager
I really hope 5E adventures are not all written with the organized play in mind. Organized play operates under fundamentally different assumptions as regular home play. I love the 5E system and intend to use it going forward. But if this (and Dragonspear Castle) are to be the norm for 5E adventures, I'm going to have to put aside my hopes for strong adventure and setting support and prepare to run a completely homebrewed campaign.
I couldn't possibly agree with this more.
 

Braumeister

Villager
Yeah, me too. I don't dislike the 5e adventures at all. But I do hope they deviate from the organised play mentality.
Given how difficult it can be to find an Adventurer's League game due to poor group search and coordination tools on the D&D website or the lack of Encounters games with vacancies, putting too many eggs in this basket would be a particularly stupid thing to do.
 

rastus_burne

Villager
Given how difficult it can be to find an Adventurer's League game due to poor group search and coordination tools on the D&D website or the lack of Encounters games with vacancies, putting too many eggs in this basket would be a particularly stupid thing to do.
Yeah, it strikes me as odd that such a prominent company can have such an appalling website. The new layout is cool, but in terms of usability it's surprisingly archaic.
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
[/LIST]
It sounds like you have a really awesome and creative DM, because most of that is not in the adventure as written. The first two points aren't in the book at all, and the rest seems like a really good DM's interpretation/improv of encounters that are barely described in the book.
Well, it is certainly starting to look that way.

The good news is, minor adaptations to breathe life into these things aren't all that hard to do (if you know what you are doing).

The bad news is, not every DM has that skillset.

I'm going to have to withhold judgment on the adventure as published at this point. It may, indeed, suck as written.

The bright side is that it doesn't mean that it need suck when played.
 

sgtscott658

Villager
Hi ya-

I am also running HotDQ with 4 players. The party consists of 2 Clerics, one of Kord (Greyhawk) and the other Celestian (Greyhawk) one Wizard and one Rogue, there is a fith player but his schedule could be hectic at times and he play a LG Human Paladin of St Cuthbert.

As the DM in the OP did I to expanded the encounters in HotDQ.

******Spoilers Alert*******













In my game, we are going on the 3rd session and the players will now be starting HotDQ this week. The previous adventures were to build up towards the Dragon Cults raid, get the players to know the NPC in Hommlet (yes the campaign is in Greyhawk) and instead of having just a raid, lets make it a seven samurai type of adventure at start, a low level epic set piece battle where the Dragon cult attacks a hasty defense.

As I said I ran two sessions prior to this coming adventure, I wanted to get the PC's up to 3rd level, I felt personally if ran as is, might be too tough on 1st level PC's. The First session had the players leaving Greyhawk City and travailing to Hommlet to help the Priests of St Cuthbert deal with a demon fish that has been plaguing the nearby Donitz River Basin. (it turned out to be a larger then usual Tuna, a big tuna lol) On the road to Hommlet the players come a cart and several dead Goblins around the cart and two Owl bears feasting on them. A fight ensues with the Owe Bears getting beat down. Flank attacks with rogues is brutal coupled with sneak sneak attacks.

The players find raiding plans in the cart as well as loot from various farmsteads, the plans are fake and are to make the Hommlet militia think that the raiders will attack in a couple of days time, this is not the case, the Dragon cult raiders plan to attack on the Feast of St Crispens day, one of the holiest days for St Cuthberts followers.

Ill say one thing about players, they are a greedy bunch, the Rogue player says he is going to try and track where the Owebear lair is, no skill in tracking so I had him use his survival skill with a high DC of 18 or better. Of course he roll a nat 20 and finds the owebear lair, well I'm the DM so lets throw a wrench into the players plans, they find a baby Owebear in the owebear lair. Plus a magical short sword and Amulate. So what would you do with a baby Owebear?

The players reach Hommlet with baby and cart of loot. The Players try to pawn off the baby owebear on the Druids but they refuse to take the creature in. So the Paladin turns to his church and asks Father Flanagan (all preists of St Cuthbert have Irish names lol) if the Church would take of the Owebear, Father Flanagan says sure, it would be a great to teach the ideal's of St cuthbert to this creature. Or just have it as a mascot for the Church's local soccer matchs.

In our second session the players find out that there is an advance party of Dragon Cultists raiding the local farming areas. The players find that the these raiders are hiding out in an old cave but the Boss in charge is a Lizard man Monk (5th lv Monk). A few encounters ensue with the players overcoming the Caves guards but the fight with the monk was epic, Flurry of Blows and stunning as bonus attacks are nice spoilers to a rogues sneak attack. Anyway the players defeat the monk finally and recover some of the lost loot and return to Hommlet to rest and enjoy the feast of St Crispens day on the morrow.

So far running these adventures has been nice and nostalgic, especially running Hommlet and the Welcome Wench Inn. My personal thoughts here is that the HotDQ is a brilliant adventure with an excellent combo of both wilderness, town and dungeon encounters. Cant wait to see and read the next installment of the campaign from WoTC.


Scott
 

Gundark

Explorer
I've only read the first two chapters with plans to run it later on. The first episode is problematic for sure, right down to the last encounter which I know that my players would have a big WTH!?! moment if I used the encounter as written. The second episode is definitely better but the one combat encounter *SPOILERS*
the ambush looks like it could be a possible TPK

Will wait and see what the other chapters look like.
 

Tony Semana

Villager
It reads like quite a few of the negative opinions boils down to Adventure-as-Read or Adventure-as-Interpreted as much as Adventure as Written. The missions are varied and well supported but yes, if you as a DM insist that your players run one mission after another without rest, they WILL get destroyed when they are quickly out of resources.

The point of this Episode isn't for the characters to 'win it all' it's to demonstrate the first major hook that 'something big' is happening with the Dragon Cult, and yes, the characters are supposed to be spent and battered at the end.

Along the subject, it's worth listening to this if you're confused about what's expected: GenCon When Kobolds Meet Tiamat
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
I look at published adventures as a frame work to build upon.


Scott
I think this is a very fair observation Scott.

HOWEVER, in my view, one of the main reasons for the success of the Pathfinder RPG is the success of its AP line and how Paizo's entire product lines are designed and marketed largely with the principal aim of supporting people who run and play in those Adventure Paths.

Taking it a step further, while there are many people who play in home-brewed campaigns who play Pathfinder, my sense of the Pathfinder community is that the percentage of those who play in Pathfinder campaigns which are solely focused on playing the AP line is much higher (as a proportion of players of that RPG) than is the default assumption for any other RPG. That leads to brand loyalty and has contributed to the commercial success of Paizo. It's that sort of success which WotC was hoping to duplicate through ToD.

If the Tyranny of Dragons AP ends up being merely a base upon which a DM must start, but not a solid foundation that a DM can just run out of the box with a high degree of confidence, it's not going to be as successful a product line as it would otherwise be.

And that's not a good thing.
 
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Haffrung

Explorer
If the Tyranny of Dragons AP ends up being merely a base upon which a DM must start, but not a solid foundation that a DM can just run out of the box with a high degree of confidence, it's not going to be as successful a product line as it would otherwise be.
While Adventure Path style linear adventures with heavily plotted stories and ready-made cut scenes may be a popular adventure model, I don't know that it's the only approach WotC needs to take to find a loyal audience. Some players on old-school sites, where 5E is being very well-received, are already slamming HotDQ for being too scripted. There is a market out there for setting-based adventures where the story is left to the DM or generated organically in play. So does WotC hew closely to the popular AP adventure format? Or do they take the same approach they've taken to the 5E system itself and try to find a middle ground between story and sandbox, or at least provide some setting-based adventures as options?
 

dd.stevenson

Super KY
If the Tyranny of Dragons AP ends up being merely a base upon which a DM must start, but not a solid foundation that a DM can just run out of the box with a high degree of confidence, it's not going to be as successful a product line as it would otherwise be.
I would be interested in hearing why you believe this. Anecdotally, most of my players are strongly disinclined toward pathfinder APs because they are too scripted. While they all appreciate the production values, they usually get antsy and resentful of the heavy-handed tactics necessary to pull them forward along the story arc, and in order to get them to play wotc's adventures at all I had to persuade them that these were a totally different beast than the pathfinder APs.

I don't think what you're saying is wrong, necessarily, but it doesn't strike me as self-evidently true either. Why is a consistent, relatively DM-independent experience necessary for adventure lines to be most successful?
 

rastus_burne

Villager
So does WotC hew closely to the popular AP adventure format? Or do they take the same approach they've taken to the 5E system itself and try to find a middle ground between story and sandbox, or at least provide some setting-based adventures as options?
I imagine as time progresses there'll be a little of both. That is, some scripted APs, others more loose and sandboxy. Maybe even a few, which like you suggest, holds a nice middle ground between the two.
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
I would be interested in hearing why you believe this. Anecdotally, most of my players are strongly disinclined toward pathfinder APs because they are too scripted. While they all appreciate the production values, they usually get antsy and resentful of the heavy-handed tactics necessary to pull them forward along the story arc, and in order to get them to play wotc's adventures at all I had to persuade them that these were a totally different beast than the pathfinder APs.

I don't think what you're saying is wrong, necessarily, but it doesn't strike me as self-evidently true either. Why is a consistent, relatively DM-independent experience necessary for adventure lines to be most successful?
The "holding-out" of ToD as an Adventure Path was intended to mean -- and I think taken to mean -- that it would provide a similar experience to Pathfinder's highly successful AP line. While the jury is still out on that (at least MY jury is, as I have not read the published hardbound version of HotDQ to form my own views) the expressions of dismay in this thread would indicate that there are a lot of 5E DMs who were expecting something with less requirements for customization in order to be playable.

Generally, I think that an AP -- any AP -- benefits from experienced GMs making changes as are required for their particular group. I recommend it often.

That said, a well designed AP should not require intervention to be playable and enjoyable. It should merely benefit from it.

There is much that can be said about the relative strengths of AP vs ad libbed sandbox settings, but I was referring to "commercial success" in the quote you mentioned.

While I appreciate that many players (including yours) have different preferences, I think the market has indicated that the Pathfinder AP approach is the more commercially successful of the two in recent years.

You can go too far with it of course. It's only a hop skip and a jump to the original DragonLance, which while very commercially successful in its day - was the prototype AP the design of which has not stood the test of time.
 
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I'm so glad to hear this! I'm just finishing up the starter set with a group of people, so I've not yet started reading into it. But I'm glad the early reviews are positive so far!
 
I would be interested in hearing why you believe this. Anecdotally, most of my players are strongly disinclined toward pathfinder APs because they are too scripted. While they all appreciate the production values, they usually get antsy and resentful of the heavy-handed tactics necessary to pull them forward along the story arc, and in order to get them to play wotc's adventures at all I had to persuade them that these were a totally different beast than the pathfinder APs.

I don't think what you're saying is wrong, necessarily, but it doesn't strike me as self-evidently true either. Why is a consistent, relatively DM-independent experience necessary for adventure lines to be most successful?
I'd be curious what your group's reaction to EN Publishing's ZEITGEIST adventure path would be. We have a series of adventures, and the links between them are fairly linear, but within each I think players get a lot of flexibility. I wish I could convert them to 5e.
 

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