So the adventure starts with a clear layout and takes the players through some pretty hard encounters.The DM needs to read through this book a few times to prepare for playing it, so that It doesn't appear like a big railroad campaign. There are a lot of options that the players can make, and they can always circle around and find themselves in another part of the storyline. So just prepare and understand what events are happening during the timeline.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen is a spectacular first campaign release for the new edition of D&D - and if this is indicative of future releases, 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons is off to a grand start. The adventure series is well written and presented, and balanced to offer multiple resolutions to encounters. The art and maps are lovely, and the illustrations are totally evocative of scenes and personages found in the adventure. Given that this campaign arc is designed to take place over eight levels of D&D play, there are a goodly number of sessions and hours of play in these adventures. The price for the content and quality are more than reasonable, and Hoard of the Dragon Queen has definitely gotten the launch of the new D&D with a mighty dragon’s roar!
Having run through the first half of this adventure for the Encounters season, I am very disappointed with this adventure. For a start there are no plot hooks for the characters. They just arrive in Greenest and are expected to help. The flow of the adventure is very much "go here, do this" and it feels like every combat encounter is "1d6 kobolds and 1d6 cultists". Maybe if you're lucky there will be a guard drake as well! There are few maps, and the maps there are lack detail. The adventure notes seem to assume the players will go down a certain path. NPCs don't have many guidelines on how to roleplay them or what personality traits they might have. There isn't much in the way of non-combat encounters or challenges.As other people have stated, with work from the DM, these holes can be filled in. But if buy a published adventure, I expect all of this to be done for me and the adventure to be great as printed.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen has a lot of good adventure ideas, but poor editing, lack of some key information, and some suboptimal design decisions make the adventure clunkier than it needs to be. It can still be a lot of fun to run, but definitely requires some DM prep time to smooth things out. I'd also check around the internet for advice and suggested fixes to some problem areas.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen is a fun adventure that suffers a bit too much from travel issues in my mind. Some of the early chapters are a little heavy handed in what you can and can't do and are light on actual objectives, but those can be corrected with ease. The scope of the scenario runs the length of the Sword Coast in the Forgotten Realms setting, and a large portion of that scenario is contained in a caravan ride from point A to Baldur's Gate, and then from Baldur's Gate to Waterdeep. This is a long trek, which introduces some NPCs that can become important, but I feel that this part is what drags the scenario down. After the caravan trek, the adventurers begin to hop from place to place via portals - wait a minute! Portals? Where in the Nine Hells did all of these portals appear? Portals are a cheap way to circumvent actual travel and I feel should be used sparingly, otherwise you lose the sense of scale for the setting. Long trek and portal hopping aside, the adventure presents a lot of really cool set piece moments, some interesting villains, and the promise of a greater showdown in the second book.
This adventure tries to do a lot... and it manages most of what it sets out to do. It is full of great scenes, cool action sequences, great potential for player ingenuity and RP, and is fun to play and DM. However, it lacks the information to the DM to help enough tables have a smooth run without a lot of expertise and a lot of time thinking through the scenes before running them. I suspect that advice was hard to add because the team was already dealing with many changes due to the rules still being in flux as it was written. With that in mind, this is really a very good adventure. It also is far better than the quality of most of the published 4E adventure series that were released at 4E's start. Overall, it is an adventure worth owning and worth running.
This adventure can be run as a straight-up railroad of fights, or with considerable roleplaying. It showcases the difference between tiers in much the same way that the old B versus X module lines did. It has several "you cannot win" encounters, where the goal is to simply avoid being the target, and showcases some alternate approaches to actions that aren't actually in the Rules-As-Written.It has a few issues. Namely, mapping issues, some rules changes from the playtest, and some changes that didn't get made fully in the text.The dungeon maps are in 3 scales, and the overland maps in 4 scales as well. Some of the "dungeons" are 5' grids, some 10', some 20', and the grids look to be about 1/4" and 1/5" on the maps. One overland map is combined with a dungeon, at 20' squares, and is about 1/5" per square. One is about 1"=50', one is and one is about 1"=100', another 1"=120mi, and most of these are both ungridded and not clearly labeled for scale. None of the maps are easily photocopied, either, making the making of battlemat maps from them a process of redrawing. The rules changes affect one scene severely - there's a scene where an NPC kicks an unconscious PC as part of the planned action. Unfortunately, this now does two failed death saves, since the effects of unconscious are higher than in the playtest rules. Several other situations are affected as well; one monster used to be a lot less dangerous than its 5E release version; it can, and given the chance, will, make mince of the probably 3rd level PC's who face it. On average, it will drop 4 per round...The traps are not all clearly defined, but there aren't too many of them, and they are thematically appropriate.Several of the encounters are beyond the ability of the characters to "win" them - there's nothing wrong with this approach, but it's fairly old school. Sometimes, the only way to win is to walk away.... other times, it's to fight like you can, and hope the enemy is a coward. There are encounters of both kinds here.It also makes use of the factions. It's a solid, well written, slightly rushed, and very pretty module. I'd rather have PDF, and have maps that can be easily blown up and printed out on a B&W printer.
A grand premise, some excellent concepts, but lamentably laden with errors (including missing map entries) and woefully lacking in flavour and that spark that elevates the mundane to the good. Some flavourful random tables for various locales and events would've helped tremendously. The authors could bear to spend some time looking at what makes some of the best OSR modules shine.
The story has some very good ideas and concepts but they are ill-presented. Also there is no life in it. It is dull written. Also it has many mistakes in it and you have to rely in extra material from the net. I think the adventure is half-worked. It needed more material in it, more flavor and more polishing.I run this adventure and i have to re-written much of it in order to make it presentable to my players.
Like Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, this adventure seems to be way too hard for a well-equipped group of adventurers. It's almost as if nobody wants to make an actual 1st-level adventure and instead opts for something more suitable for 5th level characters. The adventure has a distinctly different feel from a dungeon crawl, but it throws a lot of random encounter fights that seem more like a grind. Between the dragon attack and the showdown, it seems 5E design is brutal for newbies. Our 4th-level party (three PCs, a ranger pony and a dragon) were hard pressed to survive all of the challenges -- and Lektra STILL lost to Langdedrosa.
This module has a lot of problems. It's full of errors, it's incomplete, and it's a basically a railroad with little to no reasonable incentive for a party to follow. If it wasn't for the pretty nice presentation this would be a complete dud.
There are far too many editing errors for this first grand foray into the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons and that is likely due to the release schedule and the back and forth Kobold Press had with WoTC as the rules kept being refined at the same time this adventure was written. Those uncertainties show in the final product.The adventure itself seems to have a good framework, but it is going to take a loving DM to bring it home for his players. It is a large scale adventure without a lot of meat. I can only compare it to the 1st edition Dragonlance series and it pales in comparison to those classics.The next book in this adventure, Rise of Tiamat, however, seems to be a homerun. If the right DM can get his group through this part of the campaign, the later half will blow them away.
Full review is in the link but the short version is that there is nothing especially memorable about this adventure. Add in some technical errors and it's not a terribly impressive first big adventure for 5th Edition D&D.
Lets face it, few modules are perfect. But Hoard is an example of a fantastic module. This is the module that sets the storyline for the return of Big T herself and it starts off with a bang. I admit I will not run my group through this until they wrap up the Starter Box set module "The Lost Mine of Phandelver" which gives some story seeds for what is to come in the epic Tyranny of Dragons storyline (of which this module is part 1 of 2). The NPCs are clearly described, and the scenes are set up with a few minor corrections. Im of the opinion that not every module should be a bible, the intrepid DM should use it as a guide to change and modify as she's sees fit. The module offers these options, allowing DMs to tailor the combat to prescribed levels. In terms of production values, this module is beautifully laid out in full color with high quality paper that is thick enough for me to write on, and to scribble on margins. The book could use some pull out maps, but I dont mind because I have a Mega Battle mat that I can whip out. Excellent and highly recommended.
I can see the book it wanted to be. There's a lot of good stuff in there- but the errors and poor formatting really detract from the overall adventure. A new DM would have their hands full pulling this off effectively.