Storm King's Thunder

2 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

This adventure does not contain enough data points to be able to run it with little prep, so it is not a good adventure for a DM with a busy work and family life.

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4 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

I've never used giants much in my campaign and I was pleasantly surprised by some story themes I could pull from the book. The flowchart was an excellent addition for continuity purposes and to keep the sandbox feel inside an overall theme for the DM.


1 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

If this were a sourcebook for the Savage Frontier, I would rate it probably at a 4/5. But it's advertised as an adventure, and as an adventure it is simply terrible. I honestly think anyone who rates it at a 2 is being generous, and anyone who rates it higher than that hasn't run it or doesn't run games very often and therefore doesn't understand adventure design very well.

The campaign elements in this book are so obviously rushed and have quite obviously had very little internal review and rewriting. It reads very much like an early draft where the writer hasn't come back to plot elements, or had them pointed out by a third-party, and realised the issues with them and then corrected them in a rewrite. And there are so, so, so many issues. I actually wonder if this was done almost entirely by Chris without much input from anyone else. To be clear, I don't think it's possible to write a book like this (well) without the input from other people that helps the writer get perspective and solve issues and conflicts. So I don't fault Chris for these issues as much as I fault what I suspect to have been the process behind this book lacking the necessary design and development structure that I believe the other books to have had.

I might be wrong about this and it might've gone through those procedures, but if it has, then that's an even bigger mark against it because the issues this book has, as a campaign, are quite obvious (as a third party) on reading through it that they really should've been caught before the book ever went to print.

To touch on some of the issues, I'll deliver them in point form below:

Disconnected: there is almost no connection between any of the events that occur and how they relate to any of the story. The first chapter has an attack on the town by a giant that then never comes up later in the adventure. If the players follow this McGuffin, they have no end point for it, making it not even a McGuffin but rather a completely random event with almost no relation to the story. As the starting point this is bad enough, but this trend continues throughout the entire book with so many elements being introduced that don't connect, or lead the players to a story conclusion, that your entire campaign could end up being a very frustrating chain of the players following clues and finding nothing for their efforts.

If this was merely a small entry in a sourcebook that was added as a plot hook and inspiration for DM's, that would've been fine. But this is meant to be a campaign book, not a bunch of random, disconnected plot hooks that lead nowhere.

Illogical: Almost the entire plot is illogical. A god is annoyed that his followers didn't do something that he put a stricture in place to prevent them from doing and so punishes them by removing the stricture and then they all go and do the things they're not meant to do. And that interpretation is being generous to the logic behind it. What's more, nothing the players do makes any sense. Nothing the NPC's are doing makes any sense. The few railroaded "decisions" that the players get to make have no impact whatsoever on the actual plot. The Storm King isn't even the central character or integral to the plot of anything. And the primary antagonist has nothing to do with either, short of being shoehorned in as an afterthought. It's such a complete mess of illogical conclusions and reasonings that after reading through it I was genuinely left thinking that I'd have to tell the group that I didn't want to run it and would just make up my own campaign. If it weren't for the fact that they all bought the book for me, that's exactly what I would've done.

Zero impetus: The PC's are given absolutely no motivation whatsoever to become involved in any of the adventure, at any point during the adventure, other than, "Random stuff is happening, go do something about it." The very first part of the adventure where a town is attacked, the villain has run off never to be heard from again throughout the campaign and no clues are even given as to where it went or why it wanted the thing it came for in the first place. So even if the player's investigate, there are no clues for them to follow, no investment for them to gain their own drive to search anything out. And then the reason given to go to the next location is merely to tell someone one of their relatives died. Several thousand miles of travelling for no other reason than to pass on a message. DM's are left with telling their players that they're going to this other location simply "Because."

Material: A lot of the material in this is reused or is calling back to the DMG. In previous books that was content that was added to the actual book, but in this one it seems to be a constant referral to other books. At first I thought this was in order to encourage people to buy the DMG, but as I read through the rest of the book, I started getting the clear impression that Chris didn't have the time or energy to create this material and simply reverted to calling on the DMG as a fallback measure. The distinct lack of maps for locations where those maps are sorely needed, the lack of dedicated material unique to the campaign, and reused content are all signs that Chris didn't have the resources or time to develop this book properly. Again, I may be way off base with this, but again if that's not the case, then this is a further mark against the book because these things really should've been addressed before the book went to print.

Pointless: Ultimately my biggest issue with this book is that it's pointless. There is literally no point to any of it. If you strictly adhere to the very core elements of the plot and disregard all the other parts of it that go nowhere, like a city of dead-ends, even this core plot has no point to it whatsoever. The PC's "solve" the issues with the Storm King and... nothing. So what? It's only tangentially related to the inciting incident of the campaign, that being the god's "wrath", and after it you're left with going and killing a dragon. Because. And killing the dragon has no impact on the story either. Every "plot" in this campaign has no point to it other than to go kill stuff "because".

In conclusion, if you want to run a campaign in the Savage Frontier and need a consolidated, updated source of information with a lot of random plot hooks for you to develop into a cohesive, coherent campaign, then this isn't a bad book. Chris has obviously put a huge amount of effort into researching the lore and tying things into the history of the north. There are lot of cool and interesting bits of information that can be developed further. But that effort has come at the cost of the actual campaign elements. Do not buy this book to run as a campaign unless you're willing to put in a lot of effort to rewrite and reorganise and customise the campaign to your group. It is not a book that stands on its own two feet like the previous campaign books do.

4 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

Is Storm King’s Thunder the best 5th edition adventure Wizards has ever done? Well, I can tell you that from an organizational and technical standpoint, it certainly is. It successfully improves upon the mistakes of its predecessors and delivers the best version of the Sword Coast yet. I think it’s safe to say that it’s better than Tyranny of Dragons and Princes of the Apocalypse. Out of the Abyss and Curse of Strahd are harder to compare, because they attempt to achieve very different things and offer different styles of play. That aside, I do think you could easily make a compelling argument for Storm King’s Thunder taking the top spot, solely on its organizational merits, its level of ease for the DM, and its truly sandbox type gameplay. Rest assured that if you choose to dive into this world, you’ll get to experience one of the finest adventures on the market for 5th edition today. Full review at Nerdsourced.

2 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

Beset by a thin plot, forced transitions, and a lot of dead pages, Storm King’s Thunder does not live up to the standards of most of the prior D&D 5E adventures, especially Curse of Strahd and Out of the Abyss. I love to see an effort that, like Storm King’s Thunder, takes the page count of one of these gorgeous hardcovers and only tries to deliver 5-6 levels of content, instead of 15 (my time is limited at this stage in my life, so from a GM point of view I always appreciate adventures that detail as much as possible to minimize the time I have to spend filling in the blanks). But I want that effort to focus on richly developing a story, characters, and place, and not just teleporting (or air traveling) the party around from deadly battle to deadly battle. Full review at Strange Assembly.

2 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

As a series of adventures, I think Storm King’s Thunder is good. It updates and modernizes some classic D&D giant’s lair tropes, adds a few new ones, and clarifies the boundaries of what a 5th Edition D&D campaign looks like. As a campaign, though, as a story, I can’t particularly recommend it. Storm King’s Thunder lives in an awkward space where as a game artifact it’s useful and fun, but as a map for structured gameplay it’s just not very compelling. For some that will be enough, but to the others looking for a D&D campaign to buy I’d recommend Curse of Strahd for its more compelling narrative, even if its individual components aren’t quite as good. Full review at Critical Hits.

4 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

If you like more traditional D&D type adventures in the Forgotten Realms and want to return to that after the enjoyable but less standard adventures of Out of the Abyss and Curse of Strahd, pick this bad boy up.

If you are a fan of giants in fantasy and D&D, then pick this bad boy up. Even if you never play it you will like all the background info and artwork, etc.

If you like a more linear adventure with a few side options, Storm King’s Thunder is for you. If you love the more sandboxy approach of Out of the Abyss and Curse of Strahd you are going to be somewhat disappointed.

If you are tired of the Forgotten Realms and fantasy adventures involving classic monsters like giants and dragons, or you are just gasping for a different setting like Dark Sun or Planescape, then Storm King’s Thunder probably isn’t for you.

Last, if you are looking for a great jumping off point after The Lost Mine of Phandelver in the 5th Edition D&D Starter Set, this is a perfect adventure to pick up.

Full review at Shane Plays.

5 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

In all, this is an excellent adventure book.

It’s full of epic battles, interesting NPCs and tons of fantastical locations to explore.

Whenever I get the opportunity, I’ll definitely run Storm King’s Thunder.

Full review at Crit for Brains.

3 out of 5 rating for Storm King's Thunder

Before we jump in, I just want to point out that I think this adventure is probably the second-best one so far. I have a lot of issues with things in this book, but in general I'd say that if you have a little time to sort through this and pull out the stuff you like, it is worth buying. Full review at Power Score.

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