3 out of 5 rating for Tales from the Yawning Portal
This is the product I had been hoping WOTC would produce, and I wanted to love this book. However, I only like it.
Tales from the Yawning Portal would have been a solid 5 out of 5 if they had done two things better: 1. A better selection of classic adventures, and 2. a better conversion for the modules.
As far as adventure selection for the book goes, there are three modules that are fantastic: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, White Plume Mountain, and Tomb of Horrors. These are classics, and are among the greatest adventure modules ever written. There are two adventure modules that are just so-so: Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury. There is one that just shouldn't be in the book: Dead in Thay. And there is one that is either great or boring, depending on your interest in big dungeons and Giants: Against the Giants.
Now, some people might love Against the Giants, but I find it to be a monotonous slog through the same dungeon several times. If you love the module, then you're not me.
Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury are OK modules, but that's about all you can say for them.
But I think we can all agree that Dead in Thay has no business being in this book. It's not even a classic, and it didn't garner any rave reviews when it first came out, that I know of. It was an easily forgotten part of a module that was created during the play-testing phase of 5th edition. With all the other great, classic modules they could have put in the book, I don't know why they included this behemoth. It's long, it's somewhat confusing, and your players are likely going to get bored of it before you finish. They also printed the massive map on a standard-size page, which makes it hard to see the details, like where the white portal gates are located.
Dead in Thay was originally meant for several groups of players to all play through simultaneously at different tables starting at different locations. Trying to use it for one group is too much of a slog.
Instead of Dead in Thay, the editors could have included much more interesting modules, like The Isle of Dread, Castle Amber, The Lost City, or The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, among others. Including a few of those instead of Dead in Thay or Against the Giants would have made this book many times better.
The other problem with the book are the conversions. Some of these classic dungeons should be very difficult challenges; chief among them, Tomb of Horrors. But currently, for some unknown reason, modern D&D adventure designers want to make adventures extremely easy, with only the occasional challenge. This seems to have carried over into 5th edition adventure design, as well as these conversions. Traps deal far too little damage and are too easy to spot (with low DCs even for higher-level adventures), and the recommended character levels are higher than they should be. The fact that this book did include three absolutely amazing modules is lessened by the fact that the conversions of the modules take the bite out of them and render them far easier than the their original intent. It also means that to use these great modules, you will likely have to make your own conversion of the conversion. That's not what we spent our money for.
Simply speaking, if this book included a better selection of classic modules and if the conversions stayed true to the originals in terms of danger level, then this would easily have been 5 stars. But it doesn't and they didn't.