5E The Larger Failure of "Tyranny of Dragons"

Retreater

Adventurer
By now the Tyranny of Dragons plotline/campaign is largely considered a poor adventure for 5e (if not the worst official campaign). Perhaps it was the rocky start of Horde of the Dragon Queen, the railroad plot, the imbalanced encounters (take your pick), but it is almost universally maligned.
This was the first hardcover adventure, and it shows. Thankfully, the Starter Set's "Lost Mines of Phandelver" carried the weight of introducing many players to 5e for several years, and it's fondly remembered.
But what did Tyranny of Dragons cost D&D players this edition? As an adventure campaign, it can be tossed aside in favor of one that has been better received ("Curse of Strahd," for example seems to have taken the place as "THE D&D experience" - at least in my local meta). However, it has cost players the official "traditional" published D&D campaign. The goblins and kobolds, the dragons in the name of the game. The traditional high fantasy.
Instead of a "Red Hand of Doom", 5e has "Tyranny of Dragons." And it seems that Wizards wants to release only one campaign per theme (Demons, Devils, Giants, Elementals, Lich, Vampire, etc.) And our only big dragon adventure is a trainwreck that no one will play.
What do you think?
 

Retreater

Adventurer
That's not true: it's not perfect, but it is quite playable and still selling well.
It regularly comes up as the worst adventure for 5e, so this isn't just my opinion. If you were able to enjoy it, more power to ya.
I can say that Horde of the Dragon Queen (which I did run) is the weakest adventure I've run since I started the hobby in 1989.
 

Parmandur

Legend
It regularly comes up as the worst adventure for 5e, so this isn't just my opinion. If you were able to enjoy it, more power to ya.
I can say that Horde of the Dragon Queen (which I did run) is the weakest adventure I've run since I started the hobby in 1989.
Dungeon of the Mad Mage has the worst reviews on Amazon. Even it has pretty good reviews, though. The point is, it is not something that people "refuse to play," also demonstrated by the perennial popularity of threads about ways to approach running the book.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Firstly, it's Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Hoard = a big pile of treasure. Horde = a big pile of monsters.

Secondly, if you think Hoard is railroady, then you haven't tried Dragon Heist yet. Hoard is linear, yes, but it is nowhere near as bad as Dragon Heist. The latter forces the players to chase after a macguffin that they're not supposed to be able to get early, and, if they somehow do manage to get it early, the macguffin itself forces them to get rid of it and forget they ever had it until the appointed time. That is railroading of the worst kind.

Hoard also has a fairly consistent feel and tone, whereas Dragon Heist is all over the place. Hoard is about tracking cultists who are gathering treasure in an effort to summon the god of evil dragons! Dragon Heist can't make up its mind whether it wants to be a sandbox or a railroad, a police procedural or a tavern simulator, an action movie or a comedy. It's an absolute hot mess.

I've run the full Tyranny of Dragons campaign once, and I would happily do so again. I was unable to finish Dragon Heist and will now only use it for spare parts (and the otherwise excellent gazetteer of Waterdeep).

That is only some of what I think.
 
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plisnithus8

Explorer
I thoroghly enjoyed playing and DMing Heist, gave up on Hoard half way through. Mad Mage has been great as level-specific dungeons plugins.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yes, but to be clear - the thing gets 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Do not take the vocal opinion of detractors in discussion forums to be reflective of the general opinion of the work.
A lot if casuals won't know any better or have anything to compare it with.

They might give it high marks for pretty art. It sold well likely due to being first dragons.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
I think the biggest failure of HoTDQ is that it doesn’t say, in big red letters on the first page, ‘consider this book tone a sourcebook and NOT a roadmap. Take what works for you and discard what doesn’t!’.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
I personally found it to be not as bad as Dragon Heist or Mad Mage, which isn't saying much. The maps were third-rate, and the entire scenario felt tossed together and cliche-ridden.

Would it kill them to actually put together a decent adventure fighting the drow? Or the Illithid?
 

Parmandur

Legend
Yes, but to be clear - the thing gets 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Do not take the vocal opinion of detractors in discussion forums to be reflective of the general opinion of the work.
I agree that Hoard is one of the worst 5E Adventures, honestly, but that's praising with faint damnation. Not a bad place to be, and it has a lot going on for it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It regularly comes up as the worst adventure for 5e, so this isn't just my opinion. If you were able to enjoy it, more power to ya.
I can say that Horde of the Dragon Queen (which I did run) is the weakest adventure I've run since I started the hobby in 1989.
It regularly comes up as the worst adventure for 5e when you ask people who regularly spend their free time discussing D&D in online forums. If this tells us anything, it’s that DMs, and especially long-time DMs, tend not to like it. But it doesn’t give us much of an indication about how more casual players feel about it.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
It regularly comes up as the worst adventure for 5e when you ask people who regularly spend their free time discussing D&D in online forums. If this tells us anything, it’s that DMs, and especially long-time DMs, tend not to like it. But it doesn’t give us much of an indication about how more casual players feel about it.
True, but if the DM doesn't like it, his or her players will never see it.
 
However, it has cost players the official "traditional" published D&D campaign. ...", 5e has "Tyranny of Dragons." And it seems that Wizards wants to release only one campaign per theme (Demons, Devils, Giants, Elementals, Lich, Vampire, etc.) And our only big dragon adventure is a trainwreck that no one will play.
What do you think?
Oh, it started off pretty terrible and didn't get much better, but there's turkeys in every flock.
I really doubt they'd do a re-release on a module no one is playing.
All of 5e is essentially a re-release, anyway.

I can only assume they fixed the early broken encounters, too.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Yes, but to be clear - the thing gets 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Do not take the vocal opinion of detractors in discussion forums to be reflective of the general opinion of the work.
To add more context, because every official 5e book published does extremely well on Amazon (no book has below 4 stars), the best way to find the community's "worst adventure" is to compare them to each other.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen is tied for last with Dungeon of the Mad Mage, at 4.3 stars.

Rise of Tiamat however gets 4.6 stars, tying with Storm King's Thunder and better than Princes of the Apocalypse (4.5), Out of the Abyss (4.5), Tales from the Yawning Portal (4.5), and Dragon Heist (4.5).

The newly released Tyranny of Dragons collected book also has a 4.6, though it has so few reviews I wouldn't take it very seriously...

Anyway, the point is that the first half of ToD (Hoard) is definitely not liked as much as other releases, but RoT is slightly better than the average release.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Literally my first experience with Hoard...
First text box in the book: “Players [1st level], you approach a city that has an adult blue dragon attacking.”
PCs: “Nope.”
DM: “Um, okay, then the campaign is over.”
Either the DM is comfortable running an open-world campaign, where players can indeed say no to any narrative thread, or they need to think about consequences. Maybe both!
 

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