The Rise of Tiamat is an epic and smashing conclusion to the campaign arc that began with Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and will likely be one of those adventure series that players and DMs will be discussing with the same fond-dread as Tomb of Horrors and The Drow Series/Demonweb Pits from earlier editions. While perhaps not the sandbox of the earlier adventure, the outcome of The Rise of Tiamat does depend considerably more on the creative roleplaying, diplomacy, and problem solving of the player-characters. There choices during the course of the episodes will, in essence, transform them from mere adventurers to epic heroes of the Forgotten Realms.
I enjoyed the first part so I had to get the new one. I think this is going to be amazing fun to run. It will be great to see the characters achieve the high levels and I look forward to the epic battles!
I continue to be impressed with the quality of craftsmanship & effort put into everything WotC has been releasing with this edition. This is adventuring on a very grand scale. Makes me want to pick up HotDQ. Check my blog for a far more in depth analysis!
While I had some pretty legitimate beefs with Hoard of the Dragon Queen, The Rise of Tiamat highlights everything I like about high level campaigns: heroic situations, proactive enemies and political alliances.
The newest edition of D&D gets off to an amazing start with this action packed, dragon themed story. Playing with a mix of veterans and new players The Rise of Tiamat was highly enjoyable and we were never bogged down in rules too much that the story didn't move along. Kudos to the design team and writers for this story line. We look forward to the next installment and future stories in the 5E brand.
Last week I was able to pick up my copy of The Rise of Tiamat and peruse it. It was written by Steve Winter & Alexander Winter of Kobold Press and the hardbound book is 94ish pages. The book has the same thick paper feel and artistic theme of Hoard of the Dragon Queen and appears to be high quality and durable. Wizards of the coast was kind enough to send some media so I could add to this article.
We haven’t finished Hoard of the Dragon Queen, so I have a long time to prepare for this one. Or maybe setup a game with higher level characters starting at level 7 or 8, right where HotDQ ends. The adventure is setup with 4 stages with several episodes that are run according to the Outline. Here are the episode listing as found in the book:
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep Page 18
Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice Page 24
Episode 3&4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers Page 38
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back Page 54
Episode 6: Metallic Dragons, Arise Page 58
Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower Page 62
Episode 8: Mission to Thay Page 75
Episode 9: Tiamat’s Return Page 94
And the Outline for the Adventure:
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (1st)
Episode 3&4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Varram the White) *
Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice *
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back (Part 1) *
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (2nd)
Episode 3&4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Neronavain) *
Episode 6: Metallic Dragons, Arise
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back (Part 2) *
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (3rd)
Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower *
Episode 8: Mission to Thay *
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back (Part 3) *
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (4th)
Episode 9: Tiamat’s Return
There is a guide for episodic leveling with 7 milestones. So at the end a character should be at level 14 or 15 for the final battle. Using the advancement guide from the book, you have to remember thereisn’t a fixed chronological run for these episodes, so you have to go back and look at the outline. The outline is just a guide and before Episode 9 is started, all the remaining unfinished episodes should be completed. Here is the listing in the book with some clarifications on the stages for the milestones for advancement:
Stage 1 – Episode 3: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Varram the White)
Stage 1 – Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice
Stage 1 – Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back 1st Attack
Stage 2 – Episode 4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Nerovain)
Stage 2 – Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back 2nd Attack
Stage 3 – Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower
Stage 3 – Episode 8: Mission to Thay
Stage 3 – Episode 5: the Cult Strikes Back 3rd attack
There are several detailed NPCs that are used in the game, and some are returning from Hoard of the Dragon Queen. This amount of detail will require that the Dungeon Master set aside time for a lot of reading and preparation. I would not recommend trying to take this adventure, and try to play any part of it on the fly. This adventure has tons of nuances in it that can get lost, and the players will miss out.
There are a lot of roleplaying elements required for the players in order to be successful, and the player characters being able to bring the factions into this final fight is crucial. All the factions are listed, and there are other groups that are enemies that can be pulled into the party’s cause. I don’t think it is overly complex, but can be a very enthralling experience.
Now, as before with the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the back of the book has some special NPCs and creatures. Tiamat is also listed, and with Tiamat we get the 2nd look at a CR 30 creature. Here are some of her stats:
AC:25, HP: 30d20+300, Speed 60ft, 120ft flying, Str 30,Dex 10, Con 30,Int 26, Wis 26, Cha 28, Regeneration 30, inate spell: divine word DC 26. Multiattack: 3 attacks 2 claws+19 to hit, 4d6+10 dmg, 1 tail +19 to hit, 4d8+10 dmg. and then 5 legendary action points with massive damage for each. So Tiamat has 5 points where a bite is 1, and a breath weapon is 2 points. With 5 points she could for a bite and 2 breath weapons from 2 of her 5 different breaths, or 3 bites and 1 breath, or 5 bites, etc. Yikes!
Not only is Tiamat fighting you but there are lots of dragons, so the party might fail. The final failure of the party, and the victory of the Cult of the Dragon could possibly happen. If that is the case, then you would have a campaign world run by Evil Dragons. Sounds horrific with dragons gobbling, and squishing people left and right at their whim. The DM should prepare for that possibility to have a group of high level characters try to save the world again if Tiamat rises.
There is a downloadable PDF that is not currently available at the time I bought this last week, and I don’t see it on the D&D website yet. The PDF is there so that it will allow anyone to play with only have the PDF of the basic rules and this book. I actually think that is pretty cool. All of the maps are set for 1 square equaling 20 feet, 1 square equaling 15 feet, or 1 square equals 10 feet. The DM will have to be aware of that if you plan to print out any of these maps.
Overall I really liked the layout and design of the adventure, and can’t wait to actually run a game. It was put together very smartly, and has a great feel about it. It will be a great challenge for players, and at the end could lead to that Epic final campaign that every player dreams about. Every game is different, and whatever the outcome, I think the game will be fantastic! and I am sure that you will too.
Tell me what you think, and always have fun!
This is a really good adventure. It has some fantastic and really fun scenes and a very epic storyline to conclude your PC's career. It is immeasurably higher in quality than the first 4E published adventures, which together formed an adventure path/campaign. But, as the second half of the first published campaign, it could have done more to provide tips and hints for the DMs. Some encounters need work in order to really shine and the designers could have seen this coming and provided more ideas and how-to instructions for a new DM. That part is a missed opportunity. There is a lot to like about this. One of them that isn't often mentioned is how well the team developed the Cult of the Dragon as a foe, how well they capture dragon culture, and how well they introduce the Sword Coast as a part of the Realms.
... considering the mess that the first module was, this doesn't say much, though. It's salvagable but will require a DM to put a lot of additional work in it. Fortunately, there are a few highlights along the way, otherwise it wouldn't be worth spending that effort. The module's layout is confusing with several sections being out of order and there's plenty of walls of text that don't make this easy to run. THe module would also have greatly benefitted from a higher page count; some of the episodes are no more than rough outlines.
If you survived the first half of this campaign, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, you'll do yourself a disservice if you do not follow it up with this gem.The first look into high level Dungeons & Dragons for the 5th edition is epic. Just look at Tiamat's stat block and you'll immediately be intrigued.This campaign still pales in comparison to the classic Dragonlance series, but it has all the makings of adventure on a grand scale. It will take a caring DM to pull it off and keep the players engaged, but the reward could be a lifetime of gaming memories.
Ultimately, The Rise of Tiamat is a much better conclusion to the first 5e adventure series than 4e's E1-E3 or the 3E stuff which ended with Bastion of Broken Souls. There's good stuff in this book, but it skimps on details in a big way in certain chapters (I am thinking mainly of Chapters 6 and 8 - Not even sure why they bothered with chapter 8 at all). Another annoying feature is that there are two bait and switch moments that is sure to annoy the hell out of your players. The way the book is organized is odd too. You will need to flip around between chapter one (which is sort of the 'hub' of the whole story), chapter 5 which has some really vague and lame encounters meant to be inserted whenever you so choose, and a loose section in the beginning with more drop-in encounters (who vary in quality). You the DM can make this work, but it's not something you can just run right out of the book. You will need to make a considerable effort prior to each session... though hey, when do we not have to do that? It's just that if you're used to the 4e style which was very, very easy to prepare for, this will feel a lot harder. There's a lot of great moments in this, and it feels like the right choice to kick off the new edition with. This game is called Dungeons & Dragons, and this path gives you dungeons and it gives you dragons. It's very good and gives me great hope for the things to come. I talk about this adventure in excruciating detail in my blog, Power Score, chapter by chapter. Check out the link for more.
Of the two parts to this storyline (the other being Hoard of the Dragon Queen), The Rise of Tiamat is the better half. It feels more polished. It's not perfect, but as the conclusion to 5E's first storyline it beats the initial efforts of the previous edition's launch adventures. Recommended.
An improvement over its predecessor, but its many inconsistencies keep me from giving it 4 stars. There are flashes of brilliance here, but it's still basically an adventure outline buried in a wall-of-text. With all the potential buried in there, one could work it up to a formidable adventure, but when I drop thirty bucks, I expect to have most of the work done for me.
So there you go: 2,000 words on why The Rise of Tiamat has a LOT of problems and a further 2,000 on why the second half of Tyranny of Dragons is pretty sweet and well worth purchasing. I’ll admit I strongly prefer Hoard of the Dragon Queen to this as it’s a better overall product quality wise (take that for what you will) and it’s certainly better laid out and far friendlier to the non diehard crowd. Still, once you get past the obvious layout and editing issues, you’re getting an exceptional amount of content and value for a relatively small price tag. The Rise of Tiamat is certainly a fine way to end The Tyranny of Dragons and it will keep you occupied for several months to come. Certainly longer than this in-depth and long-winded review anyway.
Like "Hoard of the Dragon Queen", this adventure surprised me. Unlike HotDQ, it was not a pleasant surprise. Based on the early reviews, I had been led to expect that this was a vastly better adventure than its predecessor.
The adventure starts well, laying out various factions that can play against each other in interesting ways. This looked really good, and led me to think there would be huge scope for scheming, and role-play, and other shenanigans. My only concern here was that I was sure a better means of showing the factions must surely be better - an org chart for the evil Cult, essentially.
But then things started to go wrong.
The adventure is split into nine Episodes, with two of those split into several sub-episodes that should happen at different times during play.
Episode one, which basically structures the adventure, which is fine. Except that this episode essentially boils down to four departmental meetings for the forces of Good. No, really.
After each of the four meetings, the PCs are then presented with a choice of where to go next, pointing into two of the other episodes. Which would be fine, except that the choice is an illusion: it's not a choice of "which mission do you want to do", it's "which mission do you want to do first?" After which the PCs have to do the other mission anyway.
Worse, where HotDQ provided lots of scope for different approaches within each episode, allowing PCs to fight, negotiate, or trick their way through, or even evade entire sections of the episode; here there is generally a clear 'best' solution, further reducing the scope of PC agency. A real shame.
Finally, as far as the adventure itself is concerned, the climax of the adventure sees the PCs desperately fighting to prevent Tiamat being summoned. If she is, that's probably a TPK. Which means that success for the PCs is a wonderful anti-climax. Which is not ideal, to say the least.
One more thing: this storyline has featured dragon-themed armies working to free a five-headed Dragon Queen from her prison. It has featured a flying castle. It has featured five colour-coded "wyrmspeakers" that act as high lords in the cult. It features an undead warrior who is allied to the cult but not total in his loyalties. It features a crown that is absolutely key to the final ritual. It features red robed wizards whose betrayal at a key moment can strongly affect the outcome. It even features a council to bring metallic dragons into the fight, and a detour to an ice-bound dungeon.
Basically, I enjoyed this campaign an awful lot more when I read it twenty-five years ago and it was called "Dragonlance".
And so ends the first "storyline" for 5e. Such a shame.
This is a quick, partial review, as I reviewed this product alongside it's sister, Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Much better than the first part and largely independent. Aside from some small backstory, it would be possible to play this adventure on its own, skipping HotDQ entirely. The climax is a little weak though, and potentially unsatisfying, so some modification might be needed. A good DM could have a lot of fun with this adventure.