GAME REVIEW: THE RISE OF TIAMAT / DEVELOPER: WIZARDS OF THE COAST / PUBLISHER: WIZARDS OF THE CAST / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons has been a towering success so far. The two core books released thus far (The Players Handbook and The Monster Manual) have been both a critical and a commercial success, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide is shaping up to do just as well. All of this will be for nothing, however, if the adventures provided for those books aren’t up to the same standard.
The Rise of Tiamat is the second part of an ongoing campaign series that began with Hoard of the Dragon Queen. That first book was a friendly, fairly straightforward introduction to the world of D&D and a handy way for new players to get into the game. Though flawed, it gently lead the players and games masters from the lowest of levels to approximately mid-level.
The Rise of Tiamat makes the assumption that you’ve not only played through the first book, but that you’ve gotten the hang of playing D&D by now. It’s an open-ended scenario, with a ton of ideas and useful campaign signposts. Gamers looking for a more political-style game (rather than hacking and slashing) have the option to try diplomacy, though there is still plenty of action and violence to be had throughout.
There are, though, quite a few issues. Firstly, key information for the adventure is not presented in the book - instead you need to download the PDF. This is nifty if you happen to have a tablet or a generous printer allowance, but part of the point of buying a scenario is to reduce preparation time. It’s one more thing to forget to bring to the gaming table, and table-top scenarios aren’t like videogames; they shouldn’t need to be ‘patched’. Secondly, it’s a sprawling mess of a book; to be very useful you’re going to have to heavily bookmark the thing and make additional notes. Those looking for a simple ‘plug and play’ approach to adventuring should be aware that substantial prep-work from your dungeon master will be required to get the most out of the book. Add on top some surprising shifts in tone throughout the book and the whole thing becomes less than simple to work with.
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