D&D’s Tomb of Annihilation

One of the things about Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is it’s a bit difficult to kill off adventurers. And if they do die, it’s somewhat easy to magically bring them back to life. The new adventure storyline, Tomb of Annihilation, looks at that and… makes it not so easy. The storyline kicks off with the discovery of a curse that afflicts people who have been raised from the dead: their bodies slowly deteriorate until they’re virtually corpses once again. All signs point far away from 5e’s Sword Coast setting to the jungle peninsula of Chult, where heroes must brave the uncharted where “a horrifying villain awaits with a familiar visage.”

But we all know it’s Acererak from Tomb of Horrors.

I mean, the name “Tomb of…” echoes the original Tomb of Horrors adventure, the advertising imagery is that green devil face with the Sphere of Annihilation stuck in it, and — let’s be honest — the adventure storylines pull heavily from past edition adventures for inspiration.

Also, he’s right there on the cover.

What’s confusing about this is a 5e-statted Tomb of Horrors was featured in recently-released Tales from the Yawning Portal (review). Will Annihilation contain an Tomb of Horrors-inspired dungeon, like Princes of the Apocalypse contained a re-imagined Temple of Elemental Evil?

What makes this interesting is the way the storyline was announced, via streamed gaming venues on twitch, where the D&D Twitch channel will be previewing “just how deadly the adventure will be” all summer long, starting in July.

Oh, and how easy it is to not die in 5e? Well, death saves will be moved up to DC 15 checks for ‘hard mode’.

Also announced is Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a supplement for the core game with expanded options for players and DMs, including more than 20 new subclases, dozens of spells, and more.

Somewhat related: There’s a D&D themed Betrayal at House on the Hill called Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, available on October 6th for $50.

Tomb of Annihilation will be released in September, in select game stores on the 8th, worldwide on the 19th. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything will be available November 21st, with a special alternative cover edition in game stores on November 10th.

  • Comments Off on D&D’s Tomb of Annihilation

D&D: Rage of Demons

What’s the biggest, baddest dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons? I’d have to go with the Underdark, the cavernous maze that spans an entire game world. This world under the world is the setting for Wizards of the Coast’s next storyline, Rage of Demons.

And yes, there’s a Drizzt.

Rage of Demons cover


The main concept behind the new storyline involves a demonic invasion of the Underdark with adventurers traveling “with the iconic hero Drizzt Do’Urden”. Like the previous storylines, Rage of Demons will be told through the tabletop roleplaying game and electronic (PC and Xbox One) games. The Neverwinter: Underdark expansion for the Neverwinter MMO will be released in 2015 (with the Xbox version coming after the PC version) while the Out of the Abyss adventure for D&D 5th Edition is scheduled for the fall. Partner companies WizKids, who have developed games for the D&D line; Gale Force Nine, who did the DM Screens for the earlier storyline adventures; and Smiteworks, who have developed Fantasy Grounds, a virtual tabletop product supporting D&D, are all on board for Rage of Demons.

Earlier storylines had their tabletop campaigns developed by third-party companies: Tyranny of Dragons’ Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat were developed by Wolfgang Bauer’s Kobold Press while Elemental Evil’s Princes of the Apocalypse was developed by Rich Baker’s Sasquatch Game Studio. Out of Abyss will be developed by Green Ronin, who have previously done the Dragon Age RPG, A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, the Freeport setting for D&D 3.5 (and Paizo’s Pathfinder game), among others. Out of the Abyss will be a single volume book, like Princes of the Apocalypse.

  • Comments Off on D&D: Rage of Demons

Wizards of the Coast launched their Elemental Evil story arc today with the release of Princes of the Apocalypse, a 256-page campaign for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Designed to take characters from 3rd level to 15th (with a few side adventures designed to take 1st level adventurers to 3rd), Princes includes new spells with elemental themes, the elemental-touched Genasi as a player character race for 5th Edition, and tips on translating this Forgotten Realms adventure to the Dark Sun, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and Eberron settings.

But the question that’s on my mind: Is this better than the Tyranny of Dragons campaign?

Short answer: yes. Some spoilers follow.

Tyranny of Dragons has a few things that don’t work for me. Firstly, it’s in two books, Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat, and information about the background and motivations of the main antagonists are pushed to the second book. The introductory adventure (“Greenest in Flames”) is a bit of a mess where first-level characters are prompted to head to a village that is under attack by a dragon. Nearly all the numbers on the maps in the Hoard adventures aren’t referenced in the text. The rest of Hoard suffers a bit from being developed along with the tail end of D&D 5e development and really feels like it should have gone through another pass through editorial (and proofreading) before shipping. For a 96-page book with an MSRP of $29.95, the deadline beast seemed to be one that Kobold Press couldn’t defeat. Rise is better in those regards.

D&D Elemental EvilCompare that with the 256-page Princes of the Apocalypse (MSRP $49.95). Where Hoard and Rise both seem to be a rather linear adventure, Princes feels like a much more open world to explore. The campaign book is set in a large area of the Realms and can almost be used as just a setting book for the Dessarin Valley. Sure, there’s a Temple to crawl through, but there’s so much more all over the valley. The campaign structure provides a framework for the Elemental Evil cults to react to the hero’s meddling: instead of just going to the next chapter’s dungeon crawl, the cults are constantly working and plotting. They might think that they’re doing well, but once they climb out of a temple’s ruins, they might find… well, let’s just drop the name of a rather potent magical item and let your imaginations run wild: devastation orb.

While the adventure is really suggested for 3rd level characters and there are several hooks for bringing characters from the Starter Set’s Lost Mine of Phandalin (which I highly recommend as your first post-Dungeon Master’s Guide purchase if for nothing more than having the Starter Set Rulebook available for quick rules references), the “Alarums and Excursions” chapter is a great starting point for lower-level adventurers of any class. The initial township the PCs begin in have several locations with cues for low-level adventure hooks and the main campaign’s, which will help get your players invested in the town.

What else to say about Princes of the Apocalypse? Sasquatch Game Studio really did a bang-up job on the adventure. (Read more about their collaboration with Wizards of the Coast here.) Mike Schley’s and Sean Macdonald’s maps can be found at their respective websites, with options to purchase player and DM versions. (Mike Schley’s Princes of the Apocalypse mapsSean Macdonald’s Princes of the Apocalypse maps)

Yeah, I’d pick this one up.

On the radar for more related Elemental Evil: A portion of the Princes adventure can be found in the WotC D&D organized play program at participating game stores. Elemental Evil themed content is now available in the Neverwinter PC game (coming to the Xbox One “at a later date”). The Temple of Elemental Evil boardgame, compatible with The Legend of Drizzt and Castle Ravenloft, is scheduled to be released later this month.

A copy of Princes of the Apocalypse was provided free for review by Wizards of the Coast.

D&D Elemental EvilWizards of the Coast announced the latest Dungeons & Dragons storyline, Elemental Evil, which includes offerings across multiple project lines. The Elemental Evil storyline begins in March with a free download for the tabletop roleplaying game that includes new races and the player content for Princes of the Apocalypse, an epic adventure for characters levels 1-15. The storyline continues in a season of play with the D&D Adventurers League, WotC’s organized play program.

In addition to the tabletop RPG, Wizards of the Coast and WizKids Games will also release a Temple of Elemental Evil boardgame on April 30th (MSRP $64.99), compatable with the Adventure System boardgames The Legend of Drizzt and Castle Ravenloft. WizKids will also produce pre-painted collectable miniatures for the Icons of the Realms line. Miniatures that tie into the Princes of the Apocalypse product and an Elemental Evil-themed Dungeon Master’s screen will be coming from Gale Force Nine in March.

Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment’s D&D MMORPG, Neverwinter, will also have a new module added that adds a Paladin class and increases the level cap from 60 to 70 with an Elemental Evil storyline that will “compliment the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons tabletop adventure, Princes of the Apocalypse.”

Elemental Evil is loosely based upon TSR’s 1979 and 1985 adventure modules The Village of Hommlet and The Temple of Elemental Evil. While the TSR products featured a single temple for heroic adventurers to cleanse and destroy, the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure features “four corrupt prophets …[calling] a cadre of cultists and creatures to serve them in the construction of four elemental temples of lethal design.” The Princes of the Apocalypse adventure has an MSRP of $49.95 and will be released on April 7th.

  • Comments Off on Dungeons & Dragons & Elemental Evil & You