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Unearthed Arcana (1e)
by Josh J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2016 12:30:26

Worth owning in this format if you're a 1'st edition player. The original print editions were badly and cheaply glued so were prone to pages falling out. This re-print has crisper text, and has the erata/corrections published after the initial print run, which was rife with errors as well as being badly bound!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unearthed Arcana (1e)
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Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (2e)
by Nicola R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2016 09:39:19

the quality of teh scan is poor. The product is good but WotC should try harder to provide REAL High Quality Scans if they want us to pay for them.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (2e)
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Dungeon Master Guide, Revised (2e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2016 14:33:04

Very sharp and clean PDF. Bookmarked very well. Copy paste of text is good.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Master Guide, Revised (2e)
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Mines of Madness (Next)
by Andy R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2016 11:41:44

This looks like a lot of fun and I can't wait to torture my players with it! Well laid out, well written - I especially like how the monster stat blocks are presented as 'encounter blocks' leaving me enough room to track initiative & opponent HP on the same page.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mines of Madness (Next)
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Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook (4e)
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/18/2016 10:15:12

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/06/05/tabletop-review-in-
to-the-unknown-the-dungeon-survival-handbook-dungeons-dragon-
s/


I’m not really a big fan of the Underdark or Drow, so I’ve been sitting out a lot of the recent Dungeons & Dragons products and encounters. I was more than happy to review Into the Unknown, however, as I haven’t had the opportunity since Heroes of the Elemental Chaos. I also loved the idea of a Dungeon Survival Handbook. In my mind, it brought me back to the days of First Edition and both the Wilderness and Outdoor Survival Handbooks. I’m surprised they haven’t done a book like this before, and after reading it, I’m hoping this becomes a book for D&D Next as well. Lately, the things I’ve seen come out for Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Labyrinth Lord and other D&D derivatives have been about big deep dungeons with little to no story. It’s as if all people for those lines wants is one big long hack and slash experience. That’s not what I want from a tabletop game – that’s what I get from video games. I want a thematically interesting dungeon. Why is the dungeon there? What purpose does it serve? Why am I going into this dank dark pit in the first place? Well, apparently I’m not in the minority, because the entirety of Into the Unknown is about making a memorable dungeon that is all about Role-Playing rather than roll-playing.


The book is divided into three chapters and two appendices. Let’s take a look at each one and see what makes a book a must buy for any 4e fan.


Chapter 1: Dungeon Delvers


This chapter highlights seven new Character Themes, three new playable character races and then wraps up with nearly twenty pages of new powers for various classes, skills and themes. Wizards of the Coast has gone all out here, and this chapter is the one that players and DMs alike will want to read through.


The new character themes are Bloodsworn, Deep Delver, Escaped Thrall, Trapsmith, Treasure Hunter, Underdark Envoy and Underdark Outcast. Remember that Themes do not replace core concepts like race and character class. Instead, a theme is just added onto the overall character, and lets you have a few new options for powers as you level up. Bloodsworn reminds me a lot of the old “favored enemy” aspect of the Ranger, although you don’t actually get bonuses against one specific race. Instead, attacks are just more likely to hit, and when they do, they are accompanied by more damage. A Deep Delver is specifically someone who goes dungeon diving. This class really gets the most benefit out of a high Dungeoneering skill, as you can re-roll missed checks, and even use it instead of a few other skill rolls instead. An Escaped Thrall is just what you think: Someone who once worked for a mind flayer or something other aberration and managed to break free of its control. Choosing this theme lets you have an emo background, along with some nice psychic bonuses. Definitely consider tying this theme into a psion. A Trapsmith is an expert at building and dismantling traps. In-game, this nets you special benefits towards resisting traps and even inflicting some on attacking enemies. A Treasure Hunter is self explanatory. The core bonuses with this theme aren’t combat related at all, which surprised me, as I thought they would be things like faster movement in a room with obvious treasure or a free action of taking items in addition to move and attack. Instead, it’s a free Skill Focus or bonuses checks related to ONE specific item at a time. Treasure Hunter is definitely the weakest of the new themes. Underdark Envoy is all about political intrigue. With this Theme, you get bonuses to things like Streetwise, Bluff and diplomacy. It’s a neat choice for the talker in your group. Finally, we have the Underdark Outcast. This is basically a person who is cast out from his original home, village, clan or whatever and is forced to take up residence in the Underdark. The powers here are more than a little odd, as the first one nets you a bonus to attacks when you are all alone from allies. That can come in handy at times, but we all know the “Don’t Split the Party” rule. At later levels, you get bonuses to healing, Endurance and Dungeoneering checks.


All in all, five of the seven new themes are pretty good. Treasure Hunter is pretty much crap and Trapsmith is cute but not very useful compared to the others. Underdark Enovy and Dungeon Delver are my favorites in terms of what you get as Utility and Optional Powers, but remember that the theme you choose also is a big part of your character’s past, so go for what fits the story you want to tell rather than power-gaming.


The three new character races listed in Chapter One are goblin, kobold and Svirfneblin (Deep Gnome). I was very intrigued by the Deep Gnome because you rarely see that as a PC race. I think I’ve only seen it in The Book of Humanoids and 3Es Forgotten Realms handbook. I’m more shocked that it took until now to get stats, powers and the like for a PC goblin and/or kobold. That seems like something that should have happened towards the start of 4e, not the tail end of it. Well, better late than never. Goblins basically get a lot of dirty fighting attacks, some of which even cause fellow PCs to take damage for them! Kobold Utility Powers are all about movement and grid management. Deep Gnome racial powers are all over the place, from temporary hit points and camouflage to outright turning invisible and summoning earth elementals! Wow. The Deep Gnome is definitely overpowered, but also pretty awesome.


The last twenty pages of Chapter One contain forty different powers for previous classes. I wish they were organized by class, skill or something other than theme because players and DMs will have to flip repeatedly through these pages to find what they are looking for. It’s just not very organized.


Chapter 2: Strive to Survive


Chapter Two is all about helping the DM craft a memorable dungeon-based experience. PCs can get use out of some sections, but really it’s all about setting the mood and setting up a dungeon for play. There aren’t any stats or rules in Chapter Two to speak of, but it’s all very heavy on substance. Think of it as a collection of essays from industry vets on how to make and play a dungeon that your players will talk about long after they have finished (or died in) the adventure. A lot of this chapter might feel like fluff or like it doesn’t cover the topic contained therein too deeply, and that’s a valid opinion. After reading it a few times, I believe it was written this way to get you interested in purchasing other books on the topic. After all, if the bit on Beholders interests you, there’s always a Monster Manual or three you can buy that goes into more depth about these aberrations.


The chapter starts off with the “Five Rules of Dungeon Delving.” These rules actually apply to any tabletop RPG. They are: Don’t split the party, map everything, gear up, track in-game time & know when to turn back. These are as applicable in something like Shadowrun or Call of Cthulhu as they are ion Dungeons & Dragons.


Expert Delving Tactics covers the basics of dungeon exploring. You might think this is all common sense, but remember: Common sense isn’t all that common. This section talks about dealing with natural darkness, finding secret doors, remembering to stop for rest and food, and the importance of stealth in a never before explored location o’ doom. I also really enjoyed how the chapter picked apart some of the stupider ploys PCs will try to get through a dungeon safely, like bring a herd of animals in to set off traps and the like.


Dungeon Types just gives you a long list of various dungeons and what the inherent dangers and rewards of each are. After all, a crypt will be a very different experience from a ruined castle that phases between two different planes of reality which in turn will be different still from an underground labyrinth. This is ten pages of pure information to help your imagination soar as you design the perfect test of your PCs skill and strength.


Dungeon Denizens is simply a brief rundown of monsters that tend to live in dungeons, especially underground ones. You’ve got aboleths, carrion crawlers, hook horrors, mind flayers, various oozes, purple worms, rust monsters, stirges, umber hulks and more here. Each monster gets between one and three paragraphs of description. It’s not much, but this is meant to help a DM realize what creatures should go where. Nothing more and nothing less.


Infamous Dungeons is my favorite section of the entire book. Not only does it discuss the eight most memorable dungeons from all corners of the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse, but it gives you their history and evolution from old school basic D&D to modern day play. You’re getting a taste of how the story for each starts, but then the book encourages you to either go out and get the old adventures, or take the plot hook and make your own adventures with them. I have to admit, when I turned to this section and saw the old school First Edition art from Ravenloft, my heart skipped a beat. So wonderful. What are the dungeons included in this book? Well in order you have: Castle Ravenloft, the Ghost Tower of Inverness, The Lost City, The Pyramid of Amun-Re, White Plume Mountain, The Tomb of Horrors, The Temple of Elemental Evil, and The Gates of Firestorm Peak. Wow. It was so much fun to read about each of these and how they have changed from their original incarnation to their last remake (if there have been any). It’s no surprise, with D&D Next being more a throwback to first and second edition AD&D, that Wizards felt like giving a little history lesson here.


Chapter Two concludes with a section entitled Dungeoneers’ Tools, which contains a list of all the important items to take with you in a dungeon, along with some new items for use in your game. All in all, this is a pretty good chapter, and although there isn’t a lot of in-game information here, this chapter is fertile ground for any DM worth their salt.


Chapter 3: Master of the Dungeon


Chapter Three is comprised of four sections: Involving the Characters, Creating an Underdark Adventure, Dungeon Makers and Special Rewards. All of these are exactly what they sound like, but it’s worth taking a quick look at each of them.


Involving the Characters reinforces the themes of the book – that a truly great dungeon needs a truly great story to go with it. Otherwise it won’t be memorable or stand the test of time. This section helps you hook character themes to the story and how to make sure characters have choices instead of just going from room to room in a linear fashion. I also liked the two pages devoted towards how to make interesting puzzles/mysteries for PCs to solve rather than obscure crap that only makes sense to the one who created them. As a long time point and click PC adventure game fan, this section felt like it was plucked directly out of that gaming genre. It was also great to see the book talk about how to get around puzzles PCs can’t solve rather than saying, “Well, adventure’s over.”


Creating an Underdark Adventure is similar to the previous section, but it is specifically tailored to, well… playing in the Underdark. As I’m not a fan of the setting, nothing here interested me personally, but it was well-written and should be of help to DMs that really love to use the Drow. It contains ideas for stories, skill challenges, issues with light sources and more.


Dungeon Makers is a ten page section on the races or groups that might make a dungeon and why they do it. I loved that they devoted a piece to minotaurs, as they usually get overlooked. They also threw in Yuan-Ti and Kou-Toa, which I thought was a nice touch, as well as outside the box. The other races are the usual fare: Drow, Dwarves, Duegar, insane cults and wizards looking for a place to research or hold weird experiments.


The final section in Chapter Three is Special Rewards. It is divided into two topics. The first are rare but powerful scrolls like Mass Heal and Wish. I think this is the first appearance of Wish in 4e, and it’s interesting to see it here. The other topic is about dungeon companions, where you gain a special ally to serve/work/ally with your character. A few examples are given, but perhaps the most famous is Meepo, a kobold that gained particular prominence in 3e.


Appendix 1: Build Your Own Dungeon


This is just four pages on tips and tricks to help you figure out what you want out of a homebrew dungeon. It’s exceptionally informative, but perhaps the best part is that half page sidebar to close things out by the late, great Gary Gygax. In those two paragraphs he puts the art of combining a story with a dungeon crawl better than nearly everyone before or after him. I can’t think of a better way to end this section.


Appendix 2: Random Dungeons


Okay, this is pretty cool. The last five pages of the book are devoted to a random dungeon generator> I loved all the tables here. Not only did it remind me of old school First Edition AD&D where there was a table for everything, it really explains how to use a random generator rather than just simply rolling as an equivalent to throwing crap at a wall and seeing what sticks. This should be a lot of help to younger or less experienced DMs or anyone that prefers to use premade adventures and has never really tried to create their own. Using this won’t be the most amazing dungeon crawl ever devised, but it will help you take those first steps into adventure design.


All in all, I’m very happy with this book. Even if 4e isn’t your D&D edition of choice, there’s a lot of great ideas in this book that can be used by any DM. It’s very friendly to any fantasy RPG of choice (save for the specific game mechanics in the first chapter). If you’re a 4e fan, you’ll definitely want to consider picking up this book for the sheer wealth of ideas it contains. Even if you’re not using Fourth Edition, flip through Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook; you might just like what you see.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook (4e)
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DDEX2-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (5e)
by Johanna M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2016 18:47:39

This was my favorite season 2 adventure.


Spoilers:


The ending battle is really intricate and fun to play out, the flumps are the best to RP... hands down hilarious!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (5e)
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DDEX1-08 Tales Trees Tell (5e)
by Johanna M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2016 18:34:10

This is my favorite Expedition released yet, the story is very fun to play and equally fun to DM. It is perfect for DMs who want a more narrative adventure and love Totm.


I have run this Expedition 10+ times at various cons and will run it many more times.


If you love role playing, Fey, creepy forests, and a good old adventure... I highly recommend purchasing this Module!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-08 Tales Trees Tell (5e)
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Mines of Madness (Next)
by Steve B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2016 09:53:44

Loved this. Lots of D&D nostalgia, great mechanics, and plenty of laughs.


Ran it for a party of 4 level 5 PC's as an all-day holiday D&D game.
(scaled/edited it a bit to make it a little less deadly and account for level 5!)



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mines of Madness (Next)
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Something's Cooking (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/13/2016 11:16:34

This is an amusing little piece, more of a side trip than a full adventure (although of course you could build upon it) that provides the party with a neat and original location to investigate.


The location is a small but cozy cottage that's home to a husband and wife who share two passions: magic and cooking. Unfortunately things have gone a bit awry at home and as they're out - or at least, don't appear to be taking care of things - it's up to the party to deal with the problems.


The actual cottage is well-described and comes to life, and everything that's going on there is coherent and logical within the context. Depending on what the party does, they may find themselves with some useful allies or perhaps an enemy or two, and there are various things the DM can pick up on to provide scope for future adventures.


There's also a new monster, a construct that needs a combination of culinary and magical skill to create... and which is either completely silly or quite logical depending on your point of view (or how you decide to play it!).


A thoroughly enjoyable romp to keep up your sleeve for a rainy evening when the group doesn't want to be completely serious about their role-playing, perhaps - yet sensible enough that it can slot in to any campaign as a bit of a light-hearted moment.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Something's Cooking (3.5)
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Mines of Madness (Next)
by Kyle C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2016 23:06:30

This is an excellent fun-house style adventure. If you want to torture your players for an evening; this is the one. Not recommended to drop in a campaign, your will lose PCs.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mines of Madness (Next)
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Murder in Baldur's Gate (5e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/09/2016 21:43:54

Very good product, complete with DM Screen and map. The product has ALL of the pdfs, which includes the monsters/npcs/antagonists and the extra encounters extra pdfs that were originally available on-line from WotC for free. The adventure itself is not really a murder mystery, and so caution is advised as the players may get side-tracked right from the beginning instead of following the linear flow of the module as described.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Murder in Baldur's Gate (5e)
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The Burning Plague (3.5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2016 11:13:04

This is a fairly straightforward adventure suitable for beginning adventurers, yet successful completion should give the party a sense of accomplishment, a real feeling of 'being heroes' even at this low level.


The situation is this: a small but fairly prosperous township has fallen on difficult times with a nasty illness called the Burning Plague (it causes sufferers to come out in blisters and have an unquenchable raging thirst) that first struck down miners and has now spread to others in the settlement. Crops and livestock have not escaped either... and a recent kobold attack hasn't helped matters. Finally, the last few able-bodied souls to venture up to the mine haven't returned.


Whilst one would hope that aspiring adventurers would step up to help the struggling community, a couple of hooks are provided to get the party involved if you think they might be reluctant. However they get involved, the remaining townsfolk are convinced that the source of their troubles is the mine, and they'd like the adventurers to go and take a look. The 'meat' of this adventure, then, is an exploration of the mine, dealing with its perils including those pesky kobolds who've taken up residence there, a few devilish traps and the real source of the Burning Plague... not to mention the Plague itself which is fairly contagious!


Everything's laid out clearly so the adventure is quite straightforward to run. A fairly basic map is supplied, you might want to get a little more creative to reflect the descriptions of the various locations given. The results - and consequences - of success are given, with a few hints as to whom might be displeased and what they might do about it in the future, which could be used to inform further adventures. Overall, it's a good 'starter' adventure to get a bunch of first-level characters off to a flying start. Or die horribly, of course.


I'm just a little puzzled as to why an adventure published in 2000 in support of the then-new Dungeons & Dragons 3e - then as a freebie to meet the clamour for adventures to go with the new rulebooks - has been marked as being for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5: I have the original download from the Wizards of the Coast website, and it's exactly the same!



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Burning Plague (3.5)
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The Planewalker's Handbook (2e)
by Christopher P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2016 08:35:20

This an exceptional supplement. The writing is excellent and the interior artwork perfectly fits the Planescape tone. The chapters are often written as if advice given to new planewalkers, and the interior art includes helpful (and sometimes humorous) diagrams for the planar concepts. The content is an update and consolidation of the original Planescape campaign setting boxed set. In many respects it does a better job (in my view) of explaining some of the core planar concepts than the boxed set does, e.g., the portals, gates, conduits, vortices, and paths chapter is especially clear.


The scan is good quality. A few minor points about the PDF: The book uses a pale gold for headers and epigraphs which seems to fade or become blurred in smaller and lighter weight fonts on some pages, e.g., the sub-headers are a lighter weight than the main-headers on pages 42-53 and as a result are a little blurry. The OCR is excellent, as well as the table of contents structure, which makes the PDF quickly and easily navigable. It would be nice to include OCR also for the titles of the chapters, e.g., a search for "Traveling the Multiverse" should take me to page 34 where this chapter begins. Instead it takes me to page 68 where the "Traveling the Multiverse" chapter is mentioned in the text itself.


In sum, I highly recommend this book; It should be read alongside the boxed set by both players and DMs.


(2e mechanics are able to be converted to 5e by using Wizards' conversion document available for your home games here: http://media.wizards.com/2015/downloads/dnd/D-
nD_Conversions_1.0.pdf
)



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Planewalker's Handbook (2e)
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Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (5e)
by Tom I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/01/2016 12:47:55

I'm fairly new to the game, but this book has been an interesting read. It doesn't waste too much time before getting into the rules, and everything is set out as in the Player's Companion, making information easy to find. I could see the new races easily being implemented into a normal game (or even the basic version you can get off the Wizards website for free) - I'd like to roll a Deep Gnome Wizard next time I start an adventure. It's also useful to be able to buy, for a reasonable price, a physical copy, which is something I'm considering doing, to save faffing around with paper, but it's just as easy to use the PDF on a phone or tablet. Although I haven't played with the rules yet, it looks very promising, especially given that it is free!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (5e)
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Legacy of the Crystal Shard (Next)
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/26/2015 17:55:14

Originally posted at: http://diehard-
gamefan.com/2013/12/04/tabletop-review-legacy-of-the-crystal-
-shard-dungeons-dragons/


Legacy of the Crystal Shard is the second Sundering adventure which helps take the world’s oldest role-playing game franchise from Fourth Edition into D&D Next, which is Fifth Edition. Besides the first Sundering adventure, Murder in Baldur’s Gate, there has been three novels based on the event (with three more to come). If you’re interested they are The Companions by R.A. Salvatore, The Godborn by Paul Kemp and The Adversary by Erin Evans. Click on through to read my reviews of each one if you are interested.


Like Murder in Baldur’s Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard is far more than a mere adventure that you open up and play with your friends. Rather it’s a huge collection of pieces that really helps to justify the MSRP of the collection. You get a thirty-one page adventure, a sixty-three page campaign guide to Icewind Dale and a nice DM screen. All of this is wrapped in an EXTREMELY FLIMSY slipcover that is guaranteed to be ripped, lost or outright destroyed sooner rather than later due to how thin it is. The slipcover is nice and glossy with some gorgeous artwork, but Wizards really should have sprang for better materials on this, especially since this is the piece that holds everything together. Murder in Baldur’s Gate had the same problem though, so it appears this is a trend Wizards is hellbent on continuing despite my (and practically everyone else’s) complaints about the slipcover. The good news is that the slipcover is really the only bad thing about the collection as much like the first Sundering adventure, Wizards has put together a pretty impressive and high quality package, making Legacy of the Crystal Shard one of their best releases in many years.


First up – let’s look at the DM Screen. This thing is a work of art. Usually I think DM screens are silly, but the ones for The Sundering have really impressed me. In this package you get a four panel screen made out of very glossy and thick paper. This is the material I wish the slipcover was made out of instead of the tissue-like substance they actually used. The front of the cover (which players can see) contains three different maps. The center two panels make up one giant map of ten towns. It’s a very simple, rudimentary map, but then again, Ten Towns is a very simple, rudimentary locale with very little terrain, roads or distinguishing features (except for snow and ice of course). The other two panels contain a more in-depth look of one city and then a smaller look at the tinier towns in the community. The right panel (from DM’s point of view) highlights Bryn Shader and then touches on Bremen, Targos, Termalaine and Lonelywood while the left side focuses on Easthaven and has tiny supplemental maps of Dougan’s Tale, Good Mead, Caer-Dineval and Caer-Konig. On the inside of the screen is a map of all of Icewind Dale, along with some names (and corresponding pictures) of the big NPCs from the adventure part of the package. One panel is devoted to nothing but random encounter charts. There are eight different charts – each one for a different locations around Icewind Dale. The third panel contains a chart of how long it gets from one location to another. These are very helpful in fleshing out the area and will get a lot of use in the time based adventure piece of the collection. Finally we have some more tables on the fourth panel which range from name generators for Ten Town inhabitants to surprising weather conditions. All in all, this is one of the finer DM screens I’ve seen material wise and every bit of it is of use to players and the DM alike when running an Icewind Dale based campaign.


Like the first Sundering adventure, the best part of Legacy of the Crystal Shard is by far the campaign guide. These campaign guides have been some of the best offering from Wizards in the past two editions and they are by far the most comprehensive pieces in the history of Dungeons & Dragons for the locations they cover. The campaign book is sixty-three pages and every page is just amazing content that a DM from any edition can really make use of. Sure the adventure is set in the time period between fourth and fifth edition, but the information goes all the way back to the origins of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, so even first and second edition AD&D fans will be able to get their money’s worth out of just this piece alone. In addition to copious amounts of information on Ten-Towns, there is a synopsis of The Crystal Shard which was the first Drizzt novel (writing-wise, not chronologically) and a look at many movers and shakers outside of the towns. The barbarian tribes, local dwarf communities, the Arcane Brotherhood and other groups are highlighted in detail here. There is so much content in the campaign book, that you could easily create well over a dozen homebrew adventures for the region without touching the actual adventure packet in this collection. It is worth nothing that unlike Murder in Baldur’s Gate which really focused on the old Second Edition AD&D video games about the region, this campaign guide to Icewind Dale doesn’t bring up any of the either of the two video games that bear the same name. It’s a shame as with the renewed emphasis on demons and devils in 4e and Next, Belhifet would have been a find choice to rear his head somewhere in this collection. If you’re a fan of the Icewind Dale region at all, you’re going to want to pick up Legacy of the Crystal Shard for the campaign guide alone. It’s truly magnificent and I can’t say enough good words about this piece. Trust me when I say the best Campaign Setting award for 2013 will either be going to this or Murder in Baldur’s Gate.


Finally, let’s talk the adventure collection. I know the package says adventure on the cover and in the description, but it’s actually a full campaign, similar to how Murder in Baldur’s Gate was actually comprised of ten adventures. It will take you roughly a dozen sessions to play out Legacy of the Crystal Shard to its end, and even then you may have some dangling plot threads or new potential stories that spring off this collection. The adventure book itself is system neutral meaning it has no stats or mechanics of any kind within it. If you go online to the Sundering website you can find monster stats for 3.5, Fourth and Next versions of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s buried a bit so instead of making you dig through the site for the downloads, just go here. Like Murder in Baldur’s Gate I’m surprised and disappointed that Second Edition AD&D stats aren’t included as well especially as both adventures rely most heavily of seminal and iconic events that took place (and used) that system. Ah well, as the adventure is system neutral, you can easily adapt Legacy of the Crystal Shard to either version of AD&D or even OD&D. Hell, you can adapt it to an entirely different system to if you want, ranging from 13th Age to Dungeon Crawl Classics. It’s the beauty of not having stats in this piece.


The actual adventure is a three-pronged affair. There are three different major antagonists, each with their own vile plan for Icewind Dale and the communities that make up Ten-Towns. The Arcane Brotherhood plans to conquer the region through political means. The Chosen of Auril plans to decimate the region and increase the power (and worship) of her Goddess and an ancient evil well known to long time fans of Icewind Dale rears its head once more – this time as one of the undead. Players will have to try and take care of the schemes and best they can in the ensuing chaos that envelopes the region. The adventure is an open world one, meaning players can more or less take care of things in the order they want, but that in doing so, repercussions are felt. Players will really only have time to deal with two of the three threats to Icewind Dale, meaning one big bad gets to see their schemes come to fruition. Of course players, don’t know this and as a result, one faction is far more powerful when they finally face it, which not only helps to make the player choices feel all the more important but also means the adventure gets more challenging no matter how they choose to let things unfold. Now Legacy of the Crystal Shard isn’t completely open world. There is a set beginning and ending much like most adventures, but as the vast majority of the campaign can unfold six different ways when played six different times, this means a DM can really get their use out of the collection. Maybe one team will seek to deal with the Ice Witch first and foremost while the a less combat oriented party ends up tackling the more political/subterfuge based plotlines first. There is no right or wrong here and the end result is a really great adventure that fans of D&D will remember for a long time to come. In fact the only downside to the adventure is that it is supposedly designed for Levels 1-3, but last I check Icingdeath was NOT something you wanted to face when you are just starting out. You might want to bump the adventure up a few levels, especially if you plan to play this before or after Murder in Baldur’s Gate.


Overall, Legacy of the Crystal Shard is an amazing collection that is sure to make any D&D fan happy – regardless of what edition they love best. The adventure packet is long enough to keep your party busy for weeks or even months (depending on how often you get together) and it can easily be adapted to whichever version of the game you want. You’ll have to go online to get monster stats for 3.5, 4e or Next but that’s not really that big of a deal. Now in a few years if you need to redownload things and Wizards of the Coast no longer has them available – THEN you have a problem. The campaign guide and the DM screen are the two best pieces of this collection and the campaign guide alone is worth the asking price for this set. You can get the entire collection on Amazon for only twenty bucks right now, which is an incredible deal that I heartily recommend to anyone even remotely interested in the Suffering Icewind Dale or D&D Next. Sure the slipcover is tissue paper thin and will be shredded by you sooner rather than later, but everything else about this collection is simply fantastic. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this high on D&D branded releases, but so far the Sundering adventure collections are amongst the best releases of 2013, regardless of tabletop branding. Pick this up today and see why firsthand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy of the Crystal Shard (Next)
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