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Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2014 10:25:04
This is an interesting way in which to lay the groundwork for the upcoming edition change, both in terms of giving everyone (not just the diehards who have slogged through ten iterations of the playtest materials) a chance to play 'D&D Next' before it is released and also because the in-game groundwork is being set for a cataclysm that will be literally world-changing for the Forgotten Realms... thus setting the scene for the changes in the way you will play there.

There's quite a lot of background to absorb, especially if you haven't seen the previous campaign Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle - although this is perfectly playable if you have not played through it - but the action soon starts with the characters arriving at Daggerford in the midst of a refugee crisis. Plenty of opportunities for interaction, and even a spot of brawling, from the outset and a chance for the party to get to know Daggerford if they have not previously visited the settlement.

Once they actually gain admittance to Daggerford, there are opportunities to find out what is going on... or at least why there are refugees trying to get in and why the local lordling is less than friendly towards them. Missing persons and missing items, as well as the raids that have displaced the refugees, provide ample opportunity for a party of adventurers to get involved. Loads of detail is provided to help you make the place and its inhabitants come to life, it is presented as a dynamic living township whose locals have their own lives to lead, not a backdrop for your party's adventures, which all goes towards creating a rich shared alternate reality for the characters to inhabit.

One notable feature of the mechanics is that encounters and monsters do not come with XP values: instead, the DM is to reward the party by advancing all of them to the next level as they achieve certain goals in the adventure. Some may find this a bit rough and ready (well, go calculate your own rewards as appropriate), while others may find it convenient (it is something I have been doing for years anyway!).

There are lots of opportunities for adventure other than the main thrust of this scenario, which creates a good free-form air - just about anywhere the party decides to go, there will be something going on for them to interact with. However, the second part of the main plot takes the party to the village of Julkoun and other locations in the area such as a hunting lodge, a ruined castle and a beautiful manor house and more. Some maps are provided within the adventure covering all the locations, but most would be quite hard to share with the players - a few players' maps would enhance this product.

All monsters encountered are presented in an appendix with D&D Next stat blocks. The download also includes several documents that cover all that you need to play this edition of D&D, necessary if you have not been following the playtest and handy even if you have.

Overall, this is an excellent introduction to what the next edition of D&D will be like, and a good way to find out relatively inexpensively if you are going to want to play it once the full release is out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next)
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Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next)
by Tony S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2014 21:29:51
Having flipped through quickly and now about halfway through a more thorough read-through, this material is shaping up to provide a great framework for adventure. It's structured so that it provides a strong framework (in terms of timeline) for when things happen in the story, which gives it the feature that things are happening whether the adventurers. At the same time, the details and events can be taken in any order for a GM that doesn't want / need to follow the prescribed timeline. The locations are well structured and documented, and the details around Daggerford and it's NPC's are awesome.

There are 2 things that was disappointing about the product:

1. It's been mentioned on many forums and in the comments, but it IS very disappointing that maps, individual, unmarked, and high-res versions were not included in the download. I game almost exclusively on roll20, a virtual tabletop, and map-packs would make gm's that use virtual tabletops so much easier. It's surprising that, given WotC's move to an exclusively digital product, they would have ignored the digital-focused need.

2. Given that this is touted as a continuation to the Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle campaign, I was hoping to see a conversion (a table, or alternate encounter detail) of the adventure for groups that want to carry over the characters they built up in GoDC. I understand that this is an encounters pack, meant to be played in FLAGS to attract newcomers to the game, but it would have been good to see this option addressed given the adventure is now being sold to the public. - it would be nice to see guidance on how to bring characters along through the last 3 sundering adventures.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next)
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/06/2014 06:15:47
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/02/06/tabletop-review-dreams--
of-the-red-wizards-scourge-of-the-sword-coast-dungeons-drago-
ns-next/

Scourge of the Sword Coast is a pretty unique experience in a lot of ways. It’s the third in the series of Sundering adventures. It’s also a Dungeons & Dragons Encounters release, much like the first two Sundering adventures. Unlike Murder in Baldur’s Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard, Scourge of the Sword Coast is released in a digital PDF format rather than as a physical package. This means instead of getting a DM screen, a Campaign Guide and an adventure, you are getting one large PDF and twenty supplementary PDFs. As well, Scourge of the Sword Coast is designed only for D&D Next rules while the previous Sundering adventures were compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and Fourth Edition. I’m not sure why such changes were made to the format as the first two Sundering adventures allowed a wide range of D&D fans to play the content. It’s a bit of a disappointment to be sure, but it’s not as if this is the first publicly available D&D Next only adventure. We’ve already had Vault of the Dracolich and a full campaign in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle released. We had to move on to the new edition sometime, right?

Speaking of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, it is worth noting that Scourge of the Sword Coast is a direct sequel to that campaign, with characters and events from that collection showing up here. However you won’t be able to use the same characters as you did in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle. That campaign took a character from first to (at least) tenth level while Scourge of the Sword Coast will take characters from second to fifth level. This is also a good time to mention that leveling up is done D&D Encounters style rather than based on experience points. This means you will level up after specific questions/dungeons crawls/campaign moments. This might not sit well with long time D&D players, but those used to D&D Encounters and its style of play should be used to this. I have to admit I would have preferred straight up experience because the adventure is completely open world so events can unfold in any order. So the gaps between leveling up might be really small and then take forever. At the same time goal based leveling up may not be what we’re used to as roleplayers but it does make more sense from a story point of view. No worries though because if you really want to assign XP totals to monsters, there’s nothing stopping you.

Scourge of the Sword Coast takes place around the town of Daggerford, which shall act as your homebase for the campaign. Yes, this is a campaign made up of several dungeon crawls which connect to form a larger story. The order in which quests will be discovered and completed depending on what clues and/or conversations the characters have, and in which order. It’s entirely possible for one or two quests to not be finished before the endgame is figured out and players being players, may just skip right ahead to that. There’s nothing wrong with that. Adventures need to be designed of all sorts of player decisions and Scourge of the Sword Coast does just that. Because of the open world nature of the campaign, Scourge of the Sword Coast is best left in the hands of a very experienced DM who can handle multiple dangling plot threads at once as well as the many locations this campaign contains. An inexperienced DM might find themselves in over the head and thus the experience will suffer greatly.

Scourge of the Sword Coast will see Daggerford as the crux of all sorts of strange happenings. There will be machinations by devils, plots by Thayan wizards, a massive influx of refugees as Orcs, Gnolls and Goblins seem to be attacking and harassing villages in a great decree than ever before. The Duke of Daggerfod gets a an ancient piece of art stolen and accuses the longtime ally of a disabled Paladin of the theft. All of these plot threads and more tie together as the players seek to uncover the puppetmaster behind all these apparently unrelated incidents. Besides Daggerford players will travel to the village of Julkon, Phylond Lodge, Harpshield Castle, Firehammer Hold, and the Floshin Estate. So that’s a guaranteed five dungeon crawls in addition to the copious amounts of investigation, discussion, and NPC interaction. You have a wide variety of enemies that you will encounter and while the campaign is a little on the easy side compared to other D&D Next releases, but there is still a degree of challenge and if your PCs don’t work together, character death is definitely possible.

So adventure quality wise, I really liked Scourge of the Sword Coast thanks to the open world nature of the piece, the wonderful cast of NPCs you are provided with and the multiple locations you have to explore. While it’s not as good as Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, Murder in Baldur’s Gate or Legacy of the Crystal Shard, the campaign is better than any of the D&D Encounters pieces I’ve gone through in the past few years and it’s definitely a better experience than most published fourth edition adventures. Scourge of the Sword Cost is a very well done and fun adventure and I’ve enjoyed fiddling with the adventure since October, 2013 (when it was originally provided to me). The final product, which is now for public purchase is really well done and you’ll definitely get your eighteen bucks out of it. Do I wish the piece had experience points or was in a pretty snazzy physical package like the first two Sundering adventures. Well of course I do, but as that isn’t going to happen I’m fine with what’s here. Scourge of the Sword Coast is a wonderful addition to the D&D Next line and will lead directly into Dead in Thay, which will take these same characters (if they survived) through Levels 6-8. Like Scourge of the Sword Coast, I’ve received various renditions of Dead in Thay since November and it too will be a really fun purchase for Fifth Edition fans. So far I have been thoroughly impressed with the D&D Next adventures and content and I’ve loved every single one. Here’s hoping you do too.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Like the previous two Sundering adventures, you are getting much more than just the core adventure. Where the previous two adventures came with a full campaign guide to their region and a nicely done DM screen, Scourge of the Sword Coast comes with a whopping 220 pages of various PDFs provided all the rules you will need to play D&D Next. So if you haven’t picked up any of the rules so far (Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle comes with them) you can buy this for only $17.99 and receive the following glut of mechanics and crunch:

•Eight 1st Level pregenerated characters (even though you start the campaign at Level 2…)


•A Twenty page DM Guide


•A thirteen page Equipment Guide


•A four page Feat Guide


•A twenty-nine page Player’s Guide


•A twelve page Magic Item Guide


•A three page guide on Multi-Classing


•A seven page guide on playable races


•A fifty-eight page guide to spells


•A five page guide on Character Creation


•An eleven page guide on Skills and Backgrounds


•A forty-six page guide on Classes


•A one page “Read this First!” document

Wow. That’s a lot of content and it’s all free with the purchase of the adventure. For those that already have Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, you can see how the D&D Next rules have changed in the past few months. If you don’t have Dragonspear Castle, then purchasing Scourge of the Sword Coast not only gives you a full campaign but the ability to have all the rules you need to run a full D&D Next game. FOREVER! Well, until the core rulebooks come out anyway. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a great deal this is. 220 pages of mechanics in addition to an eighty-five page campaign? That is an exceptional deal and this is probably the best way to jump on D&D Next if you haven’t already. If you don’t like it, at least you only spent eighteen dollars instead of buying giant hardcover books with a fifty dollar or so price tag, right? If you’re at all a fan of Dungeons & Dragons, regardless of edition, Scourge of the Sword Coast is well worth picking up just because it’s an amazing deal for such a high quality release. Is it perfect? No, it has notable aspects that some people will rightfully pick apart as it’s not “their” version of D&D. I do think D&D Next is a massive step in the right direction and I’ve yet to read a release for it that I haven’t loved. It’s a shame we aren’t getting a physical release of Scourge of the Sword Coast, but I’ve made do with several digital renditions for months and I’m just happy to have the final product in my hands…via a Kindle Fire anyway.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos (Basic)
by daniel r. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/03/2014 14:36:44
Overall I am very satisfied with the GAZ1 PDF. I find the "tower" water mark on many of the pages visually distracting and it takes away from my reading enjoyment. I would have given the document 5 stars, but for this single fact. Not having owned the original print copy, I don't know if this is a mater of securing the PDF or part of the original printing.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos (Basic)
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Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/03/2014 00:32:12
‘Halaster’s Lost Apprentice’ is one of the D&D Encounters seasons that nominally ties into the forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Nominally tied, because the dungeon and lore used in the Encounters are linked to Undermountain, which receives two products in the Fourth Edition line.
The season is structured as twelve interlocking encounters and it is advised that a party will complete each encounter in 90 minutes to two hours – so there is a substantial amount of material in this product. The party is ideally five first-level adventurers, and substantive advice and mechanics govern progression and treasure acquisition during the Encounters. This guidance was required for the organised play aspect of the game when it was originally issued, and some gaming tables may find it interesting and fun to play under similar strictures to replicate the experience.
The title excels however, when removed from the organised play structure. All of the Encounters are very straight-forward and could be easily run by a novice DM. As players progress sequentially through the season, they are introduced to the mechanics of Fourth Edition in a purposeful manner. This is not to suggest that this product is only for beginners; quite the opposite in fact. Experienced DMs will find a good skeleton for a short series of adventures, and can add their own flavour, tinker with the opponents, and also with the motivations of the NPCs. Whilst this would require additional investment of time in terms of planning, the results (especially if the DM could blend this with content from the AD&D boxed set ‘Ruins of Undermountain’) would be worthwhile.

The design of the title is clean, with statistics boxes clearly able to be read, and organised with quick reference at the table in mind. The maps are likewise presented in an unambiguous manner, but for full use of these the DM will require set of Dungeon Tiles. All of the artwork is of a high standard, and these elements combined make for an enjoyable and streamlined read.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
by Dominic L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2014 13:39:03
Having (regretfully) dispensed with my original hard copy- I am thrilled to buy a PDF and print it out. Excellent, flawless scan with great contrast.
This is such a brilliant website. To be able to get old D&D modules and rulebooks- and Judges Guild stuff I could never afford when I was a kid is brilliant. The PDFs are very reasonable priced (although I find printing the out is proving to be extremely costly in ink costs!)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
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C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1e)
by Dominic L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2014 13:35:37
One of the first ever adventures I played. Scan of the text and pictures is fine (although the resolution on the gatefold map is small cos its all one scan). Otherwise excellent- an exploration into an Aztec/Mayan themed tomb, lots of traps.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1e)
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Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3e)
by Jeff S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2014 20:43:38
BEST D&D ADVENTURE EVERY MADE!!! This can be a one night scenario or a very long campaign. Epic horror elements are included. Count Strahd is super hard to beat and random motivations can make this a different game each time you play. A must have for any D&D fan and shows you RPG writing done in top form!!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3e)
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RM2 The Created (2e)
by Billy L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2014 08:56:43
This is a solid adventure with the opportunity for interesting interaction with the NPCs.

The staging of the adventure is workable and it is different enough that players will be drawn in. But the tropes are familiar enough for players' expectations to be met.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RM2 The Created (2e)
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GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi (Basic)
by Jeremy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2014 21:38:23
This was my first Gazetteer when I was a kid and I still have the original! So, I was greatly disappointed that document didn't include the map, as seen in the Karameikos Gazetteer, as well as the counter sheet for the naval battles!

I really hope that this was just an oversight and that these items will be included in an update. This does not bode well for the rest of the Gazetteer series, as every one has the large map and a few even have nice extras like a full game or paper models.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi (Basic)
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GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi (Basic)
by Richard T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2014 10:31:14
The product history covers a lot of the needed information (for instance the humorous elements). Unlike the other GAZ books, it doesn't really offer a starting point for character creation or real springboards for campaign gaming.

That said, it makes for some really fun and lighthearted one-offs. The idea that it's a vacation spot can certainly make for some adventures that don't match the tone of the rest of your game.

It is missing a scan of the large map. Otherwise it would be a 4 star review.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Vault of the Dracolich (D&D Next)
by Tom h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2014 08:23:23
This is the best piece of work released by the D&D crew in the last 4 years. only the Neverwinter material comes close.

you get a great villian, a great map. decent descriptions and the ability to enter from multiple directions. you could have multiple parties play sequentially or together.

I ran this adventure several times last year - we eventually ran through all the areas of the map. it was a lot of fun for both experienced as well as new players.

at the end you have the possibility of a returning villian with whom to harrass your players for a long time (liches are notoriously hard to truly kill)

5 stars - I would give it 6 if such a rating was available.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vault of the Dracolich (D&D Next)
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DL2 Dragons of Flame (1e)
by Ronald O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2014 12:11:37
I've been waiting for these since the PDF publication of all of the old TSR titles were announced. I want to go back and compare how the original modules compare to the novels and fill in the missing holes - holes partially filled in a few years back with the release of the _Lost Chronicles_ series.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL2 Dragons of Flame (1e)
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DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
by Ronald O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2014 12:11:07
I've been waiting for these since the PDF publication of all of the old TSR titles were announced. I want to go back and compare how the original modules compare to the novels and fill in the missing holes - holes partially filled in a few years back with the release of the _Lost Chronicles_ series.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
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Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
by Vladimir O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2014 12:10:24
The Quality of this PDF is really good, I looks great printed. I do however urge DriveThru RPG to Ask Wizards for the maps that should be included with the adventure, and put them on separate files that can be easy to print, without them the product seems incomplete.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
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