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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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The Fright at Tristor (3e)
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2015 11:58:21

This adventure was created as part of the Living Greyhawk campaign, but it can be played as is with no modification, or with very small adjustments should you want to play it using different rules than 3rd edition rules.


The premise of the adventure is that 20 years ago, in the hamlet of Tristor, a terrible incident happened. Rhennees (similar to gypsies) came to the village and sold their medications. Because of a terrible mistake while mixing ingredients, two persons died and a small boy was left blind and paralyzed from the waist down. The townsfolk gathered and visited mob justice on the Rhennees, killing all of them but one young boy they forced to watch. At the time the adventure begins, the young boy is back and using a disguise and a trained bear, mutilates and kills livestock as well as farmers around Tristor, seeing his actions as justice for what happened.


The region is also infested with orcs and a few encounters as well as what I would consider a sidetrek as it is unrelated to the main plot is provided to reflect this. The first part of the adventure relies a lot on investigation and several of the encounters occurs on farms that have been attacked. Although not specified, this part is a lot easier with character who can track. Even the remainder of the adventure is easier if such a character is present. In any case, the characters may feel a bit helpless as they chase after clues and are confronted by some unsavory residents of Tristor. The way the residents intervene and act is actually, in my opinion, on of the strength of the module because they are depicted as having motives of their own and are not simply there to help the pc's. There are also consequences to their actions, some of them plunging right to their deaths.


The last part of the adventure provides a description of a few locations outside Tristor and cover the final showdown with the main opponent. The showdown is not particularly impressive. It is not bad, but it is unremarkable: the characters find the cave where the Rhennee survivor lives under the identity of a local woodsman and they may just let him go if they cannot succeed a sense motive check to realize he is not who he says he is. I am not a big fan of that.


The adventure also does not have a lot of maps. Most important areas are depicted, but the encounter with the main antagonist does not have a map. I am also not a big fan of the reliance on tracking to find clues. It is a perfectly good way to find a clue of course, but there could have been other ways and the fact players often need to wait for thing to happen or may miss clues should they decide to search the area around Tristor is not the best adventure design I've seen. Many of the encounters featured in the last part could have been hinted in rumors heard in town. And since these encounters provide very meaningful clues, players could have been able to prevent some of the murders. The fact that they can't do it if the adventure is played as written makes the adventure a bit railroaded, in a manner of speaking.


In any case, not a bad adventure, but there is not much new in the adventure. It is not flawed however, so if you want to play a campaign in Greyhawk, it would make for a good choice because it is makes great use of the existing campaign elements.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Fright at Tristor (3e)
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Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (5e)
by John L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2015 16:06:55

I definitely feel Impressed by a lot of what 5e has offered, and this small, but content packed supplement is great example of the quality of 5e. A simple add-on of interesting races and spells, that can be used in any campaign, to me, is a simple by. And the duel purpose of assisting campaigns in this specific setting is wonderful. The races, atleast, are pretty unusual. And many Dms may feel immediately afraid of balancing issues if they were to add them in their campaign, but I honestly see these races as an example of what Wizards of the Coast was able to do in the core rulebooks with both the races and classes. Add awesome abilities and really cool sounding powers, that are wonderfully balanced with the rest of the game. I'd say this may be only one of the first of a great line of supplements for Dungeons amd Dragons 5th Edition.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (5e)
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Magic of Eberron (3.5)
by Darren P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2015 13:05:42

Nice pdf but it is more of a background/history book rather than being particularly useful in play. Kinda expected lots more spells it they are pretty low in number. The least useful of the Eberron books. For once it did not have me reaching for pen and paper



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[2 of 5 Stars!]
Magic of Eberron (3.5)
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GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2015 11:40:05

The pdf is 102 pages (the original book was 96 pages, a detached cover and large map of the country and Glantri City). The PDF is a good quality scan and retains all the information found in the print book. The cover art was done by the fantastic Clyde Caldwell. While this book is a D&D "Basic" book, there is so much here of use that it can really be used with any D&D system. This book really set the stage for all the other Gazetteers to follow.


The first part, Welcome to Glantri, gives a very brief overview of what the country is and what this book sets out to do.
Up next is the History of Glantri. I spent hours and hours reading this over and over. I won't go into great detail, but linking Glantri to ancient Blackmoor was wonderful in my mind. Mostly because I loved the link but also I had done something similar for my own games. What follows next is a time line from 3000 BC, The Rain of Fire (Before Crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis) to 1000 AC (today) and even on to 1200 AC. I always wondered if the Rain of Fire that destroyed Blackmoor was related or even just the same spell that destroyed the Suel in the Greyhawk world.


Geography of Glantri is next. Like much of Mystara, Glantri is a mix of all sorts of races and people, but Glantri also has it's fair share of "monsters" those will be detailed later. Glantri's climate is also touched upon, making it one of the colder lands.


The is followed by The Glantrian Economy. I really enjoyed this section because it really breathes life into the people that live here. Each of the Principalities is detailed here for the first time. A quick read and one immediately recognizes analogues to Scotland, Italy, France, and even Transylvania. Glantri is very cosmopolitan. We move into the Grand Army of Glantri and Politics and Rivalries of Glantri. Glantri is the place to play out political intrigue where everyone is mage of some sort or has one on retainer. Like the Economy section, this section breathes more life into the people of the land, in this case all the great houses. I will admit once again that the interior art by Stephan Fabian links this to Ravenloft in my mind. Not only are there humans here, but vampires, werewolves and liches ruling. We will get to witches in a bit.


Guilds and Brotherhoods are also one of the more important features of this book and life in Glantri. There are so many here that characters could each belong to many and none overlap. Some are complimentary to each other and others at cross purposes. Really good fodder for role-playing.


Glantri City by Night details what happens to the 39,000+ residents when the sun goes down. The book is like a what we now call Modern Supernatural. So all sorts of "monsters" come out and mingle with everyday people. It says "by Night" but really this an overview of the city itself and all it's sections. It reminds me of a travel guide to London I once read, so I am rather fond of this section.


Living in Glantri City details life in the city including the laws, who is in charge, magic use and various holy/high days. There is no religion in Glantri, but there is a state philosophy. Of course it is tied in with magic.


The Great School of Magic. Outside of Hogwarts or Professor Xavier's school has a school been so rich detailed. Though there is enough here to make me want more, a lot more. This is followed by Creating Spells and Magical Items and The Secret of the Radiance. The source of Glantri's magical power.


Nest we get into The Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri. If you only buy this book for this section then you will be well rewarded. Think of these as schools or even colleges of magic. Each one ads something special to the Magic-User class, almost like a Prestige Class or Paragon class feature. They include, Alchemy, Dragon magic, Elemental magic, Illusion, Necromancy, Rune magic, and of course, Witchcraft.
We wrap up with Adventures in Glantri.


The Gazetteer series were works of art and none more so than the Glantri book.


I mentioned before that this book would work fine with other versions of D&D. Looking deeper into the Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri, one could EASILY replace the Arcane Tradition feature of the 5th Edition Wizard and replace those powers with the craft powers. The 5e wizard gets 4 Arcane tradition powers/features and the Basic craft wizards get 5. They work out to about the same levels too.


So if you have not picked this up, do so. I highly recommend it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic)
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WGR4 The Marklands (2e)
by Nicola R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2015 04:25:19

The quality of the scan is superb, except for the cover and back cover. they are too dark (fix this if you can).
Overall a great product for a great setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
WGR4 The Marklands (2e)
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Dungeon #216 (4e)
by Darren P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 13:17:04

If there was a negative scoring system them I would give this a minus score, really, really disappointing content.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon #216 (4e)
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Exemplars of Evil (3.5)
by Darren P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 13:14:09

Great. They off, good art work, good idea's and guidance for dms. Plenty of well thought out villains and their minions plus actual adventures and scenarios based around each villain.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exemplars of Evil (3.5)
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Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue (2e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 13:13:53

Brilliant book. Whether you want to offer some unusual items to sell to your players in a large city, or looking at spicing up a treasure horde with interesting knick knacks, this is the book for you. The descriptions are well written with a bit of flavour and will give your players ideas for inventive play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue (2e)
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Dragonmarked (3.5)
by Darren P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 13:09:56

The eberron 3.5 books blow most supplements out of he water. Great hooks, detail and artwork.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragonmarked (3.5)
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Enemies and Allies (3e)
by Darren P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 13:07:31

Great book this with lots of nicely different NPCs, including the original characters from the 3.5 players hand book - at three different level. We are using them as a framework for 5e.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enemies and Allies (3e)
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Dungeon #207 (4e)
by Darren P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 13:03:59

Its got vistani, so its good. Great art work. Better than most of these later magazines



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon #207 (4e)
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Planescape Campaign Setting (2e)
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2015 14:16:10

Plane Scape is as good as it gets almost better than the new sword coast adventurers guide



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Planescape Campaign Setting (2e)
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D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth (1e)
by Jacob A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2015 16:35:18

This is a great romp through the Underdark. A really cool thing to read (and run!) in 5E. You could definitely mine this for some cool alterations to Out of the Abyss or any Underdark campaign.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth (1e)
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Return to the Tomb of Horrors (2e)
by Donald B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2015 12:23:18

On the whole, I got what I paid for with this product. I needed a digital copy of the original Tomb of Horrors module (which is included in this package) so I could adapt it into my VTT environment. I have tools to export the images and text for re-publication purposes. My only complaint is that the OCR was not clean. This required me to hand edit all of the content. Other than that, it was exactly what I needed.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Return to the Tomb of Horrors (2e)
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