[Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

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[Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:37 pm

I bought the mega module last evening. Lets discuss this product as we discover it.

The 96 page book is divided in 8 episodes in which characters rise from level 1 to level 7 or 8. Appendix A gives choices of Backgrounds to link the characters to the adventure. Appendix B lists setting specific monsters and important NPCs. The DM is told to consult the FREE DMG pdf for any monster not included in the module (such as Kobolds). Appendix C describes Magical Items.

The cover is the same quality as the WOTC books. The paper inside differs from WOTC books. Its thicker and has a mat finish that I prefer. No glare! The graphic design follows the same style as the new books. Same fonts. Each episode starts with a half page illustration to set up the mood.

On page 4 there is a map of the Sword Coast ranging from The Ice Sea to Candle Keep. The map is subdued stylistically. The colours are toned down and it has a monochromatic feeling. No scale is provided which is quite annoying...

Page 5 is an overview of the background, secrets and cult organization of the adventure. Its very succinct. This is not a setting book.

Page 6 Episode One - Greenest in Flames : The authors jump into the action without much preamble. Greenest, a town with a keep, is attacked by cultists who have orders to collect has much valuables as they can. A blue dragon does a few passes to terrorize the town but leaves after that. The 6 page episode describes various attack points by the cultists, acolytes, ambush drakes, giant lizards and kobolds. The heroes must choose which they want to get involved in. Governor Tarbaw Nighthill asks the adventurers to take a few prisonners. He wants to interrogate them. The pillagers leave after a fixed number of hours... Its certainly a strong debut. There is potential for a TPK if the players are too reckless.

The map of the town is average. Its certainly not at the level of those in the starter set module. The numbers for the key locations are hard to find is they blend in too much with the background. I took me a few minutes to find the Mill, location 4. Which you have to guess because the text doesn't tell you the mill is #4...
Last edited by shesheyan on Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Post by shesheyan » Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:26 pm

Looking at this book I think I'm going to keep the characters from the starter set when we are done. Most of my players have already expressed the idea of keeping their characters but with minor tweaks. They will be level 5. I will adjust upward the difficulty of the encounters for the first half of the book. After that they will level up normally.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Post by shesheyan » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:20 pm

I've read 3 episodes up to now :

The storytelling is very linear from episode 1 to 2 and then to 3... Not to say that its boring. Its an engaging story line with hooks to propel the characters forward.

The drawings of the opposing NPCs is of excellent quality. Each has a distinctive look. The intro images of episode 1, 2 and 3 are dramatic and can be used during the adventure at the proper moment.
The map of episode is two is to dark in some areas. I'm starting to think the graphic designer didn't compensate for the fact that when you print on mat paper colours come out darker. (I wouldn't be surprised no one told him! )

Episode 2 will prove very challenging. Characters are outnumbered in the wilderness and must avoid capture. But if they are captured its not the end of the line...

Episode 3 is an underground cavern complex. The map is non linear and offers multiple ways to different areas. The map is of good quality and there are no visibility issues.
I really enjoy the fact that there are several traps set up by the Kobolds. Got to love the little buggers !

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Post by BotWizo » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:41 pm

I appreciate your quick reviews, thanks for doing them
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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Post by Hugin » Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:01 pm

BotWizo wrote:I appreciate your quick reviews, thanks for doing them
Agreed! Thanks shesheyan.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Levels 1-

Post by Dave67 » Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:53 am

Our Adventure's League held their second night this past Monday, and I heard that at least one table nearly had a TPK. OTOH, our table didn't even go inside the mill, but fought the cultists that had been laying in wait out front - kinda helped that my rouge had the Charlatan background, so her proficiency with her disguise kit, plus a few dead cultists who's robes we could use, meant that we were able to sneak around a lot more.

But year, it is deadly at the start, as my rouge was dropped down to 1 hit point...twice.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Levels 1-

Post by shesheyan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:59 pm

Dave67 wrote:Our Adventure's League held their second night this past Monday, and I heard that at least one table nearly had a TPK. OTOH, our table didn't even go inside the mill, but fought the cultists that had been laying in wait out front - kinda helped that my rouge had the Charlatan background, so her proficiency with her disguise kit, plus a few dead cultists who's robes we could use, meant that we were able to sneak around a lot more.
But yeah, it is deadly at the start, as my rouge was dropped down to 1 hit point...twice.
Good to have some feedback by someone who played it ;)

Episode 4 (10 pages) : Change of pace. After a search & rescue mission (#1), a spying mission (#2) and a dungeon crawl (#3), the adventurers must now travel many days with a large caravan. Normally this would be a rather boring set up. Fortunately, the authors provide 10 fully fleshed out NPCs, 12 dramatic random events that can be played in any order and four planned events to move the main story forward. I wasn't sure about this episode when I started reading it. But by the end it all comes together nicely. Can't wait to play out that part. This episode is all about social interactions and role-play with a few combat encounters. It ends with murder ! (not saying more :twisted: )

The narrative moves from Greenest to Daggerford, passing by Baldur's Gate. Maps of the town are not provided as the characters only stay for an overnight. A google search can probably supply those easily...
Characters that did not level to 4th level during episode 3 should do so during this one.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Levels 1-

Post by shesheyan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:59 pm

Episode 5 (4 pages) : Characters have passed by Waterdeep are where hired into a convoy going North on the High Road towards Neverwinter. The episode is centred on a fortified roadhouse. Its all about collecting clues, innuendo, thieves in the night, locked fortified rooms... and grudges !

The location of room #7 is missing on the plan. Its the room of a NPC that could potentially become important... -1
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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:26 pm

Episode 6 (18 pages) : Mere of Dead Men. Characters finally arrive at the location they have been looking for since the end of episode 2. Its a big one : a 3 level castle in ruins with 1 level of dungeon. Guaranteed TPK for players groups hellbent on killing everything outside and inside the castle. On the other hand groups using shifty alliances between the evil groups (lizard folk, bullywugs, cultists) to their advantage will likely succeed. The plans of the castle and dungeon are fine. Scale is 20 feet per square.

Characters should reach 6th level.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:09 pm

Episode 7 (9 pages) : The story shifts to the Greypeak Mountains. (I'm obviously not telling everything as to not spoil the fun). A 2 level hunting lodge that offers more then seen at first glance.

The plans of the lodge are good looking but there are a few numbering mistakes once again :
- Where is room #12 on the ground floor. Maybe one of the 2 rooms #10 should have been #12?
- Room #18 is supposed to be a the room of a major NPC but there are 3 rooms with that number. Reading to entry you can deduct which is the right one. That leaves 2 rooms with no descriptions. Probably guess rooms.

I'm surprised at the lack of proof reading of several maps in this book. Nothing major but still I didn't expect such basic mistakes.

Characters should reach 7th level.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:08 pm

Episode 8 (14 pages) : This episodes takes place in a small village and a high fantasy location. There is a chance for the characters to strike a major blow to the Tiamat cultists. But there is also a chance that they will let the opportunity split between their fingers... A big finish.

Characters should be close to 8 level by the end of the adventure.

Don't look for description of area 6 and 7 in the village entry. They are in the high fantasy location description.
Which is misleading because they appear on the village map...



Final evaluation :
If you are looking for a sandbox style adventure this is not for you. This is a 100% certified railroad from beginning to end. There is only one order in which the arc storyline can be played out. Normally I would be annoyed by this. But taking into account the variety of the locations, the wide variety of adventure modes, the importances of social interactions throughout the book and a geographical trek up the Sword Coast that ends in the Greypeak Mountains its a DAM BIG ADVENTURE !!! I'm envious of new GMs and players who will learn to play D&D with such a product. I'm estimating you can get twelve to fifteen 4-hour sessions out of this product.

The production value of the book is high. Its too bad its mired by deficient proof reading and poor printing results for some of the maps.
Still I'm glad I bought it. I'll be more than happy to play this module with my new group of veteran players.

Hope you enjoyed reading this.

Shesheyan aka Marc C

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Hugin » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:13 am

Thanks a bunch for posting these, shesheyan. I may have to rethink my initial position of not buying it.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:54 pm

Hugin wrote:Thanks a bunch for posting these, shesheyan. I may have to rethink my initial position of not buying it.
Hey! glad its helpful. ;)

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Seethyr » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:10 am

I haven't played yet, but I bought the adventure and have skimmed through it. It seems like there are far fewer magic items floating around in 5e than in any other edition. I kind of like that...
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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Dave67 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:14 am

My group in the Adventures League just got through the castle. We started the Lizardman uprising by effectively turning the two-storey stone building the bullywugs were using as a barracks into one big kiln with one fireball that wiped them all out.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Dave67 » Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:27 am

Just wanted to update...

We got through the swamp, dealt with the manor house (scaring the poor cook half to death) in which we dropped the main villain there when she decided to make a run for it at the end - she was already hurting badly from the fight she was subdued in. Got to the cloud city and ended the session with us having taken care of three vampires that were roaming it.

Two weeks later (this past Thursday) I get there late, just in time to help them deal with the dragon in the tunnels that two of the party, now vamped, vamp. We take care of the main baddie, the storm giants - by summoning the dragon - and at this point our GM says "You know what, you take care of the rest of the castle, you have taken over the hoard, but the castle crashes into the ground. It's not like you'll be playing these characters again anyways." Those who could not fly due to vampiric powers just rode the dragon to the ground. (We are NOT going on to "Rise of Tiamat" in our League play. We're playing the new adventure book that is coming out in March, and we're to start with new lvl 1-2 characters.)

We had beaten everything, god about 12K in gold plus gems, got enough XP to get to 8th level, etc. There was enough time that we decided to go back to the swamp and fight the two black dragons there. So now we have about half the party vamped, three vampiric dragons, an undead army, and...I'm saying that my thief buys up all the gems from the other party members, and then goes to some wizard and says "Here's a tonne of gold, teleport/dimension door me to some other place. This place is WAY too weird." (And then have her as a mid-level NPC/plot point in my Mystara campaign if I ever decide to run it.)

Mind you, I did suggest that our vamped party members can go around and cause various 'vampire outbreaks' in villages and towns, and then my thief, the monk, and our dragonborn sorceror would come in as roving vampire hunters and 'deal' with the problem...for a price, of course. :)

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:14 pm

Fun to read what other people are doing with this adventure.

Sessions 1, 2, 3: For my campaign I had the players run through the starter set adventure first. I modified the Hoard Module so it can deal with 5th level characters at the beginning. I also changed to starting location from Greenest to the town of Phandelver (of the starter set). Since the characters had freed the town of the Redbrands and had been using it as a base, seeing it under attack by the Tiamat cultist, after coming back from the mines was a shock. They literaly raced to the rescue! After which they tracked the fleeing army and found the hidden lair and freed the monk. Followed the wagon tracks to the town of Leilon. After meeting with the Paladin they discovered that the cultist's wagon was probably with a caravan going south towards Waterdeep. Using horses supplied by the Harpers they were able to catch up with the caravan and offer their services has protectors.

Session 4 : At the start of the session I ran a large battle against the caravan with a band of 30 goblins, a goblin king on steroids and 6 Wargs. Surprisingly it lasted only 20 minutes (in real time). A few days later at the end of a day of heavy rain they reached to roadhouse. The thief spent the night hidden in shadows waiting for something to happen once everyone had gone to bed. The subterfuge and the secret tunnel were discovered.

Later that night they are entered the Mere of Dead Swamp. Exhausted they took a long rest. The next day once they got on the move they met with a group of devious Bullywugs pretending friendship. The Bullywugs lured the adventurers in the area where the Shambling Mound usually roams. Once the fight started with the mound the Bullywugs fled the scene convinced that they had dealt with the threat. But the adventurers prevailed. The Wizard ended up unconscious after a double attack and the Engulf action. It was a hard fight because the party only has 4 characters. From afar SnapJaw, of the Lizarfolk, watched the fight desperate to see if these people were strong enough to free his people. Once the Shabling Mound was dead he made his decision... [end].

----

This was our 11th session since the month of August. Having a dedicated group that wants to play Friday evenings every two weeks is a charm. Brings back the old D&D is cool feeling I haven't felt in 10+ years!

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Dave67 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:26 am

Sounds like they (and you) are having fun. Wish my Sunday group would want to play in it, but with one player vehemently opposed to level-based and fantasy-based, it's not gonna happen. :(

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:51 am

Dave67 wrote:Sounds like they (and you) are having fun. Wish my Sunday group would want to play in it, but with one player vehemently opposed to level-based and fantasy-based, it's not gonna happen. :(
Well, just play without him!

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Dave67 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:58 am

Problem is, he's one of the GMs and we game at his place about half the time.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:42 pm

Dave67 wrote:Problem is, he's one of the GMs and we game at his place about half the time.
Are you running multiple games or single game with multiple GMs? If its multiple games you can play half the time, without him, not at his home. Its kind of sad that someone prevents the rest of the group to play D&D. Would all the other players join a game of D&D if it was possible?

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Marco Fossati » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:41 pm

Played 2 sessions as DM and players are in chapter 3, about to enter the cave at the camp. Even if the module is 100% railroad, they have managed so far with a couple of nice events: they were easily captured in chapter 2 and evenrually freed by the monk and they tried an ambush to kill some enemies in the cave in order to face less opponents one they would have been entered. Ambush failed and all were killed except halfling thief.

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Dave67 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:10 am

shesheyan wrote:
Dave67 wrote:Problem is, he's one of the GMs and we game at his place about half the time.
Are you running multiple games or single game with multiple GMs? If its multiple games you can play half the time, without him, not at his home. Its kind of sad that someone prevents the rest of the group to play D&D. Would all the other players join a game of D&D if it was possible?
Alternating between two games with two different GMs at two different locations - currently L5R and Shadowrun. Let's just say that there are a LOT of variables that would preclude us ever running D&D. (One player is more Pathfinder, one player is also...as well as doing whatever the group wants because he just wants to be liked, and then the aforementioned player.)

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by shesheyan » Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:25 pm

Dave67 wrote:
shesheyan wrote:
Dave67 wrote:Problem is, he's one of the GMs and we game at his place about half the time.
Are you running multiple games or single game with multiple GMs? If its multiple games you can play half the time, without him, not at his home. Its kind of sad that someone prevents the rest of the group to play D&D. Would all the other players join a game of D&D if it was possible?
Alternating between two games with two different GMs at two different locations - currently L5R and Shadowrun. Let's just say that there are a LOT of variables that would preclude us ever running D&D. (One player is more Pathfinder, one player is also...as well as doing whatever the group wants because he just wants to be liked, and then the aforementioned player.)
LOL! group dynamics. A long time ago I badly wanted to GM Vampire by WW but my D&D group couldn't understand the angle and the angst of being damned. I spent 1 hour debating with them but all they kept saying was that vampires were evil and they couldn't play that... they couldn't get past the D&D vision of vampires. So I gave up. :(

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Re: [Tyrany of Dragons] Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Lvl 1-7)

Post by Bouv » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:42 pm

I've been reading this one and I enjoy it. It's mixing things up a little bit - a small dungeon crawl, some minor wilderness adventures, town adventures. I'm on Chapter 3 (or 4?) now, where the PC's have to go to Waterdeep with the caravans.

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