Official D&D Campaigns: Mini Reviews
Wizards of the Coast has released 11 official D&D campaigns in hardback (as well as those in the Starter Set, Essentials Kit and Tales from the Yawning Portal) in the 5 years since 5th Edition was released (has it been that long?). While I’ve played a lot of sessions of D&D in that time, I’ve only actually ran or played in three of those hardbacks. Thinking about it, that’s actually a shocking number as I would have said it was more. Still, three it is and here are my thoughts on them:
Lost Mine of Phandelver (Starter Set)
The adventure from the Starter Set, Lost Mine is a great introduction to D&D. I played it when we first started with 5th Edition and ran it for my work colleagues. My work colleagues at that time hadn’t played RPGs before (with the exception of one of the players. Having been on both sides of the screen for this one has been great. I loved playing my halfling rogue, Minto “Minty” Burrows (the self same halfling who’s cartography appears here ;)). I’ve even used him in the campaign my work colleagues play in (but not as a DM PC!). I used the experiences from playing to add flavour and emphasis when I ran it myself.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen
I ran Hoard of the Dragon Queen as a follow-on from Lost Mine of Phandelver. Normally this would have meant changing some of the challenges as they would have been too easy. However, we also lost a few players in the transition so the balance worked out fine. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the campaign. I needed to put a lot of work into smoothing out the rough bumps that it has. Most of these are due to the campaign being written before the rules were released. My own recommendation would be to have the errata to hand if you decide to run it. It’s very much of a railroad campaign though, but that can be changed slightly by having side quests and the like. My own group are quite chaotic in nature so the rails were actually beneficial in keeping them on the right track (pun fully intended).
We finished this campaign at the beginning of the year and I fully intend on following it up with The Rise of Tiamat—I just need to work on the ironing out the issues I have with this campaign first…
Princes of the Apocalypse
I played in an abridged version of Princes of the Apocalypse as the follow up to our Lost Mine of Phandelver. As regular readers will note, I love the Forgotten Realms and this was my first return to one of my favourite parts of the Realms in many years. I say an abridged version because, again, from what I gleened from playing, this campaign can be a bit of a grind so our DM cut out a lot of this. We still got to save the Realms and I really enjoyed the roleplaying we did, but the campaign itself just didn’t feel right. Of those I’ve come across for 5th Edition, this is by far the weakest. At least with Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat there are iconic monsters to defeat.
Storm King’s Thunder
As soon as I read the advertising “blurb” for Storm King’s Thunder I knew I wanted to run it. This campaign also serves brilliantly as a companion gazetteer to the 5th Edition Realms. I wasn’t keen on the start of the campaign though. Instead, I ran Scourge of the Sword Coast. That way I had the PCs coming up to Daggerford and running about the Delimbiyr Vale for a while. Once the PCs caught wind of the campaign plot, they soon travelled across most of the North. Goldenfields, Waterdeep, Amphail, Red Larch, Triboar, Longsaddle, Mirabar and the Spine of the World (amongst many others) were waypoints on their journey. My personal highlight was one of the minor NPCs in the campaign grewing into a character in his own right. We now have the gnomish airship pirate, Loot, flying the skies of the North!
I loved the campaign so much I even ran a mini-campaign as an epilogue so that I could tie up some loose ends. I’ve no doubt I’ll run more adventures for those PCs too as I really like them.
As mentioned before, I’m prepping Rise of Tiamat for my work colleagues and also a fantasy pirates campaign. Originally it was based on the Savage Worlds 50 Fathoms campaign, but my Kickstarter rewards for The Seas of Vodari is due for delivery next month so I might either switch to that or just mine it for ideas.
What about you? What D&D campaigns have you played in or run? Let me know if the comments below what your plans are for the future?
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