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Monday, April 14, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons

L is for LARRY FREAKING ELMORE
I ran Many Gates of the Gann in D&D Next rules last night. That adventure is full of awesome concepts, though for me it was too long. I made an "abridged" version so we could get through it in a single session. The Zerpanax is an incredibly cool monster.

I am about to hand out spoilers so please beware:

Now our heroes are in the possession of the Annihilation Seed. If shattered, it creates a magical storm which destroys everything in a 5 mile radius! They have what amounts to a weapon of mass destruction. They have carefully placed it in their bag of holding... though they are aware that their bag is connected to other bags of holding, which means that it is possible for other adventuring parties could steal this thing (long story)...
A Zerpanax! Cool, right?

They have also moved in to a haunted forest where warlocks come to meet with their weird evil lord who grants them their spells. If you look at the end of the "equipment" section of the D&D Next pdf packet, you will see rules for "lifestyle". Basically, the PCs pay a certain amount of gold per month, and that covers how they live. It's a couple gold per month to live "poor", and 250 gold per month to live an "aristocratic" lifestyle.

Our heroes are living like rich folk and have four panda-person masseuses at their beck and call.

At PAX East, Wizards had some announcements about upcoming releases. This was covered quite well on enworld, as well as in a nice succinct article on forbes, and in a fantastic post on the Dyvers Campaign blog. Here are some things to chew over, biting it with your mind like in Stephen King's "It":

Tyranny of Dragons is a stand alone product

Apparently, Tyranny is going to have rules included with it. I'd guess it will come in a folder, like in Murder at Baldur's Gate. Maybe with a couple booklets, a poster map and a DM Screen. I'd prefer that it came in a boxed set, but I understand that that might be too expensive for a product that I assume is designed to lure people in to try the game.

People are taking this to mean that D&D 5th edition will not be coming out at Gen Con. I don't really care about that. I mean, I have the rules right now. I know they're not the final version of the rules, but who cares? It works, I like it, I run it twice a week.

Forgotten Realms is the default setting
I'll fight the villain while your PCs watch!

I've never been a Forgotten Realms guy. I will say that playing the computer game Baldur's Gate allowed me to get a feel for the setting. I really liked Candlekeep. It's not a bad setting, but I don't care for a lot of the factions. The Harpers always seemed a little too goofy to me. The nice thing, though, is that it is "generic" enough so that re-purposing their material for my use should be a piece of cake.

Eberron, Dragonlance, and Ravenloft to be supported

That's kind of cool. The settings I like the most are Spelljammer and Planescape. Ravenloft in particular is enjoyable - I got a lot of mileage out of that 2e boxed set way back when. The horror checks, the tarot cards, all pretty cool.

The domains of dread were very hit and miss. And some of the adventures were awful. 

Dragonlance is a weird one. To me it always seemed like it peaked in the beginning, and all of the subsequent material stood in its' shadow. I was a big fan of Tanis, Lord Soth and Sturm Brightblade, and especially of Larry Elmore's covers (I can't believe they actually had a new artist draw covers for later printings!).

But what exactly do you do with Dragonlance at this point? It almost feels like it's kept around just to get some more use out of Lord Soth and Raistlin, and to trot out the kender race for some reason. I guess it would be cool to have Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman cook up a new "adventure path" like the original set on the world of Krynn, where there's a dragon in each adventure.

Now that I think of it, Tyranny of Dragons set in Krynn would have floated my boat big time. Just replace Tiamat with Takhisis. I realize, though, that Tiamat is the iconic villain and they want a marquee name for the launch.

Side note: Draconians were awesome, too. I don't know why, but I loved their different death effects. You kill one and it turns to stone. That's such a cool thing.

It's only been SIX YEARS since the last edition!

Is that a little alarming to anyone else? I don't know if that means that 4th edition was a failure or if it means that Wizards has determined that the core books are where most of the money is made. I would wager a guess that the Paizo model proves otherwise, but I don't know that for sure.

I don't mind buying new books at all. They're usually the price of a video game. A video game is played for a couple weeks. An RPG is played for years. It's kind of a bummer to see how 4th fizzled out so quick, at least in terms of product output. There was so much material in such a short time, that I still haven't gone through half of it. I was flipping through some 4e Dungeon magazines a month ago, astonished at how much cool material I didn't even remember existed. Hell, Open Grave was one of the first supplements and I still feel like I've never fully mined it for material!

Bottom line, I'm happy with where things are headed. I am fascinated that they gave out their rules for free and it seems like it will make them more money, not less, when the final version is released. I have been running D&D Next for what... almost two years?  Pretty amazing.


1 comment:

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I assume the reference to stealing things out of connected bags of holding is a references to Knights of the Dinner Table? (Or is that wishful thinking on my part?)

I remain cautiously optimistic about 5E. I liked 4E but it was a very different kind of game - it's pretty easy to jump to the conclusion that it was a failure since they're re-launching it so quickly, and yet... we're talking about WOTC here. This is the company that continually redesigns MtG, and purposefully obsoletes its own content every couple of years so that people keep buying new stuff. 5E might be a continuation of this model.

We'll know for sure if 6E comes out by 2020.