Monday, April 3, 2017

Tales from the Yawning Portal (first thoughts and ideas)

Hery Game Fans, we’re going to take a quick look at Tales from the Yawning Portal, the newest Hardcover book released by our grand masters, Wizards of the Coast.  This is a different kind of hardcover adventure, and we’ll get into that in a minute.  First i’d like to thank the fine folks at Wizards for putting together a product like this.  Second, settle in because this isn’t like a product we’ve seen before, so i’m going to ramble for a while.

First, Tales from the Yawning Portal is a compilation of adventures from the previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons.  It grabs seven classic modules (I am not going to call it a greatest hits compilation because it doesn’t include a few seminal works, notably Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and the D-Q series).  And updates them to the 5th edition rules set for Dungeons and Dragons.  The renovations are close to the idea behind the originals, and the adventures are built to be dropped into any setting.  This means that other than the four or five pages describing the Yawning Portal itself, the book is not tied to the Forgotten Realms, which is a major departure from previous hardcovers.

The other major departure that i see for this is that this book is not a complete story arc driven campaign like the previous hardcovers.  They had a clear starting point, linear connections between sections, and a plot that tied that entire book together.  This book takes a different approach and has a specific level expected for each dungeon, and a rough idea of how to string them together, but beyond that, there isn’t a plot that frames these together.  

So what does this mean?  

Well, for the dungeon master who wants to see how older module/adventure/deathtrap/killing fields can be converted, this is an indispensable tome on how traps, monsters, and dungeons are put together, and how they change across editions.  Further, it gives the DM some breathing room when they’re planning their own campaigns.  If you come to a situation where you think that your players are at level 3 and need to get to around level four or five, you have a ready made dungeon for that level.  Further, it will probably take multiple sessions to finish, which means you’ve got a few more weeks to plan out your next adventure.  As discrete blocks of content, the adventures in Tales from the Yawning Portal are absolutely amazing.  

The Adventures featured in this compilation are:

  1. The Sunless Citadel (Originally written by Bruce R.  Cordell for 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons) for level 1 characters.
  2. The Forge of Fury (Originally written by Richard Baker for 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons) for level 3 characters.
  3. The Hidden Shrine of Tamochan (Originally written by Harold Johnson & Jeff R. Leason for 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) for level 5 characters.
  4. White Plume Mountain (Originally written by Lawrence Schick for 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons) for level 8 characters.
  5. Dead in Thay (Originally written by Scott Fitzgerald Grey for D & D Encounters and as a playtest for 5th edition) for characters between levels 9 and 11.
  6. Against the Giants (Originally written by Gary Gygax for 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons) for level 11 characters.
  7. The Tomb of Horrors (Originally written by Gary Gygax for 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons) for high level characters.

There are some big adventures and some very deadly dungeons written into this book, and over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at each chapter as its own adventure and do some comparisons between the new versions and the originals.  If you’re interested in these, go get the book, it’s a wonderful collection of great dungeon adventures and you could do a lot worse for your gaming group.  

Remember that each chapter is its own adventure, and you can read through a specific chapter to prep that adventure.  Because these adventures don’t have a linear plot connecting them, they are very easy to drop into an existing campaign.  So, Grab your copy, and get to reading, I’ll be breaking these down as we go forward into the coming weeks.

Game On, Game Fans.  

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