Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tales from the Yawning Portals (The End)

Hey Game Fans, we’re going to wrap up our coverage of the Tales from the Yawning Portal Hardcover book today by taking a look at the Appendices and talking a little bit about what this book can mean for future anthologies and ideas for Wizards of the Coast.  We’re going to start with the handful of new magic items, then some monsters, and then some deep thoughts.  Let’s dig into it, Game Fans.  

New Magic Items

This book features a few new magic items, some of which are more useful than others.  The Amulet of Protection from Turning for example is really only useful if you’re undead.  The cursed items run the gamut of items that can be very useful with a drawback to straight up negative effects.  None of these items are game breakingly powerful, but they are very flavorful for the adventures they come from, and you can have a lot of fun sprinkling these into your game even if you don’t play through the entire book.  DMs looking for some ideas on creating cursed items and some of the other interesting items can draw rich dividends from this section.  

New Creatures

One of the defining features of several of these older modules were that they introduced us to new monsters, and new types of existing monsters.  That was always the secret weapon that a DM had back in the day, because unless the player had either played the module before, or run it as a dungeon master, there were very few chances for them to get a sneak peek at the new things coming to kill them.  Several iconic monsters have been introduced to Dungeons and Dragons this way over the years.
The New Creatures section of Tales from the Yawning Portal features a host of new monsters and new NPCs to deal with, ranging in complexity from an animated table to the Legendary lich Tarul Var.  Most of these monsters and encounter components are useful enough to be used in other areas and be recycled into new adventures of your own devising. Take a look through the catalog and see what monsters grab your attention and see if you can find a way to incorporate them into your own games.

What’s Next?

Well, i hope that the sales of this book have given WotC and the people who do the market analyses the impression that a nostalgia piece like this can work as a viable product at market.  IF Wizards wanted to, they have a treasure trove of old material that they could look at and update to the current edition.  There are many wonderful adventures and ideas that can be modernized and brought out in a product just like this one.  
I am also wondering how long before Wizards takes a gamble and releases a more complete campaign setting for the Forgotten Realms or expands on the various “If you were playing in this setting, you could put this adventure here” blurbs that run throughout their books. There are a lot of cool choices that fans are asking for, and it’s mostly a matter of poking the market and seeing which ones would draw enough profit to push a book like that.  
I am torn about a Campaign setting book because it would almost certainly miss the details that specific players might be looking for in favor of the general information that most players might be looking for.  The region chapters that are in most of the big hardcovers are fantastic, and i think that they do an adequate job of spurring a DM’s imagination and leave edges of the map unexplored for characters to make their own mark.  
I have the benefit of writing this piece after the Stream of Annihilation, so i know what the rest of 2017 probably holds for Dungeons and Dragons, and overall, i’m pleased with the things i am seeing.  I like the new Board Games (Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate and the Tomb of Annihilation).  The Tomb of Annihilation adventure itself takes us to a location that isn’t the Sword Coast, and Xanthar’s Guide to Everything expands game options for players and dungeon masters alike.   
Wizkids continues to be a major contributor, releasing another set of prepainted collectible miniatures with a case incentive full of dungeon dressing.  I am curious to see how their Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures line expands and grows with the new material.  The merchandise market for shirts, hats, journals and other things feels like an untapped market (not an intentional MtG pun).  I am not completely sold on the new dice tin/set and the fold up map.  There are a ton of other products in that market space, and i am not sure how these additions will fare in that market.  The product that i would be most curious about is a gaming bag that works as a one stop storage system for players alike.  You could call it Heward’s Handy Haversack.
The DM’s Guild community is alive and vibrant with new creators and great new content showing up every week.  As the primary delivery system for the Adventurer’s League seasons, they continue to provide cost effective adventures that can be played in a few sessions and are a ton of fun.  
I hope that the 2018 seasons bring us some new ideas and places to explore in the Forgotten Realms.  Off the top of my head, there are the Dalelands, the Moonshae Islands, Kara-Tur, the Serpent Hills, and Aunaroch, that haven’t been touched or featured in a product.  Thay’s been touched on, but the rest of that region is unexplored (daresay unapproachable).  There’s also the Realms south around Calimshan that could host a 1,001 nights of adventure.  That’s just the Forgotten Realms, folks.  There are tons of worlds to explore and places to visit.   That’s at least what i see for the future of Dungeons and Dragons.  Game on Game Fans.

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