A phrase of warning on the brand new D&D marketing campaign, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen

A party of adventurers poses for a... a painting?... next to their freshly captured red dragon.

Image: Kieran Yanner/Wizards of the Coast

Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is the newest marketing campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. If you pre-ordered it from Wizards of the Coast, your digital copy unlocks tomorrow. It’s a historic second — the primary time {that a} D&D marketing campaign has supplied digital early entry to its largest followers. Polygon obtained a duplicate of the marketing campaign earlier this month, and we put it by way of its paces for a full day with a staff of skilled gamers. We’re nonetheless working our method by way of the fabric, however we wished to present you a heads up on a couple of ache factors that cropped up early on.

How Dungeon Masters ought to put together

While some previous adventures — Curse of Strahd, Out of the Abyss, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight — are over 250 pages lengthy, Shadow of the Dragon Queen is available in at 224 pages, placing it on the shorter aspect for formally licensed marketing campaign books. But that’s not a ding in opposition to it by any means, contemplating that the vary of ranges it covers — from 1 to 11 — is fairly common. But know that issues transfer quick out of the gate: If you don’t pull your punches as indicated within the textual content, Shadow of the Dragon Queen can get lethal earlier than you even make it to the primary city.

In artwork from Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, a city burns in the background. In the midground citizens leap from the docks into waiting boat. In the foreground a man looks back, a look of disgust on his face. A woman holds a swaddled baby.

Image: Ralph Horsley/Wizards of the Coast

You don’t wish to depart the primary act with out reaching stage 4, that’s for certain. But be at liberty to linger in these early ranges, particularly throughout the three “preludes” that proceed the precise first chapter of the journey. They are listed as non-obligatory, however all three include good backstory — particularly for the setting’s distinctive organizations just like the Mages of High Sorcery. To that finish, know that Shadow of the Dragon Queen makes use of milestones, not uncooked expertise factors, for character development. Once the gamers set off a sure occasion within the storyline, they acquire a stage, which is nice — no accounting to be achieved, and everybody stays on the identical capability stage.

However, these moments could be straightforward to overlook — particularly the early notification to maneuver gamers on to stage 2, which is considerably hidden on the underside of a two-page artwork unfold. Dungeon Masters will wish to be sure that they scan the ebook forward of time and thoroughly make observe of each alternative to achieve a stage so gamers aren’t unprepared after they face an enormous foe. Honestly, a highlighter would possibly really be one of the best accent you can purchase as a DM.

Leveling up could be a time-consuming course of in D&D, particularly for inexperienced gamers. You ought to inform your gamers to come back to the primary session with plans in hand for getting their characters from stage 1 to stage 3 with minimal interruption. If you’re offering pre-generated characters, all that work will as an alternative fall to you.

About that board game

The huge gimmick with Shadow of the Dragon Queen is that it encompasses a companion board game known as Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn. Most of us ought to start receiving their copies of the board game on or round Dec. 6. If you’re getting the marketing campaign on Nov. 22, that might create some lag time between when your group will get began with the RPG portion of the marketing campaign and whenever you’re first capable of transition into the board game. DMs, think about that you simply’ll want two or three periods of the RPG — about six to eight hours of play — earlier than you get anyplace close to the board game. So once more, go gradual and construct the stress main as much as that first huge battle — particularly if you happen to’re utilizing Warriors of Krynn.

A photograph showing part of the battlefield in Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn. There are three ranks of enemy troops, three ranks of allied troops, all arrayed on an elongated hexagonal tile. Smaller trapezoidal tiles connect them, with large hero miniatures standing atop them. A market denotes that this “flank” of the battle is active at this time.

Photo: Wizards of the Coast

This isn’t your common board game, sadly. It’s not even your common wargame. I discovered the guide very, very tough to digest — and I learn a whole lot of board game manuals. Worse nonetheless, the graphic design of the guide is such which you could’t completely perceive easy methods to arrange the desk or use the entire elements with out laying all the pieces out in entrance of you. Anticipate operating a minimum of one very tedious demo game by your self earlier than you herald the remainder of the social gathering to the board game portion.

Couldn’t you simply hand over the board game to one of many gamers and allow them to kind it out, leaving you to run the marketing campaign? I wouldn’t suggest it. Turns out, the punchboard proper on the highest of the stack contained in the field will spoil a later a part of the RPG. Additionally, there are narrative components associated to the RPG buried elsewhere contained in the field. While they’re a bit garbled and out of order, they’re written behind the rulebook moderately than contained in the state of affairs ebook. That means if you happen to hand one in every of your gamers the principles to get acclimated, you’ve additionally handed them some secrets and techniques of the story that you simply’re making an attempt to inform.

Dungeon Masters have lots on their plates from the bounce. They’re lecturers, storytellers, rule attorneys, and babysitters all on the identical time. This new Dragonlance marketing campaign makes issues extra sophisticated than typical. If you’re new to the game or working with a bunch that has a bunch of beginner gamers, it’s best to, on the very least, think about holding off on utilizing the board game at first. The marketing campaign ebook contains all the pieces you should transfer the story alongside with out it.

Take your time. Focus on the narrative. Focus on getting everybody used to the principles and the circulation of play. Focus on leveling. Focus on making connections with the assorted non-player characters that get launched early on. Then you’ll be able to dip into the board game later, as soon as each you and the entire group are prepared.

Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen Deluxe Edition

  • $145

Prices taken at time of publishing.


Source: Polygon

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