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Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next) $14.99
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2014 10:25:04

This is an interesting way in which to lay the groundwork for the upcoming edition change, both in terms of giving everyone (not just the diehards who have slogged through ten iterations of the playtest materials) a chance to play 'D&D Next' before it is released and also because the in-game groundwork is being set for a cataclysm that will be literally world-changing for the Forgotten Realms... thus setting the scene for the changes in the way you will play there.

There's quite a lot of background to absorb, especially if you haven't seen the previous campaign Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle - although this is perfectly playable if you have not played through it - but the action soon starts with the characters arriving at Daggerford in the midst of a refugee crisis. Plenty of opportunities for interaction, and even a spot of brawling, from the outset and a chance for the party to get to know Daggerford if they have not previously visited the settlement.

Once they actually gain admittance to Daggerford, there are opportunities to find out what is going on... or at least why there are refugees trying to get in and why the local lordling is less than friendly towards them. Missing persons and missing items, as well as the raids that have displaced the refugees, provide ample opportunity for a party of adventurers to get involved. Loads of detail is provided to help you make the place and its inhabitants come to life, it is presented as a dynamic living township whose locals have their own lives to lead, not a backdrop for your party's adventures, which all goes towards creating a rich shared alternate reality for the characters to inhabit.

One notable feature of the mechanics is that encounters and monsters do not come with XP values: instead, the DM is to reward the party by advancing all of them to the next level as they achieve certain goals in the adventure. Some may find this a bit rough and ready (well, go calculate your own rewards as appropriate), while others may find it convenient (it is something I have been doing for years anyway!).

There are lots of opportunities for adventure other than the main thrust of this scenario, which creates a good free-form air - just about anywhere the party decides to go, there will be something going on for them to interact with. However, the second part of the main plot takes the party to the village of Julkoun and other locations in the area such as a hunting lodge, a ruined castle and a beautiful manor house and more. Some maps are provided within the adventure covering all the locations, but most would be quite hard to share with the players - a few players' maps would enhance this product.

All monsters encountered are presented in an appendix with D&D Next stat blocks. The download also includes several documents that cover all that you need to play this edition of D&D, necessary if you have not been following the playtest and handy even if you have.

Overall, this is an excellent introduction to what the next edition of D&D will be like, and a good way to find out relatively inexpensively if you are going to want to play it once the full release is out.



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Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next)
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