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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons - The (More or Less) Self Contained D&D Next Storyline

Forbes (of all places) just had an article on the upcoming Tyranny of Dragons "Event" from WotC based upon a preview Chris Perkins shared at PAX East.

An interesting tidbit in the above linked article:
• The ToD adventures will be separate from the core system rules coming out this summer, but will be closely tied into those rules, and the first major adventures.
So, it looks like Tyranny of Dragons will be self contained and NOT require the core D&D Next books to play. Which is kinda good for the discerning gamer, as you can get a peek at the rules and the "breakout" adventure in one shot and decide if this train trip through the Realms is right for you and your group. It also means you get to pay for the rules an extra time - or at least, non identical twins of said rules if you want the "full monty".

But, it's not like they expect players in traditional home groups to cross over with organized play groups...
  • ”We’re thinking of Dungeons & Dragons as an entertainment experience across multiple platforms” that will move from story to story fluidly… so a plotline might start in the organized play games and finish in a published module. 
Never mind.

There is certainly an effort to maximize the earnings potential from the upcoming releases. I wonder how much they will charge for B/X and 1e PDF conversions of the upcoming railroads (as well as 3.5 and 4e I am sure)?


  1. Sooo.. you're complaining that the Starter adventure contains some Starter rules to get people.....started?

    And we already knew that they were planning on tying this whole plotline into lots of different mediums.

    Hell, they have a dragon fighting version of the boardgames Attack Wing/ X-Wing coming out. Which, incidentally has some awesome looking minis.


    We all know you are biased against this, but now you're just digging for shit to bitch about. You won't buy it. Cool. Now stop wasting ink on it.

    1. this is me bitching? I think I need to up my game

      no, this is me observing ;)

      no ink wasted by me, this post is a e-post - WotC is going to waste ink multiple times repackaging the same rules

    2. Maybe you're slipping in your advanced years...

      Just seems stupid to complain about something that you really know nothing about yet.

      Bit like complaining how lame the 2016 Super Bowl will be.

    3. I'm a Jets fan - every fucking Super Bowl in my lifetime will me lame ;)

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  3. This seems to be pretty common these days, like a trimmed down basic box. FFG did the same with their Free RPG day adventure, including a stripped down version of the rules.

    1. Most of the publishers do.

      Shadowrun's Free RPG Day had stripped down rules.

      Cosmic whatever the hell Fate/fudge thing did

      I'm sure the added cost for 6 pages of rules is negligible to the gamer.

  4. Forgotten Realms railroad module. Perfect way to disinterest me.

    1. tracks and engine in one neat package ;)

    2. Actually, these modules are far from railroad. If you have played 4e Encounters adventures, then you know what railroad adventures are like. So far, Murder in Baldur's Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard and Scourge of the Sword Coast are fantastic adventures which allow the players and DMs to choose any path they like. You may want to give these adventure a try before you labrl them as railroady.

    3. True. The latest adventures are quite good.

      You can't equate having a plot and important NPCs to being a railroad.

      For all the "prestige" given OSR sandboxes, they are usually pretty random and rambling, especially if you plug and play all sorts of stuff from tons of publishers and blogs.

      Tight narrative is a game can be awesome, like the old Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy RP.

    4. Another thing... a published dungeon is about as railroady as a game gets.

      "The hallway continues in front og you for 50 fett and there is a door to the left."

      "Uhhh, guess we'll check out the door to the left. Same procedure as before, check for traps and listen. Then if it's clear we will enter in this order."

      Yeah no railroad there.

    5. I agree.. there is no railroad there. You simply described a scene.

      I'm not sure you get what the term "railroad" means in when referring to an adventure. It means that the story doesn't offer the players any opportunities for their decisions to effect the outcome or direction of the story. Not if they have one or two doors to choose from at the end of a hallway. It's bigger than that.

    6. If the only options that the players have to choose from is the direction that they walk then it is still a railroad. Especially since most dungeon exploration adventures I see published have exactly shit for a story to influence anyways.

      A railroad is any adventure, whether it has lots of story or not, that shuttles the players along from point to point with little choice in the matter. Gotta get to the end of the dungeon, and there are only one or two paths. Yeah, that counts as a railroad.

    7. Well, of course "the direction that they walk" _isn't_ the only choice players have (usually). And even if it was, that would make it, by definition, not a "railroad", which is characterized by being mono-directional.

      Sure, a published dungeon can suck, but assuming that it doesn't, it will usually feature one or more factions to work with or against, rewards that the PCs can seek or ignore, and obstacles that the PCs can avoid, overcome, or otherwise react to as they see fit. As it has been described, a "situation" rather than a "plot". It is possible to create a bad/boring published dungeon, though.

    8. I gotta agree with Robert on this one.. If anything the new modules they are releasing are too 'open' and don't give enough of a place to start for the DM. Too be honest the old school modules are much more 'railroady' then what WOTC is producing now... I'm feeling that you've got an anti-WOTC bias going on before actually seeing what they are doing.

    9. actually, death on the reik has been described as 'rambling'. no tight narrative there (or in the power behind the throne) at least not as per what that term (tight) obviously implies these days.

    10. Ummm....I am talking about how railroady all the old TSR adventures and many of the OSR ones that mimic them are.

  5. Just going to point out that if it takes WotC charging for a B/X conversion to get such a conversion for this stuff, then well dammnit WotC I will pony up the cash. Erik, you taunt me by suggesting they would actually do this....sigh.

  6. On the upside it looks like their definition of "multiple platforms" is becoming "multiple platforms of the tabletop game" rather than "make sure you have this app/f2p video game", but that will still probably happen because that is synergy. An introductory adventure with the starter rules is a good idea, but something tells me that this will be Keep on the Shadowfell all over again and cost an arm and a leg before they release it for free on the website (or at least directly show where it is on the website). I also have some fear for the intro adventure quality given that comparison.

    I am worried about how good this adventure will be too. We know the end game, "Kill Tiamat", which is what we did in 4e's Scales of War campaign which was published in Dungeon/Dragon's digital magazine alongside a bunch of other helpful plug-and-play side adventures and little flavor articles. I fear that Tyranny of Dragons (which is a much more bad ass name) will feel samey to players who did play through the big publicized "Buy D&D Insider" adventure. And that because the end goal is kind of blatant up front it won't be the slow but charming build up from heroic-but-unknown vagabonds to paragons of humanity and civilization. Speculation on my half, but if they can do the same end game scenario twice without inviting too much comparison I'll be surprised.

    At least the art design is good when it comes to people/monsters. A lot more storybook and I can dig that. Just wish the big landscape image for this campaign didn't look like a draconic phallus.

    Also concerning WotC/railroads/et cetera, check out a 4e path called "Chaos Scar" or something to that effect. Nice little sandbox about being adventurers in a valley of scum and villainy where a comet from beyond the stars crashed and everything went to hell. Has a couple great plug-and-play modules including a Night of the Living Dead style assault on a church, as well as a fiendish slaver/black market dealer who runs the only shop in the area who is willing to sell you out to your enemies or just toss you in his huge ass ditch filled to the brim with ravenous ghouls who cannot climb out. It is kind of edgy but there is this backwoods fantasy quality to it. I played through some of it in 4e and have since cribbed the campaign for use in ACKS with some of my buds on campus. It holds up with great cohesion from most of the other material that was provided.

    If 4e did anything right it kept the "Points of Light" in touch with itself thematically regardless of when and how it was published. If you can ever gain access to the material check it out. I've a mind to print them all out and put them in a spiral-bound binder now.

    As for the railroad/sandbox comparisons I'm seeing now I'd argue that it is the difference between the published work assuming the players are all important or completely unimportant in "the Grand Scheme". If the players in say Scales of War decide to screw off after the first adventure because they've become Goblinoid Rights Activists then a lot of the other material needs great changing to get them to the end destination of killing Tiamat. If the players in a Sandbox don't like the first adventure they find for themselves, it doesn't require too much changing to continue using the material in the sandbox.

    But if we're calling anything that is published or has a map a railroad now the word has lost meaning. A railroad, as far as I am concerned, is any case where the whims of a pre-written plot gets in the way of the players controlling their own fates. And if you use a ton of stuff from a ton of different blogs you're totally gonna get a schitzo tone, you gotta tweak and use only what you want.

    I've lost focus. I'm mildly interested in this thing because I like the Penny Arcade podcasts which are good to hike to?

  7. I dug a little more into it in case you were interested. 97% is Still Failing 3% of the Time

    Ha! Look at me trying to link a post like a big boy in a comment. I feel so grown up.

  8. Much like 4e, the suits in marketing are starting to take over 5e, but the rules themselves may be okay this time. As long as people can play the game and make up their own adventures without having to pay for "multiple platforms" or whatever.

    The open adventure/sandbox is such an enticing idea, if you're a DM with a whole lot of time and imagination, which you have no trouble drawing on extemporaneously. Also, you have to be create great adventure encounters and not get pissed when the players walk off the map without going anywhere near them.

    Flat out, as a player, if my character is given some direction for an adventure and presented with interesting, exciting encounters that I have think and use strategy to overcome, I'm okay with not having complete player agency over events. This is also how I try to make up adventures.

    Old School can work in a sandbox because it's easy enough to just pull out the book and make up monster encounters on the spot, but other versions usually require more work to set an encounter. If those encounters aren't used, there may not be an adventure. Perhaps 3e and 4e players and DM's have that understanding and have an implied consent to it. Old School players don't. Neither viewpoints are wrong, just different.

  9. First of all, you make some very valid Points, Erik. However, there really has to be an introductory product and if it really is a snapshot of the first 3 to 10 levels and is 100% compatible with the new PHB, that's ok to me. Second, it does make sense it comes out first, depending on pricing, existing players can better afford to the rules a spin (hopefully spending $30, instead of $120 on something they might not like). And maybe, just maybe the conversions to other editions could be free (a great way to introduce new players to DDI). However, say they do charge, looking at the prices on DNDClassics.com, I'm guess it won't be too much money and it introduces new players to that webstore. This new edition is about making money first, everyone needs to remember that, but I've been playtesting this edition since Feb of 2012 and I like what I see and what we can do with it.