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New to Shacknews? Signup for a Free Account. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you're probably aware of Dungeons and Dragons--but you may not be entirely sure what Dungeons and Dragons actually IS.
Basically, it is a rules system which allows a group of friends or soon-to-be-friends to get together and tell stories together and "make believe" in a structured and organized way. One person, known as the Dungeon Master, or Game Master DM or GM respectively , leads a group of Players through the adventure by describing the world to them, and having the players describe their actions--and then translating those actions into events that take place in the world.
One piece of content such as this is the Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Kit. If you came here looking for this review, the above information is all probably review to you. So now that you're done reviewing, let's get on with the review.
The Essentials Kit comes with everything you need to embark on an epic journey through the lands of Faerun with anywhere from 1 playable character, up to a group of 4 or 5 plus the DM.
It has:. The Essentials Kit also comes with a digital code to redeem the Dragon of Icespire Peak adventure on dndbeyond. I have to say, the items contained in the box surprised me in both their usefulness and their quality. I have to imagine that their margins on this kit are SUPER slim, between the multiple full-color books soft-back as they are , the maps, the dice, and the cards, plus shipping and whatever other costs are incurred through distribution and sales. I'm guessing they're hoping to hook people, and make up the money down the road on miniature figure sales, as well as other books.
That's a shockingly good deal. The Dice are the first pleasant surprise in this box. While they have a slightly 'boring' appearance white ink on translucent red plastic , this is a full die set of polyhedral RPG dice. This is fantastic. My set was well inked and well balanced. The Rule Book is well-bound for a 'cheap' paperback style book. It is much nicer than the one that comes in the Starter Set. I keep it handy for all of my games, as an extra rulebook that players can get messy with their dorito fingers, without ruining my precious PHB.
The rulebook also contains rules for Sidekicks, which is a huge boon for those looking to play with smaller groups.
The Cards are relatively cheap, and come in a full sheet of perforated cardstock, which you fold and separate. The Essentials Kit comes with several different kinds of cards:. The DM Screen is nothing fancy, but it does the job.
Personally, I don't really use a DM screen very often. My only regret is that I started with the Starter Kit, and then bought the Essentials Kit after, and had already gone to a print shop to print out the Northern Sword Coast and Phandalin maps--so by the time I got the ones included in the kit, I had already made my own.
The maps are full color, and high resolution--although they are not terribly large. The Character Sheets do pretty much exactly what you expect--write stuff on them to build characters. Unlike The Starter Set, which contains pre-generated characters designed to fit into the adventure, The Essential Kit character sheets are blank. Personally, all of my players use DNDBeyond, and WotC makes the Character Sheets readily available online for easy printing, but it's and we're in a weird time where nobody owns printers anymore, but not everyone has transitioned to DNDBeyond, so it's very nice that WotC included these printed sheets in the box.
The Adventure Book is also well printed, well bound, thoughtfully laid-out, and does exactly what it needs to do. Unfortunately, the adventure itself kinda blows. Honestly, this is my one big "con" with this kit.
All in all, enough content to go from level 1 all the way up to level 13ish--which is quite a long adventure. If you're going to be using dndbeyond to play, the PHB is basically an essential purchase. Dragon of Icespire Peak is set up to be "open world" and "sandboxy" and all those other gamey-catch-phrases that sound super appealing at first--and for some parties they very well might be.
The thing to keep in mind here is that The Essentials Kit, with its handy reference cards, initiative tracking cards, included starter dice, character sheets, rule book, etc. Warning: This next part of the review contains slight spoilers for the adventure--although there's really not much to spoil.
Dragon of Icespire Peak is set up basically with the adventuring party hanging out in Phandalin, a small mining town in the Northern Sword Coast. The area around has been getting harassed by a Yount White Dragon named Cryovain, and basically the plot of the adventure is "do side-quests to level up until you're strong enough to kill Cryovain".
That's it. That's the adventure. There is an actual job board in the middle of town, and you stick side quests on it, and the players can choose which side quest they want to do. There are some other plots happening, but none of them are really brought to the light, and any reference to them is pretty thin.
It is very much on the DM to try to craft some sort of additional plot, if they aren't happy with "do sidequests until you can kill the dragon". And again, this kit is designed for first-time players and first-time DMs, and first-time DMs may have a very hard time coming up with something interesting and engaging.
The various areas of the adventure, and the individual quests themselves are fantastic. The various areas the players can visit are all charming and unique, and full of interesting NPCs to run into.
There just isn't anything tying them all together, other than a job board. I tried to work around this a bit by trying to end sessions after quests, and making my players tell me which quest they'd like to pursue next--but the timing didn't always work out well, even for me, and I consider myself pretty good at pacing my sessions--a new DM is going to have a very hard time nudging their party on a time schedule to arrive back at the job board near the end of the session.
The biggest letdown is the overall plot of the included adventure. That said, the locations in the book are all incredible. I actually think this kit would shine best if it were thought of as an "expansion pack" to the Starter Set. That said, there aren't actually that many interesting areas you can visit in the Starter Set, and adding all of the locations in the Essentials Kit would expand the world greatly. Plus, having a Young White Dragon flying overhead while your players navigate the plots of LMoP sounds like an absolute riot.
I use the reference cards, rule book, dice, and maps frequently--and we're not even playing Dragon of Icespire Peak anymore. Also, DMs who enjoy plotbuilding, or who have players who want to just explore an open world--and are creative enough, and driven enough to create a plot for themselves, may have a blast romping around the Northern Sword Coast, leveling up, slaying beasts, and ultimately slaying a dragon. New DMs hoping for a well-thought-out, easy-to-comprehend adventure that guides newer players through things, and has a plot that will keep playrers engaged are going to be disappointed here.
Hey folks, I just created my first Review on Cortex. You most certainly do not need to read them all. The Essentials Kit is geared towards Dungeon Masters like your former coworker looking to lead folks through an adventure--but all you REALLY need to know to play is how to show up and roll dice and improv a little bit. I highly recommend you give it a shot. The character sheets can be a bit daunting to look at when you first start.
I often color code my character sheets for new players so I can say stuff like "make me a dexterity saving throw--it's in the green section. LMoP is a masterpiece. I would agree. I ran it for my family in lockdown and now have leveled them up to handle a homebrew campaign. It was fantastic. Yup, agreed. Then I bought the essentials kit and I was like ahhh! These maps are so great! The character sheets in the starter set are fantastic in how they explain the changes upon leveling up.
By the end of that adventure, one kid wanted to play a beast enclave ranger instead and the other two were deep into the PHB rather than using the starter Guide. Good times. This may be true for CRPGs and for 5th edition published adventures, but it is otherwise not true. I agree with this reddit poster Sure makes sense. I would still say with that, no other world has more adventures in it than the Forgotten Realms, but I totally see your point.
Also, as I was typing this, I typed corgotten realms, and now I want to homebrew a world where all playable characters and NPCs must be sentient corgis. Thanks the man with the briefcase. Note to self: include referral links in future reviews. Welcome back. I also hadn't played in decades, but my brother's been running a campaign the past few weeks and it's been a ton of fun.
Sorry if this is a derail. A little backstory: My wife and I have been playing board games for around 2 years now. They're pretty much our favorite thing and our collection is massive at this point.
So to see him come to US with an interest in something in the same realm is very exciting. This is where I found the first hurdle: "this is an adventure for 5 players" Is that just a recommendation or do we NEED to have that many players? Since I'll be taking the role of the DM can I just sort or tweak things on the fly to make it a more enjoyable experience for my wife and kid? I want to put the emphasis on "fun and adventure" rather than "brutal combat that we barely survived".
Or will things just be impossible without a more robust party? So what should we do? Is there a better starting point than the so-called "starter box"? I suggested playing Descent:2E instead and he just sort of rolled his eyes and groaned.
You'd think that would be more appealing to a 10yo, but I think he likes the idea of character creation and having a unique experience. Great question!
New to Shacknews? Signup for a Free Account. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you're probably aware of Dungeons and Dragons--but you may not be entirely sure what Dungeons and Dragons actually IS. Basically, it is a rules system which allows a group of friends or soon-to-be-friends to get together and tell stories together and "make believe" in a structured and organized way. One person, known as the Dungeon Master, or Game Master DM or GM respectively , leads a group of Players through the adventure by describing the world to them, and having the players describe their actions--and then translating those actions into events that take place in the world.
Rappan Athuk, the legendary Dungeon of Graves, is a subterranean network of horror stretching down into the darkest depths of the world. The Trove is a non-profit website dedicated towards content archival and long-term preservation of RPGs. I too have heard this story and. Korvus' Trove. As a grognard who plays 5e, I appreciate how you were able. Dnd 5e trove.
WELCOmE TO DuNGEONS & DRAGONS. 3. What's Next? This set is a complete D&D experience, enough to provide hours of play. You can even play through.
It turns out there are a lot of rules to playing make-believe in a structured way. Luckily, all of the information you need, whether you are the player or the Dungeon Master, is to be had in these fine tomes. This guide will take you from start to finish, with the most crucial books near the beginning, and more supplementary materials coming toward the end. Although you can get the basic rules online, this book takes that to the next level.
A level 3 adventure for 5E. A forgotten cavern beneath a lonely hill hides secrets as old as the world. Strange phenomena haunt those who delve its depths. Now, the legend of the Cave of the Unknown reaches the ears of stalwart adventurers.
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