The Rise of Tiamat – Review

Last week I was able to pick up my copy of The Rise of Tiamat and peruse it.  It was written by Steve Winter & Alexander Winter of Kobold Press and the hardbound book is 94ish pages. The book has the same thick paper feel and artistic theme of Hoard of the Dragon Queen and appears to be high quality and durable. Wizards of the coast was kind enough to send some media so I could add to this article.

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We haven’t finished Hoard of the Dragon Queen, so I have a long time to prepare for this one.  Or maybe setup a game with higher level characters starting at level 7 or 8, right where HotDQ ends.  The adventure is setup with 4 stages with several episodes that are run according to the Outline. Here are the episode listing as found in the book:

Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep Page 18
Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice Page 24
Episode 3&4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers Page 38
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back Page 54
Episode 6: Metallic Dragons, Arise Page 58
Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower Page 62
Episode 8: Mission to Thay Page 75
Episode 9: Tiamat’s Return Page 94


And the Outline for the Adventure:
Stage 1
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (1st)
Episode 3&4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Varram the White) *
Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice *
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back (Part 1) *
Stage 2
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (2nd)
Episode 3&4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Neronavain) *
Episode 6: Metallic Dragons, Arise
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back (Part 2) *
Stage 3
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (3rd)
Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower *
Episode 8: Mission to Thay *
Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back (Part 3) *
Stage 4
Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep (4th)
Episode 9: Tiamat’s Return


There is a guide for episodic leveling with 7 milestones.  So at the end a character should be at level 14 or 15 for the final battle. Using the advancement guide from the book, you have to remember there isn’t a fixed chronological run for these episodes, so you have to go back and look at the outline. The outline is just a guide and before Episode 9 is started, all the remaining unfinished episodes should be completed. Here is the listing in the book with some clarifications on the stages for the milestones for advancement:
Stage 1 – Episode 3: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Varram the White)
Stage 1 – Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice
Stage 1 – Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back 1st Attack
Stage 2 – Episode 4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers (Nerovain)
Stage 2 – Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back 2nd Attack
Stage 3 – Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower
Stage 3 – Episode 8: Mission to Thay
Stage 3 – Episode 5: the Cult Strikes Back 3rd attack


There are several detailed NPCs that are used in the game, and some are returning from Hoard of the Dragon Queen.  This amount of detail will require that the Dungeon Master set aside time for a lot of reading and preparation.  I would not recommend trying to take this adventure, and try to play any part of it on the fly. This adventure has tons of nuances in it that can get lost, and the players will miss out.

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There are a lot of roleplaying elements required for the players in order to be successful, and the player characters being able to bring the factions into this final fight is crucial.  All the factions are listed, and there are other groups that are enemies that can be pulled into the party’s cause.  I don’t think it is overly complex, but can be a very enthralling experience.

Now, as before with the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the back of the book has some special NPCs and creatures. Tiamat is also listed, and with Tiamat we get the 2nd look at a CR 30 creature.  Here are some of her stats:

AC:25, HP: 30d20+300, Speed 60ft, 120ft flying, Str 30,Dex 10, Con 30,Int 26, Wis 26, Cha 28, Regeneration 30, inate spell: divine word DC 26. Multiattack: 3 attacks 2 claws+19 to hit, 4d6+10 dmg, 1 tail +19 to hit, 4d8+10 dmg. and then 5 legendary action points with massive damage for each. So Tiamat has 5 points where a bite is 1, and a breath weapon is 2 points. With 5 points she could for a bite and 2 breath weapons from 2 of her 5 different breaths, or 3 bites and 1 breath, or 5 bites, etc.  Yikes!

Not only is Tiamat fighting you but there are lots of dragons, so the party might fail. The final failure of the party, and the victory of the Cult of the Dragon could possibly happen.  If that is the case, then you would have a campaign world run by Evil Dragons.  Sounds horrific with dragons gobbling, and squishing people left and right at their whim.  The DM should prepare for that possibility to have a group of high level characters try to save the world again if Tiamat rises.

There is a downloadable PDF that is not currently available at the time I bought this last week, and I don’t see it on the D&D website yet.  The PDF is there so that it will allow anyone to play with only have the PDF of the basic rules and this book.  I actually think that is pretty cool.  All of the maps are set for 1 square equaling 20 feet, 1 square equaling 15 feet, or 1 square equals 10 feet. The DM will have to be aware of that if you plan to print out any of these maps.

Overall I really liked the layout and design of the adventure, and can’t wait to actually run a game. It was put together very smartly, and has a great feel about it. It will be a great challenge for players, and at the end could lead to that Epic final campaign that every player dreams about. Every game is different, and whatever the outcome, I think the game will be fantastic! and I am sure that you will too. 

Tell me what you think, and always have fun!
-Michael

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