The Rise of Tiamat is the second and final installment of the Tyranny of Dragons Adventure from the Wizards DND team. The adventure picks up following the events of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module. This 96 page DnD module was also designed and built in part by Kobold Press.
What’s in The Rise of Tiamat?
This module picks up where Hoard of the Dragon Queen left off, and is designed for players levels 8-15. This module, unlike its previous installment, is not linear in plot and has a lot more sandbox elements. Because of this, the module is better suited for more experienced DMs.
The plot revolves around the interactions with the Council, an organization of powerful factions that are opposed to the cult. Like the previous module these main points are episodic, consisting of four main interactions. Other parts of the story and module have more branching outcomes.
The council mechanics are well laid-out in this book. The players will gain or lose favor with the factions of the council based on their actions and the outcome of missions that they undertake. Some of the base standing for this comes from the outcomes of the scenarios run in the previous Hoard of the Dragon Queen module. This is all neatly facilitated with a score card system, but requires the DM to be involved in the notes and carefully read ahead to figure out how outcomes and reactions change.
Additionally, the council element is made for more role playing. The DM will need to get to know the members of the council, figure out how they talk, and what motivations drive them to really sell the flavor. If you’re not that kind of DM, you can treat the council as a mission system where they simply point the heroes towards their next quest. However, doing so forsakes a large potion of the book’s content. It’s recommended that you really get in character for these scenes.
Since the campaign is far more sandbox than previous installments, good note taking ability by the DM is essential. Shoddy notes can make the module harder to run since there is so much to keep track of. If you’re a group that runs sessions inconsistently, this campaign setting benefits from players giving recaps and the DM adjusting player knowledge as needed to ensure things run correctly.
Where Hoard of the Dragon Queen was a combat heavy module, The Rise of Tiamat breaks this cycle by having non-linear quests that consist of all types of play. Some are purely role play scenarios while others are full dungeon crawls. There’s a bit of something for everyone and you can keep your party engaged from session to session since things never feel too stagnant. Also, due to the non-linear design, players get more options to choose the things they think are most fun, which we think makes the whole module run better.
Pros and Cons of The Rise of Tiamat
- Open sandbox feel and non-linear progression.
- Great mix of different session types from role play to combat.
- Good faction mechanics
- Strong, epic story and plot development
- Not really suitable for new DMs
- Failure consequences are not spelled out for some missions
Overall, The Rise of Tiamat improves on the story and format presented in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and takes the story through to its conclusion. The scenarios and sessions built out of this book require a bit more DM involvement than a standard module, but provide great structure for seasoned DMs to work with. The Rise of Tiamat is a fantastic continuation and conclusion to the Tyranny of Dragons campaign setting.
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