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DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
 
$4.99
Average Rating:4.1 / 5
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DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
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DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by David Y. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/01/2018 11:21:46

Loved it. Lst my origianl copy and am glad I was able to reprint it here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Matthew A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2018 19:32:58

Love so much about Dragonlance and the module, as most other reviewers mention. I do think the "sliding window" construction of the random encounter table deserves special praise--it's a very concise and sensible to present the encounters of one land spread across a number of terrains.

But this product has a fatal flaw: the encounter map is such low quality as to be unplayable. A combination of low resolution and contrast (location numbers appear to be white on light grey in most cases !?), it takes hours poring over the map to determine the locations of keyed entries.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Greg T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2018 18:33:11

A classic module, and an adequate DriveThru reproduction (As of 31 January 2018)

About the PDF: Upon first release, the PDF of this module contained significant errors and omissions. As of late January 2018 a new PDF has been added which corrects those errors, and the full text of the module is now readable. The font and typography are still different to the original module, presumably as a result of making the text searchable (which it is) but this is a minor quibble. More disappointingly, the images are still much lower resolution than the original print copy, but the maps are legible and there is nothing that should stop the module from being run as originally printed.

The rest: Putting the poor scan aside, this is a classic AD&D 1e module, the first in the long-running original Dragonlance DL series of modules. You will need a set of AD&D 1e core books (Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and Monster Manual) to use this. (Most monsters are provided with full stats but a few, including the dragon, refer back to the expanded descriptions in the Monster Manual.) No prior knowledge of Dragonlance or other Dragonlance supplements are needed - the module gives you everything you need to start a new campaign in Krynn.

The module provides about 15 hours of play, divided over three parts (if you stick to the key encounters), or significantly more if you use random encounters or players stray from the main quest path. Part 1 is an overland "hex crawl", although sadly there is little incentive for players to visit most of the included hex map as the shortest path from the start to Part 2 bypasses the majority of it. Part 2 and Part 3 detail the surface and undercity of the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth in a fairly traditional dungeon crawling format. Groups who successfully complete the module can continue the story in DL2, "Dragons of Flame".

Other than the fact it begins the long-running Dragonlance brand, DL1 is most memorable for some of its unique design decisions. The first is that the module asks you to use the pregenerated characters contained within, representing the Heroes of the Lance from the Dragonlance novels. These characters are wildly unbalanced, ranging from a level 3 wizard to two level 6 (!) fighters (one of whose stats are just better across the board than the other). There is no real reason you can't use your own characters, although later modules reveal Krynn's elves, dwarves and gnomes differ from the traditional tropes in ways not really explored in this module. Also, PC clerics will have particular trouble for reasons unique to the module's setting. A second standout point is an included song, with sheet music, plus a long poem. The module is illustrated with evocative professional art throughout, and of course modern players with Google also have access to the wealth of stunning Dragonlance art depicting many of these characters and encounters which TSR and Wizards of the Coast have commissioned in the years since.

The module contains several maps in colour, semi-colour, and black and white, and these have been faithfully reproduced in the PDF, albeit in lower resolution than the original publication.

What the module loses in solid game design, it makes up for in passionate world-building, and even at this early stage it's clear that Dragonlance is a product with a wealth of backstory and internal consistency.

The module as-written can be fairly easily converted for use with other editions of D&D other than Basic or 4E. An official simple conversion exists for 2E in a compendium with the next three modules, although as of this writing that particular item is not currently available through DriveThru. Sovereign Press did an exceptional conversion for 3E that significantly improves the modules, updating many elements of the game design to more modern sensibilities, and that one IS available through DriveThru, and forms a wonderful additional resource even for those wanting to run the module in its original form.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by David L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2014 16:46:04

A classic, but also primitive adventure.

The good: There is a lot to like about this adventure. The use of events, encounters and dungeons give a nice variety. Also the adventure does a good job of making the characters feel like refugees one step ahead of advancing armies. Draconians are interesting monsters.

The bad: The dragon antagonist is overpowered and can easily wipe out the whole party if the DM plays fairly (even taking into account the party having a one hit kill artifact in there possession).

Lack of variety in monsters. The draconians make sense being the featured monster and the bulk of the invading armies, but spectral minions are incredibly overused especially for a fairly uninteresting monster.

The adventure also tries its best to force people to use the pregenerated characters and offers no support to people who would rather create there own characters.

Summary: This was a massive step up in adventure design when it came out 30 years ago, but compared to modern adventure design it is undeniably primitive. There is a lot of flavor and story that is more interesting then many modern adventures, but the nuts and bolts of the adventure are bad enough that even if you still ran 1st edition you would have to spend several hours "fixing" the adventure.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL1 Dragons of Despair (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Ronald O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/24/2014 12:11:07

I've been waiting for these since the PDF publication of all of the old TSR titles were announced. I want to go back and compare how the original modules compare to the novels and fill in the missing holes - holes partially filled in a few years back with the release of the Lost Chronicles series.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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