Review: Wizards of the Coast – Tyranny of Dragons (Dungeons & Dragons)

Tyranny of Dragons
Tyranny of Dragons is an epic fantasy adventure supplement for Dungeons & Dragons, written by Wolfgang Baur, Steve Winter, Alexander Winter, Christopher Perkins, Matthew Sernett, Chris Sims, and Rodney Thompson and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Dave Pierson

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Tyranny of Dragons: Reduex

The Homebrew DM’s Perception

Disclaimer: Under no circumstances shall the Cult of Dragons or its adherents, affiliates, partners, licensors, or thralls (enchanted or otherwise) be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, or cataclysmic damages to the Material Plane, its features, denizens, geographies, spheres, or natural laws, arising from the acts, incarnations, servants, and ruinous whims of Tiamat, Queen of Dragons. Those seeking to avoid object draconic annihilation should relocate to the nearest convenient afterlife or just try and stop us.

Wizards of the Coast, Tyranny of Dragons, 2019

In 2014, as part of the 5th edition launch of Dungeons and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast released two adventure books, Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat. Essentially, the two adventures, when combined, could take your PCs from level 1-15 with a compelling campaign. However, one downfall I felt was that the Tyranny of Dragons storyline between the two books didn’t feel harmonious.  Both Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat were on the shorter side for campaign books when compared to Wizards’ most recent releases. And, over the last 5 years, 5th Edition has evolved, errata’s have been made; and Wizards of the Coast have learned a few things working with their community to help develop their adventures.

In October, Wizards of the Coast took the opportunity to re-release both Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat as a single special volume – Tyranny of Dragons. This book has a new special edition cover by Hydro74; past errata’s have been incorporated; a reworked opening chapter, and some beautiful concept art within.

As I noted above, when I first read through the first releases and tried to incorporate into a more recent campaign, I felt the stories between the two weren’t harmonious. I think some of that was the brief background information provided at the beginning, which made it difficult to understand where the story was heading and what would be beneficial for me to pull out for my own campaign. Now, with the re-release, we have a reworked opening chapter that provides over 17 pages of information on the campaign, who is who in the Realms, and some general hooks on how to pull your players in. A vast improvement with the combining of the two books.

The book itself still only comes in at 224 pages, compared to roughly 250 pages with the most recent releases. However, this new release still uses the thicker paper from the first release, which gives it that special feeling of high quality. And that cover! Hydro74 has been designing covers for Wizards special editions of their most recent adventure books and he definitely out did himself here. The five heads of Tiamat on the cover look amazing when you are holding the book. On the back you’ll find the symbol of Tiamat in a deep red with draconic writing that spells out “Five heads are better than one.” The metallic shine on the cover and back just makes the whole thing pop and pictures do not do it justice. For sure one of my favorite special edition covers.

The adventure itself hasn’t changed much with the re-release. The basic premise of the group of heroes being called upon to stop a cult from freeing Tiamat is still there. Also, there are plenty of dragons, which I am always a fan of. From dragons of good and bad, to half-dragons, dragon masks, and dragon cultists. It’s all still there. So what has changed? Wizard’s has incorporated the errata from both previous releases, which helps clarify some items and rules. In addition, appendices for magic items and such are combined; the council scorecard for The Rise of Tiamat gets a full page; and some art layout, sidebars, and headers have been tweaked (e.g., putting the picture in the top right of the page instead of the bottom middle where the text has to flow around it). However, the biggest difference is the addition of a 32-page appendix of amazing concept art. I love to see this included in the adventure books as it helps me paint the picture for my own players, whether verbally or by showing them the art myself.

The special re-release still works well as a good sourcebook to steal from for your own campaigns as many of the chapters are modular enough to lift out into your own story. Overall, I love the look, the feel, and the improvements. Tyranny of Dragons has not changed much from the originals from 5 years ago. If you already own Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat, then you may not want to invest; unless, like me, you like the addition of the concept art and the beautiful covers by Hydro74. If you have not picked up the originals in the past, then this is the version for you.

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