Review: Dungeon and Dragons – Storm King’s Thunder

Dear Reactorites, I apologize for my disappearance. I was lost in Ten-Towns selling scrimshaw to survive, alas I have returned to greet you with my long waited review of Dungeon & Dragons’ Storm King’s Thunder. In the memory of my preview post back in September, we finally had the opportunity to experience this adventure after a visit to the lands of mist where Strahd resides. No longer in Ravenloft, I shall recount my experiences with the complications introduced by the various giants assailing the Realms.

Let’s clear some things first…

In tradition to all my reviews, I would like to spend some time to throw down some factoids to inform newcomers to the space, as well as refreshers for those who are “in the know.” On the heels of Curse of Strahd, which had adventurers take a detour from the Forgotten Realms and visit the land of Ravenloft; Storm King’s Thunder is the sixth dedicated adventure from Wizards of the Coast. This is the first adventure since the First Edition of D&D where an adventure is dedicated to giants (this is the Fifth Edition of D&D), which gave the developers the opportunity to showcase the differences and culture. This deeper examination on a particular species within D&D is something that is reminiscent of details in Volo’s Guide to Monsters , which was released two months after this book.

Wizard of the Coast is focused on keeping the adventures and gameplay options as two separate books, similar to some of the previous editions. In the following sections, I’ll point out some of the pros and cons which have made this book enjoyable as much as something to be desired in other aspects.

What it’s not…

  • New Gameplay Options. To some degree, “Curse of Strahd” added a new gameplay option with the Tarokka Deck (which was used to randomize situations and imitate the bewildering power of the mists of Ravenloft). Sticking to their word, Wizards of the Coast has not introduced any new gameplay options. If anything, they’re saving their new options for Unearthed Arcana, which they have been publicly testing over the last year in varying pieces.
  • Fully Contained. There are ideas and incentives in the appendix and from the start, pointing out the ability to connect adventures from other D&D books or a DM’s homebrew idea. With this in mind, it has made early aspects of the adventure a bit lacking. The filler for this adventure is apparently at the front of the experience. Until you meet a particular Frost Giant, you are not doing a lot in the beginning to engage the main story.
    • Level 1-11? At best, things pick up around level 5 and carry forward from there. This opens up the early parts for other adventures to hook into this one, as you will find suggestions in the Appendix on how to hook other 5th Edition adventure modules.
  • Enriching. While it does provide a fair amount of setting material in the early part of the book, it does require a bit more work from the DM to enrich the experience further within the adventure, especially with something as significant as the Ordning. Perhaps pulling up lore from Chapter 3, diving into “Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide”, or backtrack through religion, history, and lore from the supplements of previous editions. Some adventures do a fair job at informing DMs of relevant facts and material in the current timeline like Out of the Abyss in the post-War of the Spider-Queen era, although the issue with Out of the Abyss was that their pieces of lore and materials were scattered throughout the adventure rather than loading it in the front or in the Appendix.

What it does well…

  • Organization. Whether it’s the tables, the Adventure Flowchart (which I’ve seen done in New World of Darkness stories), or the understanding of the north’s culture and involved factions, this module totally wins at being an improvement on previous modules’ setup materials. While not perfect, it provides the DM with enough pieces in the right places instead of flipping all over the place trying to make sense and anticipate the chaos of details that only appear further down the line. Not every DM reads through the sections and memorizes it, so the benefit of the book being organized is an immense aide for DMs of various approached to building and research for their game.
  • Expands on the northern Sword Coast. A region mostly covered by R.A. Salvatore’s fiction with the famed Drizzt Do’Urden, the book covers more on what is touched upon in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. However, this should have been put in that Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, which I felt was very thin compared to the robust Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting in D&D 3rd Edition.
  • Dynamic. What this book does with the spaces and flaws that certain people point out is an opportunity to mine, mix, and match, various hooks and intentions with the other supplements. The two types of parties and DMs in D&D are those who like theme park gameplay (which is linear), or the sandbox style which works best when you are primarily provided tools and it’s up to you to execute on them. This module is a mix of both theme park and sandbox, which ultimately is a joy for those who prefer dynamic gameplay, but is a flaw for those who prefer more in the connective tissue of the module.

The popular verdict is that this module is easy to run, it’s organized, but it does require a work from the DM to make it sleek for gameplay.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

(Although I’m not wholly comfortable with giving this a rating, as DMs can love or hate various things depending on their approach and their players.)

With Wizard only putting out these adventures and supplements every few months, throw this into your collection as soon as you can!

Dimensions – 8.5 x 0.7 x 11.2 inches
Hardcover, 256 pages
Full color

Storm King’s Thunder is published by Wizards of the Coast. Check out this link for more information:
You can purchase now at your local retailer, or Amazon.

The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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Jaynesis Ong
Jaynesis Ong 162 posts

He is currently a graphics designer by trade, illustrator for indie games, fashionisto, film production assistant, socialite, sampler of fine music, and taster of various new MMO games. JB likes destructive walks on the beach, visceral plot points, maniacal villains, and collapsing galactic empires.