'Tomb of Annihilation' sets players against final mortality curse on the world
Adventures in “Dungeons & Dragons” are often a contained series of quests, battles, and lore. There are hints and suggestions of a wider attachment to a global threat or conspiracy, but for the most part, the adventures have little bearing on worldwide matters.
“Tomb of Annihilation,” the latest 5th edition adventure from the talented people at Wizards of the Coast, not only has bearing but weigh on everyone in whatever world the campaign is set. A global phenomenon is forcing the most powerful and influential people to come face-to-face with their own mortality and finality.
Something or someone has created a curse that will not let dead people be raised and is slowly wasting away those who have been brought back from the dead previously. Any D&D adventurer worth his or her experience points is very likely to fall into the latter category.
Talk of the death curse has led a band of adventurers to the peninsula of Chult, a huge mass of land surrounded by The Shining Sea, Trackless Sea and The Wild Coast, in the southern region of Faerun (for those playing in the Forgotten Realms world). The terrain is dotted with volcanic mountains, thick rainforests, and teeming with creatures not found in other parts of the world.
Strangely enough for such a monumental task, “Tomb of Annihilation” can be undertaken by 1st-level characters to start the exploration. However, there is enough going on that the characters should be 11th level before facing the ultimate conclusion.
In the meantime, the peninsula is teeming with lost cities, fortresses filled with soldiers, and locations of grandeur and pageantry. Port Nyanzaru, in the northern part of Chult, is where it all begins, and players should explore as much of the city as possible before heading out into the surrounding jungles.
The city is a beacon of light, color, and excitement. The residents are flush with life, enjoying good food and fun, while the port is ruled by a group of merchant princes. Adventurers will find contact and quests aplenty, but don’t miss the dinosaur races. Betting is a way of business, and participating in such races is a dream come true.
The rest of Chult is less hospitable but no less exciting. Players will be able to explore the island at their leisure, and many adventures are waiting to be found. A good Dungeon Master should be able to guide the party into level appropriate areas, building up the characters toward their destiny.
Unlike other adventures, the threat of death – real death – is a possibility. While this might make some players tentative, many of the challenges can and should be met with careful planning and strategy. Brute force is just going to get you killed with no chance of resurrection.
I don’t want to spoil too much, but be prepared for divine and ungodly interventions. Nothing is as it seems, and the threat to the world is great. The death curse affects everyone, and success can mean worldwide acclaim.
But don't be fooled. This campaign will kill characters and do it in ways they would never suspect. Only the heartiest and cleverest players will manage to see this to the end. No one will be unscathed.
This is the new "Tomb of Horrors."
As a suggestion, the adventuring party should include four to six characters of various skills. First-level characters can start the game, looking to make their name or avenging the impending death of a wealthy patron.
By starting with higher level characters, the DM has the option of afflicting one of them with the death curse, and the race against time is on. Desperate players do some really crazy and creative things to save their lives.
“Tomb of Annihilation” is a very deep and dangerous campaign. It will span many sessions and contain numerous twist and turns as the characters chart their way through the jungles of Chult and the puzzles of the gods.
There will be monsters many players have never faced before. There will be unfamiliar non-player characters who have unique backstories and quests of their own. Players should be prepared to accept help when it is offered but only after careful consideration.
As with most major artifacts, the forces of good are not the only ones seeking the prize. Who or what is causing the death curse and, more importantly, why?
In addition to the adventure, Wizards of the Coast released a beautiful metal dice container, decorated with the legendary face from “Tomb of Horrors” that held a sphere of annihilation in its mouth. Many an adventurer lost their lives by thinking they needed to dive in to that black hole.
The metal dice container contains 10 dice, d20, d12, 2 d10s, d8, 4 d6s, and a d4. Put them to good use as you travel through Chult and combat its dangers.
For digital players, ToA is available for Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and WotC’s new platform, D&D Beyond. Details maps, sheets for every monster, and the entire adventure, taken straight from the book, is at the digital DMs mouse clicks.
For online adventures with players spread out across the country, these digital offerings provide a way to enjoy the campaign the way it was intended.
“Tomb of Annihilation” is available now. The dice set and the digital offerings are also currently available. Players and DMs will need the 5th-edition versions for the "Dungeon Master's Guide," "Player's Handbook," and "Monster Manual." "Volo's Guide to Monsters" will also be helpful but is not needed.
This post was written after reading a provided preview copy of the book.