Tomb of Annihilation Review

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Tomb of Annihilation is the seventh storyline for Dungeons & Dragons 5E. This is their nod and reimagining of “The Tomb Of Horrors”.

 

 

The Tomb of Annihilation is a 256-page hardcover adventure. There are also a few new monsters included, and two new backgrounds, the anthropologist, and the archeologist. The adventure features the return of the infamous D&D villain Acererak, whom we last meet in the tomb of horrors.

  • The Breakdown:
    MSRP: $49.95
    256 pages
    5 chapters
    6 appendices
    2 character backgrounds*
    7 magic items (including 2 artifacts)
    59 monster & NPC stat blocks*
    9 trickster gods (NPC’s who will help & hinder you)
    24 handouts
    Fold-out map of Chult

    *There are no new classes, spells, feats, etc.
    *Several monster stat blocks are reprinted from Volo’s Guide to Monsters

This adventure is intended for 4-6 1st level players, with them advancing to 11th level by the end, if you live through this that it is, this is not for the faint of heart, this some hardcore d&d. There will be death. And more than likely it’s going to be you! They do provide notes on starting at the 5th and 9th level if you choose to, but this much different from Curse of Strahd or Storm King’s Thunder, where you were given some intro adventures to level up your party. This is designed to drop you in at Lvl 1. And you go from there, which I really like.

 

You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby, your gonna die! – Welcome To The Jungle Guns N’ Roses *

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    *This was my last Guns N’ Roses joke, I promise. I had to squeeze one in somewhere

 

The book features 79 pages detailing the jungle peninsula of Chult, Where you will be spending most of your time, as you try to even survive it, as you make your way to the lost city and then the tomb itself.

 

The Clock is ticking boys and girls.

I’m not spoiling anything when I say what the crux of the adventure is, it’s been talked about before, but if you for some reason have no idea, why your in this sweaty deadly jungle, For those unaware, resurrection magic is failing: the dead cannot be brought back to life and those already raised from the dead are beginning to decay and rot away. You need to figure it out and stop it, you can’t delay long Tomb of Annihilation is, in its own words, a “time-bomb adventure.” Time is very much of the essence, with the players under constant pressure, you are reminded of this many times, one way is that if your players have previously been resurrected, they will slowly be losing HP over the course of the adventure, so you need to get moving and find the cause and a way to cure it. I’m sure there will be some players that do not like this aspect, but it’s not the DM trying to railroad the players into moving along, it’s the death curse the main story plot, so you can’t mess around in the jungles too long, besides did I mention the undead dinosaurs that are just waiting to kill you out there?

 

Grind them up and spit them out

Tomb of Annihilation includes an optional meat grinder mode. In this mode, death saving throws require a roll of 15 or higher to succeed rather than the usual roll of 10 or higher. Pray your role well, as if I’m your DM I’ll rip your character sheet up in front of you if you die and you choose meat grinder mode!

I have not run this for my players yet, so I can’t speak as to how the adventure plays, but I’ve spent a good four to five hours pouring over this book, taking notes for when I do, this adventure is like a love letter to the days of yore, it’s a hex crawling deathtrap dungeon filled a good time. There are plenty of side quests to take up your time, again keep in mind the clock is ticking, so don’t spend too much time.

If they make it through the jungle and to the main dungeon there will be plenty of tricks and traps for them, this is not a walk in the park, there are traps, deadly traps, some you might think you know, but you might not! Things are not always as they seem. One minor spoiler that I have to point out, so if you don’t want to be spoil skip ahead to the next section – They do something I’ve never seen before in this dungeon and it’s the coolest thing I have ever seen. There is an undead maintenance crew in the dungeon, that moves around resetting traps each day. Your players won’t know this till they come across it, so imagine their shock and horror when they move back a section to a trap that they have managed to disarm, only to find it full functionality and ready to kill them again!

 

Some Great things, some things I don’t like.

So far I’ve been pretty positive on this book, as a whole It’s done well, it’s a great throwback to old-school D&D. Again I think I sound like a broken record as I say this with most of the D&D books so far, the artwork is amazing. WOTC has stepped up the game for art, it shows yet again, the maps are wonderful as they have been since Curse of Strahd. Stat blocks and text are easy to read, I had no problems, even with my eye problems, I’ve talked about in other reviews.

 

 

Now let’s talk about the negatives.

Let’s talk about the big bad of the book Acererak the demilich we all know and love, wait a minute. According to his stat block in the back of the book, Acererak is an “archlich”. What, What, What??? Unless they have totally blown their own lore, this can’t even be a thing, as an  Archliches are *technically* a rare good lich, I don’t think there is anyone reading this that will call Acererak “good” this left me a bit puzzled, I have no idea what they are doing, or as to why they are changing the lore this must, I’m sure they have a good reason?

The last thing that bugged me about the book is I talked about how great the maps were, they are if you can look past the stupid hex grid that is on the players hand out chult, makes the map super hard to read.

I’ve mentioned this same thing with Storm King’s and Curse Of Strhad, but WOTC PLEASE give us PDF’s of the handouts! I mean, could photocopy them, or scan them in, but it just seems that a PDF would be easy enough for you to do. Small quibble here, I know.  This is not an issue anymore, as the handouts are now available via the WOTC site!

One last minor spoiler – so if you plan on playing the adventure skip ahead to the next section.

As you make your way through the Tomb Of The Nine Gods, you will encounter nine trickster gods, that will (If you fail your save) inhabited your body for a short period of time, you will still be yourself, but you will have a “Passenger” that is overbearing and cause you to have a flaw but you gain a special power, which the idea of it awesome to me, I love it, but I can see this being a problem for new players, they will not know how to handle this, again I love the idea, and you will need to their help, in the end, just something I personally think a new player will have problems with.

 

 

I would have loved if they were have used Acererak a bit more as well, maybe have him send some minions to toy with you as your making way to the tomb, something like that, like in the way that Strhad does as well.

 

 

Final thoughts

This is a solid adventure, it has an “Indiana Jones” feel to it, as you’re running around the jungle, fighting various evils, and then facing the tomb itself, watching out for traps as you go. Dinosaurs, do I have to say more, yes if you have a druid in your party that’s high enough level, he could learn how to transform into a one, or a ranger could, in theory, tame one as a pet, you could even ride one if you can figure out how, I mean how cool would that be, you running through the jungle on your way to the fabled tomb on a party full of dinos. This is just enough sandbox, where you can let your creative juices flow as a DM. and have at it, Again keep in mind that ticking time bomb known as the death curse, but go wild! The jungle is your playground!

Is it a perfect book? No, I had some minor nitpicks about a few things, these, might not even be an issue for you, I just wanted to give me full thoughts, overall I would recommend picking this up, this would be fun and something different for your party to run through, it’s nothing we’ve seen from 5E yet. And besides, they had me at Dinosaurs.

 

 

Tomb of Annihilation is available now at either your FLGS or via online retailers such as Amazon.

Be sure to read our review of Tomb of Annihilation Dice HERE

A Big Thank You! To WOTC for providing an early review copy of the book, for this review. Which had no effect on the outcome of the review in any way.
*The Amazon link found above, is an AFFILIATE LINK, and DDO Players will get a small percent of your sale, this is another way you can help support the site*

 

 

2 comments

  1. Tosh Le /

    By the way, they released the handouts as a PDF. Check the product page on WotC :D!

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