Year of Rogue Dragons
Are you tired of always playing the good guys? Do you often wonder what your “heroic” story would look like from a different perspective? Do you enjoy terrorizing villages, kidnapping the aristocracy, and sleeping on piles of pilfered gold?
Yes? Then perhaps it’s time to act like a real dragon! Unleash your breath weapon, take to the skies, and fight with claw and fang in Year of Rogue Dragons, a brand new 5th edition D&D adventure.
Designed by a group of self-proclaimed D&D enthusiasts, who all quit their day jobs to create this high quality content, Year of Rogue Dragons is the first module from Elderbrain and has been endorsed by Richard Lee Byers, the author of the original The Year of Rogue Dragons novel trilogy, upon which this story is loosely based.
Although not an official WotC Dungeons & Dragons product, it is available to buy from the DMs Guild, the official marketplace of D&D, and is also available on Fantasy Grounds.
What is Year of Rogue Dragons?
Year of Rogue Dragons is a Forgotten Realms adventure module designed for evil dragon characters. It is set in 1373 DR during the Dracorage, which D&D lore enthusiasts will recognize as the setting for many published novels, games, and adventures. Don’t worry, there’s an explanation of what the Dracorage actually is in the book; I didn’t know either.
In Year of Rogue Dragons, players take on the role of one of four newly hatched chromatic dragons and are quickly drawn into a conflict among three factions, where they must solve a mystery that threatens their very existence.
As ever, the story is guided by a Dungeon Master—because it just would be D&D without one—who must lead the dragons from infancy into pre-adulthood, and towards the Day of Reckoning. It’s vast in scope, but due to the cleverness of the content creators, it won’t actually take 750 years—the average age of an adult dragon—to complete the campaign.
The story begins with your dragons hatching and meeting Mohmitath, their Gynosphinx protector. Then the adventure kicks off and they set out to explore the local area, which has a number of fun and exciting encounters where the usual recipe has been reverse-engineered—this time around you’re the dragon that stumbles upon a group of unsuspecting human adventures. They don’t stand a chance!
Play as a Rogue Dragon
Year of Rogue Dragons gives players the opportunity to do something which they very rarely get to do. Play as a dragon. And it’s fun.
Each player picks a different dragon that has different stats and abilities, just like a more usual adventuring party. You will need at least one copy of the 5th edition Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide to play this campaign, but if you’ve gotten to the stage of wanting to play a dragon, chances are you’ve already got both.
What’s included in the book?
The 99-page adventure module has three main chapters, which all have different goals and place in the story. The module includes three main encounter types: random encounters, location encounters, and plot-based encounters. And it sets them out in such a way that makes it really easy for the DM to get to grips with what’s going on and when to use each one.
Chapter 1. “Hunger and Rage” introduces the players to the setting and the life of wyrmling dragons, and lets the player experience the ongoing Dracorage (a kind of disease that is affecting all types of dragons). This chapter introduces the life of dragons, the surrounding lands, and builds the world of Thar through some seemingly random encounters.
Chapter 2. “Forced Alliances” has three sub-sections in which the motives and goals of each faction are revealed in the form of three different quests. Getting involved with these factions lets the players collect every piece of information needed to lead them to a solution that rids them of their enemies, all in one single daring and grandiose final event.
Chapter 3. “Rise of the Dracolich” is the climax of the adventure, where the players recover the key element that can save them from multiple threats. They will have several options to use it, depending on which factions they made their enemies and whom they want to eliminate.
So, is it worth it?
Oh yes, it is definitely worth the $19.99 currently charged on the DMs Guild and then some!
If you only got the rules and mechanics for playing a dragon character that might be enough, but the book features a heck of a lot more. With a bit of DM tinkering, the story and dungeons included could very easily be used in a non-dragon campaign and, even if I don’t run this as written, I’ll certainly be using the cool section from Chapter 2 “The Eye from the Deep” in a future session.
Further to the story, the module features nine full-color dungeon maps, a complete map of Thar, over a dozen full-page color illustrations, and 21 unique NPC and monster stat blocks including old favorites like: the Zhentarim Skymage, the Dragonflesh Golem, and the Wearer of Purple and their Initiate Cult Wizards.
Year of Rogue Dragons is an original and fun campaign, ideal for anyone suffering from D&D fatigue—if there is such a thing. It is a fresh take on the classic and the mechanics for playing as a dragon fit perfectly into the already well-established 5th edition rules.
For Dungeon Masters, I imagine this isn’t the sort of campaign you’d want to run as your first-ever adventure, but more experienced DMs might relish the chance to subvert the dominant paradigm. Once you get to grips with running a campaign for dragons, I’m sure it plays out very similarly to those in which the usual status quo is maintained. But for players, Year of Rogue Dragons really does represent something exciting and new.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received a copy of Year of Rogue Dragons for review purposes.