A few weeks ago, I spoke about how Volo’s guide to Monsters was my favourite 5th edition Supplement to date, and as good as it is, that has now changed. Late last month (or early this month, depending on the game store), Tales From the Yawning Portal was released, a collection of some of the most iconic adventures and modules from D&D history, all updated to 5th edition rules.
Tales From the Yawning Portal is unique, in that it isn’t a complete adventure- And whilst it can be run as such, the aim of Tales From the Yawning Portal is to act as a collection of smaller adventures DMs can run as one shots, or integrate into ongoing campaigns. The book includes the adventures ‘Against the Giants’ ‘White Plume Mountain’ ‘Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan’ and ‘Tomb of Horrors’ from AD&D, the third edition adventures ‘Sunless Citadel’ and ‘Forge of Fury’ and play-test material for 5th Edition (Then known as D&D next) ‘Dead in Thay’. Given it has only been out for a couple of weeks, and I only got it a few days ago, I haven’t run any of it yet, nor have I read through everything in detail. I’ve read through Sunless Citadel, and Tomb of Horrors, I’ve also analysed both appendices. Just doing that has given me a number of ideas regarding how I can integrate some of these adventures into my campaigns— Off the bat, they would make great locations for finding story essential magical items, and in doing so, make for a fun, and hopefully memorable experience, and of course, when a campaign begins to come to an end, what better way to send it off is there than to send the players off to prove themselves in the Tomb of Horrors.
One thing I would like to praise Wizards of the Coast for is absolutely their faithfulness to the source material. I’ve not read through all the original adventures, however, I have read through ‘Tomb of Horrors’, ‘Sunless Citadel’, ‘Forge of Fury’ and ‘Dead in Thay’, and I’ve spoken to a number of people who’ve run through the others, and the general consensus is that WotC have successfully managed to convert these classic adventures to fifth edition without diminishing from the atmosphere, challenge, or general nature of the original adventures in the slightest.
One complaint I did have regarding the book was in how Tales from the Yawning Portal relates to Volo’s Guide to Monsters. When reading Volo’s, I was hoping it wouldn’t be a one off kinda supplement— That monsters from Volo’s would appear in future content, linking back to volo’s, and in a sense, that has happened- A number of monsters from Volo’s appear in Tales from the Yawning Portal, however, they’re all referenced in the Appendix, in full detail- Effectively just a reprint of Volo’s, removing the need for one to invest in Volo’s- and making having already bought it seem a bit redundant, as far as this new supplement goes. I mean, I totally get it, it’s unfair to expect every DM to have ALL the books- beyond the core books, they should only require the book for the specific adventure, however, I feel as though the way they reprint all the content from Volo’s that is relevant doesn’t do Volo’s guide a lot of justice. Even releasing these monsters in a free supplement of sorts seems more valid than this. That said, I do and understand why Wizards of the Coast has done this, and ultimately, it doesn’t diminish the overall quality of Tales from the Yawning Portal, or Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
Overall, Tales from the Yawning Portal is an excellent supplement- It works well on its own, it can be adjusted to fit any homebrew world, and it can be thrown in with other pre-made adventures. If I were to recommend you buy any book, other than the 3 core rule books, it would probably be Tales From the Yawning Portal.
(Note- I will do another review in a few weeks, once I’ve actually played through some of it)