The Tomb (and Stream) of Annihilation–Some Thoughts

Tomb of Annihilation Thoughts

Given that the Tomb of Annihilation vibe is leaning heavily on “Indiana Jones plus undead plus dinosaurs,” I think it’s finally starting to sink in that, at least for the foreseeable future, there aren’t D&D campaign worlds, there is D&D, and that currently leans heavily on Forgotten Realms lore and proper names, but also borrows heavily from places like Greyhawk and now even Eberron for their themes and elements.

What reinforces this to me is that the “generic” book of new class archetypes and spells and character options is going to be called the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. What could just be a general D&D release that would probably sell fairly well is being couched in lore as well.

What I THOUGHT Was Coming Up

With all of the buzz about something big coming up, and given how Curse of Strahd was handled, I honestly thought that this was going to be a Planescape storyline. I thought that would work with Organized Play, since it also allows characters to move from the Realms to another “setting,” without cutting the characters off from their “home” campaign.

Now I’m wondering if that’s in the cards. I know that while Curse of Strahd itself was pretty well liked, some AL people didn’t like their characters not having a legal, easy exit from Ravenloft, so perhaps that is a concern with Planescape was well.

Why I Am Excited About Chult

I always liked Chult. I like the Barae, and I’m happy to hear that the current design crew is as perplexed as I was about the “need” to destroy Mezro to keep the wider land of Chult mysterious. I like the idea that the artwork is also going to be able to lean into more diverse portrayals (although 5th edition has been doing a better job of this in general).

Why I’m Disappointed in Acererak

We don’t know what he’s up to, but Acererak has some issues with having his own niche. Originally, he was a long dead wizard who is so far removed from his heyday that he’s broken down into a demi-lich. The 2nd edition Return to the Tomb of Horrors cast him as a lich attempting to achieve godhood, but that feels a lot like Vecna’s thing.

Additionally, when dealing with undead and corruption in Chult, Ras Nsi, the exiled Barae, would have made a much stronger villain, especially if the apparent destruction of Mezro corrupted him from an immortal Chosen to an undead himself, instead of just a powerful necromancer.

That said, I’m interested in seeing if there might not be a way to replace Acecerak in this adventure with Ras Nsi, or if Ras Nsi has some kind of place in the adventure to begin with.

Red Herring

While I had initially thought that the next season would be related to Planescape, it definitely felt a bit more like Chult was the likely location with the “Lore You Should Know” segments and the dinosaur infused art leaks–but when the Artifacer and Mystic went up on the DM’s Guild as “soon to be legal for AL classes,” I thought that perhaps that WOTC was going to surprise everyone with an Eberron swerve.

I had no idea how this was going to work with AL, but so many not-FR things have ended up in FR, I wouldn’t be too shocked if not-Eberron things got transmuted to Eberron just so people could keep playing their existing characters.

Stream of Annihilation

I watched bits of this. The degree to which I can enjoy streaming D&D is probably related to how “stylized” the show is. In other words, the more it looks like a group trying to play a game of D&D, the more I enjoy it. The more it looks like a comedy show playing D&D for lolz, the less I can sit through it.

Its not that I don’t think comedy has a place in D&D, just that setting out to do D&D as Comedy as a concept feels more forced to me than comedy that comes from people playing their characters in the game.

All of that aside, I may be biased, because I’m a gamer that spends a lot of time online looking at RPG related news, but I think this did exactly what WOTC wanted it to do. It created a lot of buzz about new products with a lot of visibility.

My Takeaway

  • D&D is definitely still being kept alive as a name recognition tool for Hasbro
  • Despite the above statement, the stewards love D&D and roleplaying, so its being done with better results than in the past
  • I’m personally more excited about Tomb of Annihilation than Tales from the Yawning Portal
  • I’m nowhere near as excited about Tomb of Annihilation as I would have been if the Tomb of Horrors mash up wasn’t being employed
  • I’m much more excited about Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, knowing how much time and effort was put into making the book, and how much feedback was gathered
  • I still hope we don’t get another [Someone’s] Guide to [Player Options] anytime soon after this book releases 
  • I have no idea if D&D Beyond is going to be something that affects how I play D&D, now that it seems to have a heavy focus on Twitch integration–it seems like its trying to do so many different things, without nailing any specifics on how it is going to work

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