10 comments on “Tomb of Annihilation Review Part 3: World Building

  1. Pingback: Tomb of Annihilation Review Part 1: Chult in 5e | POCGamer

  2. Pingback: Tomb of Annihilation Review Part 2: The Adventure | POCGamer

  3. Thank you very much for the in-depth review. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your breakdown of the adventure, and find myself in agreement. It is a good adventure, but as a sourcebook it is lacking. I would have loved to see a crafted setting that would have allowed players choosing to play characters with a Chult background, and a good exploration of the culture and history of those peoples, instead of just assuming the characters would all be European equivalents dropped into the setting, and blending in about as well as Dr. Marcus Brody.

    I mean, think about how awesome it would have been to play characters that were responsible for thwarting the machinations of Acererak, preventing the birth of a new evil god, and fighting to bring back the favor of a benevolent god, all done in a setting rich with its own cultures and not relying upon the tropes of the Red Wizards or the Flaming Fists.

    As it currently stands, I find that it reminds me more of old Expert modules like X1: Isle of Dread (including the maps to be filled in by players, and dinosaurapalooza). As an adventure, it can be a blast. But it does have all the trappings of colonialism, including a story arc about finding a Dr. Livingstone equivalent…

  4. I’ve enjoyed reading your break down of ToA. After your first section, I shared it with a friend. Who then challenged me to create a game for this setting. I pulled several DM Guilds published pieces for more material, and found still find them lack as well. As I begin to process and plan, I notice that in none of the materials does it mention the Chultans source of Arcane, Bardic, Druidic, or Rouge schools or organizations. So are all of these skills and sources for training from outside? I’m having to invent these places. The then there is a brief mention of the Beggar Princes. This would have been a great source of information and tense in area, even after ToA is resolved. Another section I’m having to invent.I’m having to figure out way to syncretize Ubtao in the temple for Clerical options. As I dig in more I’m certain that there is much more that I’ll have to create.

    For this game the players will be required to play natives of the Chult, I’ve figured at least 6 race options for them, 2 of which are Lycan.

    • Good luck with your project!

      I found The Grand History of the Realms, and Serpent Kingdoms (both 3.5e) to be great information sources for the general region and its deep history with the larger FRCS. I found the following canonicaly native to Chult player races between 2e AD&D and 5e:
      – Human (Chultan, Amnian, Tethyrian, Calishite, Illuskan)
      – Dwarf (Wild, Albino, Gold)
      – Elf (Wild)
      – Half Elf (only mentioned as being specifically Chultan)
      – Aarakocra
      – Lizardfolk
      – Yuan-ti
      – Tortle
      – Naga

      Hope that helps!

  5. May I suggest a review of the “Ki Khanga” RPG, from MV Media, as a contrast to this sourcebook?

    • Funny you’d mention that! I’m currently waiting for my copy of Milton Davis’ game. Once I have it, I plan on doing a review.

  6. Lot of stuff to dive into here – Been thinking about it quite a bit lately as I’m part way through playing it as a PC and have DM’d several of the extended AL adventures into it as well as reading up on the core book to prep for a run.

    I feel like there needs to be a part 4 – one that specifically dives into the content around the open and first epic (peril to the port) as well as the remaining Adventurer’s league and DM’s Guild content. One thing that really pops up here is that the externally created content (and it’s all officially sanctioned at that) is quite literally outpacing the content of the hardcover, and we’re not even done w the season yet

    I wholeheartedly agree that the source book itself is extremely thin when it comes to Port Nyanzaru, having run Peril to the Port twice, which triples the NPC character count, you specifically start to see some of the internal politics start to show, and I wanted to build on that in the sourcebook… and found the hints of it that lead to the existent content, but not much else to work with. A perfect example is how in PoTP Mother Sibonseni (priestess of the trade goddess Waukeen) controls major defensive forces, but is totally willing to let the city burn down when the port comes under threat. It’s the princes who are stepping up to the plate to save the town, while northern based factions both aid and attempt to subvert their commands (in one case, asking you secure evidence that would incriminate a prince who is working w dark forces).

    Two things you left out: – the Ytepka Society – which is specifically mentioned as being anti-colonialist (both anti-faction, and anti-pirate, and all of the pirates are colonials/working w the colonials) . – I haven’t seen a mission using them using them yet, but I plan to make them a big component in my game.

    Second is the Nine Trickster gods of the Omu – who apparently stepped up to the plate in Obtau’s absence – they don’t premier until later in the book, but they have some history that gets expanded on in AL content

    I also noticed that during AL, many of the poorly described areas (hisari comes to mind) get expanded upon and you do visit them for specific missions.

    In Return of the LIzard King, that big section of to the south is expanded on, the lizard tribes start to get fleshed out, and you learn of several new existing settlements.

    • Here’s the thing, and I’m sorry if it sounds harsh, but I do not, and will not, consider DM Guild material (even if AL legal). The reason being that, while it may be well written, thought out, and presented, it is not canon material, which means in the long run, it does not effect the campaign setting and can be superceded at any moment by something released by WotC. That said, now that AL has finished producing its official series of bolt-on adventures, I will be reviewing those with the same critical lens.

      The Triceritops Society was left out because, to be honest, they’ve been a joke of a faction since their appearance in 2e AD&D. They have, like most things in Chult, a lot of wasted potential. As presented in the book, they were so sadly and laughably inept and ineffective that I just passed them by to deal with the larger issues.

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