The newest Dragons of Stormwreck Isle Starter Set from Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro showcases a tutorial-style approach mixed with a classic adventure style to bring brand-new players into the fold. The starter set features everything you need to explore your first campaign – but its emphasis on new players may leave experienced players looking for another plot hook.
The adventure begins with the group of 3-6 players (as in typical Dungeons and Dragons fashion, one player is the Dungeon Master, who leads the story) arriving at the titular Isle. From there, they become embroiled in a quest to aid a group of natives in finding a missing student. A battle with zombies, exploration of a damaged pirate ship, and a showdown at an Observatory round out the adventure, which takes players from 1st level to 3rd level.
Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is straightforward and direct, and it features many classic D&D creatures that are iconic to the game, including kobolds, undead, and – slight spoiler – dragons. (I noted the direct NEED to want to include the optional owlbear encounter). The tale is short, and its diverse-yet-reliable structure makes the story able to be competed in one sitting if the group is so inclined. I suspect a typical gaming group would complete the quest though Stormwreck Isle in 2-3 (3-4 hour) gaming sessions.
The fairly-priced boxed set includes this 48-page adventure as well as a 6-piece dice set and a 26-page Rulebook, a slimmed-down version of the ruleset that outlines the core features of the adventure and the 5 pre-generated characters in the box. Each character is detailed thoroughly, and each has rules notes and details for everything needed for immediate play. The tutorial approach of the booklets aims to teach the game as the group plays, and it does so effectively. Both the adventure and the Character Sheets give tips, advice, and rules examples to make the most of your first experience.
The new Dragons of Stormwreck Isle Starter Set Ushers in the Next Wave of New TTRPG’ers
The tutorial style goes further than just teaching new Players. Dragons of Stormwreck Isle remembers that one of the new players at this table will be the Dungeon Master (DM), and thus, it aids that role as well. The adventure booklet specifically has each plot point and encounter laid out with details to teach the DM how to play the monsters and narrate the story. This included a turn-by-turn breakdown of monster tactics, optional story changes, and motivations to adapt to the players’ inevitable zig when they’re expected to zag.
Players with familiarity with Dungeons and Dragons will find this information to be a bit pedantic, and although it is useful, this starter set doesn’t branch out past the specific adventure or rules directly needed in the story. Dragons of Stormwreck Isle not a complete game, and thus the story outline may feel a bit like a directed exercise in Railroaded play rather than the “Sandbox” style found in other products. A group with a pre-existing game looking for a side quest would better be suited with the Essentials Kit, also by Hasbro and WotC, which includes multiple starting points, a larger dice set, and a DM screen. The Stormwreck Starter knows what Challenge Rating it’s rolling initiative against, and it makes use of the straightforward approach.
A final rewarding note is the fact that the writers baked player agency right into the mix. Each of the 5 characters presented have direct backstory and emotional ties to the direct quest, which gives a chance to have the players experience this aspect of modern roleplaying game style. Players can be invested and find a personal stake in the quest to rescue the missing student, a connection to the game that lends to a “beyond-the-roll” roleplay. Players looking for a more mechanical game can simply focus on the statistics if so inclined.
Overall, the product is a FANTASTIC approach for brand-new players or someone looking to test out the game before committing to the full ruleset. With a straightforward and detailed approach, a linear story, and dependable writing, it makes good use of its space and truly rolls with Advantage for folks looking to try out the growing hobby.
Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is currently on sale at Target locations. Worldwide release is slated for October 4th.