We wrap up Play the Fifth Week with another official Wizards of the Coast release for the system, and a perfect bookend with the first Pick. Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast directly follows up the events of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle with revelations of other terrible unleashed upon the world. Those wishing to explore one of the wild, dangerous places of the Forgotten Realms will wish to delve deeply into the tales of this popular release.
Dreams of the Red Wizards
Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle chronicled the efforts of the Red Wizards to unlock the power of elemental nodes located in an abandoned temple dedicated to the Princes of Elemental Evil. A gate to the Nine Hells lay open for some time, spewing devils and smoke. The heroes who closed the gate could not know it then, but amid the chaos of battle, another threat emerged.
“Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast” (2014), by Tito Leati, Matt Sernett, and Chris Sims, is the adventure for Season 17 of D&D Encounters. It was released in February 2014 as a PDF-only book on DnDClassics.com
Continuing the Encounters. The D&D Encounters program saw major changes beginning with Season 15’s “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” (2013). That was the first D&D Encounters book that was produced for broad sale — and so could be played at home or in a store. The commercial production of the adventure allowed for a higher-quality product, and also let the designers provide more detail on the setting. “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” was also the first Encounters season to notably move away from the trends of 4e play: though support was offered for 3.5e, 4e, and D&D Next, tactical maps were no longer a part of the D&D Encounters adventure.
Season 16’s “Legacy of the Crystal Shard” (2013) followed these trends and made an even bigger change: the adventure was no longer separated into individual encounters; instead each D&D Encounters group could play it at their own speed.
Season 17’s “Scourge of the Sword Coast” continued the revamping of the D&D Encounters program. Where the previous two adventures were print releases, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” was the first D&D Encounters adventure ever that was produced exclusively in PDF form; however, it continued to be sold commercially, now through DnDClassics.com It was also the first D&D Encounters adventure to exclusively support D&D Next play.
Following a launch weekend on February 15-16, 2014, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” ran from February 19, 2014 to May 7, 2014.
About the Homage. The revamped D&D Encounters adventures weren’t homages to classic D&D modules, as was the case during the early program. Nonetheless, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” was somewhat reminiscent of B2: “The Keep on the Borderlands” (1979): characters met many classic humanoids (including goblins, orcs, gnolls, and duergar) in individual encounter areas.
Continuing the Sundering. “Scourge of the Sword Coast” continues “The Sundering”, a Forgotten Realms multimedia event meant to transition the setting to D&D Next. The Sundering was intended to “reshape” the Realms by banishing the realm of Abeir and ending the “Era of Upheaval” that began when Ao destroyed the Tablets of Fate in the first-ever Realms crossover, the Avatar event (1989).
The Sundering was also a part of the two previous D&D Encounters seasons, “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” and “Legacy of the Crystal Shard”, and a series of six novels beginning with The Companions (2013), by R.A. Salvatore. As with most of the other Sundering tie-ins, it’s a minor part of “Scourge of the Sword Coast”, mainly acting as a background.
Continuing the Story of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle. Wizards of the Coast previewed D&D Next at Gen Con Indy 2013, which saw the release of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (2013), a book that combined the playtest D&D Next rules with a Forgotten Realms adventure set in and about the city of Daggerford. There, the Red Wizards of Thay sought four keys to free the Princes of Elemental Evil.
Though the Red Wizards (hopefully!) failed in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, their story continues here as they bedevil Daggerford once more. To a certain extent, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” is a direct sequel to Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, continuing with some of the characters and the setting and exploring some of the repercussions of the earlier adventure. However, it can’t be run for the same characters, as Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle was meant to advance characters from level 1-10, while “Scourge of the Sword Coast” begins play at second level.
The Adventure Continues: The story of “Dreams of the Red Wizards” continues in “Dead in Thay” (2014).
Expanding the Realms. Daggerford has been a classic area for introductory Forgotten Realms play ever since the release of N5: “Under Illefarn” (1987). More broadly, the Sword Coast has been one of the best-detailed areas in the Realms since first-edition days. Thus it’s appropriate that Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle and “Scourge of the Sword Coast” return to this fertile land.
Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!