Friday, July 29, 2011

Early Graphic Novel Review -Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun - Ianto's Tomb by Alexander Irvine and Peter Burgting (4/5 stars)

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun - Ianto's TombReading level: Adult/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Gaming
Size: 132 pages
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: September 13, 2011
ISBN: 978-1600109966
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC through
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got an eGalley of this book through NetGalley(dot)com.  This book was an interesting concept.  Basically it starts with a graphic novel set in the Dark Sun world, then after the graphic novel there is infomation (monster stats, maps) on running the story as a campaign for a group of Dungeon and Dragons (DnD) characters.

The story features an ex-gladiator and a bard who meet in the desert.  They are trying to get into a city but run into quite a bit of trouble along the way.  The ARC I got only included the first 40 pages, or first part, of the graphic novel story.  Following that was stat info on the monsters the characters ran into during the graphic novel story.  Also included was information on the campaign setting, maps, scenarios ect.  All of the things you would need to run your own group of DnD characters through this graphic novel story.

First let's discuss the quality of the graphic novel.  The illustration is so-so; very cartoony with sound bubbles (blam! whack!) it wasn't bad but it wasn't exceptional either.  The story was much more interesting; this is obviously set on an interesting desert world where there are a lot of conflicting interests (slavery exists, as does gladiator fighting, as well as a mysterious symbols and tombs).  The dialogue between characters was well done and engaging.  Some of the battle scenes were a bit confusing, it was hard to figure out exactly what was going on with the characters.  So overall the graphic novel portion was okay, not exceptional but generally well done.

The second portion was all of the campaign setting info.  This info seemed very complete.  All the enemy creatures actions and stats are there.  Scenarios are played out and possible paths addressed.  There are maps of the regions and ships etc.  The group of DnD characters that would play this campaign follows in a general story similar but not identicle to the one played out in the graphic novel.

This is a neat idea, and the campaign provided is a nice campaign for shortish DnD excursion.  Nice for a DnD group that wants a smaller campaign to run through.  The campaign does seem to follow the graphic novel story pretty closely though.  As a DnD player I would think this would take a bit of fun out of the campaign.  If you read through the graphic novel then the element of surprise during the campaign is eliminated; which is part of the fun.

I did not get a chance to play through this campaign with my DnD group.  Since all of us have small kids we only get 5-6 hours per month of play time and are dedicted to a many years long campaign right now.  So I probably won't get a chance to play through it with them in the near future.  From my read through the campaign looks pretty well set up, although I will be curious to read reviews from people who actually give it a full play through.

Overall this is a nifty idea.  The graphic novel portion is okay; the illustration is not the best but it does provide an engaging story and a good introduction to the world.  The campaign information that follows the graphic novel seems complete and is a cool idea.  It should provide a nice short contained campaign for those who like that; it could also be tied in with a larger DnD campaign.  The only downside I can see is that if you read the graphic novel first, the element of surprise is gone from the campaign.  So if you want a small contained campaign in an interesting setting and enjoy fantasy graphic novels I would check this out.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun - Ianto's Tomb 

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