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Subject: Review: Laughter of Dragons rss

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Mark Meredith
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*Then Smaug really did laugh… “Revenge!” he snorted, and the light of his eyes lit the hall from floor to ceiling like scarlet lightning. “Revenge! The King under the Mountain is dead and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? Girion Lord of Dale is dead… where are his sons’ sons that dare approach me?”*

The Laughter of Dragons is a new book of adventures from Cubicle 7 for The One Ring RPG. In the same vein as Ruins of the North, Tales from the Wilderland, and Oaths of the Riddermark, The Laughter of Dragons is a collection of adventures, in this case focused on the region around Erebor and Dale. These adventures allow the players to stick around near the Lonely Mountain. The book recommends picking up Erebor – The Lonely Mountain supplement to get more information about the area, but it’s not essential; It really just depends on how much you want to improvise and add more content as a Loremaster. The adventures can be played together, or used as you pass through the region. Smaug’s death has brought calm and peace to the region, as it now bustles with business and intrigue, the perfect place for a little adventure.

Sauron, despite having been driven from Dol Gulder, still seeks to gain a foothold in the area, and has sent a Nazgül to stir up trouble. This Nazgül is known by the Elves as Morlach, the Black Flame, but is known in the area as the Sorcerer of Forod, which is how the players will first encounter rumors of him. He sits behind the plots of each of the adventures in the book. Let’s dive in.

The Silver Needle begins outside the gates of Dale, as the players are introduced to a few different NPCs and rumors of a group of bandits led by a mysterious figure known as Longo. When the enchanted needle of Dale’s most talented seamstress is stolen, the players must piece together clues and try not to get decieved by the words of not-so-suspicious folks in the city. I really don’t want to spoil the surprise the players will encounter in this adventure, so I don’t want to go into too many details. I was wary of this adventure based on the idea of a stolen sewing needle, but it actually all make sense, and feels like a genuinely human story, with sorrow, suffering, and the slow discovery that there are larger forces at work in Dale. There are some great elements of play here including travel, ambushes, investigation, and combat. You could definitely kick off a whole campaign with this adventure, but I feel like to run it really effectively, you should probably break down certain scenes into bullet points in order to remember everything going on here, particularly certain key plot points.

Of Hammers and Anvils also takes place in Dale, but moves the story toward Erebor, so after the more mundane natural elements of The Silver Needle, you begin to discover the wonder of ancient Dwarven halls. Also, you get to interact with Balin, companion to Frodo and Thorin, which is pretty exciting. This adventure is full of corrupt dwarves and men who have been utrned bitter by the forces of the Shadow. They find Balin, fallen over a ravine after being attacked by bandits. They eventually learn he believes there is some sort of plot against him, and fakes his own death to go into hiding. He needs the heroes’ help to unravel the plot. The heroes will eventually journey to Erebor, where they’ll have to stop the sabotaging of the dwarven forges.

In To Dungeons Deep, the company will travel to the Grey Mountains. Meeting Dwalin, they are sent to find a scholar who has been abducted. Orcs and brigands abound, and they eventually find a forgotten mausoleum filled with ancient treasure. Both Darves and Bardings lay claim to the treasure, driven to disagreement by forces behind the scenes. In the end, they’ll get to meet Gandalf, as he begins to suspect there are larger forces at play in Dale.

Sleeping Dragons Lie has the heroes go on a dragon hunt as smoke rises from a distant watchtower. “Dragon-smoke one day brings Dragon-fire the next,” they say. King Dain Ironfoot places a bounty on its head. The heroes will need to venture through the new desolation, fight through the dragon’s orcish guards before facing off against it. This is the same dragon from Tales from the Wilderland, unless the heroes played that adventure and defeated it, meaning that if they played and merely drove it away, they’ll have a history with the beast. This adventure uses the Eye of Mordor rules found in Rivendell, but modified so that the Eye is instead the Dragon’s Eye, measuring how aware the dragon is of your group’s presence. It’s a pretty cool mechanic.

In Dark Waters, the company finds itself in Laketown, and involves a bit of detective-work. Searching for the sculptor of the new statue in the village, the players will venture all over Laketown during a fierce seasonal thunderstorm. This storm acts as a character throughout the adventure, giving weight and atmosphere throughout. The players will have to piece together what happened the night the sculptor disappeared. It takes you all over Laketown, including the Elven quarter of the city. There’s a fantastic and nasty eel-like serpent the players will have to deal with at the end.

Summoned by Balin, the company is sent to the Netherwood in Shadows in the North. within the Netherwood they will find an ancient and massive but lame warg called The Devourer. His whole scene is built like a horror show as the heroes discover the amputated wings of giant bats, and discover they’re walking on a pile of skulls before they even face the albino beast. Is is here that the company will finally discover that a Nazgül is behind the plot, and that its final goal is to claim the Arkenstone. Returning to Dale, the heroes will be framed for crimes they did not commit (with charges assembled from all the previous adventures), be forced to escape (or be exiled from Dale), and eventually find their way into Erebor, where they will face off against the Sorcerer of Forod, the mastermind behind all their plots, only to realize this is not one Nazgül, but many. The Arkenstone must be kept safe, so they must flee deep within the heart of the mountain. There, the Nazgül may be driven off.

One thing I love about all these adventures is that each one introduces or reinforces a mini-game within the system, or uses the rules in new and interesting ways.

Of course, the art is as gorgeous as always. There are maps in many of the adventures which are clearly laid out and should be easy to describe without necessarily needing to draw them out.

This is a fantastic set of adventures. I highly recommend them to any Loremaster looking to add more adventures to their catalog, or as great inspiration for their own adventures. I’m kicking off my own One Ring campaign in the Fall, and I think will be my starting point for the campaign.

*Cubicle 7 sent a copy of The Laughter of Dragons for Dice Monkey to review.*
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So Tired
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Thanks for the review Mark!

Are these adventures designed to be played consecutively or do they recommend doing other adventures in between?
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Falenthal Greenleaf
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Thanks for the review!

Very interested to read in the future how the adventures turn out "on the table".

Nice reading.
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