Jumping into Dungeons & Dragons can be an intimidating task for even the even the most practiced gamer. From decades of sourcebooks, lore, and plotlines, to complicated rules with required math, making the switch from controller to character sheet can be overwhelming in every aspect. However, Wizards of the Coast has provided players a place to begin with The Starter Set, a cute little box with everything you need to get playing.
**This is a Spoiler Free Review**
This kit comes with a handful of character sheets, short-form rules for both the player and the Game Master, as well as the adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver. This story has been the starting point for well-known podcasts like The Adventure Zone: Balance, as well as simple players like myself. However, with Lost Mine of Phandelver acting as a very short introduction to gameplay, many are left wondering how they might expand their first adventure in Dungeons & Dragons. Thankfully, the new sourcebook Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk introduces an extended storyline – and it’s perfect for both new and long-time fans of the tabletop game.
- Release Date: September 19, 2023
- Price: $59.95 USD
- Alternate Cover: Yes
- Starter Kit Included: No
Return to Phandalin in The Shattered Obelisk
The Shattered Obelisk takes Dungeons & Dragons players back to their roots with a return to the iconic town of Phandalin. Like in the Starter Kit, players will begin this adventure following narrative points that made up Lost Mine of Phandelver. This includes several encounters with Goblins, an exploration of the Cragmaw Hideout, and a rescue attempt for Sildar Hallwinter.
However, things immediately take a new turn as players return to Phandalin, with new opportunities becoming available, setting up a rich and interesting story that diverts from the original adventure. To avoid spoilers, Chapter 2 now sets players up for an Eight-Part adventure, with dangers far greater than what was originally lurking in the Four-Part starter story ending in Wave Echo Cave.
The Perfect Tabletop Adventure For DnD Movie & BG3 Fans
So you’ve never thrown dice or run modifier scores before, but you’ve seen the Dungeons & Dragons movie and have played through the intense adventures of Baldur’s Gate 3. The Shattered Obelisk is the perfect option to satisfy the ever-growing DnD itch now lurking in the back of your mind.
This story expansion takes place in the same world as both the DnD movie and BG3, with players returning to the Sword Coast of The Forgotten Realms. Because of this, many locations, story elements, and monsters will be comforting and familiar. Players will have the opportunity to meet up with The Harpers, battle Mind Flayers, and use spells perfect for BG3’s Gale of Waterdeep.
Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk is the optimal adventure for any new player who has been involved in recent DnD media, and is now ready to try their hand at their own adventure. The gameplay offers enough exploration to satisfy the desire to roll a perception check on every wall and candle holder, while also ensuring players have enough guidance to truly learn the rules and move forward without frustration. Adding in the familiar setting, it is likely the most playable first-time DnD adventure currently available for 5th Edition.
Prepare To Purchase The DnD Starter Set Anyway
While long-time Dungeons & Dragons fans will likely already have everything they need to play through The Shattered Obelisk, there are a few setbacks for newer players. The Shattered Obelisk sourcebook is considered an expansion of the adventure found in The Starter Set. Because of this, fans won’t find a Player’s Handbook, Character Sheets, or pre-rolled playable characters hidden inside the pages of the sourcebook. We would recommend pairing the adventure with The Starter Set for first-time players, to ensure everything needed to play is at hand.
Additionally, setting aside Lost Mine of Phandelver from inside The Starter Set is critical, as The Shattered Obelisk has added a good deal of new content to what was in the original adventure, making it obsolete if players wish to embark on the longer storyline.
For longtime fans jumping back into Phanadlin and its many hidden secrets, it is also important to note that you should play the adventure from start to finish, and not take off from Wave Echo Cave, as large portions of the new story will be missed.
Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk is one of the most important sourcebooks of 5th Edition, as it creates a new entry point for those looking to jump into the tabletop game while also providing a nostalgic new adventure for longtime fans. The familiar settings, new storylines, and high-stakes objectives make playing through The Shattered Obelisk addictive and delightful.
While the sourcebook lacks the same tools as The Starter Kit, it is worth grabbing and pairing with the starting materials, as it creates a longer and more attention-grabbing story that will ensure you get the best possible experience. Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk is authentic DnD, and playing through it highlights all the best reasons why the tabletop is such a delight to be a part of.
9 / 10
|+ The Perfect Expansion or Starter Point|
|+ Highlights familiar creatures and stories in The Forgotten Realms|
|+ New-Player friendly|
|– No Starter Set resources|
Gamepur team received a sample for the purpose of this review.