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Red Hand of Doom (3e)
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Red Hand of Doom (3e)

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Who Can Stand Against the Son of the Dragon?

The Wyrmsmoke Mountains shook with the thunder of ten thousand screaming hobgoblin soldiers. From the phalanx emerged a single champion. One by one the tribes fell silent as the warlord rose up, blue scales gleaming along his shoulders, horns swept back from his head. A hundred bright yellow banners stood beneath him, each marked with a great red hand. He stood upon a precipice and raised his arms. “I am Azarr Kul, Son of the Dragon!” the warlord bellowed.

“Hear me! Tomorrow we march to war!”

Red Hand of Doom is a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® adventure designed to take characters from the 6th level to the 12th level. Confronted with the relentless advance of Azurr Kul’s horde, the characters must undertake vital missions to influence the outcome of the war. Can they shatter the armies of the enemy, or will Azarr Kul’s dreams rain destruction upon the human lands?

Product History

Red Hand of Doom (2006), by Richard Baker and James Jacobs, is a super-adventure for D&D 3E. It was published in February 2006.

Continuing the Super Adventures. D&D adventures from Wizards of the Coast were shockingly rare during the 3E era (2000-2008). That's because they expected d20 licensees to focus on adventure publication, taking the brunt of one of the least profitable sorts of RPG publication.

Super-adventures from Wizards that were larger and more important were even rarer. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (2001) and City of the Spider Queen (2002) were the only two in the early 3E era, then Wizards almost totally abandoned adventures for three years, with the exception of some Eberron modules. Red Hand of Doom thus marked a big return for Wizards. It would be followed by several other Wizards adventures in the final 3E years, most of them in the "Expedition" series (2006-2007).

To qualify Red Hand of Doom as a super-adventure, designers Baker and Jacobs made sure it was both "huge" and "epic". Though it's not a full-fledged adventure path, it should support 6 months of play.

Origins. Red Hand of Doom was written as a classic adventure that could be used in any setting. To make the adventure classic, Baker and Jacobs focused on one of best-known races of old: goblinoids, with plenty of class levels to make them dangerous foes. To make the adventure generic, they created a new locale, the Elsir Vale, that could be placed in any setting.

Sources. Baker based the plot of Red Hand of Doom on something he'd seen in many fantasy novels, but that was less common in D&D adventures: "the Army of Evil … trying to conquer everything." He didn't muddy that concept with dungeon delves or macguffins — instead wanting to focus on the armies themselves and the sort of challenges that they presented. It was an adventure style that hadn't been seen much since the "Bloodstone Pass" adventure series (1985-1988).

Jacobs notes a few more disparate influences: the Return of the King movie (2003), World of Warcraft (2003), and a Chris Thomasson adventure called "Foundation of Flame", which appeared in Dungeon #113 (August 2004).

Hail to the Designers Notes! The biggest innovation in Red Hand of Doom is the inclusion of about a dozen designers' notes. These boxed notes talk about the philosophies and expectations behind some of the encounters. Wizards had never done anything of the sort before.

The Miniatures Connection. Some of the figures in the War Drums release (2006) for D&D Miniatures (2003-2010) were purposefully drawn from this adventure.

Introducing the Elsir Vale. The Elsir Vale was a large and new locale that included several towns and the nearby wilderness. It became even more notable when Wizards returned to the setting in their "Scales of War" adventure path, which ran from Dungeon #156 (July 2008) to Dungeon #175 (February 2010). The new story for 4E was set 10 years after Red Hand of Doom.

When reintroducing the setting for Scales of War, Wizards described it like this:

"Bastions of civilization populate a dark, menacing world — islands of order and reason exist in a land otherwise overrun by dark cults, vile monsters, creatures from the dark edges of the imagination, and worse."

The Scales of War adventure path then went on to visit areas like the Astral Sea, the Elemental Chaos, and the Shadowfell, matching the cosmology of D&D 4E (2008-2012). When players combined the new description of the Elsir Vale, its cosmology, and perhaps even the fact that's it was a Vale, they came to the conclusion that the Elsir Vale was part of the same Points of Light world that also contained 4E's Nentir Vale.

Wizards never confirmed this, and you can't actually find Elsir Vale on the (very large scale) Points of Light map found in Conquest of Nerath (2011). However, "Garaitha's Anvil" in Dungeon #167 (June 2009) contained a reference to an adventure locale being "a rebuilt ruin of Nerath", which is strongly suggestive that the connection is genuine. If so, Red Hand of Doom marked the first appearance of the default setting for 4E, two years before that edition of the game appeared!

Expanding the Realms (and Elsewhere). Red Hand of Doom also contains some short suggestions for where to place the Elsir Vale in Eberron, the Forgotten Realms, and Greyhawk. Many people found the connection to the Realms particularly strong because the Elsir Vale fits very cleanly into the Realms near Shaar. (In fact, Shaar would be the Endless Plains on the Red Hand of Doom map). Wizards even canonized this connection by referencing the events of Red Hand of Dawn in Monster Manual IV (2006) which notes that "Rumors have surfaced of hobgoblins and spawn massing around the Rathgaunt Hills in the southern Shaar."

About the Creators. Baker was an old hand at D&D, who'd been working on the line since 1992. In 2006, he also contributed to another book that foreshadowed D&D 4E: Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords (2006). Jacobs had strong experience with adventures thanks to his work on the "Shackled City" (2003-2004) and "Age of Worms" (2005-2006) adventure paths. He had also contributed to several Wizards sourcebooks, but this was his first Wizards adventure.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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Discussions (48)
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Clinton W January 22, 2021 4:21 pm UTC
PoD please? Man, I feel like I say this about every product i look up on here... I really really want to buy some of this material printed...
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James H January 10, 2021 4:06 pm UTC
I need a POD, Right Now!
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Justin W December 23, 2020 3:57 am UTC
Is this a searchable PDF, or just an image scan?
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Michael M December 23, 2020 12:28 pm UTC
They used to have a good PDF copy that was OCR and searchable. Then for no reason whatsoever they “updated” it about 2 years ago into a lesser copy, that is just a muddy scan of the pages.
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Michael M December 23, 2020 12:31 pm UTC
Looking down the comments, it appears they reuploaded the OCR copy in the Spring of 2020.
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Leunam D December 20, 2020 12:57 am UTC
Another request for a print on demand version
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Michael D December 15, 2020 1:46 pm UTC
Another request for a print on demand version
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T. O October 14, 2020 10:29 pm UTC
Is there any possibility of this becoming Print on demand?
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Michael D September 19, 2020 10:20 am UTC
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Simon A August 06, 2020 3:50 am UTC
POD please!
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Jozsef T July 31, 2020 11:09 am UTC
POD pls
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Daniel P June 13, 2020 9:59 pm UTC
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Brian P June 11, 2020 12:12 am UTC
Anyone know when we will get a POD option again?
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Mark D May 06, 2020 7:02 pm UTC
One of the best of all time.
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Mark L April 05, 2020 1:34 am UTC
Did the POD version get taken down? I see comments mentioning a POD but the only option I see is for a Watermaked PDF.
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Alexander F April 05, 2020 3:21 am UTC
Looks like it. Maybe they're updating it? Either way it's too late for me, bought an original copy. Sure it cost me twice as much as the POD but at least I guarantee the quality.
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Michael S March 23, 2020 8:03 pm UTC
A digital (not scanned) version of the PDF was just uploaded, so hopefully the POD will updated to use it soon.

The older POD I have is functional, but disappointing to read through and even a little bit hard on the eyes.
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Alexander F January 22, 2020 2:07 am UTC
I'm interested in the POD version but the reviews are turning me off from it, what I dont understand is that there are good reviews of it too, is it basically a gamble? buy it and hope the quality is decent?
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Michael M January 22, 2020 2:59 pm UTC
Different personal standards of acceptable quality. Apparently some people are okay with paying for crap. Tegan G's January 16th review gives a good technical run-down of the issues you will face when ordering this product.

The thing that is just inexplicable is that they used to host a quality PDF of this product. Why they would dump it and host an "updated" crappy copy makes very little sense. Yet, that's exactly what they did. See Robert L's review from Feb 18, 2019.
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Alexander F January 24, 2020 5:53 pm UTC
Well that’s disappointing... guess it will be while before I have the pocket change to afford a used copy. Nice going Wizards, you lost a potential customer!

Why aren’t there any negative ratings? If I bought it i would definitely left a bad review. Or are they there and I can’t see them for some reason?
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Tegan G January 16, 2020 3:20 pm UTC
I can't give an actual review since the product has been refunded, but I unfortunately had to rate 1 star due to the absolutely atrocious quality of the POD. It's printed at well under 100 dpi (probably like 60 dpi) and has visible JPEG compression on every page as if each page individually was exported at the lowest possible quality settings - except for one page, page 19, which is inexplicably printed in the original (high resolution, no visible compression) manner. It feels like WotC had the original digital copy of this book and then exported it with "resolution: low" and "compression: high" then sent it off to the printers hoping nobody would notice the complete lack of OCR or horrible artifacting. It's a worse quality printing than most scanned books on this site, even.

The module itself is fantastic, though; I'd encourage you to buy a used copy elsewhere if you really want to run it. This version is usable at best but not worth paying actual money for; it's so bad that you...See more
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This title was added to our catalog on December 16, 2014.