Laeral Silverhand’s Explorer’s Kit is both very similar to some existing D&D 5E material, yet possessed of its own distinctive qualities. Inside the packaging are a set of 11 dice, a felt-lined box that can serve as a pair of dice trays, a double-sided map, and a selection of double-sided square cards depicting and describing sites and people (mostly from the Sword Coast).
The dice are gorgeous. The kit comes with an overfull package of dice for one player – 2d20, 1d12, 1d10, a percentile die, 1d8, 4d6, and 14. I particularly like the d20s. They’re a bit oversized, but not too oversized – easy to read the numbers of without being this heavy chunk of plastic that’s going to put a dent in your table. They also have the D&D ampersand in place of the 20, which I also like. They remind me over the slightly oversize spindown dice that are currently being included in Magic: the Gathering bundles (for those of you worried about nefarious players who are skilled enough to get the die to land on a particular half, note that the dice in the Explorer’s Kit are not spindown dice).
Personally, I’m not much in the market for dice trays. But I do really like the decorative outside of these ones. They match the dice, blue and a bit glittery. It’s all very earnest and full of wonder. “Together in harmony, our stories are told.” “Faerûn. Word of Adventures. Birthplace of Heroes.” “Wondrous Creatures. Boundless Magic.” And a message of Laeral – “The path to Faerun’s wonders is endless and fraught with danger, but one you’ll never walk alone.” For me, it really speaks to the social aspects of D&D and the nostalgia for those of us who have been going on these adventures for decades years.
One side of the map depicts the Sword Coast, while the other shows Waterdeep (Laeral is the Open Lord of the city). Alas, the map is a bit small to be exciting. There are 20 of the cards, about ⅔ of which depict people (individuals or organizations) and ⅓ cities. The locations are something of a greatest hits (especially for fans of D&D video games) – Waterdeep, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter, Icewind Dale, and Candlekeep. One side of each card is an image, and the other side is divided is mostly text. The text is written in the first-person from Laeral’s point of view. Unlike a lot of the commentary in other D&D products (e.g., Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), it is neither snarky nor presented for humorous effect – Laeral is sincere and kind-hearted, and her voice is presented that way.
If all of this sounds an awful lot like the Descent Into Avernus Dice & Miscellany, then you are correct. It’s the same sort of components, but there’s a different color scheme and covering a different area. Which is fine – you can get one or the other, depending on your taste in dice (or both, if you suffer from the dice acquisition disorder that afflicts so many members of our community). The main practical difference, from my view, is that Laeral is more detached from a particular campaign. The cards in the Descent Into Avernus Dice & Miscellany depict specific creatures and characters from that campaign and were designed to work with it. If you’re playing that campaign, this makes them pretty useful. If you aren’t playing that campaign, not as much. The cards in the Explorer’s Kit are of more even value. They show iconic people/locations of broader interest, so they’re cooler in a vacuum. Many of the characters depicted to appear in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, so they could be used in that adventure, but the product doesn’t fully integrate in the same way.
Still, I really liked the Explorer’s Kit. It’s entirely optional – no one’s D&D experience is going to be lacking because they don’t get it. But the dice are great, the cards are nice, and I love the dice tray/box.
Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.