5E Let's Talk About Yawning Portal - Page 7
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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    No, you misunderstand.

    I'm talking about WotCs internal guidelines - whatever they're using to create their books.

    At some point we need to discuss the elephant in the room: that high-level D&D has never been easier (as in lacking challenge) than for many years.

    It's one thing to adjust and tweak encounters. But it's getting ridiculous - above level ~12 or so, encounters are basically unusable as is and needs wholesale replacement.

    This is partly because feats, m/c, and items are somehow not taken into account and partly because weak-ass monster design.

    If the secret plan is for this to be basic, it's high time to bring out the advanced.

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    High level play ALWAYS breaks down. 3e was famous for this. But even 4e's encounter balance strained after the heroic tier.
    There's too many options, too much party variability, too much skill with your character and coordinating with the party.

    You really need three sets of guidelines: one for one-shots with inexperienced players, one for skilled players, and one for play coming at the end of a campaign.
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  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prakriti View Post
    The Yawning Portal stuff takes up all of 2 1/2 pages, so it's not really integral to the book. It's more like a possible framing device for the adventures. It's probably best to think of the book as a collection of unrelated, classic adventures updated for 5E. It's up to each DM to decide how to string them together, if at all.

    That said, I do think it's possible to use the Yawning Portal as a framing device. You'd just want to give the players a good reason for why Undermountain isn't a suitable adventuring site anymore. Maybe it has nothing left to offer or the tunnels collapsed during the Spellplague, for example.

    Overall, my initial impression of the book is favorable -- 4/5 or 5/5.
    Awesome, thanks for the review! The nostalgia of it is captivating to me.

    Maybe they have future plans for Undermountain and that's why it's conspicuously absent from the book?

  3. #63
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    Without having seen the book, can I just say this as a general response to any calls for harder modules or more lethal dungeons: not every player is a 30-year grognard who picks their racial ability bonuses to match their class, and browses charops boards for ways to abuse contagion.

    D&D modules should be designed for 13-16 year-old players who have been RPGing for less than a year. End of story. That is the only way we grow, or even maintain, the brand. The teenagers who started out with 1e and OD&D (ahem... like me...) are getting long in the tooth, now. And we're experienced enough to recognize and pump up the difficulty of a module when we need to.

    If I look at the criticisms in this thread, I see three issues (beyond the use of Yawning Portal as a framing device, which is fair enough):

    1) Too many magic items. Great! The teenage players will love the magic items. Who doesn't love finding exciting new gear? For us old dogs, it is the work of seconds to remove a few items from the troves. As a DM, I'm not going to give a +2 axe to a 2nd level character (unless I want to). It is no skin off my chin to simply remove it from the 200-page module. Meanwhile, some parent's 11 year-old daughter's eyes are going to light the hell up when her kick-ass red-haired elven fighter picks up an awesome magical weapon. Good outcome.

    2) Not enough death-no-save lethality in Tomb of Horrors. Great! In 2017, ToH as written is a crap module - and that's speaking from the perspective of someone who grew up with it, and DM'ed it, and loved it. I also loved Dukes of Hazzard when I was a kid, and that's also pretty crap in 2017. Tastes change. If you want the original ToH, you've got the original ToH. Nobody can ever take that away from you. However, awesome people have now re-designed the module so that the essence is still there (purpose-built dungeon-o-traps) without all of the aggravation. No more DM-as-antagonist, no more describing every action you take in excruciating detail, no more rolling up more characters because you didn't second-guess the designer, and no more reliance on the party cleric or wizard. And for everyone who has ever said that ToH rewarded intelligent play: no, it didn't. It rewarded boring play, with 10' poles and summoned creatures testing every inch before proceeding. And clerics and wizards spamming divination spells. Half the traps in the original ToH could be avoided by a simple detect magic and a bunch of mook summons.

    3) High level 5e D&D isn't hard. Hogwash. It's as hard as your DM makes it. My group of 20 year veterans has eleven TPKs to their name since 5e started, and most of those occurred between 10th-14th level. The fact that there are no magic item creation rules (thank god) means that items are as rare as the DM chooses to make them, and many items will never be available. Upset about revivify and raise dead? There's a diamond shortage. Players in my campaigns know that diamonds are almost impossible to obtain, and an NPC raise dead is about as frequent as a Chaotic Evil flumph. Most characters don't see a magic weapon in their entire career, which makes damage resistances a real issue. If they find magic weapons, that's not on the module - it's on the DM. And again, high level D&D should be written for the teenagers. If you're finding it too easy as a pro, then you should have a pro DM who knows how to ramp up the difficulty level.

    None of the concerns above will worry me about Yawning Portal. I want it to be easy, and a good champion for bringing more kids and casual players into our hobby. For my own games, the only thing I want from it is clarity (nice maps, simple room descriptions), ease-of-use, and some evocative characters and set-pieces.

  4. #64
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    Well said, @Lancelot!

  5. #65
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    Been skimming the book for my inevitable review.

    So far it's pretty much what I expected: the classic modules with updated mechanics and a slight editing pass to modernize most of the language and phrasing, to give the adventures a consistent tone. More or less, as some Gygaxian descriptions and phrases are retained.
    Stuff like adding read aloud text to the earlier adventures and tweaking monster and some treasure. Of course, a fifth of the book (Dead in Thay) looks unaltered and published verbatim.

    In the lead-up to this book I commented that the concept feels lazy. Sadly, I still kinda feel like that. It feels like Perkins didn't have time to work on both SKT and the spring adventure, so it was a softball product. Betweeen this and the reprint heavy CoS I wonder if Perkins just doesn't have enough time in his schedule to actually create two adventure books from scratch each year.
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    Was it Raymond Chandler who wrote about the rule of a gun appearing in a mystery novel, something about if it appears at some point it needs to be fired? This feels like the opposite of that advice.
    No, it was Anton Chekov.
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  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
    In the lead-up to this book I commented that the concept feels lazy. Sadly, I still kinda feel like that. It feels like Perkins didn't have time to work on both SKT and the spring adventure, so it was a softball product. Betweeen this and the reprint heavy CoS I wonder if Perkins just doesn't have enough time in his schedule to actually create two adventure books from scratch each year.
    I haven't got or read the book yet, but I do have to agree, as that was my initial thought when the book was first announced. Especially as one adventure was already published for 5e (just only available via in-store public beta IIRC), and then two of the others were actually already converted to 5e as part of the beta testing (ToH and WPM conversions were part of the 5e closed alpha/beta (April 2013), which my group was part of, so I have those documents not that I even read them at the time). Reading between the lines, I think the Yawning Portal was definitely quick and easy for WotC to put out, as it's basically a job of compile, edit, and re-do all the art - so no actual design required, and I'm 99% sure minimal (if any) play-test was done either. I'd say Chris Perkins was (and still is) more busy designing completely new stuff lately, yet to be released...

    Anyway, part of me would love to see what's been done with some of the adventures as I know them all to some degree and own and/or have played in them all, but I also can't help think that as such, for me I'd just about be as well off doing my own conversion if very little redesign has actually been done (e.g. I've already run G1-3 in 3.0 rules, which was hard work to actually trim and convert in a decent way).

    As others have noted, I'm not really he target audience here. The "launch event" video I watched (well, mostly skipped) confirmed that too - it's for the next generation...
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  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
    Been skimming the book for my inevitable review.

    So far it's pretty much what I expected: the classic modules with updated mechanics and a slight editing pass to modernize most of the language and phrasing, to give the adventures a consistent tone. More or less, as some Gygaxian descriptions and phrases are retained.
    Stuff like adding read aloud text to the earlier adventures and tweaking monster and some treasure. Of course, a fifth of the book (Dead in Thay) looks unaltered and published verbatim.
    I'm enjoying the "olden" feel so far. Occasionally the writing is rough and unrefined, but 5E's writing can come across as sterile in comparison. The writing has only been an issue for me when it comes to organization. The older modules are less user-friendly in that regard.

    In the lead-up to this book I commented that the concept feels lazy. Sadly, I still kinda feel like that. It feels like Perkins didn't have time to work on both SKT and the spring adventure, so it was a softball product. Betweeen this and the reprint heavy CoS I wonder if Perkins just doesn't have enough time in his schedule to actually create two adventure books from scratch each year.
    The phrase I used in a previous thread was "low-effort." There's no denying that this book required far less work than the previous adventure books. Whether laziness came into play or not... Who knows?

    Personally, I'm choosing to be optimistic. If "Midway" is the upcoming mechanical expansion, then they probably gave themselves a break this spring so they have more time to work on the new mechanics. As surely as Yawning Portal is low-effort, a mechanical expansion is very high-effort. The two balance each other out.
    Last edited by Prakriti; Tuesday, 28th March, 2017 at 02:04 AM.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
    Of course, a fifth of the book (Dead in Thay) looks unaltered and published verbatim.
    They have made some changes to it. For instance, they've skipped over the adventure's opening act, the assault on Bloodgate Keep, assuming it's already occurred and that the PCs have been willingly recruited to help out the rebellious Thayans, rather than getting sucked through a portal without any choice in the matter. They have also tweaked it so a single party can play through it (it was originally written as a multi-party epic Encounters event), partly by increasing the level range and partly by de-powering some of the higher tier monsters (eg. kraken, beholder).
    Last edited by pukunui; Tuesday, 28th March, 2017 at 02:05 AM.

  10. #70
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    If a party go for all adventure and DM give exactly the itens described, they will end up with 5 magic longswords (I counted, maybe there is more). Man, I hate magic longswords.

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