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D&D 4E 4E Adventures

techno

Explorer
I am looking for some friendly advice about 4e adventures. I love 4e but I am not enjoying the 4e adventures from WotC as much. I don't have time to create my own adventures anymore so I have been running the Scales of War AP from Dungeon. These modules have some cool stuff in them but the overall plot seems almost incomprehensible and "tacked together" as if the whole thing was done without a lot of advanced planning. My players keep asking me, "Now, what is going on again?" with regards to the overarching storyline. The focus of this AP is clearly on cool encounters and exciting combats (which I like). A compelling storyline, interesting moral dilemmas, non-combat role playing opportunities, and memorable NPCs (which I also like) seem more secondary. Granted, I am just finishing Umbraforge so there is much that I have yet to run. Am I judging this AP too quickly? I also tried the original H1-H3 adventures and had much the same feeling about them as I do about Scales of War. To me, the storyline of an adventure is just as important to my enjoyment of D&D as the rules themselves are.

I really like the quality of the Paizo adventures but cannot see myself going back to the complexity of DMing 3.5e/Pathfinder. Paizo's APs seem much better developed and appear to have 1) cohesive story lines, 2) interesting NPCs, and 3) more non-combat role playing opportunities. Do you think Paizo would ever consider adapting some of their APs to 4e or is that out of the question? It seems like there is a dearth of quality adventures for 4e and Paizo could cash in on this shortage, in addition to selling their own unique materials for Pathfinder. I think there are many people who really like 4e but wish they could play the Paizo APs without needing to do a lot of manual conversion. My dream would be 4e rules by WotC and adventures by Paizo.

I was wondering if there are any 4e adventures that are more like the Paizo APs. Does "War of the Burning Sky" fit this description? Are there other publishers out there, other than WotC, making high-quality adventures for 4e? If not, why not? It seems like a niche that perhaps someone could be successful in filling.
 

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Derulbaskul

Explorer
Firstly, I agree that the series that begins with Keep on the Shadowfell and ends with some adventure involving Orcus (aka H1-E3) is rubbish. Similarly, Scales of War seems to be an exercise in bad adventure design (with a few exceptions).

That said, the more recent WotC efforts have been very good. The Slaying Stone receives a lot of praise and I'm also quite partial to The Orcs of Stonefang Pass. I think that Reavers of Harkenwold in the DM's Kit is also excellent and the Cairn of the Winter King from the Monster Vault has really good potential. Tomb of Horrors is very good but I would avoid Revenge of the Giants like the plague.

The DDI version of Dungeon has some good stuff as well: I would recommend the recent adventures Lord of White Field and Bark at the Moon. There are more than that, of course, but it's too early in the morning for my brain to function properly.

As for the Paizo APs, a very kind soul on the Paizo boards has a couple of blogs where he converts Rise of the Runelords and Curse of the Crimson Throne to 4E with some nice PDFs and all. His name is Scott (edit back in later).

Paizo, however, has stated many times that they will not be doing 4E adventures themselves. I think this is a shame because 4E needs their special touch but the overly restrictive GSL that replaced the OGL meant that they couldn't risk their business on the whims of some corporate type at WotC.
 


techno

Explorer
Thanks for the advice. For those who have played it, how does "War of the Burning Sky" measure up in the categories of 1) compelling, cohesive story lines, 2) interesting NPCs, and 3) non-combat role playing opportunities?
 

UnknownAtThisTime

First Post
Thanks for the advice. For those who have played it, how does "War of the Burning Sky" measure up in the categories of 1) compelling, cohesive story lines, 2) interesting NPCs, and 3) non-combat role playing opportunities?

Head to the wotBS sub forum.

The main arc of wotbs, to me, is quite compelling.
The NPCs are, at a minimum, plentiful, and many are compelling.
The path is geared, it seems, toward experienced DMs. As such, RP opportunties are plentiful.

I must confess I have read only a few of the adventures so far, and run just over one. I am not the most experienced DM in the Known Lands, but I really like running it so far.
 
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occam

Explorer
Granted, I am just finishing Umbraforge so there is much that I have yet to run. Am I judging this AP too quickly? I also tried the original H1-H3 adventures and had much the same feeling about them as I do about Scales of War. To me, the storyline of an adventure is just as important to my enjoyment of D&D as the rules themselves are.

I really like the quality of the Paizo adventures but cannot see myself going back to the complexity of DMing 3.5e/Pathfinder. Paizo's APs seem much better developed and appear to have 1) cohesive story lines, 2) interesting NPCs, and 3) more non-combat role playing opportunities. Do you think Paizo would ever consider adapting some of their APs to 4e or is that out of the question? It seems like there is a dearth of quality adventures for 4e and Paizo could cash in on this shortage, in addition to selling their own unique materials for Pathfinder. I think there are many people who really like 4e but wish they could play the Paizo APs without needing to do a lot of manual conversion. My dream would be 4e rules by WotC and adventures by Paizo.

I was wondering if there are any 4e adventures that are more like the Paizo APs. Does "War of the Burning Sky" fit this description? Are there other publishers out there, other than WotC, making high-quality adventures for 4e? If not, why not? It seems like a niche that perhaps someone could be successful in filling.

The design of Scales of War is built around a (very) gradually unfolding threat. The end goal doesn't come into view almost until the end, so it's hard to get a handle on what's going on if that's what you're looking for. Unfortunately, they also chose to make the progression of major events and reveals almost as much a mystery for the DM as for the players, which makes it difficult for the DM to put things in context for the players. Paizo learned from doing the original APs in Dungeon that it's important to give the DM the entire context up front, and they write the adventures to emphasize the through-lines so you have a better idea of where you've been and where you're going.

Scales of War has some really good parts to it, but the quality is uneven. While I also have no interest in DMing 3e again, I agree that the Paizo APs I'm most familiar with (Savage Tide, Legacy of Fire, and now Serpent's Skull) rock mightily.
 

Riastlin

First Post
Scales of War is a bit of a mess in Heroic tier (particularly early on), but I do think it gets to be pretty good by the time Paragon tier rolls around. Granted, much of the work in terms of fleshing out NPCs will have to be done by the DM, but I am not overly concerned by this as I have found that every group latches onto different NPCs anyway.

Umbraforge in particular is a real trainwreck (or trainride) of an adventure, but I also think it is by far the worst of the adventures I have read in the path (just started reading Tyranny of Souls, the last of the paragon adventures). You will still have to connect many of the dots in order to keep the story line held together nicely, but I don't think that its too difficult to do.

As for War of the Burning Sky, I've heard nothing but good things about it (which makes sense on these forums), but have not read any of the adventures myself. For my money, its probably worth it to subscribe for a month or two and check out the adventures that have been released and see how you like them. Certainly for my next campaign (whenever that might be) I would check it out in a heartbeat -- particularly if I was looking to run something published.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I've written off two 4e camapaigns on the back of H1-H3, my players on both occassions had just plain had enough of fight after fight with little respite, so I hear you brother/sister.

My Scales of War AP group has just about given up also- we're on the 6th adventure, no I don't remember what it's called.

We're all pretty pushed for time so we rely on bought products with a little tinkering, that said, we really enjoyed a lot of the Goodman Games stuff, particularly the Sellswords (lovely opening adventure with loads of NPCs to chat/threaten et al your PCs- linear but fairly lovely with a huge helping of flavour, and fun).

I played Goodman Games Isle of the something Drake with a bunch of 7-14 year olds and they loved it, plenty of places to explore, Ray Harryhausen Special Effects and Pirates aplenty, it needs a little work but at one point I thought the PCs were going to stay on the island, they loved it so much. The finale was just... stunning (not actually stunning you understand), a fight worthy of a film franchise- subject to Mr. Depps availability.

We also played the other first levle Goodman Games- Dwarf Forgotten Forge, sorry name escapes me, mad- difficult, TPK for the first outing, however (and refreshingly) that just made the PCs second party all the more determined to see it through.

At present-

HS1 is proving to be a great success, see sig.

Likewise some of the scenarios mentioned above are very well thought out- particularly Stonefang (in parts) and the Harkenwold stuff, don't want to say too much in case my players visit but... Oh yes, very nice.

Good luck, and I know what you mean about Paizo stuff, now if we could just convince Wizards to do the rules, and Paizo to do the scenarios & community stuff...

What a wonderful world that would be.

Goonalan
 

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
I'm playing the 3.5 edition of WotBS, but I assume the story and NPCs remain the same in 4e.

It definitely is more cohesive and memorable than the arcs that WOTC has put out. Also I'm liking what I'm hearing about the new Zeitgeist campaign that EN World seems to be putting out soon. I'm not quite sure how soon though, so if you need something now, you might not want to wait.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Thanks for the advice. For those who have played it, how does "War of the Burning Sky" measure up in the categories of 1) compelling, cohesive story lines, 2) interesting NPCs, and 3) non-combat role playing opportunities?

:w: is awesome in every possible way! It's even better than bacon!

You can download the free player's guide and the free DM guide to see if you like what you see.
 
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LightPhoenix

First Post
I've been running Scales of War for my (heroic tier) group, and I'm regretting it now. I did have the advantage of having all the adventures, so I've been working in more of a broad plot involving dragons. Even so, it has required a lot of work to bring it together, and I'm trending towards burning out now.

I'm thinking of scrapping the campaign after this and running WotBS myself; from what I've seen of it, it seems a lot more coherent and a lot less work to run than SoW.
 

Truename

First Post
I was wondering if there are any 4e adventures that are more like the Paizo APs. Does "War of the Burning Sky" fit this description? Are there other publishers out there, other than WotC, making high-quality adventures for 4e? If not, why not? It seems like a niche that perhaps someone could be successful in filling.

War of the Burning Sky is excellent. I switched from Scales of War after the heroic tier for exactly the same reasons you mentioned: lack of consistent plot, boring/non-existant NPCs, and lack of meaningful player options. I was tired of slogging through encounter after encounter.

War of the Burning Sky is the opposite. Great overarching and epic plot, lots of interesting NPCs, and real player choice. My group is just now finishing up the second adventure, which will bring them to level 7, and I'm very happy with it.

There are a few caveats: WotBS 4e is a conversion from the 3.5e version, and the early adventures reflect a lack of experience with 4e. The most notable problem is very uneven encounter design. New modules are still coming out and the latest ones look much better, but for the two adventures I've run, I've needed to tweak the encounters to make them work better. I've also cut out portions of each adventure, as they run a bit long in the heroic tier.

Bottom line: WotBS is excellent and I highly recommend it if you're willing to put in the work to make it shine.

Another option to consider is the Zeitgeist campaign saga that ENWorld is getting ready to put out. It's written for 4e by RangerWickett, the same person who did WotBS, so I have high hopes that it will have all the strengths of WotBS (interesting, complex) without the 4e design weaknesses. You can't run that one today, though.
 

renau1g

First Post
I ran WotBS with a group I'd met at the local FLGS when my regular group fell apart due to real life. This group was used to LFR adventures and some of the WoTC modules so when I ran WotBS for them they kind of stalled out in it as the story/adventure does put a bit more on the players. This is not usually a problem but I kept having to prod/help them out...

So for most groups player choice is good, for this group...not as much. Also, the solo battle in the first adventure was too small an area IMO...They were blown away when
that solo enemy killed his prisoner when they didn't let them go
. Ain't nothing like that in WoTC adventures ;)
 

Another excellent 4e adventure is Courts of the Shadow Fey, but it is definitely low paragon tier. Lots of intrigue and tons of interesting NPCs, plus the characters have to navigate a rather strange environment. It has some interesting story supporting mechanics, notes on adjusting the monsters for different styles of play, etc. Wolfgang Bauer definitely has the experience and creativity to put together excellent adventures. I'd pretty much recommend anything he's got going for 4e. They have a town (Zobek) and various other stuff. KQ is the place to go check it out.
 

Netherstorm

First Post
Wow what a downer that so many people are quitting Scales of War.

I just finished running the campaign a few days ago. It was awesome. The heroic tier, unfortunately, is the worst part of the whole path. It's very disjointed and the fact that they switch out the main villain for a guy they'd barely heard of in the heroic tier 'end-battle' is pretty lame. But... It gets a lot better.

I'm tempted to go on and on about what's good about each adventure but let me just say that it really is worth playing.

I ran revenge of the giants, and that was pretty good. I ran P3-E3 and frankly it was horrible.

If you're considering quitting scales, at least flip through Haven of Bitter Glass and see if you really want to skip out on that.
 


techno

Explorer
I really appreciate all of the suggestions that have been provided in this thread. You have given me a lot to think about. I plan to investigate War of the Burning Sky and the offerings from Kobold Quarterly and Goodman Games. I also plan to read ahead on Scales of War to make certain I am doing the right thing by abandoning it at this point. I heard that one of the adventures was written by Piratecat and I don't want to miss that one. I also plan to check out the newer adventure offerings from WotC to see if they are significant improvements over the earlier modules. I am also very curious about the new Zeitgeist AP. It sounds really cool. Is there an estimated launch date for it and do we know yet whether community supporters will have access to it just like War of the Burning Sky?

One last question I have is: Are there any individual adventures from Dungeon that really stand out in your mind as excellent (in addition to the two mentioned above)? Thanks again for all your wisdom.
 
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ourchair

First Post
I really like the quality of the Paizo adventures but cannot see myself going back to the complexity of DMing 3.5e/Pathfinder. Paizo's APs seem much better developed and appear to have 1) cohesive story lines, 2) interesting NPCs, and 3) more non-combat role playing opportunities. Do you think Paizo would ever consider adapting some of their APs to 4e or is that out of the question? It seems like there is a dearth of quality adventures for 4e and Paizo could cash in on this shortage, in addition to selling their own unique materials for Pathfinder. I think there are many people who really like 4e but wish they could play the Paizo APs without needing to do a lot of manual conversion. My dream would be 4e rules by WotC and adventures by Paizo.
I don't own any Paizo material myself, nor have I read any, but on that note, I find that older adventures from previous editions of D&D are useful resources.

Consider looking for old 3.5 adventures, or even 2nd Edition adventures. I can say that even as a newbie DM like I am, adapting them to 4E mechanics is not difficult. Regardless of the edition, a good adventure should provide well thought out scenarios, and you can take care of the mechanics yourself with little difficulty, due to the simplicity of 4E design.
 

techno

Explorer
Consider looking for old 3.5 adventures, or even 2nd Edition adventures. I can say that even as a newbie DM like I am, adapting them to 4E mechanics is not difficult. Regardless of the edition, a good adventure should provide well thought out scenarios, and you can take care of the mechanics yourself with little difficulty, due to the simplicity of 4E design.

Good point. That is one of the great things about 4e. I have been toying with the idea of doing a conversion of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, which (upon first reading) seems like a really cool adventure.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Good point. That is one of the great things about 4e. I have been toying with the idea of doing a conversion of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, which (upon first reading) seems like a really cool adventure.

Be forewarned: Expedition has too much going on it. It has a lot of cool individual encounters, but there's too many of them. After a while, the characters know that every door they open is going to lead to a fight. It's best done if you take some of the keynote encounters and ditch the rest. Doing so gives it a much spookier, "aura of decay" feel, which was what the original I6 - Ravenloft presented.
 

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