D&D General Adventure hype and meeting expectations

edosan

Adventurer
I have had to come to terms with the fact that the current generation of "Adventure Path" style adventures are not for me. I find them too poorly organized to be useful at the table and they often require way too much time to whip them into shape. I vastly prefer the books (like Yawning Portal) that take old adventures and spruce them up for 5e or third party designers - OSR adventures in particular seem to focus way more on usability (like Kelsey Dionne's Arcane Library)
 

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MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
OSR adventures in particular seem to focus way more on usability (like Kelsey Dionne's Arcane Library)
I've been running some Troll Lord Games adventures recently, and despite great, great concepts, usability is worse than most Wizards adventures, sadly.

It's surprisingly hard to write well-presented adventures. The OSR often has the advantage of them being short, but it's not universally true - or possibly even generally true.

Cheers,
Merric
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I've been running some Troll Lord Games adventures recently, and despite great, great concepts, usability is worse than most Wizards adventures, sadly.

It's surprisingly hard to write well-presented adventures. The OSR often has the advantage of them being short, but it's not universally true - or possibly even generally true.

Cheers,
Merric
You've reviewed tons of adventures, both long and short-form, Merric.

I'd love to read or hear about your thoughts on how to do a well-presented usable adventure!
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I've been running some Troll Lord Games adventures recently, and despite great, great concepts, usability is worse than most Wizards adventures, sadly.

It's surprisingly hard to write well-presented adventures. The OSR often has the advantage of them being short, but it's not universally true - or possibly even generally true.
Have you run any Arcane Library adventures? They are very spare, but are intended to be super-usable at the table. I've run several and found them all to be, at minimum, pretty good and some of them excellent. There's a free one on DMs Guild, for those looking for a no-risk download.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
Have you run any Arcane Library adventures? They are very spare, but are intended to be super-usable at the table. I've run several and found them all to be, at minimum, pretty good and some of them excellent. There's a free one on DMs Guild, for those looking for a no-risk download.
I haven't - partly because I've dropped down a lot on the quantity of stuff I run due to the pandemic.

But I've read a lot about how good they are!

Cheers,
Merric
 

Retros_x

Explorer
Thank you for giving SKT some love. I really enjoyed running it. Surely it had some structural problems that needed some extra work, but you are absolutely right - these are the kind of campaigns this 200+ page book format is made for. In the recent years the only 5e module I thought was quite good was Wild beyond the Witchlight - which I unfortunately really don't enjoy by setting and tone. The anthologies also have some real gems in them.

But overall third party adventures have much higher usability while most 5e adventures don't live up to the hype indeed.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Thank you for giving SKT some love. I really enjoyed running it. Surely it had some structural problems that needed some extra work, but you are absolutely right - these are the kind of campaigns this 200+ page book format is made for.

I played STK as a player, on a DM's first ever adventure. This DM had rough edges, and they were struggling with the adventure, and so did the party. But I (and my character, who was a warrior-sage and the "brains" of the party) had a sort of epiphany - I had to stop thinking about the adventure rationally, and start thinking about it mythically. Once my PC had this little speech, things just... worked better. But I don't think this should be a general way to proceed - just one that worked really well with this adventure (and this DM). STK is very flawed, but the deep dive into the relationship between giants, dragons and mortals, there was a lot of good in there too - well worth the effort to "rescue"
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
A big reason I'm so excited that Dungeons of Drakkenheim is coming to DnDbeyond (and thus a much wider audience) is the hope that it can show people (WotC, aspiring dMs etc) how a well structured adventure is written/organized.

Of course, the material itself is juicy and interesting, very much so. But that's not remarkable. A fair bit of the WotC adventures have juicy, interesting material after all! (STK is a great example). What is remarkable is how usable the adventure is.

Adventure writing is not just about creativity, imagination and cool ideas (although this is very important too). It's a craft, there is technique. And these can be learned, imitated.

I hope Dungeons of Drakkenheim can set a new standard. I also hope to read @MerricB 's review of it one day :)
 

Retros_x

Explorer
I played STK as a player, on a DM's first ever adventure. This DM had rough edges, and they were struggling with the adventure, and so did the party. But I (and my character, who was a warrior-sage and the "brains" of the party) had a sort of epiphany - I had to stop thinking about the adventure rationally, and start thinking about it mythically. Once my PC had this little speech, things just... worked better. But I don't think this should be a general way to proceed - just one that worked really well with this adventure (and this DM). STK is very flawed, but the deep dive into the relationship between giants, dragons and mortals, there was a lot of good in there too - well worth the effort to "rescue"
Its definitely not a module I would recommend to a beginner DM. Although there is ton of helpful material out there. The biggest offender are the weak hooks, especially in chapter 3 (the Sandbox). You need a good DM that gives the players a bit more guidance.

Overall I could see myself running this one again for a different group, with all the experience from the previous run.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Wish I could find the quote from Shawn Merwin (it was on the Sage Advice page & Twitter in a conversation with M.T. Black IIRC) about what makes an adventure usable... Paraphrasing what I can remember:

An adventure designer needs to make 3 passes on their work. The 1st is just getting the idea down. The 2nd is thinking from a player's perspective and how they would approach the challenges. The 3rd is thinking from a DM's perspective about what the DM needs to run the adventure. A big part of designing for DMs is cutting out anything that doesn't serve the DM's needs – more text / more ideas are not better, because they can clutter up the essential thing the DM needs to grok.

Edit: Ah I found the actual quote from Shawn back in 2020: https://www.sageadvice.eu/one-key-m...ing-that-doesnt-help-the-dm-at-the-table/amp/
 
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