D&D 5E Are DMs getting lazy?

vongarr

First Post
See, there have been a lot of posts like this in the thread, and they can read a little silly. People had lives back then. They did not think of life as slow paced. (And people have always imagined an earlier, simpler time, its a cliche). Even in the realm of geeky-hobbiess, there where other RPGs and hobby games and other geeky things you could do. (Join the Society for Creative Anachronism, own 50 different avalon hill wargames, watch Star Wars at a theater still showing it 5 years after it came out). But again, we know people are buying and playing D&D. And again, in another thread here some of them are playing it a lot.

Gamers have magnitudes greater opportunities for their roleplaying fix today than they did 30, 40 years ago. When I was in high school I had a group of friends who played Everquest. I saw them as potential D&D players. I involved several of them into the game, and while some of them were decent enough roleplayers, I doubt they have touched a d20 since. What they were looking for in my D&D game, they could find in their Everquest game. And they could find it on demand, in their underwear, at 2 in the morning. I would imagine all of them have continued to play games with roleplaying elements continually since then.

Had this been in 1980 instead of 2000, they would have had very limited means to scratch their RPG itch. D&D was it, until Wizardy and Ultima came along. They could certainly relive their interest in medieval life through the SCA or ren faire, or indulge in their wargaming impulses through an Avalon Hill title. But until RPG's started to cross pollinate and influence other mediums, they couldn't wield a vorpal sword or cast fireball. Much of the success that early D&D had, if not all of it, was due to it being a fad, and it being a near monopoly in terms of reach.
 

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halfling rogue

Explorer
Another reason I can see for the desire of modules and other pre-written adventures has less to do with laziness and more to do with community. There is something about a good module shared among the community is similar to a good book or a movie. Everyone is sharing a similar experience and these experiences lead to stories and legends of old, it's something that gives everyone a certain type of communal history, which in turn, provides a certain type of identity. In the list of old modules that has been tossed around this thread, I've never played any of them, but I've heard of probably 10 of them and I want to play them, simply because many are 'enshrined' as a kind of D&D legend.

This completely sidesteps the idea that people would want pre-written adventures simply because they are lazy or too busy. I think the biggest value in pre-written adventures isn't that it provides something when I have nothing, but that it provides me something that I can share alongside millions of others, for good or for bad.
 

Adventure Paths aren't my cup of tea, either, but their popularity merely demonstrates that railroading --or a reasonable facsimile of it-- is actually popular with a segment of the player base large enough to make Paizo really, really successful.

(which isn't a knock on sandbox-style campaigns, mind you)

For me, this isn't an issue of "railroad vs. sandbox." The classic dungeon is either a branching railroad or a constrained sandbox, depending which elements you choose to emphasize. The key is that that the dungeon is much easier to prepare than a heavily plotted story game with a cast of thousands and wheels within wheels. If the latter is your expectation for "how a D&D adventure should be," your estimation of the time you must invest in it will be considerably greater.

Adventure Path-style adventures (starting with the first one, Dragonlance) are popular because (in my opinion and in my experience as a publisher) the majority of customers who purchase them are reading rather than playing them. And, in fact, this is a trend that I think drives some of the demand for published products, as the "how often do you play" thread suggests: a sizable segment of the audience doesn't play very often, but has found other ways to engage with the hobby by reading products and discussing the game online. For this segment, the usual response that "you can create whatever you want!" entirely misses them.

P.S. I crossposted with halfling rogue, but I think he's pointing in the same direction.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
.... I find it pretty disingenuous to not start counting the 1e era until after the DMG was for salel.

Sure, when D&D came out 40 years ago, support was a little slower. It took a while to get going. Then starting in 1979, 35 years ago, the pace picked up. What is disingenuous again?
 

dd.stevenson

Super KY
I think you're working a mistaken assumption here - that most groups want sandbox content.

Sandbox content is absolutely the lowest-prep kind of content in many ways, because you're inevitably going to just have to make a lot of it up on the spot. So comparing that to a highly-detailed plot-heavy adventure is pretty strange and not, imho, a valid comparison.

My experience, and I don't believe I'm remotely unusual in this, is that true "sandbox"-style play, which is basically player-driven, is relatively rare, and kind of a niche interest. That the vast majority of DMs running D&D (and indeed most other RPGs) are in fact running fairly plot-oriented stuff, much of which might verge on the rail-road-y.

I think the best way to avoid repetition and a lack of creativity in design is to incorporate randomness -- whether that is any number of books filled with random charts like AEG's Toolbox or just grabbing a book off the shelf and opening to a random page and forcing yourself to incorporate something from that page into your work. I agree that the blank slate can often be intimidating or lead you to rely on your own tropes. A few random elements will do wonders.

In my mind these two points are related--the random charts that form the back end for any sandbox, are also the best tools for QUICKLY filling out a plot-driven adventure.
 

BryonD

Hero
Adventure Path-style adventures (starting with the first one, Dragonlance) are popular because (in my opinion and in my experience as a publisher) the majority of customers who purchase them are reading rather than playing them.
I can't speak to majority. But I am very much one data point in your favor.

I stopped subscribing a year or so ago, but I own #1 through 78 and I've run three paths.
In zero of the three cases did the story cling to the adventures. Obviously they tended to veer back, thought 2 out of 3 went so far off track we just never went back. (this is a good thing)

I also steal characters, bits and pieces, plot points, and whatever other inspiration.
 

Zaran

Adventurer
Adventure Paths aren't my cup of tea, either, but their popularity merely demonstrates that railroading --or a reasonable facsimile of it-- is actually popular with a segment of the player base large enough to make Paizo really, really successful.

I wonder how much Adventure Paths are popular or if WotC just decided on Adventure Paths because they are limited in the amount of books they can produce so they just crammed an entire campaign into one or two.

I don't hear about fantastic Adventure Paths. I only hear about fantastic modules.
 



Tony Vargas

Legend
It seems that in a number of threads, a certain subset of folks are very upset at the lack of adventures and such for 5E, to the point of suggesting they will "run out" of things to do with 5E in a year or so....
For fear of of sounding like an in-my-day curmudgeon, are DMs these days just too lazy to make the game their own?
In the 80s, there were an awful lot of modules (as we called published adventures back then). While the slow pace of publication in actual rule-books is evocative of the old days, the relatively few (and very large) published adventures are one of the few things about 5e that doesn't feel like a flashback to 1983.
 

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