D&D General Best Adventure Path (spanning 10+ levels) of all time?

Frankie1969

Adventurer
Large but straightforward question: what is the best collection of pre-made adventure content that follows a full story arc from small-time local heroes (preferably starting at level 1, no higher than 4) to world-hopping legends (preferably reaching 20, no lower than 14)?

Not just in 5E. Any edition, including 4E, PF, 13A, or any other system similar enough to translate.

YMMV, but my personal criteria for "best" are:
  1. well-written plot with logical motivation & consequences,
  2. well-written NPCs who merit emotional investment,
  3. well-written scenarios, preferably organized like instructions not like a novella,
  4. well-balanced & interesting challenges, and
  5. not overly complex to DM (Zeitgeist gets dinged on this last point).
I don't know what my answer would be. I have fond memories of (TA)GDQ but I know it doesn't stand up well by modern standards.
 
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I don't know if it hits all the OP's criteria, but if I had to give an AP the nod, it's Savage Tide. I'll confess I've never run it, but I've wanted to in every edition I've played, thought about running it in 3.5, started the work of adapting it to both 4e and 5e. I don't think it's perfect, and not too sure where the pitfalls are, but I find it a memorable and enticing enough I've wanted to run it

It's a good story with some great characters and legit memorable set-pieces, just needs a bit of tidying up. There's a few threads on here and on the Paizo forums where people who've run it give advice about how the thing works in play. Might be worth checking out, or necro-ing a thread or two if there's anything specific to ask about.
 

Mageman

Explorer
Adventure a weeks Adventures in Aventyr is my favorite. I have ran it many times. I have ran the first part everytime I introduced new people to Dnd. It's incredibly well put together and very as for a new DM to run
 

Voadam

Legend
There are a bunch of Paizo ones I really like. For me its a tough call between Carrion Crown, Reign of Winter, Wrath of the Righteous, and Iron Gods. I have run or played through the early modules in each and have not finished any of them.

Carrion Crown is fantastic gothic horror, starting off with strong ghost story, Frankenstein, werewolf, zombie themes, then a Cthulhu one that looks like it would work or not depending on whether you have been integrating mythos stuff since the beginning. The first two in particular give some great investigation options that hit a gothic horror D&D bullseye for me. The last two as written are OK, the last one in particular losing a lot of gothic horror aspects for the Lich deadlands module climax, though with some good latent potential beneath for story stuff. There are really weak links from story to story particularly for the big bad of the whole thing unless you look on the paizo boards where there is excellent advice on tying them together from session 1.

Reign of Winter is fantastic Dark Fairy Tale D&D with all sorts of room for Narnia White Witch, Baba Yaga, Changeling the Lost unseelie fey type stuff to riff off of. A consistently great first three modules, but my group TPKd in 3. 4 looked OK, maybe a Pern type takeoff thing, 5 looks amazing where you go to earth to assassinate Rasputin in World War I era Russia. The last one squanders a huge setting mystery plot element of former queen daughters fate into a generic monster fight in a room scene.

Wrath of the Righteous I played through a bunch of modules and it was a ton of fun. Punching demons in the face and going mythic is the superheroist of high magic adventure paths. Was great through the parts I played through (1-4? out of 6) but no idea how much was the modules or the DM riffing, or whether it would stick the landing of the AP climax.

Iron Gods I am running now in 5e, it is D&D in a setting with an ancient crashed Sci-Fi space ship and a Thundarr the Barbarian vibe. Mad Max Bartertown, an order of corrupt wizards monopolizing most tech recovery, wasteland mutants, there is plenty of gonzo D&D to dive into and love.

I have also been tempted to run conversions of a number of Call of Cthulhu mega adventures in D&D for the long term plots ever since reading Michael Tresca's review of running Tatters of the King for an Arcanis setting D&D game in 3e.
 

YMMV, but my personal criteria for "best" are:
  1. well-written plot with logical motivation & consequences,
  2. well-written NPCs who merit emotional investment,
  3. well-written scenarios, preferably organized like instructions not like a novella,
  4. well-balanced & interesting challenges, and
  5. not overly complex to DM (Zeitgeist gets dinged on this last point).
I mean, I still think ZEITGEIST is pretty solid by that criteria, though I'm the most biased person possible here.

I've played a few Paizo APs (Skull & Shackles, Iron Gods, Strange Aeons, and also Emerald Spire), but afterward I went and read them and found that about 70% of my enjoyment was due to stuff the GM added. I found that the ratio of 'combat to get XP' to 'scenes with actual storyline' was skewed the wrong way for my liking.

Similarly, I played Red Hand of Doom back in the 3e days, but that also had tons of fighting and not many characters you had more than a passing interaction with.

I read the Ashardalon adventures in early 3e, and those were pretty focused on dungeon crawling over character arcs, or really any memorable player agency.

I ran Night Below back in 2e and did appreciate that there were hub communities that you could operate out of, so you had time to get to care about the locals and go on missions to protect the community.
 

Frankie1969

Adventurer
I mean, I still think ZEITGEIST is pretty solid by that criteria, though I'm the most biased person possible here.
I don't disagree. My group had a great time, including me, but wow it took a lot of prep hours.

My ratings, although I may be mis-remembering some.

NameInfoLevelsStoryNPCsLayoutPlayEase
TGDQ1E TSR1-14okpoorokokok
Ravenloft2E TSR?-13goodokpoorok?
Drow War3E Mong.1-30okpoorokokok
Chaos Scar4E WotC1-11okokgoodokgood
ZeitgeistP/4/5 EN1-20+goodgoodokgoodpoor
Curse of Strahd5E WotC1-10goodgoodokokpoor
Yawning Portal5E WotC1-15poorpoorokokok
Mad Mage5E WotC5-20poorokokokok
 

Voadam

Legend
Ravenloft2E TSR?-13goodokpoorok?
Do you mean the conjunction Hexad modules from 2e Ravenloft? Night of the Walking Dead (1-3), Touch of Death (3-5), Feast of Goblyns (4-7), Ship of Horrors (8-10), From the Shadows (9-12), Roots of Evil (9-12)? That sort of covers 1-12 with a bunch of gaps to fill.

I ran 1-4 and they were fantastic. Five and Six did not appeal and I ran different modified ones to complete the storyline. Five in particular is one of those agency stealing Ravenloft ones where bad things happen to take your character out no matter what. I really dislike those.

The first four are excellent D&D gothic horror adventures however.
 

guachi

Hero
If I'm purely going for greatness, The Enemy Within for WFRP wins the "best ever" award, and I consider myself fortunate to be playing in it right now. Shout out to @TheSword as GM.
If talking nostalgia, for me it will always be the Giants and Drow series from the late 70s/early 80s.

I currently own only one part of The Enemy Within, Death on the Reik. Bought it in 1990 or so at a used book store for $7.50, according to the sticker on the back.

What recommendation do you have (or anyone else) to get a copy of the other parts?
 

guachi

Hero
Masks of Nyarlathotep would be my submission. It’s broken up into chapter that can be handled in any order. Each chapter though is a manageable sandbox of clue following. The 7e version is well laid out with the connections pointed out clearly to the GM. The plot is as ut reveals itself is transparent to players. Something Paizo APs sometimes struggle with.

Currently reading Masks of Nyarlathotep now. My friend back in the day had the original version and I remember loving all the handouts and extras. The current version is very expensive but, boy howdy, does it have lots and lots of handouts and extras.

You'll also learn lots of Earth trivia. Like the fat sucking ghouls from Peru. And an off-hand reference to needing to order a pisco sour. That enticed me to look the drink up and it turns out the drink is the national (alcoholic) drink of Peru. And it was created by a Mormon of Welsh descent from Salt Lake City, Utah.

The adventure, and other Call of Cthulu adventures, are filled with all sorts of period touches.
 



thullgrim

Adventurer
I currently own only one part of The Enemy Within, Death on the Reik. Bought it in 1990 or so at a used book store for $7.50, according to the sticker on the back.

What recommendation do you have (or anyone else) to get a copy of the other parts?
I’d buy the newest versions for WHFRP 4e. They are very well done. Each has a companion volume with information about the empire, adjunct adventures, relevant context for the main adventure and more. Plus they (and the whole WHFRP 4e line) are really pretty books.
 

Voadam

Legend
I currently own only one part of The Enemy Within, Death on the Reik. Bought it in 1990 or so at a used book store for $7.50, according to the sticker on the back.

What recommendation do you have (or anyone else) to get a copy of the other parts?
PDFs of the original entire WFRP 1e Enemy Within set are available here.

PDFs of the current WFRP 4e Enemy Within set are available here. More material but about twice as expensive each. They are also available in print.
 



Frankie1969

Adventurer
I also shout out for the Enemy Within campaign. It’s probably the most fun to read and Dm I’ve ever seen. NPCs are very important and detailed. Scenarios are interesting. Lots of investigation and roleplaying.

If I was converting it to 5e D&D I wouldn’t try and make D&D like WFRP that is a tall order. I would just port across the scenarios, NPCs, monsters, locations and plot. Let players play whatever they want to play.

You’ll need to do a bit of work with challenges as most human bandits aren’t a challenge in 5e where as in WFRP they could be. Slow down progression and run it level 1-10. Make daemons really tough.
Having read some more about Enemy Within: instead of going from 1st Tier to 3rd or 4th, it goes from 0th Tier to 2nd. In WFRP, starting PCs are basically commoners with skill or two, and late-game PCs are still very mortal.
It would be a very different experience from a typical d20 adventure path. Not necessarily bad, though.
 

TheSword

Legend
Having read some more about Enemy Within: instead of going from 1st Tier to 3rd or 4th, it goes from 0th Tier to 2nd. In WFRP, starting PCs are basically commoners with skill or two, and late-game PCs are still very mortal.
It would be a very different experience from a typical d20 adventure path. Not necessarily bad, though.
I’m not sure I agree. WFRP are actually fairly robust. Resolve and Fortune mean that I think it’s actually quite difficult to die in the Enemy Within. Certainly up to the end of Power Behind the Throne. It just remains a possibility.

A warrior based character can kill another character in two to three hits or so.

I’ve ran Shadows Over Bogenhafen in Pathfinder at level 3 and it worked fine. More than fine actually.
 




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