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Best and Worst Editions- For Adventures.

Zardnaar

Adventurer
There is all sorts or arguments that can be made for the best and worst editions.

However I'm going to use a different criteria.

What are the best and worst editions of D&D based on the quality of the adventures?

This is kind of a spin off from another thread where the 5E adventures came up. 5E would do well if it was most consistent adventures, the worst 5E adventures aren't truly dreadful but overall the're not really hitting the heights of other editions either.

Very briefly IMHO each edition examined.

OD&D
Very hard to rate, not many adventures released for it and most people are probably not familiar with it. I own OD&D but 0 adventures for it so yeah

1E
A good contender for a high spot. A lot of classic adventures here, but a few have not aged well or were good at the time IMHO. Still I suspect an early contender.

B/X and BECMI
Several classic adventures B2,3,4, and X1 come to mind. A lot of the other adventures are overshadowed or forgtten about but there are several hidden gems such as B5 and B10. Good contender for a high spot perhaps.

2E
2E adventures are kind of notorious for being bad. Often metaplot heavy and tied to campaign settings. Still Dungeon had several great adventures and several great ones did get released late in the editions lifetime (1995-2000) but are probably fairly obscure. Can fans save this editions reputation?

3E.
Not really a well regarded edition, and not much in the way of nostalgia. However I suspect this could be a sleeper as 3E had lots of great adventures and several got converted into 5E in the Tales of the Yawning Portal and Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Dungeon also had a very good run especially under Paizo from 2002. Two excellent APs also date from this era the Age of Worms and the Savage Tide.

4E. Oh dear. Even 4E fans admit the adventures here tend to be woeful. When you can only really nominate 1 or 2 adventures as great yeah well. Kind of expect a low/last placing here.

5E. One great adventure with several good ones and nothing truly bad although maybe 2 come close. However there is a lot of 3pp stuff as well and some of it is very good. Popular editions, lots of new fans who are not familiar with older material one kind of expects a decent placing.

Thought about this and I am going to include Pathfinder as well.

Pathfinder
Paizo has a reputation (well earned IMHO) of great adventure design. However a lot of that reputation is from the 3.5 era and in this thread it well be treated as 3E material so Pathfinder has to stand on its own. Pathfinder also has a lot of 3pp stuff some of which has been converted to 5E.

For arguments sake if it comes down to an editions rule set assume the adventure gets converted to 5E well. Is this a good adventure regardless of the rules of the edition. Some adventures might run a bit better or more faithfully in their original ruleset but for example I thought The Styes was a good adventure in 3.5 and the conversion to 5E looks decent.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
More or less agree with your assessment but a couple of things leap out at me:

Your bit at the end about whether or not an adventure converts to 5e well: who cares? You can't really blame an adventure for not being future-proof, and could perhaps make a better case for asking whether a more recent adventure converts well to older editions in that the more recent writers had those older editions to look at.

In light of that, I'd be a bit kinder to 4e adventures in general than you. There's some serious dogs, to be sure, but there's also some that are more than half decent - and even the bad ones are usually good for at least one masterful set-piece battle that can be extracted and ported into something else.

3e adventures, other than a few serious high points, are the ones I usually find to be the most dubious; particularly 3rd-party ones, many of which are absolute dreck. PF adventures (which for these purposes I will split out from 3e) are generally a bit better but unless you're running the AP they're written for you've a lot of work to do in stripping out all the backstory (and the Dragonlance adventures from 1e suffer from the same issue).

5e adventures, those I'm familiar with anyway, are nicely designed if you want to run the whole AP (i.e. use the whole hardcover book) but, as with any one-big-book adventures, are a PITA for the DM to run unless said DM is willing to do a lot of photocopying of maps and so forth.

So for me the order would probably go

1e-B/X-BECMI (when it comes to adventures I always lump these together as they're so easily interchanged)

then a big drop to

2e
5e
PF
4e
3e
 

JeffB

Adventurer
Well 4e was probably the worst. They did have some nice ideas and locations and steered away from some tropes,but most were linear combat slogs with encountler after encounter-and between those encounters was some good stuff. That said, a couple fun ones too (reavers, winter king). I do prefer 4e's format of encounter areas and scenes.

2E- I think it gets a bad rap for adventures overall and probably deserves it. There was some complete dreck.But there are some gems if you look into the various settings-Ravenloft in particular. Haunted Halls is fantastic. The "generic" lineup of adventures-non setting specific (of which there are far more than most would think) were pretty bland. The late 2E GH and FR adventures were bad...so bad. Dungeon magazine was your best bet for 2E.

3.x -I don't find a whole lot better than 2E or 4e. Again Dungeon mag is your best bet.

5e- Don't have much use for the epic style 10 level adventure format. That said I do really like ToA and CoS. The Lost Mine is a gem, so I give 5e a leg up on 3E and 2E.

For me the B/X line up and the first 6 years or so of AD&D to 84ish. are the best overall edition-wise. Not that there wasn't some crap. But overall, the percentage of good to bad was much higher on the good side.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
In general, I don't think many published adventures are very good at all, regardless of edition. D&D 4e, a game that I really like, has the worst in my opinion. When I go back to read AD&D 2e adventures, it is also very bad. Some of the advice they give DMs in those adventures is just terrible. We were all laughing about some of it on Discord one night as two of our group of DMs were converting old adventures.

D&D 3.Xe and D&D 5e are hit or miss, but D&D 5e is probably the best I've seen so far, though their organization leaves a lot to be desired in my experience and I haven't run many of them.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Some 3E adventures made it into Tales From the Yawning Portal. I don't recall them being that well regarded the first time around though.

To many 2E adventuress were just bad though.

Tentative list of the bottom feeders. It's a bit easier. I would probably put Pathfinder slightly over 5E. Several Pathfinder 3pp have been converted to 5E and alot of 5E and PF materials are similar in terms of quality, PF has some more hits though and a lot more innovative and tried some interesting things.


Pathfinder
5E

2E
4E

5E printed adventures are better than 3E IMHO, but 3E has Dungeon which makes that hard. Several Dungeon adventures are LMoP quality.
 
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cmad1977

Explorer
Worst: 4e

Best: 2e/5e
For 2e: we didn’t use a lot of adventures but I used tons of the Dungeon magazine stuff. Great stuff.
For 5e: while some of the adventures aren’t great the good ones are really good. Even the ‘bad’ ones have potential with a little tweaking.
 

oreofox

Explorer
It kinda depends on what you want. A large number of the older adventures were dungeon crawls. If you or your players don't care for those (quite a common occurrence in my experience), those won't be very fun. I'm running B7 (Rahasia), but I am having a tough time getting the motivation to continue with it (players are on lower level, and just met Ular-Taman in the Lower Temple level. They are about to come across The Rahib, and I am thinking of just ending it at that, instead of going through the next 50+ rooms within the Tower.

As for the other adventures in the various editions:

1e had some very iconic adventures, which were again, mostly dungeon crawls with some story tacked on. The Dragonlance adventures made for better novel reading than adventure playing. I haven't looked much into the BECMI adventures, but if they are anything like Rahasia, I'll pass.

3rd edition... I didn't run anything from here. I did, however, run through that 3 page web adventure "Something's Cooking", but it wasn't that bad because it was so short. I attempted to run Forge of Fury (the one included in Yawning Portal), but the group fell apart. That one wasn't too bad.

4e I never played, though when Princes of the Apocalypse was announced, I ran through "The Elder Elemental Eye", or whatever it was called, with the insane dwarf brothers. It wasn't too bad. Then PotA came out, and that was a bit disappointing. Never gave much attention to the other adventures.

5e has been... disappointing. The Tiamat adventures were god awful, PotA wasn't much better. I tried playing through Strahd but got bored (of course, this was a pbp, but I was never really into the whole gothic horror stuff). I'm in a game that seems to mash up OotA and ToA, with a bit of some of the Yawning Portal adventures, and quite honestly I am not really having much fun with those. The madness crap from OotA and the death curse from ToA is the complete opposite of fun.

Pathfinder 1e adventures have some promising premises. I tried Kingmaker, but a player ended up cheating so I ended that. I played in a Crimson Throne game, and had fun for the most part, until some drama happened (plus, with about 10 players, in a PF game, was just too much). I finished Wrath of the Righteous, but I wish I would have quit after the 2nd month when the magus 1-shot a rather strong drake. I was bored with Second Darkness (I hate drow).

I still prefer to make my own adventures. Made a halloween themed one based on the Peanuts and the Great Pumpkin for last year. Players seemed to enjoy that one. Though it can be tough making them when no one gives any backstory.

Also, the adventure paths (the Pathfinder ones as well as the 5e ones, minus YP and Saltmarsh) can be rather tough to shove into a DM's homebrew world. At least, it is in mine.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Worst: 4e

Best: 2e/5e
For 2e: we didn’t use a lot of adventures but I used tons of the Dungeon magazine stuff. Great stuff.
For 5e: while some of the adventures aren’t great the good ones are really good. Even the ‘bad’ ones have potential with a little tweaking.
What's the fairest way to count Dungeon?

There were a lot of good adventures 87-91 and 2003-2007. And post 97 after the WotC buyout.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
It kinda depends on what you want. A large number of the older adventures were dungeon crawls. If you or your players don't care for those (quite a common occurrence in my experience), those won't be very fun. I'm running B7 (Rahasia), but I am having a tough time getting the motivation to continue with it (players are on lower level, and just met Ular-Taman in the Lower Temple level. They are about to come across The Rahib, and I am thinking of just ending it at that, instead of going through the next 50+ rooms within the Tower.

As for the other adventures in the various editions:

1e had some very iconic adventures, which were again, mostly dungeon crawls with some story tacked on. The Dragonlance adventures made for better novel reading than adventure playing. I haven't looked much into the BECMI adventures, but if they are anything like Rahasia, I'll pass.

3rd edition... I didn't run anything from here. I did, however, run through that 3 page web adventure "Something's Cooking", but it wasn't that bad because it was so short. I attempted to run Forge of Fury (the one included in Yawning Portal), but the group fell apart. That one wasn't too bad.

4e I never played, though when Princes of the Apocalypse was announced, I ran through "The Elder Elemental Eye", or whatever it was called, with the insane dwarf brothers. It wasn't too bad. Then PotA came out, and that was a bit disappointing. Never gave much attention to the other adventures.

5e has been... disappointing. The Tiamat adventures were god awful, PotA wasn't much better. I tried playing through Strahd but got bored (of course, this was a pbp, but I was never really into the whole gothic horror stuff). I'm in a game that seems to mash up OotA and ToA, with a bit of some of the Yawning Portal adventures, and quite honestly I am not really having much fun with those. The madness crap from OotA and the death curse from ToA is the complete opposite of fun.

Pathfinder 1e adventures have some promising premises. I tried Kingmaker, but a player ended up cheating so I ended that. I played in a Crimson Throne game, and had fun for the most part, until some drama happened (plus, with about 10 players, in a PF game, was just too much). I finished Wrath of the Righteous, but I wish I would have quit after the 2nd month when the magus 1-shot a rather strong drake. I was bored with Second Darkness (I hate drow).

I still prefer to make my own adventures. Made a halloween themed one based on the Peanuts and the Great Pumpkin for last year. Players seemed to enjoy that one. Though it can be tough making them when no one gives any backstory.

Also, the adventure paths (the Pathfinder ones as well as the 5e ones, minus YP and Saltmarsh) can be rather tough to shove into a DM's homebrew world. At least, it is in mine.
I don't regard Rahasia as a good B/X adventure. Might not be bad but I wouldn't want to convert it either.

B2,3,4,5,10 would be the pick of the B series.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
My opinions:

1E - a lot of really solid adventures... for the edition. Most of them were dungeon crawls with some story to draw the players in. IME, I took the concepts of most of these adventures and trimmed them down to fit within a 5E game. Otherwise they tend to take a long time IRL, causing players to forget the purpose of the adventure.

2E - the only 2E adventures I'm particularly familiar with were the Greyhawk specific ones. These moved away from sandbox style gaming, forcing the players along a railroaded plot. There were a few others that were much better, but still emphasized a linear plot. Oh, there were also the abominable "humor" adventures designed to make fun of Greyhawk.

3E - I honestly never played any 3E adventures. My experiences with 3E were with me updating older adventures and the other DM making his own.

4E - conceptually these seemed okay upon reading, but most DMs I know made their own adventures.

5E - overall good, with a few notable failures (HotDQ prominent).

BECMI - the true winner. Most adventures had a dungeon crawl, but almost all of them had a decent plot. Many also had travel as part of the adventure, taking away the monotony of the dungeon. Plus since the edition had a built in setting (Known World/Mystara) all adventures fit into it, but were often done in a way you could incorperate them into homebrew settings.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
As a new DM who has run a few of the 5e official adventures (and read through most of the others), it seems I should be glad that I came in so late. Sadly I feel like they still could be a lot better in general. I guess writing adventures is hard, even for the pros!
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
As a new DM who has run a few of the 5e official adventures (and read through most of the others), it seems I should be glad that I came in so late. Sadly I feel like they still could be a lot better in general. I guess writing adventures is hard, even for the pros!
It's an art form.

Writing large adventures seems hard.
 

cmad1977

Explorer
What's the fairest way to count Dungeon?

There were a lot of good adventures 87-91 and 2003-2007. And post 97 after the WotC buyout.
Good question. It was such a cool resource for adventures and ideas for me in 2e/3e. And I totally used a bunch of the 2e stuff in 3e.
I guess it’s possible that the best stuff from most of the eras came from Dungeon.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
I can't really answer this definitively, since I know next to nothing about 3E or 4E adventures, and have read only one for 5E. That said... I always thought 1E had the best adventures in modules, and 2E had the best Dungeon magazine adventures (the modules from that era were variable in quality)…
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
5e - especially now. As the edition has matured the adventures have gotten better. Tomb of Annihilation is outstanding (imo).
2e - Had the best and the worst. Definitely the most creative period
1e - (including BECMI) - some definite good stuff there, but mostly very dungeon crawly
3e - High level stuff was just so overcomplicated to DM, but there was some great lower level stuff. Red Hand of Doom stands out for me.
4e- In the main it was a series of well designed encounters. It generally required quite a bit of work to flesh it out and make it feel like D&D
 

Wiseblood

Adventurer
1e/BECMI
2e
5e
3e
4e
Pathfinder

Now I explain why:
I hate running modules. I mean I really hate it. I like to skim, steal some ideas, get inspired by art and go do my own thing.

The bigger the book the more I have to read to get what I want. I like old school cover art and black and white interior.

Pathfinder comes in dead last because most were set in Paizo’s (Glorantha or some such) setting which I can’t stand. I felt it was derivative, bland and poorly fleshed out. The thing that aggrieves me the most is the overuse of Wayne Reynolds. His art just messes with my Chi. (Seriously it hurts) I would rather no art.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
2E: My vote for my favorite is the original 2E Ruins of Undermountain. There was so much detail in some of those rooms. 2E was the edition I liked the best just because I played it so much and knew the rules so I could modify adventures on the fly the easiest. For me that was the best edition.

I generally write/wrote my own adventures over the years so I dont have much of an opinion on any other editions.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
What are the best and worst editions of D&D based on the quality of the adventures?
Of the ones I've seen, the order is 5E, BX/BECMI/Cyclopedia, AD&D 2E, AD&D 1E, AD&D 3E.
4E excluded due to insufficient sample. OE excluded because the only ones I know of are in the rulebooks, and I haven't run/played them. Pathfinder excluded for lack of play/run, as well, but based upon read, I'd put it on par with BX/BECMI/Cyclopedia...

For selection of, 5.x, 3.,AD&D 2, BX/BECMI/C, AD&D 1, 4E, OE. AD&D 2 gets the nod due to Dungeon and Dragon support.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
2E had the longest time if Dungeon support, a lot of good adventures in them.

3E went monthly though so probably has a similar number of issues.
 

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