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Best and Worst Editions- For Adventures.

R_J_K75

Explorer
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.
You are probably correct but wasnt there a point to where both Dragon and Dungeon ceased publication for quite awhile in both 2E and 3E?
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
You are probably correct but wasnt there a point to where both Dragon and Dungeon ceased publication for quite awhile in both 2E and 3E?
Briefly in 2E when TSR was bought out and 2007 when they went out of print for good.

If Dungeon is included 3E would be over 5E.

Issue 124 and 125 are beside me along with parts of Paizos Mummy's Mask AP.

Both being mined for 5E. And I own most if the 5E APs. Without Dungeon 5E over 3E. 3E WotC ones weren't that good IMHO.
 
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Coroc

Explorer
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.
1e has some adventures who are heavy into hack'n'slash

2e I strongly and absolutely disagree. It has some of the best stuff on a level never reached again in D&D
Several of the Ravenloft adventures for 2e stick out there. Absolutely detailed NPC characters, partially playable w/o altering much. If you are categorizing adventures by how little work a DM has to put into them to make them suitable for his table, then I agree there are some 2e adventures who plot- and idea wise are absolutely top, but unplayable as written, you gotta do a lot of adaptive work as a DM.
Planescape, Darksun, partially Dragonlance although this is a railroad, those are fantastic settings because the plot is great, the ideas are unconventional. Just read Shemeskas planescape story hour on this forum, then you learn what can be doen with a setting like planescape, although I believe he used 3rd ed.

3e did not play PnP during that time but has some good stuff, Eberron comes to mind.

4e nope

5e did play LMOP now did like it but it does not stand out, it is a great adventure for beginners but not so much for experienced players. OOTA the thing I play now, so no spoilers pls. I really love this one although the underdark presented in the menzoberranzan 2e set and other 2e products seems more grim sometimes.
Generally 5e is the best edition for tabletop, there cannot be any doubt about it.
Other editions had their features, which some people like but some of their aspects are a absolute PITA for smooth tabletop RP:
  • 1e/2e: THAC0, saving throws, loads of tables, low level killer-spells like sleep and hold person.
  • 3e: buff a lo mania, leveldip multiclass for powercreep, expected magic item level, feature prerequisites. - 4e: Everything the same but with different names for it, the failed attempt to put WOW like mmorpg to
a table, combat taking up eternities.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Coric I'm specifically talking about adventures. 2E had great settings, adventures not so much at least outside Dungeon and a handful of late material.

Eberron isn't an adventure either.
 

teitan

Explorer
Whew, good question but I am going to have to disagree with the OP that 3e adventures are poorly regarded. Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury? Red Hand of Doom? The Expedition adventures were great! I loved Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, a sequel that surpassed the original! City of the Spider-Queen was interesting and had some great encounter designs. Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde was pretty keen too.

I started with 1e and have fond memories of a lot of those adventures.

2e came out a year after I started playing and we got fully into it when I was a junior in high school. There was a lot of really weak material in the early days but those Planescape adventures were great. The late unbranded modules were also good like Paladin in Hell, Gates of Firestorm Peak, Rod of Seven Parts, Return to the Tomb of Horrors. All good but overall the edition had the weakest adventures of any edition.

4e had a big problem, it was a whole cloth new system. 1-3e all had the same DNA, it wasn't difficult but 4e got saddled with a late 3e innovation and that was the encounter a page adventure design. An awful idea that made it difficult to crack how to write for the game. Essentials really helped turn that around I think. The adventures that came with the boxed sets were spectacular, I didn't get to run them but they had a classic vibe and excellent encounter designs. Something I expect from a homebrew. Gardmore Abbey looked like a LOT of fun but the edition didn't have a lot of adventures to really be comparable with any previous edition in that regard. Look back at the line it was all mechanics and not a lot of heart. Even campaign settings seemed to suffer a bit. Coulda been a great system and its half sad WOTC had to abandon it.

5e has some decent stuff. Most of the hardcovers are not just adventures but also sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms, following a similar design philosophy to Paizo's Pathfinder paths. Details about a region and factions, a smattering of player's option but not quite far enough in that regard. I think 5e could benefit from smaller adventures. Little 64-120 page adventures.

Basic... never really played any of the modules.

Dungeon: breeding ground for the best D&D designers. Greenwood, Baur, Cook, etc. ANY edition.

But for adventures, Pathfinder kills everyone. Critical hit.
 

Coroc

Explorer
Coric I'm specifically talking about adventures. 2E had great settings, adventures not so much at least outside Dungeon and a handful of late material.

Eberron isn't an adventure either.
Well I meant some of the Eberron adventures. cannot name them specifically atm. I just read a few.

2e if you count the Ravenloft adventures (there are about 30 or so that I do own and that's not all of them)
as being a "setting" because most describe a domain very detailed ? Anyway, most of these are extraordinary.

Also with a setting came adventures, bluebox greyhawk contained a lot e.g.

Of the greyhawk adventures of the WGR or was it WGA series some shine others not so much.

FR 2e had some good boxed set adventures, but you always had to do some work on these. As I said if you look for things instantly playable w/o alterations then you probably got to go with 5 e stuff or maybe some 3e products.
Maybe this was also a thing were 4e was good with, I cannot tell.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Whew, good question but I am going to have to disagree with the OP that 3e adventures are poorly regarded. Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury? Red Hand of Doom? The Expedition adventures were great! I loved Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, a sequel that surpassed the original! City of the Spider-Queen was interesting and had some great encounter designs. Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde was pretty keen too.

I started with 1e and have fond memories of a lot of those adventures.

2e came out a year after I started playing and we got fully into it when I was a junior in high school. There was a lot of really weak material in the early days but those Planescape adventures were great. The late unbranded modules were also good like Paladin in Hell, Gates of Firestorm Peak, Rod of Seven Parts, Return to the Tomb of Horrors. All good but overall the edition had the weakest adventures of any edition.

4e had a big problem, it was a whole cloth new system. 1-3e all had the same DNA, it wasn't difficult but 4e got saddled with a late 3e innovation and that was the encounter a page adventure design. An awful idea that made it difficult to crack how to write for the game. Essentials really helped turn that around I think. The adventures that came with the boxed sets were spectacular, I didn't get to run them but they had a classic vibe and excellent encounter designs. Something I expect from a homebrew. Gardmore Abbey looked like a LOT of fun but the edition didn't have a lot of adventures to really be comparable with any previous edition in that regard. Look back at the line it was all mechanics and not a lot of heart. Even campaign settings seemed to suffer a bit. Coulda been a great system and its half sad WOTC had to abandon it.

5e has some decent stuff. Most of the hardcovers are not just adventures but also sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms, following a similar design philosophy to Paizo's Pathfinder paths. Details about a region and factions, a smattering of player's option but not quite far enough in that regard. I think 5e could benefit from smaller adventures. Little 64-120 page adventures.

Basic... never really played any of the modules.

Dungeon: breeding ground for the best D&D designers. Greenwood, Baur, Cook, etc. ANY edition.

But for adventures, Pathfinder kills everyone. Critical hit.
In regards to 3E particular it doesn't have a lot of good/great adventures. Didn't claim it had none. Same with 4E which seems to have 2 good adventures one of which is Madness at Gardmore Abbey.

If you can only find a relative handful of good adventures it's probably not a great edition in terms of good adventures.

OD&D predates most published adventures so it might be fair to exclude it.

Rating 2E is also difficult, if you don't like a setting you're not going to like the adventures.
 
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Enrico Poli1

Explorer
My Top 10 Adventures:

10) Tie between Curse of the Crimson Throne AP (Pathfinder), Kingmaker AP (Pathfinder), Eyes of the Stone Thief (13th Age)
9) Die Vecna Die! (last module of AD&D2e)
8) Dragon's Crown (AD&D2e, Dark Sun)
7) Norworld Trilogy: Test of the Warlords, Death's Ride, Sabre River (BECMI)
6) Master of the Desert Nomads Trilogy: Master of the Desert Nomads, Temple of Death, Red Arrow Black Shield (BECMI)
5) Curse of Strahd (considered inclusive of original Ravenloft module; D&D 5e)
4) Tie between Tomb of Annihilation (D&D 5e) and Return to the Tomb of Horrors (considered inclusive of original Tomb of Horrors; AD&D2e)
3) Reign of Winter AP (Pathfinder)
2) Savage Tide AP (considered inclusive of original Isle of Dread; D&D 3.5)
1) Age of Worms AP (D&D 3.5)

So in the end each edition had great adventures (I didn't play 4e). The greatest of all, IMO, come from 3.5 and the Dungeon Magazine under Paizo.
5e started weak but has its own good products.
 

S'mon

Legend
Best:
BX/BECM - Best for adventures at low level (Basic, 1-3) and low-Expert (Isle of Dread, Castle Amber, both for 3-6 and originally for BX). I like the later & higher level stuff much less than the BX era stuff.
1e AD&D - some great low level adventures, but notably shines at the mid-levels ca 5-8.

Middle:
3e D&D for a few good things, notably Red Hand of Doom, some Necromancer Games stuff, and Paizo's Rise of the Runelords. Skimpy compared to Classic & 1e though. I'll put Paizo's Pathfinder in here too.

Worst:
4e D&D, only the Goodman Games DCCs are at all decent (I don't have Harkenwold or Gardmore Abbey though); honourable mention to Dungeon #155 Heathen as good fun once you cut some encounters.

Currently 5e is probably below 3e & Pathfinder, ahead of 4e, but could well end the edition ahead of them. Probably too derivative to surpass 1e and too few low level adventures to surpass Classic/BECMI.
 
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Nebulous

Adventurer
My Top 10 Adventures:

4) Tie between Tomb of Annihilation (D&D 5e) and Return to the Tomb of Horrors (considered inclusive of original Tomb of Horrors; AD&D2e)
I'm glad you mentioned Return to the Tomb of Horrors. I ran that boxed set YEARS ago. It was very challenging for the party, but fun. I loved it, but I don't see people mention it very often.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
There were some serious adventure highlights in 3e for me, so I'm a bit surprised to see the dismissal of the edition. Even cutting out the Paizo/Dungeon Magazine stuff, here are a few solid ones:

Red Hand of Doom (I'd put this up there as one of the best in any edition)
The Vault of Larin Karr (Necromancer Games' sandbox adventure that cranks Lost Mines of Phandelver to 11 - and honestly, I'd put several of NG's adventures on this list)
Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury (the two starting adventures for 3rd edition which captured the "back to the dungeon feel")
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
The following rankings are the products of logic and maths and cannot be reasonably disputed.

1. AD&D (1e).

Grade: A.


Why it's great: Any list of the greatest modules/adventures/whatevers will heavily feature these adventures, and for a reason. In fact, these adventures are so well-known and well-loved that they continued to be reprinted and updated throughout the editions, including 5e.

Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): Like Citizen Kane, many of the ideas and concepts of these modules have been re-used, borrowed, and alluded to, which causes modern eyes to not fully grok how good some of these modules are. There are occasional clunkers, and the modules are very much of their time (lots of hack & slash).



2. Basic (B/X, BECMI).

Grade: A-.


Why it's great: The B Series (esp. B2, B4) and X series (esp. X1, X2, X4, X5) are some of the best modules ever made, and continue to be referenced and re-published to this day.

Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): There aren't a lot of BECMI modules. There are really only B/X modules; the CMI modules aren't worth a hoot. They expect and require some DM work to shine.



3. 5e.

Grade: B+


Why it's great: From LMOP on, 5e has consistently produced good modules. Whether it's full APs, or collections of modules, other than a few early missteps (HoTDQ) the modules have been consistently good, if not always great.

Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): 5e's best modules to date, IMO, are still remixes of older material. CoS, GoS, and TfYP (to list three of the best) are either updates or reprints. Not that there's anything wrong with that! But if your best original module remains LMOP (imo), then you need to get cracking on more original material. Better to swing with modules like Tomb of Annihilation and see how it goes than keep going back to the well of nostalgia.



4. 3e.

Grade: C


Why it's great: There are some great individual 3e modules out there, but they are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of drek.


Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): You don't. You might stan for the edition, but you know I'm right about the modules. Yes, there is some good stuff! But this is the spot for a gentleman's C.



5. 2e.

Grade: C-


Why it's great: Second edition is when TSR really started leaning hard into settings, so you can find some good modules that are setting-specific! Unfortunately, the 90s were not a great time for TSR in general, and they began producing a lot of stuff that was nearly unplayable.

Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): Nostalgia. And love for settings! Or you remember that I think that 2e is the Paladin of D&D.



6. 4e.

Grade: Incomplete/Fail


Why it's great: It's not. 4e's strengths were never truly explored in modules, and instead of using modules to really serve as an introduction to some of the non-combat strengths of 4e, they, well, didn't. And then the edition went away.

Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): You don't.



7. OD&D.

Grade: N/A


Why it's great: They aren't. Foolish TSR didn't even think that people would want modules! Why would anyone want to play in someone else's adventure?


Why you might disagree with me (and be wrong): If you count B2 (for example) or early 3PP or convention modules or stuff printed in Dragon etc., you can scrape some stuff together for a grade. But it's hard to find a cohesive body of contemporaneous OD&D adventures.
 
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Odysseus

Explorer
I'd put 3E top. More because of volume than greater quality.
4E I'd put second. The Zeitgeist and War of the Burning Sky AP are both top 5 all time AP. Although 4E does have a lot of adventures that either look bad, or are bad.
OD&D/1E I'd put 3rd Desert of Desolation series is my all time favorite.
Pathfinder and 5E, equal 4th. The adventures look good, but I never seem to use them or run them
2E last mainly becasue of the adventures seem a little setting specific
 
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Enrico Poli1

Explorer
The following rankings are the products of logic and maths and cannot be reasonably disputed.

1. AD&D (1e).

Grade: A.


Why it's great: Any list of the greatest modules/adventures/whatevers will heavily feature these adventures, and for a reason. In fact, these adventures are so well-known and well-loved that they continued to be reprinted and updated throughout the editions, including 5e.
I'll like to discuss this point!
IMO, many AD&D 1e adventures are so well appreciated because they are the first examples or exemplars, so they became classics, and not always because they are at the top.
Yeah, for example, I played Against the Giants and it's great, but the plot is really "enter the dungeon and slaughter everything". Over and over and over. The same with Keep on the Borderlands.
Let's take White Plume Mountain. It's fun, but in the end it's an illogical dungeon, full of overpowered weapons that WILL destroy your campaign. The same could be said of the ultimate funhouse that is Castle Amber.

I dare to say that the early modules, even Gygax', were lacking story. You had to clean a dungeon, and more often then not it was a fun but incoherent mess.
After the "Hickman Revolution" with Dragonlance and Ravenloft, the story became predominant. And that had two limits: first of all, the adventures became railroaded. Second, especially in the good old days of 2e, the story was so important that the crunch was sacrificed. The encounters were not always well balanced, and in fact before the introduction of Challenge Rating it was a mess!
3e was the time of rationalization even for adventures, and in the Dungeon Magazine they achieved a good balance between story (again, railroady) and crunch. But high-level play became very complex because of the numbers.
(I skipped 4e...)
IMO, 5e is trying to produce adventures that are an alternative to Paizo's railroads. Each 5e Adventure is a mini-setting, so that it HAS a definite story, but at the same time it's NOT a railroady because It can be played in a number of different ways. And it is successful!
I am very very happy with the adventure design of 5e, in this sense they are the best because they combine a story without being railroady, and that was difficultà to achieve.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
I'll like to discuss this point!
IMO, many AD&D 1e adventures are so well appreciated because they are the first examples or exemplars, so they became classics, and not always because they are at the top.
"Like Citizen Kane, many of the ideas and concepts of these modules have been re-used, borrowed, and alluded to, which causes modern eyes to not fully grok how good some of these modules are."

Consider it discussed. :)
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
but in the end it's an illogical dungeon
Most dungeons seem illogical to me. Who built them, why havent they been long since plundered, how do these monsters inside survive? It never sat well with me that there seems to be so many, they should be few and far between, but it seems every town, village and hamlet has a keep, castle or dungeon 3 blocks away. Who says "Hey lets start a settlement where evil is right next door"? The biggest question of all is why dont you ever run into Joey, Vinny and Tony the movers restocking the furniture and larders in a 4000 year old dungeon?
 

Undrave

Explorer
Listening to you guys, it seems like no edition had good adventures :p

4e had that April Fools one shot with the Flumph and the Flail Snail, so that's gotta count for something :p
 

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