log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E D&D 5E: Ranking every published adventure, using Amazon reviews

Product Name / (Pass Warn or Fail) / Adjusted Rating

Tomb of Annihilation (PASS) 4.7
Curse of Strahd (FAIL) 4.6
Out of the Abyss (WARN) 4.6
Tales from the Yawning Portal (WARN) 4.6
Dungeon of the Mad Mage (FAIL) 4.5
Ghosts of Saltmarsh (WARN) 4.5
Rise of Tiamat (FAIL) 4.5
Storm Kings Thunder (WARN) 4.5
Descent Into Avernus (FAIL) 4.4
Dragon Heist (FAIL) 4.4
Rime of the Frostmaiden (FAIL) 4.4
Hoard of the Dragon Queen (FAIL) 4.3
Princes of the Apocalypse (FAIL) 4.3
Candlekeep Mysteries (FAIL) 4.2
What I find interesting about this set of numbers is I had thought Candlekeep Mysteries was largely well-regarded, although impacted in some people's eyes by at least one of the freelancer's experiences with WotC. Likewise, I thought Rime was well-regarded, rather than being near the bottom of the chart.

OTOH, there are people who only want Official Books and prize that highly, even turning up their noses at unofficial Keith Baker Eberron books*, which suggests that the WotC special sauce is what they care the most about. Maybe that special sauce is worth a minimum of four stars with them.

* If you're one of these people, I would love to hear the rationale. I feel like Baker on Eberron or Greenwood on Forgotten Realms ought to trump WotC official trade dress, but I guess not everyone feels that way.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
What I find interesting about this set of numbers is I had thought Candlekeep Mysteries was largely well-regarded, although impacted in some people's eyes by at least one of the freelancer's experiences with WotC. Likewise, I thought Rime was well-regarded, rather than being near the bottom of the chart.

OTOH, there are people who only want Official Books and prize that highly, even turning up their noses at unofficial Keith Baker Eberron books*, which suggests that the WotC special sauce is what they care the most about. Maybe that special sauce is worth a minimum of four stars with them.

* If you're one of these people, I would love to hear the rationale. I feel like Baker on Eberron or Greenwood on Forgotten Realms ought to trump WotC official trade dress, but I guess not everyone feels that way.
Here is some data for Candlekeep: 21% of potentially unnatural reviews removed. 21% Unverified Purchases (unusually high). We see the following 2 participation groups with a statistically significant greater concentration than what we'd expect to see: Reviewers with 1-5 Reviews: 29.2%; Reviewers with 6-15 Reviews: 41.7 %. In total, we found that 51 reviewers (or 71%) are within an overrepresented participation group. This is an excessively high number of reviewers in overrepresented participation groups.
 


These are ratings based on no agreed upon criteria whatsoever. I find the irony of Amazon ratings is that on what was originally a bookseller website the thing they work the worst for is books (and other media content) since reviewers can't even agree on whether they are rating the content or the physical product.

But with a campaign book the lack of agreed criteria problem becomes even more extreme. Aside from people getting upset about shipping and such, or about receiving a defective copy (I think most of us have encountered 5e stinky book syndrome at some point), a D&D campaign book these days is also likely to get dinged by whatever cranks have found some basis for a culture wars-based polemic. But beyond all that stuff there are is a more fundamental issue: is it a rating of the adventure or the presentation in book form? If the adventure, from a player's perspective or a DMs. If the presentation in book form, did the reviewer run the campaign or just read it?

Of the listed campaigns I own and have read and/or run parts of Out of the Abyss, Storm King's Thunder, and Waterdeep Dragon Heist. From a reading perspective I like SKT the best as it has a substantial introduction that lays out the whole plot at the beginning for me to know, whereas Dragon Heist is less clear on this front, and Out of the Abyss expects me to pick it all up myself. On the DM support front SKT also has a section in the back with suggestions on how to transition from any of the then published campaigns into this one, which I thought was a great idea. SKT is also, I would argue, a stronger setting guide for the Sword Coast than the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. But neither of those points have much to do with the campaign itself which I have never run most of (the group I bought it for fizzled). As a campaign it seems pretty middle of the road (3 or 4 out of 5 stars), but as a book to run the campaign from 5 stars, easy (with the caveat that I only ever read the opening chapters and skimmed the rest).

Meanwhile the book presentation of Waterdeep Dragon Heist seems unexceptional, the actual adventure doesn't really seem to amount to much, and as a product it could probably support the DM better, but when I was a player in that campaign we had tremendous fun because Waterdeep is a rich setting and an urban campaign where the players own a business lent itself to lots of wild schemes and creative hijinks, and I think that is not an uncommon experience. So as a DM support 3-4 stars, as a campaign from the DM's perspective again 3-4 stars, but as a campaign from the player perspective 5 stars.

Neither of those "reviews" was my actual rating necessarily, as it was all based on memory and I haven't read all of either of those books, but the point is that based on what criteria I was rating them for I might easily vary wildly, even before we get into issues of whether Amazon sent my order too late for the first session or the book had a strong chemical smell.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
OTOH, there are people who only want Official Books and prize that highly, even turning up their noses at unofficial Keith Baker Eberron books*, which suggests that the WotC special sauce is what they care the most about. Maybe that special sauce is worth a minimum of four stars with them.

* If you're one of these people, I would love to hear the rationale. I feel like Baker on Eberron or Greenwood on Forgotten Realms ought to trump WotC official trade dress, but I guess not everyone feels that way.
As far as I'm concerned if Keith Baker writes an Eberron supplement, it's about as "official" (whatever that word even means) as it gets. You don't get more official than that.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Here is some data for Candlekeep: 21% of potentially unnatural reviews removed. 21% Unverified Purchases (unusually high). We see the following 2 participation groups with a statistically significant greater concentration than what we'd expect to see: Reviewers with 1-5 Reviews: 29.2%; Reviewers with 6-15 Reviews: 41.7 %. In total, we found that 51 reviewers (or 71%) are within an overrepresented participation group. This is an excessively high number of reviewers in overrepresented participation groups.
What does that mean? That it was reviewbombed or something?
 




BigZebra

Explorer
It gives me pause on the vocal minority more than whether to trust Amazon scores. The vocal minority will find anything and everything to complain about while the silent majority will tend to just keep trucking. The adventures sold well enough that WOTC put out a limited combined edition last year with extras, more than five years later. Much like the SCAG, I take what I see here or on other forums with a salt shaker.
Exactly. I ran ToD last year on Roll20. Granted for totally new players, so that might factor in, but we all had an absolute blast.
There will never be an adventure that'll be perfect for all groups, but for our little group where the players were new it was awesome. And yes for a group of very experienced players looking for a sandbox it's not very ideal. But that's not really the goal either.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Hmm. Not terribly useful. I see 11/14 entries sitting at a 4.8 rating, with the outliers of that group within %5 points of each other. That doesn't help me narrow a choice down. At the best, and pretending Amazon reviews are all accurate & truthful, that just tells me WoTC produces a very consistent level of content.
Well, I think the bolded section about sums it up.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
What does that mean? That it was reviewbombed or something?
I don't know. This site is new to me as well. I'd have to compare it to the other adventure reports I guess. Most of them have that "failed" tag so whatever happened I am not sure it's out of line with most of the other adventures?
 

teitan

Legend
OTOH, there are people who only want Official Books and prize that highly, even turning up their noses at unofficial Keith Baker Eberron books*, which suggests that the WotC special sauce is what they care the most about. Maybe that special sauce is worth a minimum of four stars with them.

* If you're one of these people, I would love to hear the rationale. I feel like Baker on Eberron or Greenwood on Forgotten Realms ought to trump WotC official trade dress, but I guess not everyone feels that way.
That’s been an issue going back to the D20 days when people turned their noses at otherwise amazing content. They always assumed the WOTC stuff was “better playtested” and “official” usually meant legal for Living Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms and then AL. So all that stuff was not “legal” or “unofficial”. But it’s odd because now people even get huffy if you say “no” to UA options. In general you say no and people get mad and call you a crap DM.
 

cmad1977

Hero
Hard for me to take adventure reviews too seriously. Each experience is so unique that one groups run through an adventure has no bearing on another’s.

Also I don’t believe many DMs(particularly the forum going, review writing crowd) have a healthy sense of self reflection. “I didn’t mess that up it’s the adventure la fault!”.
As an example: HoTDQ is often considered pretty bad. And FWIW it lacks in certain conceptual areas IMO and doesn’t do a good job of introducing players/DMs to the game. But what made my experience BAD(and it was, it’s sucked) was my IMPLEMENTATION of the adventure. In retrospect I wish I had made the caravan more of a “hub” because the most memorable stuff for the PCs revolves around the potential cultists and the caravan leader and the super optimistic porcelain dealer who was constantly breaking his own things.
I have no problem believing,despite my bad experience, that other have had amazing times with HoTDQ because… maybe it isn’t the adventure?

PS: there were a LOT of issue with my Implemtatio. Of HoTDQ. First time DMing after years hiatus(this encompasses a whole host of issues), too many players(!!), some of whome had no interest in playing.
I guess I’m just saying, when it comes to an adventure review I’m looking more for a review of layout and organization.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Hard for me to take adventure reviews too seriously. Each experience is so unique that one groups run through an adventure has no bearing on another’s.

I do largely agree with this, however I do think reviews in aggregate can be valuable. If there are more negative reviews on average compared to another adventure, that seems indicative of quality.

It is very difficult for me to take any individual review very seriously however.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
I suspect that 99% of the reviews on Amazon would be based on reading the adventures, not playing them. I have no idea what that percentage actually is!

Having run most of the hardcover adventures released, my own idiosyncratic ratings put the top three as Rise of Tiamat, Curse of Strahd and Storm King's Thunder, with all other adventures being competent with the exception of Dragon Heist and Descent into Avernus. Dragon Heist is salvageable - and, indeed, I have run it three times - but Descent into Avernus is the only adventure Wizards has released that I think is a massive disaster.

(Why do I rate Rise of Tiamat and Hoard of the Dragon Queen so highly? Partly due to ambition and scope - there isn't another series that treats the PCs as important in the world with the rulers of nations listening to them. Neither are 'complete' adventures as both require a lot of input from the DM, and they have other flaws beside - but I love them dearly).

Cheers!
 

teitan

Legend
Here is some data for Candlekeep: 21% of potentially unnatural reviews removed. 21% Unverified Purchases (unusually high). We see the following 2 participation groups with a statistically significant greater concentration than what we'd expect to see: Reviewers with 1-5 Reviews: 29.2%; Reviewers with 6-15 Reviews: 41.7 %. In total, we found that 51 reviewers (or 71%) are within an overrepresented participation group. This is an excessively high number of reviewers in overrepresented participation groups.
So what I get is that the reviews are actually better than indicated from actual readers/reviewers? I posted a review about a year ago for something unrelated and in spite of being an Amazon employee aaaand a confirmed account they deleted the review because someone reported it as "fake" because I gave a positive review to a book they didn't like because it didn't talk about them for more than a footnote and they have an overinflated sense of self importance. How do I know who reported it? He bragged on social media that he got my review removed by having a bunch of his "students" report the review as fake.
 

cmad1977

Hero
I suspect that 99% of the reviews on Amazon would be based on reading the adventures, not playing them. I have no idea what that percentage actually is!

Having run most of the hardcover adventures released, my own idiosyncratic ratings put the top three as Rise of Tiamat, Curse of Strahd and Storm King's Thunder, with all other adventures being competent with the exception of Dragon Heist and Descent into Avernus. Dragon Heist is salvageable - and, indeed, I have run it three times - but Descent into Avernus is the only adventure Wizards has released that I think is a massive disaster.

(Why do I rate Rise of Tiamat and Hoard of the Dragon Queen so highly? Partly due to ambition and scope - there isn't another series that treats the PCs as important in the world with the rulers of nations listening to them. Neither are 'complete' adventures as both require a lot of input from the DM, and they have other flaws beside - but I love them dearly).

Cheers!

Our Rise of Tiamat part of the campaign was amazing and ended epically. I learned a lot from running HoTDQ so poorly.
 


Reynard

Legend
I bounced off SKT hard, but it was a) my first time running a published adventure in a long time, and b) my first time running an adventure on Fantasy grounds. Sometimes I think I should give it another try, but the first taste was so bad I don't think I can.

Dragon heist, on the other hand, was just bad. I ran it in person, and after I was used to running modules again. Don't get me wrong -- there is a lot of useful material in Dragon Heist with which to build you own adventure, but as written that adventure is TERRIBLE.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top