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

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Looking at the top reviews for Candlekeep Mysteries, that Amazon states to be released on March 16th, I see coming up first a review only mentioning the political agenda of the book, posted on March 18th. Same content from the five or so first reviews (both to praise it or to criticize it). While the political agenda is a valid reason to like or dislike a book personally, it might not be the best criterion to evaluation a compilation of adventures centered on Candlekeep, at least for a significant part of the players.

First content-related review complains that the adventure are not mystery adventures, just regular ones for most part, after skimming over the book. Since we don't get information on ratings, and judging by the date of the reviews, I count :

8 in June 2021
12 in the second half of May 2021
18 between April 18th and the first half of May 2021
35 from March 18th to April 17th 2021 (13 of which in the first tenday).


Judging by the reviews, more than half were posted in a schedule that let me suspect the authors at most read the book but didn't even prepare most of the content. Very few probably ran even half the content of the book. If the reviewers were as impulsive as the raters, at most we have a bunch of uninformed people expressing their opinion over the perceived value of the book. Not reallys something useful to inform a purchase decision.

Some of the most interesting opinions and informations about the book :

1.the D&D logo is off-centered (3 stars),
2. a DM was insulted by players because the map he used in VTT was black & white from the book and this wasn't acceptable (man, dump your group...) (2 stars),
3. accusation of the book being bolshevik and marxist propaganda (apparently, Candlekeep advocates for the collectivization of means of production, and we missed that important plot points for decades...) ( 1 star),
3. the book was wet from the rain (1 star)
4. the parent of the 12/15/16 years-old children fondly remembering his own grandmother DMing for him when he was a kid (she must have been far outside the average demographic when she discovered D&D) (5 stars),
5.the book doesn't have enough magic items compared to Tales of the Yawning Portal (3 stars),
6. someone saying his copy arrived in perfect state, but gives only four stars complaing that usually he gets misprints when buying from Amazons (4 stars)
7. someone praising the quick delivery (5 stars)...

Several one-liner reviews are totally contradictory (this is apprently the best setting book because of all the information of Candlekeep AND it's criticized and 1-starred at the same time for not having more than a few pages on Candlekeep. Not having read the book, I have no idea from the reviews which is which.

It's totally possible that raters are much more thoughtful when they give a mark to the products and only reviewers are... off. But I wouldn't bet my money on it and I wouldn't trust the ratings that much, not because they might be "fake" but just because what is being evaluated doesn't align with what I'd look for in the book.
 

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MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
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.
I think the first chapter of Dragon Heist is fantastic. I really love how it sets up the characters as urban adventurers, introduces NPCs, and gives them challenging situations to face.

And then there's Chapter 2, which is where ambition meets the cold hard cliff-face of reality.

The rest of the adventure doesn't soar, but at least I understand what it is doing and it doesn't take much work to make it run. But Chapter 2? Lots of things that don't work together. Possibly inspiring (I leaned HARD into the faction quests and built them out into something stunning), but it's not great as written.

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is also one of the few hardcovers I've reviewed for this edition - you'll find that review here: 5E Adventure Review – Waterdeep: Dragon Heist - Merric's Musings
 

teitan

Legend
Looking at the top reviews for Candlekeep Mysteries, that Amazon states to be released on March 16th, I see coming up first a review only mentioning the political agenda of the book, posted on March 18th. Same content from the five or so first reviews (both to praise it or to criticize it). While the political agenda is a valid reason to like or dislike a book personally, it might not be the best criterion to evaluation a compilation of adventures centered on Candlekeep, at least for a significant part of the players.

First content-related review complains that the adventure are not mystery adventures, just regular ones for most part, after skimming over the book. Since we don't get information on ratings, and judging by the date of the reviews, I count :

8 in June 2021
12 in the second half of May 2021
18 between April 18th and the first half of May 2021
35 from March 18th to April 17th 2021 (13 of which in the first tenday).


Judging by the reviews, more than half were posted in a schedule that let me suspect the authors at most read the book but didn't even prepare most of the content. Very few probably ran even half the content of the book. If the reviewers were as impulsive as the raters, at most we have a bunch of uninformed people expressing their opinion over the perceived value of the book. Not reallys something useful to inform a purchase decision.

Some of the most interesting opinions and informations about the book :

1.the D&D logo is off-centered (3 stars),
2. a DM was insulted by players because the map he used in VTT was black & white from the book and this wasn't acceptable (man, dump your group...) (2 stars),
3. accusation of the book being bolshevik and marxist propaganda (apparently, Candlekeep advocates for the collectivization of means of production, and we missed that important plot points for decades...) ( 1 star),
3. the book was wet from the rain (1 star)
4. the parent of the 12/15/16 years-old children fondly remembering his own grandmother DMing for him when he was a kid (she must have been far outside the average demographic when she discovered D&D) (5 stars),
5.the book doesn't have enough magic items compared to Tales of the Yawning Portal (3 stars),
6. someone saying his copy arrived in perfect state, but gives only four stars complaing that usually he gets misprints when buying from Amazons (4 stars)
7. someone praising the quick delivery (5 stars)...

Several one-liner reviews are totally contradictory (this is apprently the best setting book because of all the information of Candlekeep AND it's criticized and 1-starred at the same time for not having more than a few pages on Candlekeep. Not having read the book, I have no idea from the reviews which is which.

It's totally possible that raters are much more thoughtful when they give a mark to the products and only reviewers are... off. But I wouldn't bet my money on it and I wouldn't trust the ratings that much, not because they might be "fake" but just because what is being evaluated doesn't align with what I'd look for in the book.
Oh yeah, if you read the reviews of Pathfinder 2nd edition it got review bombed by people who were mad about the politics of the book, lot of people were crowing initially using that Amazon score as evidence that P2 sucks until they read those reviews and it was all politically driven and intended to tank the sales by people mad they did a 2e.
 


teitan

Legend
Dragon Heist chapter 2 is a slog. I was running it and it took FOREVER to get everything set up and it directs for so much to happen in the course of a week timeframe. I added some stuff to keep the interest going so that it didn't feel like a rat hunt or something less interesting. I may try it again sometime though, my wife really wants to play through it and Mad Mage.
 

Reynard

Legend
Dragon Heist doesn't have a Heist. That in itself is enough to dismiss it.

BUT it has a lot of great ideas and if you are an experienced DM you can use it to build a decent adventure.
 

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.
I bought it to be filler for HoTDQ when the party is in Waterdeep. The second half of the adventure, I am assuming that is pretty much going to be their home base.
 

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