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D&D General How do you know an adventure is "good" just from reading it?


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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Ah yes, then your perception of your GM's workload matched mine as I read through it...


Totally. War for the Crown I think would be very rewarding, if I was able to put in the work. Maybe after Tomb of A finishes. But since we play once every 3-4 weeks, I don't expect that until 2027...
Oh and also, forgot to mention, I wouldn't run War for the Crown in PF1, but in probably 5e or some independent NSR/OSR system that was great for social encounters (does not yet exist imho). So there would be the conversion work as well...
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Oh and also, forgot to mention, I wouldn't run War for the Crown in PF1, but in probably 5e or some independent NSR/OSR system that was great for social encounters (does not yet exist imho). So there would be the conversion work as well...
For my money id keep it in PF1 over 5E. Mainly because so far I think this AP makes great use of the skill system, which I think is awful in 5E. That said, I think converting the encounters would be pretty easy.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, without wading through all the posts in this thread, I'd like to take a stab at the question posed by @Eyes of Nine ...

When I read an adventure, I can't tell if it will be good. Seriously. As Mike Tyson once said (echoing an older saying), "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

Packaged adventures (modules, APs, etc.) are a lot like that. The fun in D&D (and this is a D&D thread) is that players are unpredictable. An adventure that is absolutely great for one set of players can be mediocre or so-so for another set of players. To give you a good example, I have run Pharaoh (I3) more times than I can count. For various reasons, it is generally a good adventure, despite the railroad-y beginning. And yet, there have been groups that it just didn't work for, no matter how well I tried to adjust to their shenanigans. It happens. Sometimes it's because the players just managed to breeze through it due to a combination of luck and inspired choices, other times it's because they pretty much wandered off and did their own thing. Eh....

But I am hard-pressed to think of any adventure, no matter how good, that I've run multiple times that always produced a similar playthrough.

That said, while I can't tell if an adventure is going to be good (only the players can determine that), I can usually tell if an adventure is going to be bad. Adventurers that require too much railroading (as opposed to "buy in"), or adventures that rely on deus ex machina, or adventures that have powerful NPCs regularly "help" the PCs ... those usually produce undesirable results. IME.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I agree that RPGs are organic experiences very much dependent on the participants. And I agree that because the play of a module is highly dependent on the competence of the DM and the way they use it, judging the merits of a module is tougher than judging a finished work like a TV or movie.

But I don't think it's impossible, by any means. Clear presentation of data and easy reference of information, maps and keys which agree and are easy to understand, descriptions which have evocative detail and put a clear picture in your mind... All these are qualities of a good module and failures in these areas will normally make any module harder to use and less interesting.

I'm speaking from my own personal experiences. I'll agree that some modules are so poorly done that after reading even a portion it's clear that its terrible. But in the event that an adventure checks all the boxes that would lead one to believe that its good it could still end up a train wreck. The few times that I have run or played the same adventure twice the outcomes were very different.

I'll add: Sometimes the adventure IS crap, but you fluke out and run it just right and your players do all the right things to make it awesome. Unfortunately, sometimes the adventure is quite good but you flub giving the right information at the right time to the right players and they don't engage with it (or sometimes you do fine but they don't engage with it through some fault of their own).

Right. The experience at the table is dependent on the players and DM. A published module or scenario is a tool, but the participants have to put it to use and will ultimately determine whether a given session, adventure, or campaign is fun or not.

I do think that there are criteria (and I think, for example, that Bryce at tenfootpole.org has identified some) for judging modules as tools. Ways to evaluate them and judge whether they will be easier or harder to use, whether they will be more or less likely to add to your fun rather than just writing something yourself from scratch.

Some elements are necessarily subjective- if a module gets YOU the DM excited to run it, presents situations and interactions and set pieces and villains which fire your imagination and put vivid pictures in your head so you can convey those to the players, that's awesome! But what fires your imagination and what fires mine may be different. But like judging good writing or acting or cinematography, just because what appeals to different people varies, doesn't mean it's impossible to identify good adventure prose. I agree with Bryce that I want it to be short but contain vivid descriptive detail. I want it to conjure images in my head but not take a ton of verbiage to do it. And that's one criterion I use to judge module quality.
 

I don't own or have played the Dragon Queen adventures. Sometimes I am tempted to get the combined reissue but I donknow if it is sufficiently "fixed."
It is not "fixed" - by a long-shot.
But for DMs who enjoy the research, tying into lore, using the myriad online ideas (which now exist for this AP) and even combining it with other published material (official or otherwise) - you will not go wrong. There are so many ideas out there. Is it work? Yes. But is it fun work.

We're about 10-12 sessions from wrapping up our ToD-SKT mashup storyline. It has been a good 7 years. ;)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It is not "fixed" - by a long-shot.
But for DMs who enjoy the research, tying into lore, using the myriad online ideas (which now exist for this AP) and even combining it with other published material (official or otherwise) - you will not go wrong. There are so many ideas out there. Is it work? Yes. But is it fun work.

We're about 10-12 sessions from wrapping up our ToD-SKT mashup storyline. It has been a good 7 years. ;)
Mashing those two together makes a lot of sense, sounds better than either in their own.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Right. The experience at the table is dependent on the players and DM. A published module or scenario is a tool, but the participants have to put it to use and will ultimately determine whether a given session, adventure, or campaign is fun or not.
I think that as people play together over time, organically games are fun regardless of the adventure. The group just gels.
Ways to evaluate them and judge whether they will be easier or harder to use, whether they will be more or less likely to add to your fun rather than just writing something yourself from scratch.
Not to say that I don't run modules but majority of the time I write my own, mostly because now they are campaigns and not ones that take a few sessions to run. It allows me to keep the details as light or extensive as I want, remember things I wrote over trying to remember what someone else wrote. Those 16-64 page adventures from editions past were way better in my opinion then the 256 page mega adventures WotC is putting out now. I know there's anthology's but having them in a book with 10 other adventures just makes it hard for me to run in that format.
Some elements are necessarily subjective- if a module gets YOU the DM excited to run it, presents situations and interactions and set pieces and villains which fire your imagination and put vivid pictures in your head so you can convey those to the players, that's awesome!
I've always looked at it this way. Unless a module is utter trash and I decide not to run it, if I take the time to read an adventure and its mediocre, I'll still run it because it's usually salvageable. If not, then the group usually diverts and goes off in an unexpected direction and we make our own fun.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Not to say that I don't run modules but majority of the time I write my own, mostly because now they are campaigns and not ones that take a few sessions to run. It allows me to keep the details as light or extensive as I want, remember things I wrote over trying to remember what someone else wrote. Those 16-64 page adventures from editions past were way better in my opinion then the 256 page mega adventures WotC is putting out now. I know there's anthology's but having them in a book with 10 other adventures just makes it hard for me to run in that format.
I was just looking at Paizo's site and they have 48 modules of the non-adventure path type for PF1. I don't know if they make them for PF2. They also have hundreds of PF society scenarios which are made for a 3-4 hour window. They do vary in quality, but you could easily nabs these and run a west marches game. Grandpappy's game modules are still out there, they just are not prominently featured like the APs are.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Not to say that I don't run modules but majority of the time I write my own, mostly because now they are campaigns and not ones that take a few sessions to run. It allows me to keep the details as light or extensive as I want, remember things I wrote over trying to remember what someone else wrote. Those 16-64 page adventures from editions past were way better in my opinion then the 256 page mega adventures WotC is putting out now. I know there's anthology's but having them in a book with 10 other adventures just makes it hard for me to run in that format.
All of the WotC "campaigns" are actually pretty easy to break down into classic Modules: usually each Chapter is a unit that can be separated with very little work, and is structured like an 80's or 90's short book. I can see the big book being unwieldy at the table, but I suppose a lot of people use Beyond for that reason.
 

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