• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D General How many DMs buy (official) adventures?


I have limited anecdotal evidence. In my AD&D youth, the many DM's I hung around with at school had fistfuls of adventures. I borrowed a couple, and ran them, but thought I knew everything soon after and started making stuff up (I didn't hear the word "homebrew" until much later). That was my contemporary AD&D/2e experience.

3ed represented a reinvigoration of our D&D group. I bought and ran ten or twelve first party modules, and several Dragonlance adventures, before switching to homebrew. The other 3ed DM in my group ran us through much of Return to Temple of EE before that petered out. That's the only official product he bought of that era, to my knowledge. These days he has retreated firmly into AD&D.

I transitioned eagerly to 4E and adored the folder-style adventure products. The adventures varied in quality, but the presentation was incredible. I hoovered them up much as I did with 3ed, buying perhaps 90% of them, and running about half of those. Again, I was the only 4E DM in my group.

Once more I transitioned quickly to 5E and have great admiration (and appreciation) for the restrained release schedule. I've bought about 60% of the published adventures, but run very few of them. I started Out of the Abyss, but after the first chapter it diverted wildly off course and has now turned into the homebrew campaign that dominates our table time. We put it on hold during lockdown, whereupon Yawning Portal and Ghosts of Saltmarsh did heavy duty. I've dipped occasionally into some of the books, and most certainly mined the monsters and items from them via DNDB. It looks like I might be running Strahd this year as well.

I've mentored two other 5E DM's into the hobby in the last few years. One of them simply borrows material off my shelf, which is great as the money spent on those products hasn't gone to waste. The other has bought a couple of books to my knowledge.

log in or register to remove this ad


I've largely run the collection of adventures I've accumulated over the decades, mostly from AD&D and BECMI. I didn't care for the way adventures were written in 3E, so I only have a handful from that era, and I never bought any from 4E. I only have Lost Mines of Phandelver and Ghosts of Saltmarsh for 5E, but I'm planning on buying Vecna: Eve of Ruin when it comes out.


Space Jam Confirmed
Prior to 5E, I made up my own adventures 90% of the time and very rarely used pre-written ones (and can’t remember liking any of the ones I did use.)

In the 5E era, I use pre-written adventures probably 80-85% of the time. I generally find 5E adventures (official and third party) to be vastly superior to 1E-3E adventures (have never played 4E).

In my experience, the majority of DMs create their own adventures rather than use pre-written ones. Most of them do so because they find it easier to make adventures up than to come to grips with and figure out how to run pre-written ones.


Not to mention the fact that WotC continues to write and publish the larger hard cover adventure path books, which would lead one to believe that they sell well enough to continue the practice. If they didn't make enough money they wouldn't keep doing it as often as they do (usually at least one a year).


Not to mention the fact that WotC continues to write and publish the larger hard cover adventure path books, which would lead one to believe that they sell well enough to continue the practice. If they didn't make enough money they wouldn't keep doing it as often as they do (usually at least one a year).
Right. Some portion of the consumer base is buying them (and presumably running them). I'd be curious to know what percentage that is, though. Not that there is any real mechanism for us to know that, but I am sure WotC has some idea.

For my part I almost NEVER used to run premade adventures. I learned to GM with Isle of Dread which was basically a module designed to show you that you didn't need modules to run D&D. However, for the past 5 years or so, since most of my gaming went online, I have found that using fantasy Grounds it is much easier to run with purchased, pre-written adventures. When i run at a physical table, though, it is my usual: not only without a module, but also without much prep.


Mod Squad
Staff member
If there are values you know, post them!

Even if we had the numbers of DMG sales - we don't know how many of those DMGs represent long-term, active GMs. Just like we don't know how many PHB sales end up gathering dust on the shelf, unused.


Some of the store owners who spend time here might have some evidence.

Teos's data would put it at roughly 5 to 1 DMGs to CoSs.

We can also count reviews on Amazon (a flawed approach, I know, but probably better than our wild-ass guesses):

The DMG has 29773 reviews.
Curse of Strahd has 11,021.

That's basically 3 to 1 DMGs to CoSs.

That's just for Curse of Strahd, of course, the most popular one.

Many of the beginning DMs that I've seen start by running an official adventure of some sort, whether a hardcover campaign book, or individual modules like AL ones.
It can take several years to play through a hardcover module, however, so most do not buy many of them.


Moderator Emeritus
Interestingly enough, while I bought adventure for 1E back in the day, I quickly found 2E adventures to not be nearly as good and didn't buy any official adventures until 5E (unless Dungeon Magazine counts, which is where I get at least 50% of the material I adapt for my campaigns).


I own four of the 5e adventure books in hardcover, but some time back when there was a discounted adventure bundle on Fantasy Grounds I picked up all of the WotC releases through Wild Beyond the Witchlight. I mostly use them to grab content to insert into my homebrew campaigns (for example, for my online campaign set in an island archipelago I integrated several of the adventures from Ghosts of Saltmarch, and in another one I used one of the giant complexes from Storm King's Thunder). One of the things I like about using elements from published adventures is that it's easily to find assets online; in many cases the community artists and mapmakers turn out digital content that is superior to what's in the books.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads