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


Before the days of Paizo's adventure paths and the 5E megadventures I'd venture to say that most DMs I ran across had at least 3-5 modules they had bought. I can't say how many had run them start to end, but it did make for showing structure and giving prebuilt encounters you could drop into play.

Nowadays, I see them being bought exclusively to run and not for ideas or collecting. About 3/4 of the DMs I've run across who run 5E buy them (and usually just one before they start designing their own homebrew start to finish), less so for Pathfinder (the latter seem more apt to looking for free content online) - I'd say in the 50% range.

Seeing the numbers above, I'm not surprised though. The official adventures (beyond Yawning Portal) are a big ask - they're not cheap and you're basically slotting about 3-6 months of play to finish them. I've seen very few of the big adventures run to completion before petering out for one reason or another. Out of 7 such games that I know of for 5E, only one completed the entire adventure, for example. Doesn't exactly inspire folks to buy again if their first attempt falls through.

We only completed Strahd and used some anthology ones. Attempted some early ones several time most glorified dust collectors so stopped buying them.

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I don't run the adventures, I only homebrew, but I do read them. I have bought or been given 4 of the hardbacks new. I have bought about twice that many books on the used market however, which won't show up in their sales numbers. There were some fine individual adventures in Radiant Citadel, and Call of the Netherdeep is an extremely well written recent-ish campaign book. I show up in WotCs stats primarily in Rulebooks, PHB, DMG, Xanathars, Tascha's etc... but I end up reading / owning most things secondhand.


For example, the DMG has total to-date retail sales (RTD Sales) of 823,116. Compared to that, the top five adventures have much lower RTD Sales coming in at...
  • Curse of Strahd 147,244
  • Waterdeep: Dragon Heist 120,884
  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen 110,678
  • Yawning Portal 108,961
  • Ghosts of Saltmarsh 93,905
Just to be clear, as Teos noted in their articles, those sales numbers are not total sales. Those sales are just a known portion of them from specific retailers (which do not include FLGS type stores). Now I don't know if that would skew the relative numbers (I doubt it), but I just wanted to clear.
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