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5E How Wotc can improve the adventure books.

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I think just putting “Hey DMs, we hope you enjoy reading this adventure because it’s going to be a real pain when you try to run it! ;)” would do the job.

I dunno... I think having a book say "Roleplaying game adventure" already says that by definition.

Because for every adventure where one person thinks "This was the easiest and most useful adventure I've ever run!" there is another person who thinks "What the hell piece of crap was that?" Heck... if we have people right now decrying the Starter Set as not being a worthwhile adventure for new DMs, then there's nothing to be made that is going to satisfy everybody.
 

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Shardstone

Adventurer
I dunno... I think having a book say "Roleplaying game adventure" already says that by definition.

Because for every adventure where one person thinks "This was the easiest and most useful adventure I've ever run!" there is another person who thinks "What the hell piece of crap was that?" Heck... if we have people right now decrying the Starter Set as not being a worthwhile adventure for new DMs, then there's nothing to be made that is going to satisfy everybody.
You're right. All discussion on this is pointless. Lets just never talk about RPGs again since there are differing opinions. Close down Enworld, don't need it because not everybody can be satisfied!:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I dunno... I think having a book say "Roleplaying game adventure" already says that by definition.

Because for every adventure where one person thinks "This was the easiest and most useful adventure I've ever run!" there is another person who thinks "What the hell piece of crap was that?" Heck... if we have people right now decrying the Starter Set as not being a worthwhile adventure for new DMs, then there's nothing to be made that is going to satisfy everybody.
Ha, I resemble that remark and I actually think it would be quite easy to enhance LMoP for new DMs. A few sidebars explaining how a DM might handle the various novel situations that come up. How you might go about foreshadowing (because that is sorely lacking in LMoP) etc. Really it’s no hard to imagine a very helpful set of changes to this otherwise solid (well except for the weak ending) adventure.

I think D&D has conditioned people to expect little. Sure we might be crying into the wind, but there‘s a reasonable chance that an Enworld regular might be hired by WotC and take these cries in. But more likely it will be one of the apologists and nothing will change because no one will think outside of the box.

I mean, come on, could the DMG be more ass-backwards if it tried? Running adventures is the last section of that hefty book? Why on earth?!
 

M_Natas

Explorer
It would help I think if WotC printed on their opening page:

"The cost of an adventure book is not inversely proportional to the amount of work you will need to do to run the adventure for your group. Paying more does not mean you get to do less. That is not how adventure pricing works."
On the one hand, yes, on the other hand - the adventure design they are using now is like the worst possible way to do it in terms of making it easy to use for a dungeon master. And than they are not even consistent with the design choices they make within one and the same book ... like with NPC Stat blocks in Rime of the Frostmaiden: In the Black Swords Quest on page 40, you have the NPC Avarice. The stats for Avarice you can find in appendix c. Then you have the quest Cold-Hearted Killer, which has the NPC Stat Block of Sephek Kaltro directly on page 23.

Some design choices of WotC just give the DM more work to do. Busy work that could be reduced by changing the design and representation of the adventures, without changing the content.

Like in the quest The Unseen on p46 on rime of the forstmaiden. Just put tiny marks on the map where all the Duergar, the Zombie Ogre and the Spore Servants are - it would just make it so much easier. A small design change that would make it for an DM way easier. And put in a statblock for the spore servants. Yes, a DM can make it's own stat block for the spore servants tribal warriors, but that is not creative work. It is just busy work for a DM and the changes to the tribal warrior statblock are substantial enough that WotC could just have put a stat block for them in the book.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
You're right. All discussion on this is pointless. Lets just never talk about RPGs again since there are differing opinions. Close down Enworld, don't need it because not everybody can be satisfied!:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

It's not pointless. It's giving us all something to do with our time. That's why we do it. :)

But we also can't take any of this seriously. And if you do take it seriously, then you might need to recalibrate your ideas on what the purpose of these message boards are here for. Because expecting a company to make actual changes to their products based on what gets written here certainly shouldn't be.
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
It's not pointless. It's giving us all something to do with our time. That's why we do it. :)

But we also can't take any of this seriously. And if you do take it seriously, then you might need to recalibrate your ideas on what the purpose of these message boards are here for. Because expecting a company to make actual changes to their products based on what gets written here certainly shouldn't be.
You read a lot into very little, and make many assumptions that aren't based in fact in order to position yourself into a place of faux-superiority and it is very off-putting. I'm a long time lurker and usually like your posts, but this is very garish of you.

The only people making this conversation "serious" are people like you who keep telling us that we can't have our opinions if they aren't positive.
 

M_Natas

Explorer
I dunno... I think having a book say "Roleplaying game adventure" already says that by definition.

Because for every adventure where one person thinks "This was the easiest and most useful adventure I've ever run!" there is another person who thinks "What the hell piece of crap was that?" Heck... if we have people right now decrying the Starter Set as not being a worthwhile adventure for new DMs, then there's nothing to be made that is going to satisfy everybody.
I'm just saying that lost mines is not ideal for Newbie DMs. I think most people reviewing it are already experiened dungeon masters who can fill in the gaps in that adventures - put somebody who plays D&D for the very first time? A 12 year old kid who gets it as birthday present? They will have a hard time running lost mines. Like, even the last part with Dungeon (the mines) in Lost Mines - how in the world will a Newbie DM describe this dungeons so that the characters will have any chance to navigate trough it? Thats super hard. And there is no help in that module. I would now how to fix it, how to prepare it, but when I started playing D&D such a map would have killed totally the game flow.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I think D&D has conditioned people to expect little. Sure we might be crying into the wind, but there‘s a reasonable chance that an Enworld regular might be hired by WotC and take these cries in.

I suspect your definition of "reasonable chance" and mine are quite a bit different. ;)
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I'm just saying that lost mines is not ideal for Newbie DMs. I think most people reviewing it are already experiened dungeon masters who can fill in the gaps in that adventures
I think of it as a 5e Starter Set not a D&D Starter Set. In other words, it's a great introductory adventure for on-ramping existing D&D players and DMs to the 5e ruleset, but it's not a great introduction to the actual game of D&D, because there is little to no handholding for new DMs and players.

And I think that applies to the core rulebook set too, (see the PHB and DMG, the MM is what it is... ).

It's all written by D&D players for D&D players.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
You read a lot into very little, and make many assumptions that aren't based in fact in order to position yourself into a place of faux-superiority and it is very off-putting. I'm a long time lurker and usually like your posts, but this is very garish of you.

The only people making this conversation "serious" are people like you who keep telling us that we can't have our opinions if they aren't positive.

Heh heh... if you haven't noticed how garish I can often be here on the boards you haven't been reading enough of my posts. ;)

And as far as how serious we're taking this... I'll remind you that you are the one who said on the previous page...

"It will never cease to baffle me how asking for adventures to be better prompts some people to tell you how worthless your opinion and desires are, and how you should feel bad for having them."

Now perhaps feeling like your opinions are worthless and that you feel bad for having them is just all in great fun and you didn't actually mean it and aren't taking it seriously... but that particular phrasing doesn't get that across. But hey! If you aren't taking any of this serious and I'm not taking any of this seriously, then we're all good! :)
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
But we also can't take any of this seriously. And if you do take it seriously, then you might need to recalibrate your ideas on what the purpose of these message boards are here for. Because expecting a company to make actual changes to their products based on what gets written here certainly shouldn't be.
Can we change the direction of the supertanker that is WotC? Probably not, but there are an awful lot of adventure writers on this board publishing on DMs Guild and elsewhere and perhaps these criticisms of WotCs efforts might make them think differently about how they present their adventures, rather than following in WotC's footsteps? Heck perhaps there's a whole untapped opportunity here? The new Paizo or Kobold press about to spring forth... :)
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
Heh heh... if you haven't noticed how garish I can often be here on the boards you haven't been reading enough of my posts. ;)

And as far as how serious we're taking this... I'll remind you that you are the one who said on the previous page...

"It will never cease to baffle me how asking for adventures to be better prompts some people to tell you how worthless your opinion and desires are, and how you should feel bad for having them."

Now perhaps feeling like your opinions are worthless and that you feel bad for having them is just all in great fun and you didn't actually mean it and aren't taking it seriously... but that particular phrasing doesn't get that across. But hey! If you aren't taking any of this serious and I'm not taking any of this seriously, then we're all good! :)
Seems I've been cornered at last...hmmmm...
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
One other thought on this for new DMs.

New DMs have amazing resources at their finger tips, just a google search away. If you're struggling, ignore critical role for an hour or two (I enjoy the show, but it's style is not for everyone and it can set unrealistic expectations) and check out other online tutorials and blogs.

Admittedly that's not perfect either because of information overload and the paradox of choice. Of course you can always post questions here and people will do relate their advice. We're full of it.

But I think that's a whole other topic worth it's own thread. I will just summarize that everybody who DMs was at some point a newbie DM that probably totally f'ed up at least on occasion.
 

Remathilis

Legend
On the one hand, yes, on the other hand - the adventure design they are using now is like the worst possible way to do it in terms of making it easy to use for a dungeon master. And than they are not even consistent with the design choices they make within one and the same book ... like with NPC Stat blocks in Rime of the Frostmaiden: In the Black Swords Quest on page 40, you have the NPC Avarice. The stats for Avarice you can find in appendix c. Then you have the quest Cold-Hearted Killer, which has the NPC Stat Block of Sephek Kaltro directly on page 23.

Some design choices of WotC just give the DM more work to do. Busy work that could be reduced by changing the design and representation of the adventures, without changing the content.

Like in the quest The Unseen on p46 on rime of the forstmaiden. Just put tiny marks on the map where all the Duergar, the Zombie Ogre and the Spore Servants are - it would just make it so much easier. A small design change that would make it for an DM way easier. And put in a statblock for the spore servants. Yes, a DM can make it's own stat block for the spore servants tribal warriors, but that is not creative work. It is just busy work for a DM and the changes to the tribal warrior statblock are substantial enough that WotC could just have put a stat block for them in the book.
Adventure format is a weird negative space: it tries to serve two masters (play reference and narrative) and rarely does it get the mix right. WotC tried the device format which broke useful info over two separate sections of the book, and the current system of a classic narrative reading doesn't have useful info at a glance (lighting or monster position). And as stat blocks have become more dense, where to put them (in text, appendix, MM reference) is a constant battle.

Not to stay WotC couldn't strive to do better, but they really are at a Catch 22 when it comes to layout...
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
Adventure format is a weird negative space: it tries to serve two masters (play reference and narrative) and rarely does it get the mix right. WotC tried the device format which broke useful info over two separate sections of the book, and the current system of a classic narrative reading doesn't have useful info at a glance (lighting or monster position). And as stat blocks have become more dense, where to put them (in text, appendix, MM reference) is a constant battle.

Not to stay WotC couldn't strive to do better, but they really are at a Catch 22 when it comes to layout...
Hmmm OSE, the new edition of In the Odd, Lamentations now forbidden modules, anything by Patrick Stuart or Skerples...I can think of a lot of successful designers who are able to make layout work far better than WotC.

Hell, even Ghosts of Saltmarsh has a better layout, but I still personally think that is the best designed module in all of 5th Edition.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
One other thought on this for new DMs.

New DMs have amazing resources at their finger tips, just a google search away. If you're struggling, ignore critical role for an hour or two (I enjoy the show, but it's style is not for everyone and it can set unrealistic expectations) and check out other online tutorials and blogs.

Admittedly that's not perfect either because of information overload and the paradox of choice. Of course you can always post questions here and people will do relate their advice. We're full of it.

But I think that's a whole other topic worth it's own thread. I will just summarize that everybody who DMs was at some point a newbie DM that probably totally f'ed up at least on occasion.
Odd defense of official D&D products -- they don't need to be good for new users because new users can just go online and read how to use it.

Honestly, though, a lot of hobbies work this way, but many also tend to provide an indication of the skill level necessary to complete the project, or it can be judged pretty quickly from the product. Still, as I managed a hobby store for half a decade, I'd definitely say that the majority of my job was aligning customer wants and skills with projects -- up to an including telling customers directly that they should not spend many 100's of dollars on that because they would be deeply unsatisfied with the result. The number of parents coming in to pick up hobby grade RC, for instance, required quite a lot of expectation management and realignment and usually a different product. I don't see any of this in the WotC products -- no skill level expectations, no expectation management. I think that's not great.

Let me take a brief opportunity to bash on a different product -- one that I happen to love but has issues. And that's the Blades in the Dark rulebook. It's a fantastic read -- it does a great job of telling you what you, as a GM and as a player, need to do to play Blades. It does a good job of expectation management and explanation of how play is supposed to work. But. It's terribly laid out if you want to find a rule. It puts related rules in different locations -- ones that work great when being introduced to the game because it layers them but that's very hard to use when you need to know, for instance, how to advance a crew because it's been a few months of bi-monthly sessions and you don't remember what to do when you make that last crew xp box. Sure, there's really good community made cheat sheets, but, gosh darn it, I'm still disappointed at how challenging it can be to find an occasionally used rule in the book.
 

fearsomepirate

Adventurer
Can we change the direction of the supertanker that is WotC? Probably not, but there are an awful lot of adventure writers on this board publishing on DMs Guild and elsewhere and perhaps these criticisms of WotCs efforts might make them think differently about how they present their adventures, rather than following in WotC's footsteps? Heck perhaps there's a whole untapped opportunity here? The new Paizo or Kobold press about to spring forth... :)

Well, if I get through to anybody, then I just want to bang the drum that first and foremost, your book is a tool. Yes, nice typesetting, engaging text, and attractive art are part of it. But there's a reason actual reference books have copious superscripts, footnotes, insets, and references in the text. Those things make the book easier to use. The experience of your adventure happens at the table, and bad organization and jumbled layout do far more to harm a game than an attractive, color picture of a drow warmaiden that only the DM sees does to help it.

I ran Temple of Elemental Evil in 5e for years, and it's kind of shocking how we've regressed in some ways. I've seen modern adventures that have no readable text for the dungeon rooms, the first paragraph containing far too much compromising information to just be read out loud, meaning I have to scan 3 paragraphs (most of it not useful) to tease an ad-hoc description out. If Gary Gygax did a better job organizing a text than you did, you need to get religion or something. It's really freaking boring read, and there aren't a lot of pictures. But, you know what, the map key is easy to read, and the room descriptions largely are fine. I threw crap together in the Air Node on the fly (party ended up there WAY too early) with the chickenscratch Gygax (or Mentzer?) left for me more easily than I do running some modern WotC adventures with beautiful plates and paragraphs of prose.

I don't know what to say to people who say they can't include references, insets, tables, and the like in order to "have more room for content." This to me is like saying you didn't put seats in the car in order to make more room for the stereo equipment.
 


3. Lost mines. I have only glanced at the adventure. Hmm Hey Old folks. And Middle age (Not that middle age Oofta) folks with kids. For Christmas toss a Lost Mine to you kids. Make them run it with their friends. Make them submit reports to you about how it went. Then we see if Lost mines need a revision.
I gave my nephew the PF starter set, and my buddy's kid the 5E starter set, each were quite older than I was when I starting playing and neither of them ever read the books or played as far as I know. Seemed strange as they were both into Star Wars, LotR and Marvel, but apparently didn't catch or hold their interest.

WOTC will not change because of anything we post here.
Thats too bad, they should listen.
 

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