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5E How Wotc can improve the adventure books.

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.
That was Mike Mearls back in 3e. Mike even worked for Monte Cook back in the Malhavoc Press days, and one thing that is consistent with Monte Cook products is that there is some intention behind ease of use design decisions.

Neither Mearls nor Crawford made their reputations writing Adventures. Rodney Thompson did everything, but Rodney left WotC.
Gygax, Zeb Cook, and Monte Cook did garner some fandom for Adventures they penned. Likely not a coincidence.
If Gary Gygax did a better job organizing a text than you did, you need to get religion or something.
I would say let's see how the new D&D Brand President takes things.
There was a lack of strong leadership on product identity previously.

Dragon Heist has tons of useful content, it basically is Waterdeep and the North coupled with a lot of the Appendix section from Undermountain. Unfortunately no one decided if they wanted an Adventure or a Gazetteer.

SKT suffers from the same problem

Icewind Dale is an Adventure in my opinion. A 2 page write up on a 50 person village with open ended plot threads isn't a gazetteer entry...it is the essence of the Village of Hommlet.

My suggestion to encourage change....keep a constant stream of POLITE pressure on Crawford, Mearls and D&D Senior Leadership on Twitter, and on all Survey Feedback...requesting permanent staff be hired to just work on Adventures.
Express that color photos and artwork does not equal clear maps or layout, for example.

We should also recognize that personal preference is somewhat unique. I don't use random encounter tables...never have...probably never will.
I don't use Boxed Text....I use my own descriptions.

So when an Adventure lacks either or both of those features, I don't really care at all.
 

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I do wonder, thinking about an earlier post, if this is part of the problem of these adventures being written "by DnD players for DnD players". Like, as useful as having the stats for a goblin in the adventure would be, a DnD player knows not only does the table likely have access to the Monster Manual to look it up, but they also will feel slighted for purchasing something that includes information they already have.

It is an interesting thought
But of course, it can be a pain to have to look it up in a second book and even worse if a fight uses two monsters on seperate pages.

A lot of this can be done by integration of physical books with online aids. You could just make cheat sheets available to download with all the monsters you need on one page. That way you save space in the book and make everyone's life easier.
 

I humbly submit that WotC go back to using the format that all the Dark Sun modules used.

1. Spiral bound GM booklet divvied up into bite sized chunks for all the crunchy scenes.
2. Spiral bound player handout book.
3. Some sort of area map for the players to reference.
4. An extra book of overview, plots, NPC stats, Monsters, Fiction, or other Miscellaneous info
5. A binder to hold everything in and put it on your bookshelf.

I never ran or played in them but LOVED the format. i also enjoyed the 4e modules that had battlemaps included for key encounter areas.
This is basically a Beadle and Grimm Platinum Edition box set. WotC literally gets paid so Someone else can do that for them!
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
This video is a fascinating discussion about adventure writing and covers a lot of the ideas discussed in this thread. The idea of giving the “intent” of each part of the story in order to free DMs from the minutia of a given plot seems quite powerful. And makes me more eager to see how ‘Nazi Dracula Must Die“ is presented. The start is a little wobbly but stick with it because the discussion is very interesting.

 

The writing groups on the WoTC modules plus consultants and such seems to be ever expanding. Many adventures really are starting to feel that they were written by a committee. I think that is one reason why beginnings, middles and ends of the recent adventures appear to be disjointed.

A smaller team would probably be better.
 

I do find it VERY strange how the idea that adventures and modules are "moddable" by those who buy them somehow clears said adventure of all criticism. It seems as if the onus is on the consumer, then, and not the producer to make the content great.

Again, Frostmaiden is a valid adventure. It has flaws, but it works. But it could be better. There seems to be a consistent culture in these threads, though, that doesn't think that WotC SHOULD do better, and that we the consumers should instead be better. That seems backwards to me. Why should I pay $50 for an adventure that does not meet my standards? That's half a $100! That's a lot of money to pay, and I find it a little bit elitist almost when people say "Well just change it!" I already bought it, and now I have to change it?

There's something else too. A lot of people seem to be content telling us that our complaints don't matter, or that they are overblown, or that we are, in everything but name, crazy for wanting some of these changes.

Overall, what I see is a dismissal of new DMs, a dismissal of critics, and a dismissal of ideas, which is very disconcerting :(
I appreciate you saying this
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
So, I have been following this thread and Rime of the Frost maiden one and wondering about what all of the fuss was about. I have just run Princes.. then I realised that I have run using FantasyGrounds where all the story elements are hyperlinked and the same with the maps. So, as a matter of interest, for those people that bought these or other Adventure Paths on DnD Beyond, are the books there hyperlinked?

They are, and it is a huge help at the table for me.
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
A couple of questions then if you please. Do you run at the table with a tablet? and can you customise the encounters in DnD Beyond? Add in your own elements or that type of stuff?

As a DM, I run at the table from a laptop if I’m running one of the official adventures. As a player, from a tablet.

DNDBeyond does have an encounter builder, but I don’t use it because Kobold Fight Club is superior. I do modify encounters all the time, but if you mean can you actually edit or annotate the adventures in DNDBEYOND, the answer is no. I generally use a separate Google doc to do that, along with the rest of my notes.
 

wicked cool

Explorer
best adventures are Starter and Curse and curse is an 80's module just repackaged/remade into a better product

rime is a nice adventure with great elements but needs better organization/streamlining and maybe a better guide

I think they need to contact Matt Mercer and have him turn his critical role campaigns into adventures. We already have his sourcebook which sold well. I wouldn't mind if we went back to a starter sized adventure path and the big books are world building supplements

rime is a lot of work to prepare and its much easier to run other adventures on the fly
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
...If Gary Gygax did a better job organizing a text than you did, you need to get religion.......
Amen. AMEN AMEN. May the fuzzy dice warm you.

Zingggg! This comment nails it. For how many decades there has been for TTRPGs to develop, we should be in a Golden Age of supplements. Instead, in some ways, publishers have regressed. Particularly the bloat of text in adventures. The old school TSR modules were far from perfect, but they were far more concise and often more organized than modern adventures. I wish modern adventure writers would embrace bullet points, outlines, or some other method to organize critical information for the GM and cut out the long winded bloat.
 


HobbitFan

Explorer
This is a good topic, filled with a lot of good points. I wonder if WOTC is aware of any of the common complaints.
I like to think they are trying to improve and make each adventure better than the last but they seem to keep making many of the same mistakes. Which makes me think, they either don't recognize or aren't concerned with the issues.
Some of the issues I see that I'd like changed (in no particular order): 1. stop making the stakes of adventures so big. Adventures can be important on a character level without having to be Realms shatteringly epic. 2. come up with better hooks for introducing characters to the adventure. The justifications given for why people are on the adventures are pretty half-baked in many of the modules, almost as if they were an afterthought. 3. stop making the adventures for the same level range. We basically have a situation here where they assume you are playing one of these modules as a campaign and then moving on. The problem with WOTC trying to write to the sweet spot they identify between 5-10 is that too many of these modules are a similar experience over and over with different details. 4. I recognize the need to make the modules easy to read. However, I think sometimes this makes it hard to use as a DM resource running it. I realize this is a tough balance. 5. Figure out whether the adventure is really an adventure or a sourcebook. Some of these adventures are pulling double-duty it seems. 6. Get out of the Realms. At the very least get away from the Sword Coast. And I say that as a Realms fan. 7. Stop doing Magic tie in books until you have done something else like published a new setting or updated an old one. 8. Come up with a very creative adventure or setting that really wows your audience and steps outside the box. Something like Dark Sun when it first came out. 9. Stop looting the old settings for material and then plugging that down into the Realms. 10. I'm an old school guy going back to OD&D and 1E so I appreciate some revisiting the past but their reprint collections so far are pretty underwhelming and look more like a quick buck for little effort rather than a celebration of the old school modules.

Those are just a few I have been thinking about. There is a final point about the influence of video game design on WOTC adventure design that I think is a conversation worth visiting but I don't have my thoughts quite organized on that front yet.

I hope some of that is of interest,

Monty
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
@HobbitFan lot’s of great points there, though disagree on the M:tG settings. I’m not a Magic player, but I’m appreciating the injection of new life into a game that otherwise seems satisfied to keep churning over old ground.

I think this is a reason why people feel the exploration tier is poorly supported. We’re being asked to explore lands that have been thoroughly picked over by generations of players. Hard to get a sense of wonder from yet another trip through the Sword Coast...
 

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