• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! 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 5E Is it right for WoTC to moralize us in an adventure module?


For one thing, I don't have enough time in my day to prioritize to rewriting published adventures to my satisfaction. Similarly, I also don't want to make precious time to rewrite my thoughts just for you specifically, no offense!

If you wish to reconcile with my POV based on what you've omitted, you can re-read my posts on this thread and what everyone commented on this thread too. If you don't want to do that "homework" that's totally fine, but my intention wasn't to join Enworld to belabor my opinions on people who don't like to hear them.

The way of the world is also that online debates would be productive if more people were mindful of what is actually a productive conversation, and what is just an argument. If your next response seems non-productive to me, I will add a sad face emoji instead of blocking you.
Yep, life is too short for homework. Let’s both save our thumbs the trouble. I’m really happy to hear people opinions. I’ve read most already. There seem to be some inconsistencies in yours.

If you’re too busy to re-write 10% of an adventure to fit your group then you definitely don’t have time to write an entire adventure from scratch.

So the choices would seem to be these.

  • make the 10% changes to fit your preferred style.
  • find a different publisher/writer/supplement that is closer to your style that only requires a 5% re-write (I don’t believe there is anything of substance that comes out pret-a-manger)
  • play a vastly simpler game (maybe 1st or 2nd game) or avoid something like a Heist based supplement that seems to exemplify a more modern gaming style.
  • Play and be unhappy with a style you don’t like.
  • Don’t play.
  • Allocate more time to write from scratch your ideal module.

I think a lot of people who complain about pre-published modules are down on them before they even start. It’s a question of perspective. I say this not just to you but to anyone else reading this who is getting frustrated that modules don’t match their ideal.

[Edit - deleted. Didn’t see the mod comment]
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


1. Adventures that involve any factions should have things that matter to those factions. It does not (usually) mean that the PCs acted "correctly." It means that they acted in accordance with that faction's ideals. The Knights of Solamnia and Andropenis should have very different methods of surrendering to Elminster.

2. DMs that don't want to use them as written should feel free to apply white out until the adventure fits their game. Seriously. Take a big black marker to any published adventure until it looks like a CIA document from the 1950s. Rip out what you don't like. Change what needs changing. The stuff you are exorcising, 100 other DMs are circling in gel pen and drawing little hearts around. We all like different stuff, and authors are not successful if they only appeal to a slim percentage of our hobby.

3. Your title reads like political clickbait. I hope that is unintentional, but I won't comment any further on that.

Judging by the conversation, it seems to. In another thread, @pemerton discusses the difference between design that makes you lean into the fiction versus design that makes you lean into the rules. For me, alignment is the epitome of the latter. Instead of focusing on what makes for a good story and believable character motivations, much of this conversation instead focuses on what counts as "good" or "lawful" or whether gold dragons have to be lawful good, etc.
Yeah, but we don't know if Gold Dragons are involved, and alignment is not actually mentioned in the situation.


Gary Gygax argued that genocide was perfectly acceptable behaviour for a lawful good character, if it was genocide against an evil race. So are you being unfaithful to your alignment?

Gary Gygax will always be loved for bringing D&D to the world, but he hasn't been relavent to a discussion of rules or alignment for a couple decades, at least.


It seems like WOTC can't win. Either they have everything spelled out and people yell "Railroad!" They set up an adventure like this where it's laying out the premise, the actors and their motivations without telling player how to get the result they want and it's lacking.

For what it's worth, this is the kind of module I would write for myself if I ever included this much detail. Usually my prep notes are the equivalent of notes on a used napkin, but what I figure out is locations, motivations, factions an motives. I don't go into detail of how the PCs are going to achieve their goals or exactly how NPCs are going to respond to every eventuality.

So this mod would work, because it's the foundation for a story, not the story spelled out. The story emerges from play and what the PCs decide to do. Of course you can't please everyone.


Moderator Emeritus
Or does a high-quality WoTC adventure exclude or obfuscate these ideas and the DM might have to think hard of coming up with them independently?

The DM doesn't have to come up with any solutions to the problem or conflict, that's the player's job. When I design my own adventures (or more often adapt pre-written material from older editions), I sometimes purposefully keep from thinking of any solutions so that I am more open to what the players come up with. Other times, esp. when something is very complex, I'll include something like "The PC might do X or they might do Y" to serve as a foundation for what will be the inevitable requirement that I improvise on the fly because a big part of D&D is that anything can happen!

I will add the caveat, however, that I don't know how to run an adventure "as written." There are always changes that have to be made, gaps that have to be filled, confusions for which no one online has posted a clarification yet (or that mid-game you don't want to stop to look up). Even the very best and most comprehensive adventure runs into these issues. 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♀️


I'm a little confused. Like are you saying that if I (the DM) rule that 'engaging in genocide of the entire town' instead of 'negotiating a truce with them and living side by side peacefully' is the evil option, I've somehow taken away the agency of my players to engage in that genocide?
If you make it about genocide, it's no longer a moral dilemma is it?

I'm talking about when the 'evil' choice isn't as black and white. When the options are kind of gray.


So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
@Oofta firstly thank you for the tone of your post. I highly appreciate it!
It seems like WOTC can't win. Either they have everything spelled out and people yell "Railroad!" They set up an adventure like this where it's laying out the premise, the actors and their motivations without telling player how to get the result they want and it's lacking.
This I can actually sympathize with! I've noticed this myself.

I did have an academic idea, and I haven't stress-tested it, and it may not be right for your table and not intended to be prescriptive for you, it's just an idea, so please treat it accordingly.

The idea is that in an attempt to appeal to both sides, the optimal 5E WoTC adventure might have settings fluff/crunch with the plot elements side-barred as a suggested story line.

The first counter-argument might be that everything in an adventure module is optional, so there's no legit reason to have the story in a sidebar. I would suggest that this is for presentation purposes and also because humans are not as rational as we claim and it might psychologically be appeasing.

The second counter-argument is that, for a sandbox DM, those suggested story plot sidebars are just taking up valuable page count. Vice versa for the story-oriented DM concerned about too many room descriptions taking up valuable page count.

Another possible compromise is to publish two categories of adventures. Sandbox adventures, like PoA, and story (or rail-roady or whatever is the correct term) adventures, like Light of Xarysis. Just be transparent what adventures are in what category. When folks inevitable complain, at least they know before they buy it what kind of adventure it is.

Again, I've never tried to write an adventure this way, so I don't know how feasible it is. But I feel like that some compromise has to be had. The status quo seems to be that a lot of people just don't like a lot of 5E adventures as is. Some of complaining voices online are quite loud on this, but I don't have actual representative statistics of the wider community, so I cannot defend this point.

Of course you can't please everyone.
Again, very true. I would hazard to suggest this: that if WoTC was trying to come up with the winning formula for a broadly appealing D&D adventure, their target audience is NOT DMs who have tons of time to tweak the adventure, because they're probably going to do it anyway. Instead, their optimal target audience could be DMs who don't have a lot of time and want an adventure they can play out of the box. Again, I don't have data to support this, I only recall something that came out of a WoTC survey about gaming groups wanting to be more efficient with their time, but I don't know if that applies to DMs prep time or just to length of player gaming sessions.


Morkus from Orkus
If they are LG, why didn't they follow legal procedures, send an agent to diplomatically allow access to the prisoner and, say, look we need to talk to your prisoner in order to release the funds to our client? To me, that's lawful good.
Because there is a high probability that they need to free her or do something significant for prisoner 13 in order to get the information. Talking to her like that 1) fails, and 2) alerts the prison that there is outside interest in prisoner 13, and 3) makes prisoner 13 suspicious of anyone in the future coming to "help" her.

Lawful good is not lawful stupid. Doing what you suggest is just dooming themselves to failure.

Remove ads