D&D 5E My #1 hope for D&D Next

Iosue

Legend
I'm afraid I tend to give Amazon reviews of D&D material about the same weight as the photons used to display them on my screen. That is, almost none.
Certainly, they don't have any more or less validity than forum polls. OTOH, in the aggregate they can show general reaction to a work, and from a wider sample than forum polls or posts.

The problem is that describing at as "a largely linear string of battles" is pretty accurate, and it's also an example of bad adventure design.
I have to disagree with this. Adventures, like games and playstyles, aren't generally by design good or bad, only good or bad for a particular group. Of course an adventure can be written badly, as in the case of the The Forest Oracle, but I don't think KotS falls under that rubric. It may be too linear for some folks, it may be too combat heavy for some folks. But I think there's an audience for that kind of adventure.

This is true, and it's also a weakness in adventure design - that too often we have a whole lot of dressing around an adventure that is really "murder hobos go door-to-door peddling a swift death".
But I do not think that is a fair characterization of the style of play that KotS is designed for. KotS sets up a Good vs. Evil story. It provides PCs with motivations to progress through the dungeon that of are a higher order than "murder hobos going door to door peddling a swift death". If you had a Keep on the Borderlands set-up -- here's a keep, here are caves of monsters, go out and be somebody -- and you had the Keep on the Shadowfell dungeon, that'd be what you are describing. But 4e does not provide XP for GP, and the KotS set-up is not nearly so sandboxy. The adventure provides an overwhelmingly good reason to clear out the dungeon --evil cultists threatening the town along with a number of plot hooks both personal and general, and the game is set-up around XP for clearing Encounters and Quests. It's classic Paladins & Princesses play, and I think it's appealing to a lot of folks.

I'm personally with you in that I like adventures to provide lots of options for players so that they can make their own story, and by that standard, KotS is not written for that sort of play. But I do think there is a sizable audience out there for the kind of play it does offer: clear goals, clear villains, and the opportunity for heroic action.
 

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delericho

Legend
I don't agree that they were quite on the right track with the Red Box 4E.

That product had too many shortcomings for my tastes: not enough levels, you could only create a character by running through the same adventure again, not enough options, and limited replayability. How many people actually played that Red Box adventure more than a week or a month?

As I said elsewhere, it is my opinion that the 4e Red Box is a pretty awful product, for many of the reasons you give. However, it had a specific purpose: to get new people trying the game. And, according to Mearls' comments on the topic, by all accounts it was actually successful in that aim. Bad product or not, it did what it was supposed to do.

(And, as I also said elsewhere, I'm far from convinced the 4e Red Box is actually any worse at converting people who try the game into full-blown gamers than the 80's Red Box I started with - I expect that even in the days of the full-blown D&D fan, many if not most people tried it a couple of times and then threw the box into a closet, never to be looked at again.)

Certainly, they don't have any more or less validity than forum polls. OTOH, in the aggregate they can show general reaction to a work, and from a wider sample than forum polls or posts.

Sure, but you'd need a far larger number of posts to convince me, especially in light of the Edition Wars surrounding 4e. As noted, far too many people had an agenda (for or against 4e) for me not to question those reviews.

I have to disagree with this. Adventures, like games and playstyles, aren't generally by design good or bad, only good or bad for a particular group. Of course an adventure can be written badly, as in the case of the The Forest Oracle, but I don't think KotS falls under that rubric. It may be too linear for some folks, it may be too combat heavy for some folks. But I think there's an audience for that kind of adventure.

And, in turn, I disagree. I believe there is such a thing as good and bad design, in adventures as anything else, and that that is independent of whether a particular group happens to have a good time with a particular adventure. If a group happens not to see any of the flaws in a given adventure, does that mean those flaws aren't there? Surely not!

This post, by Mercurius, says it far better than I - see his comparison of "Pliny the Elder" vs Budweiser - as he says, there's nothing wrong with liking Bud, nor even of preferring Bud to the alternative. But that doesn't mean that Bud is the better beer.

The adventure provides an overwhelmingly good reason to clear out the dungeon --evil cultists threatening the town along with a number of plot hooks both personal and general, and the game is set-up around XP for clearing Encounters and Quests. It's classic Paladins & Princesses play, and I think it's appealing to a lot of folks.

It's a whole lot of words, around what boils down to: here's a dungeon; go kill everything.

Suppose the PCs decide that, instead of killing everything, they'll instead go up there and convert the cultists back to Good. What support does KotS provide for that?

Suppose they decide to sneak in, find the cult leaders, kill them, and thus disperse the cult. What support does KotS provide for that?

Suppose they decide to disguise themselves as cultists, infiltrate the cult, and deal with them that way. What support does KotS provide for that?

In fact, what support does it provide for any approach that doesn't, ultimately, involve killing the bad guys?

Now, in fairness, KotS is very far from being the only offender in this regard. In fact, it's probably the norm amongst adventures. And that's okay - it makes for a competent, functional adventure. But I believe there can be better - if we're talking about good adventures, then I want more than competent and functional.
 

MJS

First Post
I don't agree that they were quite on the right track with the Red Box 4E.

That product had too many shortcomings for my tastes: not enough levels, you could only create a character by running through the same adventure again, not enough options, and limited replayability. How many people actually played that Red Box adventure more than a week or a month? I'm sure we cannot know, but it seems unlikely to me that many would; instead, I would expect most users to need to go on to other products in order to continue playing the same game, and this means to me that it wasn't really a basic game.

On the positive side, there were further adventures you could download on the wizards.com site; but that's still acquiring additional products to play the same game.
I never purchased the 4E Red Box, nor anything 4E after sitting down with its PHB and giving it a read.

What I mean is, Basic D&D in a box, with other games (not on RPG shelves) is the right track for expanding the hobby, and is something curiously absent from the end of BECMI all the way to 4E!
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
What I mean is, Basic D&D in a box, with other games (not on RPG shelves) is the right track for expanding the hobby, and is something curiously absent from the end of BECMI all the way to 4E!

I cannot agree with this strongly enough. I do not recall making many D&D purchases at toy retailers (Waldenbooks, unless my memory fails), but I /definitely/ bought nearly half my entire Star Frontiers collection from the local K-B Toys. As I've said before in other threads, I have great hope for this D&D KRE-O thing. I hope it signals a change in direction from the WotC/Hasbro interface, and I hope thirtysomething LEGO-geek AD&D2 grognards are not the only kids buying those sets.

(Although it is worth noting that I once found the D&D3 starter box at Toys R Us -- long after the launch of D&D4.)
 

MJS

First Post
I cannot agree with this strongly enough. I do not recall making many D&D purchases at toy retailers (Waldenbooks, unless my memory fails), but I /definitely/ bought nearly half my entire Star Frontiers collection from the local K-B Toys. As I've said before in other threads, I have great hope for this D&D KRE-O thing. I hope it signals a change in direction from the WotC/Hasbro interface, and I hope thirtysomething LEGO-geek AD&D2 grognards are not the only kids buying those sets.

(Although it is worth noting that I once found the D&D3 starter box at Toys R Us -- long after the launch of D&D4.)
Ah, I didn't know there was a 3.x Basic box.
I wonder if the RPG genre itself isn't a stumbling block. I see a D&D board game next to Monopoly in Barnes&Noble, prominently in the middle of the store. The RPG is on the very bottom of a geek shelf near the bathroom.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
Ah, I didn't know there was a 3.x Basic box. < snip >

There were at least 3 such sets.
I have two of them: the 3.0E "Adventure Game," and the 3.5E "Basic Game" with the young black dragon mini. (There was also a later version of the 3.5E "Basic Game" with a blue dragon mini.)
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
There were at least 3 such sets.
I have two of them: the 3.0E "Adventure Game," and the 3.5E "Basic Game" with the young black dragon mini. (There was also a later version of the 3.5E "Basic Game" with a blue dragon mini.)

I bought them for the minis. Actually, it was a really cheap way to get minis and more dice. :)
 

MJS

First Post
There were at least 3 such sets.
I have two of them: the 3.0E "Adventure Game," and the 3.5E "Basic Game" with the young black dragon mini. (There was also a later version of the 3.5E "Basic Game" with a blue dragon mini.)
very interesting, maybe I'll hunt down one of those at some point. I wonder if 3.x is (was) presentable as a Basic D&D, and what the quality of writing was.
(All threads reduce to edition war in x posts....)
But seriously, preferences aside, crunchy systems are not likely to attract non-hobbyists. 5E probably has the best chance of being presented in a true B/X kind of way. Dice, yes. Minis, hell no.
 

delericho

Legend
very interesting, maybe I'll hunt down one of those at some point. I wonder if 3.x is (was) presentable as a Basic D&D, and what the quality of writing was.

The "Adventure Begins" set was really quite poor, but it was also dirt cheap, and probably (just barely) worthwhile just for the 'extras'. I don't have either of the other two.

However, my understanding is that "Beginner Boxes" in general are generally poor - most experienced designers don't want to work on them, because they'd rather work on the cutting edge (however that is defined), and because they're low-prestige items. Which means they get passed on to lesser talents, or they're produced by people who don't want to work on them - either way, this is seldom a recipe for success.

(The B/X and BECMI Red Boxes, and also the Pathfinder box, appear to be shining exceptions to the above. So it can be done. But I think the key there is that they happened to have one of the "premier league" designers both working on, and enthusiastic about, the task.)

But seriously, preferences aside, crunchy systems are not likely to attract non-hobbyists.

Interestingly, WotC's market research before they did 3e suggests the opposite - that new players actually thrive on crunchy systems that handle a lot of stuff for them, and have difficulties grokking a system that leaves more open to DM fiat. Whether that remains true, and whether it holds both for introducing the game and retaining new gamers is not clear.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Just in case Wizards is watching this thread, I do need to pop in and state categorically that boxed sets do not open from the top like a box of cereal. Stop doing this. Thank you.
 

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