D&D 5E Nominate Today's Top Adventures for Use in 5E


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Parmandur

Book-Friend
The thing is that although it's fairly basic, it's implemented very well - there are opportunities to highlight all three pillars of the game, there are multiple paths through all the dungeons, there's a good mix of challenges, and so on.

And it's unfortunately quite telling how many published adventures don't do all those basics at all well. An awful lot of them have a bunch of cool ideas put together and have the potential for greatness... only to fall agonisingly short.

For instance "Storm King's Thunder" has a great concept. But it has the big problem that for a huge part of the campaign the PCs are just wandering around the region with no real ties to the plot - it's not until the Exposition NPC shows up at level 7 that they get to know why.

Or there's the "mystery you can't solve" problem - in order to achieve something necessary to the plot, the PCs have to perform some action that is simply impossible to them. I actually ran into this in "Curse of Strahd" (which is otherwise far and away the best of the storyline books) - the PCs needed to cast greater restoration, but the party included no Cleric or Druid (and the Bard didn't know it).
Usually the weakness is the overarching storyline, which is usually pretty sketchy. The component modules are usually strong, and can be removed easily enough. The overarching plots are usually not ready to go, in my opinion, and need some customization work to get going, particularly with integrating PCs into it.
 

delericho

Legend
Usually the weakness is the overarching storyline, which is usually pretty sketchy. The component modules are usually strong, and can be removed easily enough. The overarching plots are usually not ready to go, in my opinion, and need some customization work to get going, particularly with integrating PCs into it.
There's a lot of truth in that. Personally, if I'm buying one of WotC's "campaign in a book" books, it's because I want a campaign in a book. So if the overarching story falls down, that's a big minus IMO - I'm much less interested in the ability to pull out components. YMMV, of course.

That said, that "mystery you can't solve" problem from "Curse of Strahd" occurred when I'd done exactly that, pulled out a component. (I don't claim to be completely consistent. :) )
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
There's a lot of truth in that. Personally, if I'm buying one of WotC's "campaign in a book" books, it's because I want a campaign in a book. So if the overarching story falls down, that's a big minus IMO - I'm much less interested in the ability to pull out components. YMMV, of course.

That said, that "mystery you can't solve" problem from "Curse of Strahd" occurred when I'd done exactly that, pulled out a component. (I don't claim to be completely consistent. :) )
Well, that may be the fault of their marketing. Really, they are themed "Dungeon Annual" collections of individual modules with a pretty thin veneer of connection. Enough to be used, frabkly: I managed to run Hoard of teh Dragon Queen without prep, so any of them can work, I'm sure. But some extra preparation is probably ideal tonreally get them across the line.
 


Personally, if I'm buying one of WotC's "campaign in a book" books, it's because I want a campaign in a book. So if the overarching story falls down, that's a big minus IMO - I'm much less interested in the ability to pull out components. YMMV, of course.
This is why I stopped buying WotC APs/campaigns. None of them are actual APs/campaigns. They range from being like 50% to 90% of one.

Whereas plenty of 3PPs will sell your APs/campaigns that are more like 100% to 150% of what you'll need.

Personally for 5E, I'm just going to nominate one:

Odyssey of the Dragonlords - A 3PP campaign some famous Bioware people, with a Ancient Greece-themed setting but done in an interesting and complex way rather than as a straight adaptation. I guess it seemed obviously good to WotC because WotC immediately hired all the people who made it and gave them their own AAA CRPG studio - Archetype Entertainment.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
My personal favorite module is The Last Breaths of Ashenport by Ari Marmell that was published twice... first in the Dungeon 152 newsstand magazine for 3E, then again in the online Dungeon 156 during 4E. It's a C'thulu-esque, mind-control, Dagon, cultist adventure with a strong time table and interesting locations in a seaside town. I've run it several times (usually in conjunction with a number of the 5E Adventurer's League adventures in Phlan) and find it to be a lot of fun-- both for me and for the players.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
This is why I stopped buying WotC APs/campaigns. None of them are actual APs/campaigns. They range from being like 50% to 90% of one.

Whereas plenty of 3PPs will sell your APs/campaigns that are more like 100% to 150% of what you'll need.

Personally for 5E, I'm just going to nominate one:

Odyssey of the Dragonlords - A 3PP campaign some famous Bioware people, with a Ancient Greece-themed setting but done in an interesting and complex way rather than as a straight adaptation. I guess it seemed obviously good to WotC because WotC immediately hired all the people who made it and gave them their own AAA CRPG studio - Archetype Entertainment.
Plays nice with Theros, too.

I keep buying them, but I'm interested in them as raw material to take apart and reassemble with other and original material to create Frankenstein monster campaigns.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'm terrible at picking favourites because I like bits of everything and all of nothing.

I would agree that both Dragon Heist and Tyranny of Dragons are significantly better than the flack they get, but I don't know if they'd deserve to be on a best list. Bits of them, maybe.

I've run Scourge of the Sword Coast many times. I love it, but I don't like it's follow up Dead In Thay (I always thought that it was a shame that they chose DIT for Yawning Portal and not SotSC - though I assume it was to fill in level gaps.) So, yeah Scourge would be on my list.

I wish I had time to run more Paizo APs. I don't like Pathfinder much, but I've always admired a Paizo adventure. Never run them, though.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm terrible at picking favourites because I like bits of everything and all of nothing.

I would agree that both Dragon Heist and Tyranny of Dragons are significantly better than the flack they get, but I don't know if they'd deserve to be on a best list. Bits of them, maybe.

I've run Scourge of the Sword Coast many times. I love it, but I don't like it's follow up Dead In Thay (I always thought that it was a shame that they chose DIT for Yawning Portal and not SotSC - though I assume it was to fill in level gaps.) So, yeah Scourge would be on my list.

I wish I had time to run more Paizo APs. I don't like Pathfinder much, but I've always admired a Paizo adventure. Never run them, though.
Comparing the big compilation books of today directly to old modules is problematic, because people rarely take apart the compilations and judge the chapters as discrete modules the way that the old paperbacks are obviously set up to do.
 

Plays nice with Theros, too.
I wouldn't quite say so myself, because both are well-made and distinct settings (Theros being one of WotC's better efforts). You could probably make an interesting mash-up of both but you'd need to sort of roll Theros' history back to the end of the Age of Trax, and make the "heroes" who fought the minotaurs to essentially be colonialist invaders, and group the minotaurs with other races. The nature/civilization conflict works with that to some degree. You'd also need to rework the gods, who in Theros are both less powerful and more embodied. It would be like an AU of Theros where things went very differently from that point.

Finally you'd need to pick whether you went with WotC or OotDL Satyrs and Minotaurs, and how you positioned the other OotDL races in the Theros setting. Additionally, you probably couldn't stack the "Heroic Origins" (or whatever they're called) of OotDL with the Supernatural Gifts of Theros unless you wanted some really strong low-level characters (which might actually be fine), and to fit the adventure/campaign you'd want the Heroic Origins.

Overall it would be a very significant amount of work, more than say, adapting Kingmaker from Golarion to the Forgotten Realms even. Maybe slightly less than adapting a War of the Lance campaign to the FR though.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Here is a discussion where we hit this before: D&D 5E - Best 5E Adventure Paths?

I'm playing Odyssey of the Dragonlords right now. It is not close to my top 5. While not bad, it is the supplemental subclasses and 'cookie cuter' side stories / epic paths that hold it back. There are balance issues. For example, at 1st level, the PCs face a monster that does an attack at +8 for 5d6+5 damage on an attack - which is enough to one shot perma kill many PCs - and any PC on a high damage roll. That attack also comes with a rider that the creature must succeed on a strength saving throw or be knocked prone.... which seems to show they had no idea of balance given that the PCs would not be expected to stay up after a hit for 20+ damage at level 1 (outside a raging barbarian). It also has Legendary Resistances. And it moves fast. The storyline is fun, but the adventure also assumes the players are idiots and does not seem prepared for the PCs to figure out some things early, and assumes that PCs will not die and be replaced.

Honorable mention to the OG Dragonlance adventures. They do not hold up in the same way that an 80s TV series would not hold up today, but they set the stage for all future series.

My Top 5 (I can't pick an order):

Rise of the Runelords
Rappan Athuk
Shackled City
Age of Worms
The Sunless Citadel Adventure series
(The Sunless CitadelThe Forge of FuryThe Speaker in DreamsThe Standing StoneHeart of Nightfang SpireDeep HorizonLord of the Iron FortressBastion of Broken Souls) - It doesn't end as stromng as it starts, but I really like the start. There isn't really a strong throughline, either, but I've enjoyed the adventure paths overall.

I am not a huge fan of Curse or any of the WotC adventure paths. If I were to run an adventure path in 5E using a WotC product, I think I'd give the new Critical Role adventure path a try ... but that is unlikely.
 

TheSword

Legend
Here is a discussion where we hit this before: D&D 5E - Best 5E Adventure Paths?

I'm playing Odyssey of the Dragonlords right now. It is not close to my top 5. While not bad, it is the supplemental subclasses and 'cookie cuter' side stories / epic paths that hold it back. There are balance issues. For example, at 1st level, the PCs face a monster that does an attack at +8 for 5d6+5 damage on an attack - which is enough to one shot perma kill many PCs - and any PC on a high damage roll. That attack also comes with a rider that the creature must succeed on a strength saving throw or be knocked prone.... which seems to show they had no idea of balance given that the PCs would not be expected to stay up after a hit for 20+ damage at level 1 (outside a raging barbarian). It also has Legendary Resistances. And it moves fast. The storyline is fun, but the adventure also assumes the players are idiots and does not seem prepared for the PCs to figure out some things early, and assumes that PCs will not die and be replaced.
Are you DMing this or playing in it?

The great boar is a single creature, with a single attack? The 5d6+5 is only on a charge and if it tries to do it more than once its taking a load of AOO. Sure it is enough to bring a PC down to 0hp if its attack hits but they arent dead. Just badly injured and potential dying. You're also ignoring the opportunities to prepare and lay traps. I actually found the encounter very easy and had to dramatically increase its Hp.

I am amazed you think the subclasses are bad, they seemed extremely well themed and fun. The epic paths also were a great too for tying the party into the main quest. We have lost PCs and they have been replaced. What makes you think this isn't a possibility?
 

delericho

Legend
Well, that may be the fault of their marketing.

Aye, maybe. Certainly, I know WotC are deliberately trying to increase, rather than reduce, the modularity.

But my view is that I'll rate things according to what they claim to be - if they sell me "an adventure for levels 5-10", I'll view that differently from an anthology of adventures. (Or, in the case of SKT, a region guide.) The other wrinkle to that, though, is that I'm not in the market for an anthology, whereas I am potentially in for a "campaign in a book".

Whereas plenty of 3PPs will sell your APs/campaigns that are more like 100% to 150% of what you'll need.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords - A 3PP campaign some famous Bioware people, with a Ancient Greece-themed setting but done in an interesting and complex way rather than as a straight adaptation. I guess it seemed obviously good to WotC because WotC immediately hired all the people who made it and gave them their own AAA CRPG studio - Archetype Entertainment.
One thing I really wish we had is a really solid guide as to what's good on DM's Guild (and elsewhere). There's just too much out there for me to go searching, so a single go-to location would be good.

But the really big problems with that are twofold: there's no real consensus on what makes for a quality adventure (meaning that the reviewer's view may well not match my own), and I've become really sceptical of reviews in general. :(
 


Sure, but if even this crowd isn’t playing 3rd party adventures, who is?
Well, I don't know the numbers... But 1%? I mean how many copies has something like Dragon Heist or Strahd sold? (Numbers are out there somewhere right?) And we know the market for most 3PP, even stuff like Kobold Press and Frog God, are pretty small. So yea, not the level of exposure.
I find I'm having trouble ranking smaller 5E adventures (1-3 sessions) that I've run - of which almost all the best are 3rd party - up against campaign-length 5E adventures that I've run, all of which are WotC. Feels like apples and oranges to me in terms of what the products are trying to do.
Suggest them separately :)
 

GuyBoy

Hero
Haven’t yet put it through the true test of running it, but I’ve bought and read the Scarlet Citadel by Kobold Press and it looks like a great old style dungeon crawl ( which I appreciate isn’t for everyone) and gives me vibes of Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
 

Retreater

Legend
Re: complaints we're only suggesting official adventures
In the original Top 30, aren't there only two 3PP adventures on there? It seems truer to the spirit of the original list to stick with official content with the exception of truly exemplary 3PP products.
I consider myself a fairly well-read DM, and I own a good deal of 3PP content (probably more than I do official 5e stuff). While some of it is pretty good, they don't stack up with the very best of the official content.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Well, I don't know the numbers... But 1%? I mean how many copies has something like Dragon Heist or Strahd sold? (Numbers are out there somewhere right?) And we know the market for most 3PP, even stuff like Kobold Press and Frog God, are pretty small. So yea, not the level of exposure.

Suggest them separately :)
No solid numbers that I've ever seen, but some of these Adventures have been in print longer than many entire Editions of D&D: Curse of Strahd is 6 years old, and still getting new printings.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Are you DMing this or playing in it?
Playing.
The great boar is a single creature, with a single attack? The 5d6+5 is only on a charge and if it tries to do it more than once its taking a load of AOO. Sure it is enough to bring a PC down to 0hp if its attack hits but they arent dead. Just badly injured and potential dying.
5d6+5 is 22.5 damage on average. That means if you have 11 hp or less, you'll flat out die more than half the time ... and even if you have 12 or 13 hps, a slightly high roll will do it.
You're also ignoring the opportunities to prepare and lay traps. I actually found the encounter very easy and had to dramatically increase its Hp.
PCs may consider this as an approach. However, people are playing first level PCs at the start of a campaign and may not be taking the warning signs that this - which can be the first combat of the campaign (it was for us) seriously enough.
I am amazed you think the subclasses are bad, they seemed extremely well themed and fun.
That is not the problem with them - they're badly balanced and mechanically poorly designed. The paladin gets the following spells: Hunter's Mark, Find Familiar, Fly, and Haste. That is a really strong set of spells. Then they get a 60 foot frighten with a set DC of 14 at a low level (3rd). They're evocative (some perhaps too much - The Amazon is a bit too Wonder Woman), but the balance is just off.
The epic paths also were a great too for tying the party into the main quest. We have lost PCs and they have been replaced. What makes you think this isn't a possibility?
The Epic Quests are laid out, so I do not considerf this too spoilery - they start storylines that players engage in and then the storylines dry up if the PC is not there to complete them. That isn't too bad. However, if the PCs bring in a new PC late in the game, there are story elements that were to have taken place for their epic destiny that may no longer make sense because NPCs that were involved in that storyline are no longer in the same situation. Yes, you can awkwardly modify them, but - awkwardly. And a lot of these Epic Destinies feel like side quests in old MMORPGs - but ones that just happen along the storyline of the main game. You get them because they fall in your lap.

YMMV, but it doesn't get top marks from me.
 

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