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D&D 5E Rank the Official 5e Adventures (Updated)

Bolares

Hero
I don't think Dragonheist is unplayable as written. It's just, meh, and has a lot of wasted potential as written... but unplayable is a bit harsh
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
While HotDQ isn't my cup of tea as an adventure, I do agree that you can run it as written.

When I say that there are some that are flat-out not playable unless the DM fixes stuff, the ones I'm thinking of specifically are Storm King's Thunder and especially Waterdeep: Dragon Heist - and at the same time, I would still say that there is good to great content in both of those.

Trying to run Waterdeep: Dragon Heist straight from the book is like trying to play the beta release of a complicated CRPG. You keep encountering game-breaking bugs and your character can wander into areas that were never finished. And there are other parts of it that are really great and make you think "I can't wait until they finish the rest of this game so it will all be like this part." But they never DO finish it. And then some third party working alone releases a free patch on Steam that fixes the bugs, finishes the missing areas, and makes it playable for you.
All of them are excellent idea mines, which I'd what it seems they intend them to be used for, and how I see them being used.
 

Retreater

Legend
I don't think Dragonheist is unplayable as written. It's just, meh, and has a lot of wasted potential as written... but unplayable is a bit harsh
I don't think any of the adventures are actually unplayable. There are ones (Dragonheist included) without a good deal of DM finesse would be confusing, unenjoyable, or cause a group to stop in its tracks, unable to move forward without a lot of external guidance. These are like glitches in video games (such as Cyberpunk 2077).
The bad news is that - once printed - these adventures can't get updates, bug fixes, etc. They should be right the first time. For people to devote hours to playing (not to mention reading & prepping), I think we should ask for more than "meh."
 


I don't think any of the adventures are actually unplayable. There are ones (Dragonheist included) without a good deal of DM finesse would be confusing, unenjoyable, or cause a group to stop in its tracks, unable to move forward without a lot of external guidance. These are like glitches in video games (such as Cyberpunk 2077).
The bad news is that - once printed - these adventures can't get updates, bug fixes, etc. They should be right the first time. For people to devote hours to playing (not to mention reading & prepping), I think we should ask for more than "meh."
Are there third party adventures that you really like? I'm wondering if the Grand Adventure Path style has run its course...
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I don't think any of the adventures are actually unplayable.

Yeah anyone here saying a module is unplayable... I mean, they've all been played. People have played with them. They've even been played exactly as written. This is how the D&D playtests them, there's an interview somewhere where Perkins talks about how when playtesting they ask DMs not to divert from the text at all (if they do, they consider the playtest useless).

Now, saying that you think the module can be made better by diverting from the text and adding your own fixes, or saying that the module cannot be run in a fun way for your table... both are fair criticisms. But no one can actually say objectively "Yeah this adventure it totally unplayable."
 

Retreater

Legend
Are there third party adventures that you really like? I'm wondering if the Grand Adventure Path style has run its course...
Sure. I can give a few examples of ones better than what WotC produces.
First, I'm currently running "Glimmering Crypt of the Ioun King" by Planet X Games. It's a simple dungeon crawl - traps, combats, with enough of a background that it can be dropped into many campaigns. It's around 30 pages, for levels 6-8. You can tell that the writer was focused on this kind of adventure, and the theme is clear. It's a better dungeon than anything in Rime of the Frost Maiden.
Looking at a megadungeon, compare Dungeon of the Mad Mage with Barrowmaze, which comes with a town, NPCs, small "satellite" dungeons, a few compelling villains, traps, backstory.
Look at something like "Hole in the Oak" by Gavin Norman instead of some of the early level dungeons by WotC - and see how formatting and presentation can make something easier to run by new DMs.
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Yeah anyone here saying a module is unplayable... I mean, they've all been played. People have played with them. They've even been played exactly as written. This is how the D&D playtests them, there's an interview somewhere where Perkins talks about how when playtesting they ask DMs not to divert from the text at all (if they do, they consider the playtest useless).

Now, saying that you think the module can be made better by diverting from the text and adding your own fixes, or saying that the module cannot be run in a fun way for your table... both are fair criticisms. But no one can actually say objectively "Yeah this adventure it totally unplayable."

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist has a point at which the adventure will grind to a halt unless the adventurers decide, apropos of nothing, to investigate where a key they found was manufactured.

I have no idea how that made it through playtesting without a whole bunch of DMs saying, "Yeah, I'm gonna fix this part real quick."
 

Retreater

Legend
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist has a point at which the adventure will grind to a halt unless the adventurers decide, apropos of nothing, to investigate where a key they found was manufactured.

I have no idea how that made it through playtesting without a whole bunch of DMs saying, "Yeah, I'm gonna fix this part real quick."
You assume they playtest?
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
I mean, they do playtest. But I have spoken to people who have playtested some of the hardcovers and asked stuff, like, "How did two years of these insane frozen wasteland lifeless climate conditions in Rime of the Frostmaiden not get flagged as an issue during playtesting?" and have been told, "Yeah, my group DID flag that, but they published it that way anyway."
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist has a point at which the adventure will grind to a halt unless the adventurers decide, apropos of nothing, to investigate where a key they found was manufactured.

I have no idea how that made it through playtesting without a whole bunch of DMs saying, "Yeah, I'm gonna fix this part real quick."

I have run Dragon Heist twice and I don't even remember this part.

You assume they playtest?

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Retreater

Legend
Sorry. Just not buying that groups actually playtested the adventures. They may be focus groups. They may try out certain encounters. But to actually play the whole thing, comment on it as a whole, and have their opinions be listened to - I don't believe that.
 
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Sure. I can give a few examples of ones better than what WotC produces.
First, I'm currently running "Glimmering Crypt of the Ioun King" by Planet X Games. It's a simple dungeon crawl - traps, combats, with enough of a background that it can be dropped into many campaigns. It's around 30 pages, for levels 6-8. You can tell that the writer was focused on this kind of adventure, and the theme is clear. It's a better dungeon than anything in Rime of the Frost Maiden.
Looking at a megadungeon, compare Dungeon of the Mad Mage with Barrowmaze, which comes with a town, NPCs, small "satellite" dungeons, a few compelling villains, traps, backstory.
Look at something like "Hole in the Oak" by Gavin Norman instead of some of the early level dungeons by WotC - and see how formatting and presentation can make something easier to run by new DMs.
Yeah - OSR adventures have a much more focused and limited scope. Part of that is that they tend to be location-based, and another part is that OSR games are built around a specific type of play. I think that can basically be reproduced in 5e over the scope of a few levels, especially early levels. But for the grand 1-13 adventure path styles, it seems like you run into the problem of having to assume a basically linear path. I never played the paizo adventure paths but people seemed to like them. I'm wondering if it's the AP style that's difficult to pull off or just wotc's execution of that style.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Sorry. Just not buying that groups actually playtested the adventures. They may be focus groups. They may try out certain encounters. But to actually play the whole thing, comment on it as a whole, and have their opinions be listened to - I don't believe that.

I mean, they do? This isn't exactly a secret, people comment after the book is revealed that they've playtested these.

Now, how much feedback they actually take seriously and incorporate from playtesters is one thing, but they definitely playtest these a lot, a lot more than most small publishers ever can.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah - OSR adventures have a much more focused and limited scope. Part of that is that they tend to be location-based, and another part is that OSR games are built around a specific type of play. I think that can basically be reproduced in 5e over the scope of a few levels, especially early levels. But for the grand 1-13 adventure path styles, it seems like you run into the problem of having to assume a basically linear path. I never played the paizo adventure paths but people seemed to like them. I'm wondering if it's the AP style that's difficult to pull off or just wotc's execution of that style.
I agree that the 1-13 level mega-campaign is a big undertaking. Even the best examples of official adventures I can think of span 3-5 levels. For that matter, I'm not a fan of the Paizo Adventure Paths either.
How WotC should make adventures to my preference would be tangential to this thread, and I'm not sure if it would even be a worthwhile exercise since I'm clearly outside their target audience.
 

BigZebra

Explorer
Incidentally, if you want an amazing Eberron adventure convert Rise of the Runelords to Eberron. It works so well. I’ve been running it for about a year now and the party are currently exploring a demon-powered giant-built dam in the mountains of Xen’drik.
This sounds amazing. Is it in 5e or PF1?
 

Bolares

Hero
This sounds amazing. Is it in 5e or PF1?
Searching the forum, the sword made quite a big post about it:

 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Sorry. Just not buying that groups actually playtested the adventures. They may be focus groups. They may try out certain encounters. But to actually play the whole thing, comment on it as a whole, and have their opinions be listened to - I don't believe that.
They've pretty extensively spoken about the process, actually.

I think the matter is more one of differing playstyles than content: for how WotC expects people to use the books based on extensive playtesting, they work. YMMV.
 

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