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5E Running Rime of the Frost Maiden

Reynard

Legend
The Alexandrian isn't just "some guy". He's an award-winning blogger who's given a lot of thought on how adventures work, what makes them function etc.

He's also published pretty thorough fixes for a number of WotC adventures, and they are pretty good at fixing the structural problems of these scenarios.


for example: Dragon Heist Remix – Part 1: The Villains

edit: So this is why, earlier in this thread, I recommended waiting for his fixes to be published.
You'll forgive me if I am suitably impressed by this blogger.

Here's the point I was actually trying to make: that you don't like this adventure, or that The Alexandrian doesn't like it, does not make it an objective fact. I think it is the best adventure WotC has produced yet, with an open world section that actually works as such, with plenty of room for DM freedom without also leaving the DM out in the cold (ha!). I think people complaining about encounter difficulty and it not being a perfect introductory module are conflating "good" with their preferences.

Now, that I feel that way doesn't carry any more weight than his or yours, but it doesn't carry any less either.
 

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Edit: for example, the fact that they don't even bother to tag encounters with the expected difficulty or give some guide to the adventuring day break down of the adventure, shows they give little thought to the DMs trying to run these damn things
The Occam's Razor response is: by not including such features, the designers did not feel such features were needed or useful.

Rime is a Milestone Advancement adventure. Minute XP calculations are not required.
If you as the DM want to do such calculations, it is not hard to do, just turn to
page 82-84 of the DMG.

No module I have ever read has had a list of "20 Scripted Plays" to call for all the encounters inside. No module does All the Work.

No module, no matter how well written will turn you into a "Just pick up the book and go style DM"....if that is not your proclivity.

Some, the very best, come close, but modules Work when DMs understand the Terrain, when the DM can go with the flow. For most, this means prep.
 

You'll forgive me if I am suitably impressed by this blogger.
I am impressed by the Alexandrian as well. I also agree with your sentiments.

No matter what module is released, the Alexandrian is going to modify it.
That is what DMs do...you tinker, and tailor the story to the characters.

I'm not saying you coddle players, but if someone plays a Warlock in Rime...it is easy the story going in a very different way then a play through that only has Druids, Goliaths and Elk Tribe members in it.

The only products written for your specific campaign is just what you write yourself.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Rime is a Milestone Advancement adventure. Minute XP calculations are not required.
If you as the DM want to do such calculations, it is not hard to do, just turn to
page 82-84 of the DMG.
It’s not about XP. it’s about delivering the expected challenge for our inevitably different set of characters from the default 4.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
It’s not about XP. it’s about delivering the expected challenge for our inevitably different set of characters from the default 4.
Please no. Let me take the encounters as given and tweak them as needed. I don't need more crud in my book thanks.

WOTC doesn't know my party, I do. Let me the DM be the one deciding the difficulty of the encounters during a given day.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
For me, I just assumed that after 50 years of adventure creation it would be down to a fine art for professionals in the business. But apparently it's still kind of hit and miss.

Edit: for example, the fact that they don't even bother to tag encounters with the expected difficulty or give some guide to the adventuring day break down of the adventure, shows they give little thought to the DMs trying to run these damn things. And that's just some basic info they could easily provide.

I don't think that's the case at all. I think they are smart enough to realize that every table is going to be different, every table plays different (not only between optmizers vs casual, or large parties vs small, or class make up, but also groups that take a ton of rests vs those that don't, ect), that putting in any such guidance would be worthless filler that wouldn't apply to a lot of people. Especially since this can be played as a sandbox. I.e. the same encounter could happen when the party is level 2, or level 4, which of course makes listing the encounter difficulty nearly impossible factoring in all of these varying factors.

The adventure is already lengthy. They are assuming DMs have at least a modicum of proficiency with the game rules to be able to figure out basic things like this knowing the people they are playing with, that they don't want to add tons of extra stuff that many, if not most, tables won't even find relevant to them.
 

It’s not about XP. it’s about delivering the expected challenge for our inevitably different set of characters from the default 4.
There is guidance like that in the module. Guidelines like "the Players should be level X before starting this", or "After two side missions the characters should advance one level".

If you want to throw in some side plots and adventures, go ahead, and just keep everyone about the same level. A good milestone adventure is like trying to maintain a good buzz....eventually you are going to have to break out the hard stuff...but try to enjoy the buzz while you can,

WotC could certainly design more DM aids, NPC Combat Tracker sheets, Looseleaf artwork, PDF downloads with Hardcover purchase....etc.
So WotC modules could be substantially better, I have no dispute with that sentiment.
 

Reynard

Legend
On the subject of actually running Frostmaiden, I have been creating spreadsheets for each of the Ten Towns with basic, easily accessible information (such as population, resources and quests available, as well as PC backstory involvement). As the adventures go on I expect to add fields for player interactions, completed or flubbed quests and minor NPCs that just get made up on the fly. What other "fields" do you think are important for tracking progress and repeated visits by the PCs throughout Ten Towns?
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
What’s worse is all the posters I see not only defending this product, and in some cases, enthusiastically praising it.

This is why we won’t see advances in the design quality coming out of WITC anytime soon.
What is worse are DM's that feel they do not need to prep when running another person's adventure.

I have written about this many times. Several have thought it was impossible to spend four hours prepping per session to run an AP. It is easy to spend that much time.

As has been pointed out, each table is different. They have different strengths and weaknesses. They roleplay differently. They make decisions differently. They rest differently. And the DM, DM's differently. This is true for D&D and Pathfinder and Numenera and almost all RPG's. So if a DM can't understand that an AP is an adventure outline (a very thorough one at that), and that they need to tailor it to their group by prepping, then I would like to see their table's playstyle. Not to criticize. But to understand where they are coming from.
 

Reynard

Legend
What is worse are DM's that feel they do not need to prep when running another person's adventure.

I have written about this many times. Several have thought it was impossible to spend four hours prepping per session to run an AP. It is easy to spend that much time.
As an aside, I have found that when I am prepping my own games I get a ratio of about 1:4 -- that is, an hour of prep gets me four hours of table time. Now, I do a lot of improvisation, so prepping is outlining locations and NPC motivations and stuff more than "writing" an adventure.

For published adventures is is at best 1:2 and sometimes closer to 1:1 because I not only have to parse everything the author(s) intended, but also do the work of making sure I have the appropriate stat blocks on hand and make any changes due to incompatibility my group, their play style, etc.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Including Adventurer's League-style encounter scaling for the combat encounters would be imperfect, and wouldn't solve everything, but would help considerably and would not add that much copy. IMO it's an easy lift, works reasonably well in the AL adventures, and I can't think of a good reason not to use it in the hardcovers.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
For published adventures is is at best 1:2 and sometimes closer to 1:1 because I not only have to parse everything the author(s) intended, but also do the work of making sure I have the appropriate stat blocks on hand and make any changes due to incompatibility my group, their play style, etc.
I’ve come to a similar conclusion, published adventures are more effort and less fun. It was a bit of a shock! :)
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
If the published adventures aren't giving you what you want... I don't see the problem in you all just deciding not to buy and use them. Why is that a bad thing? Especially when you get to save all your money by not buying it?

I've never gotten the reasoning for complaining that someone wasn't making something you wished to buy. Or that they did make something that you didn't.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If the published adventures aren't giving you what you want... I don't see the problem in you all just deciding not to buy and use them. Why is that a bad thing? Especially when you get to save all your money by not buying it?

I've never gotten the reasoning for complaining that someone wasn't making something you wished to buy. Or that they did make something that you didn't.
It's the promise unfulfilled. Published adventures appear to promise a well-crafted adventure with most to all of the work done for you. When this isn't delivered, especially if it's more work than doing it on your own, then there's a disjunction with the promise. It's well and good that some understand that more work is required, but that's not what's being sold, especially not explicitly.

I understand that adventures are tons of work for me, so I don't do many. Some are good (CoS is pretty good), or I needed to start something quickly (which is how I ran SKT, which I hacked heavily by the end). But, this isn't what's implictly sold, so disillusionment and criticism is very natural when you reach this conclusion. I don't think it evaporates after, either.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Well then that's the issue. Some of us aren't seeing this implicit promise based merely on the product's very existence. We are seeing the book for what it explicitly is. And we aren't getting upset that our own biases are not being fulfilled when we see the product on the shelf.

Especially considering that it is quite possible to run these adventures exactly as they are. Some people will be able to run the book cover to cover and have a great time with it. Now will it fit the nitpicky, exacting needs of every single DM out there and how they run their own specific style of game? No. Nor should anyone expect it to. And if someone DOES expect it to... then that's on them. Not WotC.
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
As an aside, I have found that when I am prepping my own games I get a ratio of about 1:4 -- that is, an hour of prep gets me four hours of table time. Now, I do a lot of improvisation, so prepping is outlining locations and NPC motivations and stuff more than "writing" an adventure.

For published adventures is is at best 1:2 and sometimes closer to 1:1 because I not only have to parse everything the author(s) intended, but also do the work of making sure I have the appropriate stat blocks on hand and make any changes due to incompatibility my group, their play style, etc.
I am right there with you. And that is logical in my view. You understand and know the background of a setting that is your creation. You understand how the puzzle pieces tie together. And you are able to manipulate the plot without causing disruptions. But when you are running another person's adventure, it takes time to prep because all of those are foreign.

To the others: I do want to be clear, I am not advocating that there is a correct way. But, it has been my experience that a prepped DM's table, when running an AP, runs more smoothly, and has an overall better experience. Some tables and others may not have experienced this. That's is great. But, if you are going to knock plot holes into a two page adventure and say it is not well thought out, then I can't help but feel compelled to question whether it is just trolling.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Well then that's the issue. Some of us aren't seeing this implicit promise based merely on the product's very existence. We are seeing the book for what it explicitly is. And we aren't getting upset that our own biases are not being fulfilled when we see the product on the shelf.
Fantastic, and yet the D&D player base is exploding so there are an awful lot of people who will have to go through this painful learning experience:

New DM: "Oh look! An awesome new adventure for the world's greatest roleplaying game! I can't wait to run it for my group..."

Slightly wiser-DM: "Oh look! A new adventure, I'm sure I can wrangle this thing into something runnable for my group."

Wise DM: "Oh look! A new adventure let's see what I can strip out of it. I'm not even going to try running that hot mess!"

:p
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Well then that's the issue. Some of us aren't seeing this implicit promise based merely on the product's very existence. We are seeing the book for what it explicitly is. And we aren't getting upset that our own biases are not being fulfilled when we see the product on the shelf.
I don't think that's a good thing. Being conditioned as a customer to expect that the product means you'll have to work to fix it is like buying Ikea furniture but having to source your own wood and hardware for parts of the build, and in others having to figure out how to put it together without a page of instruction. I mean, I'm an engineer and have done woodwork -- I've built custom floor to ceiling bookshelves for my home, not to mention two desks. I'm not great at woodwork, but I'm decent, and I adapted my own designs from others, much like what you're suggesting GMs need to do with published adventures. But, I also own a few things from Ikea, and I greatly appreciate that I don't have to do that -- that everything is in the box, and the instructions work, and the product is good without hassle (my daughter's room is a homage to Ikea at this point -- she loves the stuff).

That the customer base is expecting to have to fill in the blanks doesn't give the product a pass for not being explicit about this. And that some people run it without problems doesn't mean that there's not a problem. You wouldn't buy a product that has lots of 1-3 star "doesn't work" reviews because there's a handful of 5 star "worked great for me!" reviews, would you? Especially if the low reviews list specific problems that the high reviews just say weren't problems for them. You'd look at the problems, evaluate the product, and see if those are likely to be problems for you.

This is the point of the criticism. Sure, WotC may not ever listen, and may not change, but if one poster here is aided by a detailed criticism -- if only to know how to address it themselves -- then the criticism has value. Dismissing it because there might be a different someone that doesn't need it isn't really a valid counter. That would be like saying seasonal allergy medicine is unnecessary because some people don't need it at all and others can just muddle through with some home-remedies.
Especially considering that it is quite possible to run these adventures exactly as they are. Some people will be able to run the book cover to cover and have a great time with it. Now will it fit the nitpicky, exacting needs of every single DM out there and how they run their own specific style of game? No. Nor should anyone expect it to. And if someone DOES expect it to... then that's on them. Not WotC.
No, it's on WotC. Unless they're explicitly stating that you cannot run their adventure without changing or fixing it, it is on them. They're providing an adventure, which has a whole set of implied qualities -- that it's actually a complete adventure, at least to the point it functions on it's own; that it has everything present necessary to run or it is explicit in what other products are necessary to run it; and that it runs at least reasonably well from the text. I don't think that decades of this being rare is sufficient to say that these things aren't the fault of the adventure writers. I also don't expect perfection, but there's so many places that things are obvious that there's a thriving post-market discussion/product line to "fix" adventures that it's obvious there's a continued issue. I'm unwilling to say that the adventure writers are at least a large part at fault for this. Again, they've done well in other products, so it's tough to say.

Now, that said, I absolutely recognize that there are production tradeoffs -- that a good enough product is the best product if it's the one you have to sell. And I don't expect perfection or close to it, that's not only impossible it's unreasonable. But when there is a common set of complaints that seem to be applicable to every product, and these complaints are resolved for many by amateur hobbyists (the popularity of the Alexandrian fixes, for example), then it's not a matter of catering to specific whims or tables, but addressing some fundamental issues of play. And, again, a product that works just fine for some doesn't prove that the product is generally good.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
There is guidance like that in the module. Guidelines like "the Players should be level X before starting this", or "After two side missions the characters should advance one level".
you mean like
Page 18: "When the characters reach 4th level, they ... also learn about new adventure opportunities outside Ten-Towns, as described in chapter 2." Chapter 2: "By the time the characters reach 3rd level...

I mean, that's sloppy...
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
you mean like


I mean, that's sloppy...
Eh... it's not something I'm concerned about. Yes, it's an editing failure, but having been professionally published (as in, published in my profession) and being part of a formalized editing and review process, things like this happen even in much less complicated products. That's not excusing it so much as being understanding that it happens. I'm much more concerned about functional issues -- places where the adventure breaks -- than with copyedit issues. Still, what's egregious is subjective, and far be it for me to suggest that this isn't sufficient for you to dislike the product. It should have been caught, even if it may be understandable how it wasn't.

It is, though, an obvious error that looks worse in light of other criticism about the product, though.
 

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