D&D 5E Storm King's Thunder Post-Mortem (Spoilers)

S'mon

Legend
This was during the era when I foolishly thought campaign adventures would be well structured, logical, and would need a minimal amount of preparation

:D Certainly matches my own experience! Not sure if Paizo or WoTC are worse.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Retreater

Legend
Wow. Like, I'm totally with you on Dragon Heist. It is an absolute hot mess and is by far the worst of the 5e adventures. But SKT is one of my top 5, for sure.
Maybe it's similar to watching a movie and it doesn't hit you right. The problem with D&D adventures is that you're unlikely to come back and re-experience it (unlike watching a movie again or re-listening to an album). So once you've had that bad experience, that's it.
I can certainly go back through my hard copy of the adventure to analyze it in a little more detail.
 

pukunui

Legend
Maybe it's similar to watching a movie and it doesn't hit you right. The problem with D&D adventures is that you're unlikely to come back and re-experience it (unlike watching a movie again or re-listening to an album). So once you've had that bad experience, that's it.
I can certainly go back through my hard copy of the adventure to analyze it in a little more detail.
Maybe. Although I have played/run some adventures more than once. But yeah, if I don't enjoy something the first time, I'm unlikely to want to use it again. (Dragon Heist is a possible exception, as its a great resource of urban set pieces and NPCs. It just fails miserably as an actual adventure.)
 

Retreater

Legend
Maybe. Although I have played/run some adventures more than once. But yeah, if I don't enjoy something the first time, I'm unlikely to want to use it again. (Dragon Heist is a possible exception, as its a great resource of urban set pieces and NPCs. It just fails miserably as an actual adventure.)
Exactly. If I were going to run an adventure again and commit to 6+ months of play, I'm not going to pick a campaign I didn't like the first time.
 

When I ran a 1-20 level 5E campaign, a modified version of SKT was the heart of Tier 3. I really liked it!

Yes, the published adventure has plot problems. Which is strange, because it really should not. The premise is simple: Giants are on the warpath across the North. Find out why, stop the giants, and get phat loot. Kind of hard to mess that up. And yet, somehow, WotC did.

Fixing the plot requires DMs to come up with their own answers to three questions:
  • Why are the giants on the warpath?
  • What do they want?
  • What is the best way(s) to stop them?
Additionally, DMs should decide which giant lairs and villains they want to spotlight. The lairs are uniformly great and the giant chiefs are good, too.

Giants hit hard and have a lot of hit points. They make great threats in Tier 2 and Tier 3. However, combat with them can get grindy, so DMs should have a strategy for how to mix up combat as the story progresses.

If you pull it off, SKT can feel truly epic. Player characters travel across the North as it's gripped by violence, chaos, and fear. They infiltrate towering strongholds in savage but striking locations, felling mighty giants, and recovering ancient artifacts. It's iconic D&D.

In my campaign, the giants' overpriest, Hekaton, had been captured and brainwashed by the Zhentarim. Under their influence, Hekaton ordered the giants to go to war. The Zhents used the violence to destablize their enemies and gain control of cities across the North. The forces of good were divided and squabbling, each faction beseeching the PCs to come to their individual aid. That gave the players the choice of deciding who to help and which giants to fight. In each giant stronghold they found a clone of Manshoon pulling the strings. Eventually they discovered Hekaton was held in a floating castle. They raided the castle and defeated the dragon that guarded Hekaton -- and then crashed the castle, killing Hekaton! Eventually, they freed Waterdeep from the frost giants that had conquered the city, defeated the original Manshoon, and celebrated as Harshnag became the new overpriest. Good times!
 

S'mon

Legend
It seems like with all the WoTC campaign hardbacks, you basically have to either build your own campaign using the book as a resource, or resign yourself to running a pretty crappy campaign. To a lesser extent this applies even to the boxed starter sets.

I ran Princes of the Apocalypse more or less as written and was pretty disappointed. Ironically when I started Odyssey of the Dragonlords last year, I did not realise Arcanum Press had actually put in the structural work (at least for the core, non-stretch-goal, campaign) and I initially had issues from not trusting the material, from not realising that what looked like throwaway comments were actually tightly integrated foreshadowing. It's been a learning experience running a 'plotted' campaign that actually works!
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
It seems like with all the WoTC campaign hardbacks, you basically have to either build your own campaign using the book as a resource, or resign yourself to running a pretty crappy campaign. To a lesser extent this applies even to the boxed starter sets.

No, it does not. Lots of people are really happy about the starter set. Lots of people love Curse of Stradh or Tomb of Annihilation.

After that, it's clearly about table preferences, but calling "pretty crappy campaigns" all the millions of people out there playing the modules mostly as written and enjoying them is not a nice way to call out your preferences.

You might like to customise (and so do I), your table might enjoy customisation and more sandboxing (ours do too), but they are usable more or less out of the box. That being said, these are fairly large campaigns, with lots of information spread in a large book, so you WILL have to do quite a bit a reading beforehand, and probably note taking.

I ran Princes of the Apocalypse more or less as written and was pretty disappointed. Ironically when I started Odyssey of the Dragonlords last year, I did not realise Arcanum Press had actually put in the structural work (at least for the core, non-stretch-goal, campaign) and I initially had issues from not trusting the material, from not realising that what looked like throwaway comments were actually tightly integrated foreshadowing. It's been a learning experience running a 'plotted' campaign that actually works!

And I'm playing in an extremely customised version of it tonight, and we do appreciate the extra work done by the DM who, on the other hand, says that he had to do the customisation otherwise some of the strings left right and left do not make sense.

Sure, WotC's work is of varying quality (I really despise WD-DH), but that comes also from wanting/needing to please an extremely large audience including millions of beginners with little experience, a problem that kickstarters have to a much lower extent. And it's not counting the thousands of crappy products out there.
 

S'mon

Legend
After that, it's clearly about table preferences, but calling "pretty crappy campaigns" all the millions of people out there playing the modules mostly as written and enjoying them is not a nice way to call out your preferences.

If other people do enjoy them, that's great. No problem with that at all.
 

pukunui

Legend
I ran Princes of the Apocalypse more or less as written and was pretty disappointed. Ironically when I started Odyssey of the Dragonlords last year, I did not realise Arcanum Press had actually put in the structural work (at least for the core, non-stretch-goal, campaign) and I initially had issues from not trusting the material, from not realising that what looked like throwaway comments were actually tightly integrated foreshadowing. It's been a learning experience running a 'plotted' campaign that actually works!
I tried running Odyssey of the Dragonlords more or less as written and was pretty disappointed. We found it railroady and half-baked. The “sailing around the islands” section was the worst. We gave up on it just as the group was poised to face Lutheria.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I tried running Odyssey of the Dragonlords more or less as written and was pretty disappointed. We found it railroady and half-baked. The “sailing around the islands” section was the worst. We gave up on it just as the group was poised to face Lutheria.

Whereas, for us, there were large sandboxes created on purpose at various points in the game, in Mytros in particular and now in the islands, and it's actually great and not railroady at all. We need to find allies for the end of the oath, we need to solve problems for our allies, we need to progress our various heroic quests in line with our background, we try to understand hundreds of years shrouded in mystery, and we decide exactly the path that we need to take, and discovering new lands at every opportunity. Really great, honestly.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top