Tales from the Yawning Portal vs. Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Which is better?

  • Tales from the Yawning Portal

    Votes: 5 22.7%
  • Ghosts of Saltmarsh

    Votes: 17 77.3%

  • Total voters
    22

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I wasn't interested in Ghosts of Saltmarsh when it first came out, because ships and maritime stuff just aren't my thing. But after reading through half the book, I'm beginning to re-assess... A lot of these adventures seem damned fun. Take Salvage Operation, for example. It's not as famous as the classics in Tales from the Yawning Portal, but it sure seems a lot funner and better-designed than the supposed classics. Same with Isle of the Abbey.

In its favor, Tales from the Yawning Portal has Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury, both of which are good dungeon-crawls and compact enough to drop into just about any campaign. But does anyone really want to run Against the Giants or The Doomvault? Both seem like gigantic slogs to me.

What are your thoughts?
 

Nebulous

Hero
I would go with Yawning Portal personally, but they each have some good adventures in it. I ran Isle of the Abbey recently and personally thought - aside from the intro scene - it is a pretty bad adventure. The dungeon crawl part is pretty awful. I ran the original Saltmarsh as a 5e mod years ago and really liked it. I've only run Tomb of Horror in 3e from Return to Tomb of Horror, and my group wants me to run Forge of Fury on Roll20, but other than those I'm not familiar with any of the other scenarios.

I guess they both have pros and cons, so it would depend on personal preference.
 

GlassJaw

Adventurer
Yes
It depends.
Both.

It's a tough call. They are difficult to compare to one another. Neither are fully connected campaigns, but Saltmarsh is slightly more so. I like both (for different reasons) but I also have serious issues with both. I'd say both of the books are 50% awesome and 50% crap.

Saltmarsh is an awesome home base for a coastal sandbox campaign. I have issues with some of the adventures and I don't like they U2 and U3 are essentially reprints (they are really flawed as "adventures").

TotYP has some great classic adventures. Dead in Thay was a total miss for me though, and the biggest black spot on the book. It's a massive dungeon crawl with extremely small maps.

So far I've gotten more use out of Saltmarsh because if you are thinking about running a coastal/pirate/maritime campaign, it's awesome.
 
Last edited:

jayoungr

Adventurer
TftYP adventures are classic, but they are in no way linked. At all.
Some people see that as a feature, not a bug. (Which is going to affect a lot of people's assessment of the books, too--do they want stand-alone adventures or linked ones?)
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
In our main campaign our DM is running Against the Giants and we love it. I haven't looked at GoSM so I can only vote for Tales.
 

JeffB

Hero
Many of the early adventures don't translate all that well to modern version of the games, or campaign style gameplay. Nearly all the Tournament scenarios were "raids" designed to test player skill in a convention timed play slot of a couple hours- all of which is at odds with typical "modern gaming".

S1-4
A1-4
G1-3
D1-3
C1 & C2

All designed for tournament play- the "fun houses" like S2 and C2 adapt the best to a home game/long term campaign.

I think the Doomvault was also designed for convention/tournament play where teams of adventurers try to tackle it.

Anecdotal-I can't speak for every group, but back when these new things called dungeon modules really started hitting the shelves, none of my group, or anyone we knew (that I recall) weaved these into our normal campaign play (and I use that term loosely). We rolled up new characters, or used the pre-gens specifically to play the module, and that was that. There was so much new coming out all the time, we rarely attempted them twice. There wasn't a lot of continuity- we just played. If nobody had a new module/adventure/whatever, someone was running a homebrew adventure and none were long drawn out epic plots covering 8-10 levels or whatever.

Saltmarsh was designed for at home gameplay, and I'm sure the additional Dungeon mag scenarios in "Ghosts" were too, which helps translate much better to modern home games.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Saltmarsh is an awesome home base for a coastal sandbox campaign. I have issues with some of the adventures and I don't like they U2 and U3 are essentially reprints (they are really flawed as "adventures").
I agree, they're both flawed, but I think U2's actually quite good if you run it as part of a larger campaign. You just have to accept the possibility that your players might finish it in 15 minutes and be ready to move on to the next adventure if that's the case. What would suck is doing tons of prep work for U2, finishing in 15 minutes, then sending everyone home because you haven't prepped the next adventure yet.

U3 is a lot trickier. I still haven't decided how to crack that nut yet. I'm thinking of turning it into a simple assassination mission. Get in, slay the High Priestess, and get out. Because the recon thing doesn't really work for me. For one thing, the adventure doesn't seem to tell you how to measure the party's success when it comes to the 4 mission goals (p. 112). Do they need to locate every trap, for example? Just one? Two? It would be nice if each goal had a corresponding section describing where and how to fulfill it.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
In our main campaign our DM is running Against the Giants and we love it. I haven't looked at GoSM so I can only vote for Tales.
How far along are you? Granted, I haven't read the whole thing, but it looks like it's just an endless series of battles against giants, who are basically just bags of HP who hit hard. I'd think it would get boring after a while.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
How far along are you? Granted, I haven't read the whole thing, but it looks like it's just an endless series of battles against giants, who are basically just bags of HP who hit hard. I'd think it would get boring after a while.
Well, we have defeated the Hill Giants and are going on to the Frost Giants next. One of the players is running CoS to give our normal DM a break. :)

How boring is it? Not at all. But, that being said SO MUCH of that depends a lot on the DM and table's style. If someone ran it the "wrong" way, it would be a slugfest and monotonous after a while (unless that is what your table likes of course...).

In facing the hill giants, this isn't a straight up storm the complex scenario, and we've faced cascading failures and had to flee. In a direct fight, we would all die. We used a lot of stealth, scouting, planning, separating foes, controlling the encounter, using traps, gaining allies, and all sorts of things to succeed. Even then, our "success" has cost us--one comrade captured and taken ahead, others captured, tortured, managing to escape, but with the loss of our most powerful magical items and best equipment.

We venture onward to rescue our comrade, with less power and more dire straights, facing more powerful foes. The situation will be desperate many times I am certain, but the risk and the reward are what make it as great as it is!
 

jasper

Rotten DM
As an Adventure League DM Portal by the width of a Fire Giants Sword. It came out and stated it was a rehash. Ghost promised sea adventures and only gave us one. Both had flaws. Map problems in portal were a big thing. Ghost was rehash also but I had only ran three of the ones in that.
 

Nebulous

Hero
Well, we have defeated the Hill Giants and are going on to the Frost Giants next. One of the players is running CoS to give our normal DM a break. :)

How boring is it? Not at all. But, that being said SO MUCH of that depends a lot on the DM and table's style. If someone ran it the "wrong" way, it would be a slugfest and monotonous after a while (unless that is what your table likes of course...).

In facing the hill giants, this isn't a straight up storm the complex scenario, and we've faced cascading failures and had to flee. In a direct fight, we would all die. We used a lot of stealth, scouting, planning, separating foes, controlling the encounter, using traps, gaining allies, and all sorts of things to succeed. Even then, our "success" has cost us--one comrade captured and taken ahead, others captured, tortured, managing to escape, but with the loss of our most powerful magical items and best equipment.

We venture onward to rescue our comrade, with less power and more dire straights, facing more powerful foes. The situation will be desperate many times I am certain, but the risk and the reward are what make it as great as it is!
I haven't ever read this, not the old version or the new ones, but what level are you taking on the giants? How many giants and what kinds are there? Two hill giants damn near killed the PCs recently at 4th level, but they were fighting them both at once without a whole lot of forethought.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
I haven't ever read this, not the old version or the new ones, but what level are you taking on the giants? How many giants and what kinds are there? Two hill giants damn near killed the PCs recently at 4th level, but they were fighting them both at once without a whole lot of forethought.
We use homebrew multiclassing rules, but about 10-11th levels now. We started the Hill Giants around 9-10th levels, party of 4 PCs and 1 NPC (the DM's "character"). We typically fought only 1-2 giants at a time, but sometimes as many as 3 or 4. Because of the damage they can do (especially on crits!) we were careful. It took us 5 sessions (10 hours each) since we planned, discussed, etc.

We had one battle we had to flee from (and did), one battle we lost (and were captured), and one battle we won but with the help of a young adult bronze dragon. All the other battles were easy to hard, but those three I would rank as deadly for our party.

I can easily believe at 4th level an encounter with 2 hill giants could be a TPK depending on the situation.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
In its favor, Tales from the Yawning Portal has Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury, both of which are good dungeon-crawls and compact enough to drop into just about any campaign. But does anyone really want to run Against the Giants or The Doomvault? Both seem like gigantic slogs to me.
Don’t run the whole Doomvault! It was designed for convention play, where four different groups are each simultaneously playing through different quadrants of the dungeon. If you’re running it for a single group, you should just run them through a single quadrant while allied NPCs run through the other quadrants off-camera to get the PCs the vault keys they can’t access on their own.
 
Last edited:

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
the Hill Giants ... took us 5 sessions (10 hours each)
And this is why I never want to run Against the Giants. Spending 50 hours on one dungeon (and that's just the first part of the adventure) is not my idea of fun. I do love the concept (seeing a great hall full of giants and ogres has to be a great "oh crap" moment for any table), but again, giants... big bags of HP.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
I love both and have run scenarios from both. I voted for Saltmarsh partly because U1 was always one of my favorite beginning adventures, so I love seeing an official 5e treatment. I also enjoy the 5e treatments of some old classics like Tamoachan and White Plume Mountain, but as others have pointed out, they don't adhere to modern expectations. Fun as retro one-offs, but not as easy to fit into an ongoing campaign.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I agree, they're both flawed, but I think U2's actually quite good if you run it as part of a larger campaign. You just have to accept the possibility that your players might finish it in 15 minutes and be ready to move on to the next adventure if that's the case. What would suck is doing tons of prep work for U2, finishing in 15 minutes, then sending everyone home because you haven't prepped the next adventure yet.

U3 is a lot trickier. I still haven't decided how to crack that nut yet. I'm thinking of turning it into a simple assassination mission. Get in, slay the High Priestess, and get out. Because the recon thing doesn't really work for me. For one thing, the adventure doesn't seem to tell you how to measure the party's success when it comes to the 4 mission goals (p. 112). Do they need to locate every trap, for example? Just one? Two? It would be nice if each goal had a corresponding section describing where and how to fulfill it.
GoS helps by providing detail for the town, at least: emergent gameplay based on player driven shenanigans.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
And this is why I never want to run Against the Giants. Spending 50 hours on one dungeon (and that's just the first part of the adventure) is not my idea of fun. I do love the concept (seeing a great hall full of giants and ogres has to be a great "oh crap" moment for any table), but again, giants... big bags of HP.
If the adventure is fun and you are having a good time, you don't even notice the time flying by. :D

And if your DM is running giants as just big bags of HP, I don't blame you. Our DM made it interesting, challenging, and fun so YMMW. As a long-time player (who has done AtG in 1E and 1E/2E as well), I am really looking forward to how the other sections play and if we will be able to do it. Tons of challenges lie ahead and as much as I enjoy CoS, I am anxious to get back to the higher level characters and the giants.
 

Advertisement

Top