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D&D 5E The Audience - Do you feel like you're the target audience?

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Which is part of what made the licensing fiasco so baffling, and gives credence to the idea that it was instituted by some typical retail chucklehead who didn't understand how the community interacts with the products they create.

So glad more understanding heads prevailed after we shouted at them.
Loke that one salesman in ThebMusic Man says, ya gotta know the territory.


Dragon Lover
I guess I must be the outlier here on this sight, because I’ve enjoyed nearly every book that wasn’t just a bland adventure anthology like Radiant Citadel.

I have gotten a lot of use out of Xanatar’s, Tasha’s, Spelljammer, Van Richten’s, Fizban’s, Bigby’s, and now Planescape. I also enjoy the 5e setting books and I am looking forward to The Book of Many Things as well.

My observation: Yeah, 5e products are better designed for usability than 1e products. But compared to stuff being produced by indie/OSR designers today, WotC's 5e products have a loooong way to go before they're as usable to me as those products.
Yeah this is broadly how I feel too.

BUT... Having to write in 30-40% new content because an adventure isn't sufficiently fleshed out? Not having an index and missing an important chart in table of contents so I have to hunt it down? Gaping holes in the narrative that require in-depth reading, note-taking, reworking, and creating new connective tissue? Taking 500 words to say something that could be distilled to a paragraph? Referencing other books or other pages on the same book, requiring flipping about, when a tidbit of info could have been included inline in the text? Monster stat blocks bloated with combat info while the essential character of the monster is hidden in text? Those things require more time.
Exactly! Very well put. I'd have taken 2500 words to say the same lol. This is a perfect summary of the issues I see with WotC's adventure design.

I feel I'm much MORE the target audience of indie/OSR products than I am of WotC currently – largely because of (Certain) indie/OSR's products better usability. Not all indie/OSR products think about this, so I still need to be selective, but have had better luck than with WotC's products which consistently have mediocre usability.
Same and that really surprises me at 45. Obviously I shouldn't be the main target audience for WotC, but it feels like they're targeting someone who isn't necessarily younger than me at all, just someone who is willing to put up with a ton more issues for the sake of "official" branding than I am. And my feeling is younger people are probably less likely to be cool with that.

The one place I feel like WotC does have my number is D&D Beyond - or rather the company who created that did - I clearly am the target audience for a product like that, and even (largely) operates the way I'd want a product like that to operate (with many caveats that I won't detail here). I do find value in online stuff like that.


The other note I want to make - and this has a lot to do with my approach and game style - but I have never found that running an adventure "out of the book" to take me less time in prep than making up my own things through a mosaic of sources + my own secret sauce. That is probably because I am the type to change out treasure hoards, re-skin or rebuild or simply replace monsters and npcs to fit the setting and the ongoing sense of the campaign, and to make sure I add material directly related to character backstory and/or player interest - and also because my brain has an easier time retaining what I have constructed than what I have simply read.
Same! I like getting ideas from published adventures, but whenever I run one I never feel like I "own" the story in the sense of not having to double check things, forgetting details, etc. I also find that published adventures are WAY too combat oriented and our group prefers to spend more of our games roleplaying rather than rolling dice, so I have to consolidate a lot of the encounters in published materials.


The "expedition" series in late 3.5 (Castle Ravenloft, Ruins of Greyhawk, Demonweb Pits) and their "Delve format" were at least an attempt by WotC to make adventures easier to run. And they continued that throughout 4e.
5e adventures were a regression in ease of use. They include paragraphs of text, are organized with impertinent background information, drop details on the DM like a plot twist in a novel.

It's funny, I'm a fan of 5th Edition, but I'm a terrible customer. I'm such a DIY / anti-consumer that once I have the core three books, I rarely buy anything else. The last book I bought was Tasha's!

So I'm not the target audience of 5e from a purchasing standpoint, despite enjoying the game. However, I'm not sure what would get me to buy new books! I guess they'd have to be toolboxes, not settings or adventures. I'd find it useful, for example, to have a book of puzzles and traps, a book of templates... But even as I'm typing this, I'm realizing there are a million of these on DMsguild and other 3PPs, and I still don't purchase them because I just enjoy the process of making them myself!

Yeah, this is pretty much me as well. 5e is easily my favourite edition of D&D, but I really don't need most of their books. More character options are fine, though later those too seem to have gotten too contrived and oddly specific for my liking. And world building is my favourite thing, so I don't need setting books, and I don't really mind making adventures either, so I'm not gonna buy those either.

I think a GM toolbox type book is something I could use. Additional rules to handle naval combat (well), mass combat, additional systems for running factions, optional rules to hack the game into different tech levels and tones, stuff like that.


Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
The "expedition" series in late 3.5 (Castle Ravenloft, Ruins of Greyhawk, Demonweb Pits) and their "Delve format" were at least an attempt by WotC to make adventures easier to run. And they continued that throughout 4e.
5e adventures were a regression in ease of use. They include paragraphs of text, are organized with impertinent background information, drop details on the DM like a plot twist in a novel.
I know there are a lot of detractors of the "Delve format". I found them symptomatic of WotC's shift in focusing on The Combat Encounter(tm), even at the expense of the context of the adventure. While some combat encounters were well-handled by the focus, I found it really jarring to go from the text of the adventure for part of the encounter/exploration to then flip to the Delve spread for the combat elements and back.

You know what I really miss? The module.

Most of the adventures sold by WotC are not adventures. They are campaigns. "Let's go in these goblin cave rescue our friend" you do at level 2, that's an adventure. "we need the trident of awesomeness, this pirate has it, let's infiltrate his ship and steal it!" That's an adventure. Starting at level 1-2 helping people deal with unatural weather and ending at level 10ish fighting the goddess of frost? That's a campaign.

I used to run a lot of modules - stand alone adventures, sometimes came in a series, sometimes not - that I would insert in a campaign.

Yeah, definitely. I really am not interested in the current adventure paths that are whole campaigns. That is way too restrictive for my liking, not to mention the amount of time it takes to read and internalise all the information.

What I could use is a book of generic bare bones adventures lasting preferably one session or three at most, presented in concise manner, that I could easily embellish and plug into any setting. Something for when you realise there is a session tomorrow and you've had no time to plan, not something to base an entire campaign around.

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