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D&D General The Best Parts of Pre Written Adventurers Are What You Leave Behind


But, like, it's still possible for the story and design of an adventure to be good, right?
Sure, but even then you'd probably still have to ignore or change stuff depending on the group. Especially for long "adventure path" style modules meant to be the campaign as a whole.

Now I want to go back and run some things I missed or skipped over because I wasn't skilled at running modules. Number 1 on that list is Red Hand of Doom.

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I haven't read Dragon Heist, but I'm thinking there's a chance that, probably in the first chapter or introduction, the designers say something like "hey, here's a city-adventure sandbox, just in case you don't like main quest. Have fun!" Any truth to that?
Not so much sandbox more just resources. There’s a theatre encounter and an alley fight and rooftop chase etc. With the maps. In the module they strong together in a fairly railroady way but you could actually use them for other situations.


Like Ned in Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, who is bound and gagged to "dupe" the PCs into doing something or other. It's all very confusing.

Get that nonsense outta here.

Absolutely! Facing the demon lords and madness in the Underdark? Being taken to the Nine Hells and getting to drive hellish warmachines? Outwitting the puzzles and traps of Acererak himself? All exciting. The ghoul-haunted dwarven ruins of The Dragon of Icespire Peak is a solid low level dungeon, absolutely.

Plus, so much of these campaign-length adventures have deep, deep dives into the past and the lore of the game. These adventures are, for the most part, good, but to make them great (and specifically, great for your table) requires the DM to fiddle with them in varying degrees.

And that's not even mentioning the stuff in the older editions. Those locations are iconic, whether it's Castle Ravenloft, the Moathouse, the Caverns of Chaos, and so on.

But, like, it's still possible for the story and design of an adventure to be good, right?

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I can't even begin to parse what this post is supposed to mean.

The yummiest slice of the cake is the part I didn't eat.*

.... there was a certain quality that I enjoyed with your title. Now, I think what you were getting at was, "Pre-written Adventures (modules, APs) are much better if you carefully edit them ahead of time and remove material that doesn't work."

But instead we end up with this amazing zen koan.

Reynard, a DM during the Meiji era, received some youngling DMs who came to inquire about Zen D&D.

Reynard showed the younglings copies of Dragon Heist, explaing that he would be showing them how to run it.

Reynard then began shredding the pages of the adventure. Page after page did Reynard shred, completely destroying those pages.

The younglings watched the watched the destruction of the adventures until they could no longer restrain himself. “You have destroyed more than 2/3 of the module. What are we to run now?”

“Ah,” Reynard said, “what is left is not the adventure, but merely what is "not to run." That which has been destroyed is what you must learn.”

*New on the bestseller list: The Negative Space Diet ... Why the Yummiest Slice is the One You Didn't Eat!

Yeah, I change stuff when I need to, but I usually add rather than subtract.

Am I the only one who feels like I'm not getting my money's worth from an adventure unless I'm using the majority of the adventure material? Sure, if the book has lots of other good content--like Ghosts of Saltmarsh, I can feel like it's a good investment even if I never use the adventures themselves. If it has robust setting material that can include that also. But if the book is more just an adventure book, I feel like the more I mess with it, the less I'm getting my money's worth (and I include just using maps or encounters from it elsewhere as reduced value).


The key to that success? Throwing stuff out.

Ya, I frequently tell players at my table, "No published adventure is safe from my edits!"

I've never met a module/adventure published by TSR/WotC that I didn't heavily modify. I typically enjoy the story, the theme, the backgrounds, and the flavor of various personalities and locales (even down to a given room), but there is often many other bits that I don't like. I usually keep the main plot, the general adventure path, but trim away alotta stuff that's not moving things along in a reasonable way.

Also - not a fan of WotC's direction with 5E of publishing adventures that are designed for a 1st level character, with the idea that playing out the adventure will level them to 10th or 15th level. That's a campaign. I supply the campaign. I need (brief) adventures to fit into my campaign. But I get it - it's probably smarter to write something that covers the whole range of levels, and just encourage DM's to edit out what they don't need. Just irks me a little to take that giant 96 page adventure, and only use half of it - if that.

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