D&D 5E The Monetization of D&D and other Role Playing Games


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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Personally, if I look at 4E D&D, it does not look to me like a product for "collectors and lifestyle hobbyists" by my definition, in terms of the actual books released. It looks like they're very much trying to serve an actual player-centric (even more than DM-centric) market, rather than pumping out stuff that's going to go straight on to someone's shelf to be read once and admired, but not used.

But, between the 80s and 5e... pretty much the entire player market was collectors and lifestyle hobbyists. These products were not for casual or occasional players, but for people dedicated to the game, playing for years and years.

Edit to add: And, note how many long-time players are complaining about how the game is, in some way or other, built for a broader market, not a narrow, focused one?
 
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Rabbitbait

Adventurer
Which ones have you run? Because if one of them is Dragon Heist, and you're claiming this, that'd be very interesting.

Definitely not Dragon Heist. I have played it, but we had a TPK fairly early on. I only play adventures that grab my imagination and I'm not really a fan of the forgotten realms. The ones set in the Realms that I have run tend not to be lore heavy or can be easily converted to another world.

Official 5e adventures I have run

  • Lost Mines of Phandelver - Absolutely brilliant, although a little wobbly at the end.
  • Princes of the Apocalypse, converted to Eberron and broken up to components - Good with a lot of DM work to make it good, but still better than many older edition modules.
  • Tomb of Annihilation - hands down the best D&D module I have run - even better than Red Hand of Doom for 3.
3rd party

  • A bunch of 'Across Eberron' and other Eberron short modules fused together for a Sharn city-based campaign. Pretty good. Some weak links, but overall made one of the best campaigns I have run. So much so that I have relaunched this campaign with the same characters 35 years later.
  • Empire of the Ghouls - Set in Midgard which gives a good 'old school' feel. Running this one now.

In terms of the official stuff, I think there are some weak offerings (such as Dragon Heist), but overall it's the best selection of adventures of every edition. Lots of them are not for me, but that's because they are aiming at different play styles.
 

I ran Dragon Heist, and it was probably our most successful campaign. Dragon Heist is an excellent adventure with a couple of baffling poor design choices (which can be easily fixed). The split of adventure content into mutually-exclusive 'seasons' makes no sense (a flaw also found in Storm King's Thunder). I simply picked the one I liked best as a 'spine' but included as much as I could from the others. My game had four villains all looking for the treasure simultaneously. Some of them had vault keys (requiring a raid of their lair. Basically, I turned the adventure into a Guy Richie movie, with a final showdown involving Jarlaxle, Mansion, Xanthar, Silverhand and the Cassalanters all in the Vault simultaneously. Each player controlled one of villains as well as their own PC, resulting in a crazy free-for-all. In the end, everyone (well at least those that survived) was forced to flee the vault when Silverhand teleported to the surface and activated one of the Walking Statues to collapse the Vault and keep the gold safe until it could be safely recovered by the authorities.
Which ones have you run? Because if one of them is Dragon Heist, and you're claiming this, that'd be very interesting.
 

I ran Dragon Heist, and it was probably our most successful campaign. Dragon Heist is an excellent adventure with a couple of baffling poor design choices (which can be easily fixed). The split of adventure content into mutually-exclusive 'seasons' makes no sense (a flaw also found in Storm King's Thunder). I simply picked the one I liked best as a 'spine' but included as much as I could from the others. My game had four villains all looking for the treasure simultaneously. Some of them had vault keys (requiring a raid of their lair. Basically, I turned the adventure into a Guy Richie movie, with a final showdown involving Jarlaxle, Mansion, Xanthar, Silverhand and the Cassalanters all in the Vault simultaneously. Each player controlled one of villains as well as their own PC, resulting in a crazy free-for-all. In the end, everyone (well at least those that survived) was forced to flee the vault when Silverhand teleported to the surface and activated one of the Walking Statues to collapse the Vault and keep the gold safe until it could be safely recovered by the authorities.
I guess different people see "excellence" in adventure design differently.

To me, any adventure that effectively requires you to ignore and work around and/or re-work major elements of the adventure, even if you personally feel it was "easy" (I know many others did not feel that) could never be more than "good". What you're describing is awesome and totally nothing like the adventure as written - with clever elements that designers neither thought of nor suggested, because quite frankly, none of them are good adventure writers. I can totally believe they all run killer home campaigns, but that's such a profoundly different discipline to writing an adventure/AP for the mass market and I don't believe leadership at WotC recognises that because they're essentially "high on their own supply", in that the guy in charge who would make that determination is himself writing adventures and god love him, because he's a nice guy, not that great at it.
 

a.everett1287

Explorer
I guess different people see "excellence" in adventure design differently.

To me, any adventure that effectively requires you to ignore and work around and/or re-work major elements of the adventure, even if you personally feel it was "easy" (I know many others did not feel that) could never be more than "good". What you're describing is awesome and totally nothing like the adventure as written - with clever elements that designers neither thought of nor suggested, because quite frankly, none of them are good adventure writers. I can totally believe they all run killer home campaigns, but that's such a profoundly different discipline to writing an adventure/AP for the mass market and I don't believe leadership at WotC recognises that because they're essentially "high on their own supply", in that the guy in charge who would make that determination is himself writing adventures and god love him, because he's a nice guy, not that great at it.
Really the only relevant portion.
 

I guess different people see "excellence" in adventure design differently.

To me, any adventure that effectively requires you to ignore and work around and/or re-work major elements of the adventure, even if you personally feel it was "easy" (I know many others did not feel that) could never be more than "good". What you're describing is awesome and totally nothing like the adventure as written - with clever elements that designers neither thought of nor suggested, because quite frankly, none of them are good adventure writers. I can totally believe they all run killer home campaigns, but that's such a profoundly different discipline to writing an adventure/AP for the mass market and I don't believe leadership at WotC recognises that because they're essentially "high on their own supply", in that the guy in charge who would make that determination is himself writing adventures and god love him, because he's a nice guy, not that great at it.
Well for me, a good adventure is a bunch of cooking ingredients and a recipe. But when I'm doing the cooking, I can choose to modify the recipe and possibly swap out ingredients. So what I liked about Dragon Heist is that it provided 1) a fun premise 2) some nice set pieces 3) some memorable NPCs, 4) a collection of maps, encounters, stat blocks and art that I could turn into my own thing and 5) the PCs owning a tavern (which they loved). I'm pretty much always rewriting any pre-made adventure, and this one was open enough to do it.

I don't think it's the greatest adventure ever written, nor even the best official 5E adventure, but we had a very good time with it compared to other adventures which are generally considered 'better'.
 

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