D&D 5E Thoughts On The Meh 5E Adventures.

The problem with 5E adventures is that OSR adventures completely eclipse them in terms of quality and it isn't even really close. OSR adventure books are consistently flavorful, easy to run, easy to make your own, tell great stories, and serve as amazing toolkits. No 5E book has the usability and idea quality of something like the new or original Gardens of Ynn or the artistry of The Book of Antitheses. Mothership's A Pound of Flesh is another example of high art + usability + fantastic ideas. This is before getting into campaign settings that mix in adventures, like Silent Titans, Electric Bastionland or Mythic Bastionland, Dolmenwood...

5E adventures are not bad. I enjoy many of them. But the books and the quality of the entire product could be far higher, including at the idea level.
 

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zakael19

Adventurer
I found the level pacing in CotN pacing very uneven, and those 3 wilderness encounters - the difficulty is very high. And the caravan stop has a cool map and disappointingly little to do. On the other hand, Ank'Harel is my favourite fantasy city, and well worth expanding upon.

The Ank'Haral map is great. I moved the players to it in Roll20 and they were all like "Holy naughty word!" Honestly I don't think they really care about the "story" any more, and just want to explore the city and do stuff! THere's so many fun ideas in the Gazetteer (all with "this is outside the scope for this campaign, maybe do a full one of your own sometime? written beside them). My players wanted to take a break from the progression to make some money and get some magic items, so I read them some of the stuff - and they were all super interested in the whole "Hands of Ord vs Veil" blurb in there, so I asked each player to answer a different question about the Veil and they're now freelance investigating based on what they spun up for me.

I think they're having more fun with that then anything that's been in the core module.
 

Mistborn

Explorer
Isn't it the case that adventures for D&D simply have to be what they are? They are the equivalent of movie blockbusters with all the implications of that. They need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, at different levels of experience. They currently cost $60, so they can't end too quickly because players haven't solved a problem. That's why the storylines (not all of them) are very schematic, the problems not very intricate and the ideas not very orginal.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I honestly think that 5e's "batting average" when it comes to adventures is significantly better than other editions.

However, I don't think any of the 5e adventures are put together very well when it comes to making them remotely easy to run. As @Ancalagon says, they take a LOT of work for the DM to beat into an actual game.

They're written very well to be excellent stories - they generally have the "hook" that @Rabbitbait speaks of. If your DM can take that story and beat it into a game, then they run very very well.

BUT, they have very little guidance on the most important thing for a DM - what to do TODAY at the table, in this session! I understand that this is difficult to write for, as most prep won't survive meeting the players, but it CAN be done much better than 5e does it, IMO.

For example, 4e, which generally had absolutely terrible adventures (with a few exceptions) was much easier (for me) to run directly from-the-book. It was all in the presentation.

I hope they find a better way to present adventures in the future.

Oh - they're also too LONG, but that's another story.

Strangely, I think that the best "era" for adventures was in the "gray space" between 4e and 5e. The D&DNext era. Murder at Baldur's Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard, Vault of the Dracolich, Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, and Scourge of the Sword Coast are all BANGERS, IMO.

Best ones from me were around 1995-2006.

Late 2E from Night Below through to Savage Tide.

I did miss 2012-14 though I was busy playing clones and 2E.

2E was also terrible outside dungeon magazine and the occasional adventure. Except in the final years quality picked up go figure.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Isn't it the case that adventures for D&D simply have to be what they are? They are the equivalent of movie blockbusters with all the implications of that. They need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, at different levels of experience. They currently cost $60, so they can't end too quickly because players haven't solved a problem. That's why the storylines (not all of them) are very schematic, the problems not very intricate and the ideas not very orginal.

That but I think the main problem is length. It's a lot easier to make a shorter adventure espicially in the sweet spot (level 3-8 or so).

Starter adventures also easy to write imho.

Peak Paizo were better but being honest it was mostly 1-7 there as well.

So it's high level and adventure length makes it hard to seal the deal.

I really liked PotA for example but we never made it past level 5.
 


MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
2E was also terrible outside dungeon magazine and the occasional adventure. Except in the final years quality picked up go figure.
2E had high spots, but trying to find them amongst the morass of "meh" material was a pain.

The classic era of D&D adventures is 1978-1984 or thereabouts. (Not that all were great, but a lot of them were memorable).

5E is the next era that has really concentrated on high-quality adventures. Not that it's always succeeded, but I do think it's had a few hits.

Mostly, writing wide-appealing adventures is hard.

Cheers,
Merric
 



Zardnaar

Legend
Any adventure that is doing stuff I haven't seen before tends to get higher marks. :)

Cheers,
Merric

Alot of thise older adventures haven't aged well. I'm not talking about what they're depicting either.

BECMI line has an above average hit rate on the B, E and C series imho.
 

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