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D&D General Top selling 5E official non-core 3 books? / Why aren't adventure books catching fire?


I think we can rule out the years to sell part, sales over the first 12 months of the release of the product are down, we are not comparing lifetime sales.

Why that is, not sure, it could be that if you are looking for a new adventure to run, you can now choose between 20 instead of between 5, as they are all still in print, but they could also be not as good as some earlier ones. I was not particularly impressed with the last ones I got and there certainly were complaints about DL, SJ or Shattered Obelisk
I'm only including time because of SCAG..

But to me the themes of the later adventures don't invoke a "must buy for the feel" feel. You never feel that you need them or are missing out not having them or that they make the work so much easier.

I am in sales by occupation. The WOTC adventure don't upsell well.

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From my experience, even at the very slow pace of 5e releases, many customers have been overwhelmed with Adventures. They've put out more than you can possibly run. I've had a very large number of customers who started out buying EVERY 5e book as they came out, who've come to skip books here and there. Sometimes it's because they're not interested, or because the reviews are less-than-stellar, but mostly it's because they're still running/playing one of the adventures, they've got one or two that they haven't run or played, and there's another one coming up that they plan to buy instead, so THIS one is just gonna get skipped. It's just how it goes.

Li Shenron

Reading the new Dragonlance thread and seeing that "The DL adventure book didn't sale enough" and me thinking "No kidding, could it be because it was subpar?"

It's not like it really gave enough info to spawn further homemade adventures. It gives just enough fluff to get the premade adventure rollling and thats that.

Which to be fair it most of their adventure book output.

Has any of their adventure books caught fire except for Ravenloft which got a 2nd book. Spelljammer flopped? Planescape? More one and done products that are supposed to bring in the big fan bucks but....

Of course, there are the expansion books that add new races and classes and spells etc etc etc which everyone would want where as the adventure books are probably bought by only the DM. And I'm of the opinion that you don't NEED those expansion books. Everything you need is right there in the core 3 (plus whatever book has the updated Ranger).

It just seems really odd to hinge things on the sale of your one and done adventure book. Make a setting book. Everyone might buy a setting book. Not everyone is going to buy a 3/4ths adventure book with the barest mention of world building.

So yeah, any maybe have a 1-10 or 20 list of sales (that don't include the core 3)?

I'm going to repost this pic from the DL thread cause its funny and it fits.

I am not convinced it is a matter of quality. I have the feeling that the typical D&D hardcore customer (i.e. gamers who regularly buy books and products, not the picky ones like myself who wait ages before buying a new book in order to read reviews and really think twice if I'm going to use it or not... and end up making very little different in WotC's revenue) buys a new book quite early after release, before knowing whether it is good or bad.

I rather think that the sales depend on the popularity of the product type (hardcore gamers largely prefer new character material than adventures, possibly because of a certain culture that makes them believe that rules must be designed by professionals, while naively assuming that narrative can be improvised by the DM), and on the popularity of the theme (some settings hit better today gamer's imagination than others), and lastly they are affected by marketing (a particularly attractive cover or title can sometimes significantly affect purchases, as can a very well made video presentation of the product e.g. when Crafword is particularly inspired he can really sell some new mechanics in his video interviews).

IMO the quality of a product becomes known later on, once people start playing an adventure for example and we read reports. But by that time most hardcore customers already bought the book anyway. It might make a difference to softcore customers like me, to whom it matters little if the adventure is "new" or published 3 years ago, but as we don't buy many products, we don't move the balance sheet much.

I have to await the translation, and most of the titles aren't translated.

The adventures only can be read by the DM and are "single-use".

WotC can make money with the settings when these are unlocked in DMGuild.

I am happy with my "Moderkainen's monsters of the universe", but not so much with my Volo's Guide of monsters because there were several pages of "lore" weren't interesting to be read more once. I have tried to buy Tasha's but now it is out-of-print in Spanish languange.

I don't like the format "three book togethers" because the modules aren't my cup of tea.

If I buy a book I want monsters, PC species and "classes", and I mean new 20-level classes, not subclasses. 3rd Ed had got a lot of subclasses.


The adventure books are a lot of investment, to be honest. You're basically saying you're willing to invest a year or more in running them. The adventure compilations (Tales of the Yawning Portal, Candlekeep, Tales from the Radiant Citadel, Keys from the Golden Vault) are only sensible to purchase if you're planning to use more than one of the adventures within it.

I'd like to see a return of the 32 page or so adventure modules. Something you can run in a few nights and be done with it - for a handful of bucks (on the order of a night at the movies or such). I think that's why a lot of the older modules as so well-beloved - you could insert them into a few night's games without having to dedicate your entire campaign to it. But I'm betting WotC doesn't think the model of small modules is cost/time effective. And, there's the risk if your pumping out the 5-6 equivalent mini modules vs. one big book, people will start getting analysis paralysis from trying to figure out which one to get, and end up not buying one at all.

As for Campaign books, WotC's obviously gunshy after it was deemed to be a major factor of the death of TSR's sales by fracturing interest, so that's a big reason we're seeing one-and-done for the few campaign worlds we've got. And in this day and age, if you've got to make up all the associated adventures yourself, why would you buy into a setting book that you know is going to be dropped like a hot potato and not receive any future support/expansion (beyond DMs Guild, which it appears a large majority doesn't know exists or doesn't use)?


Umm, what? Hoard of hte Dragon Queen has been done, what 3 times now? Most of the WotC modules have stayed in the mid hundreds of all books sold on Amazon for years. Phandelver is quite probably the most sold D&D module of all time and just recently got an update.

Any single WotC module, fifteen years ago, would be considered a runaway success.
This is a really good point - any talk of current D&D products not doing well can only be relative. If you look at the sales numbers of D&D products over 50 years, and omit the core rulebooks (since those always sell well), the list almost certainly has all the 5e products at the top end (with a handful of earlier products in there), then a big gap, and then everything else.

Basically, under the current set of expectations WotC have for their products, virtually nothing from 4e or before would be published.

That said, it does seem to be the case that the rules supplements sell better than other books, and setting sell better than adventures (mostly). And better-regarded adventures and settings sell better than less well-regarded ones. But all of that is the same as it always was, and surely isn't a surprise?


I have no idea where this idea that WotC modules are doing badly comes from. They are doing unbelievably, fantastically well. A 7 year old module in the past likely wouldn't even be in print. The tail on WotC adventures is eye poppingly healthy.
I assume it comes from sales of recent modules in the first 12 months being lower in the last two years or so than they were before that, based on the book sales data we got a few months ago
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Any suggestions by Hollywood as to why a project doesn't move forward should be taken with about 250,000 grains of salt.

Saying that the Dragonlance book didn't sell enough to warrant moving forward on the project is probably true-- from a Hollywood marketing point of view. But practically NOTHING sells enough to warrant a fast greenlight on projects like that. Dragonlance would have had to have been a monstrous hit for Hollywood to consider the property strong enough to move forward no questions asked. It didn't... Dragonlance sold just like any other property, and thus Hollywood saw no reason to fast track it. Instead they went through their normal processes of developing a project, and somewhere down the line snags were hit. Just like the thousands of other projects being bandied about Hollywood.

I mean the fact that a Barbie movie was only released last year and a Five Nights At Freddy's film was released a full 10 years after the game broke out tells us quite easily that the popularity of a property is not in any way the only marker of a television or film being made off of it... there are hundreds of other reasons why something may or may not move forward.


But to me the themes of the later adventures don't invoke a "must buy for the feel" feel. You never feel that you need them or are missing out not having them or that they make the work so much easier.
I did not feel that way (must buy) about the early adventures either, but the percentage I bought was higher before Tasha’s and has dipped since.

Maybe the earlier ones were more the essential themes (dragons, underdark, vampire) and with those covered, we are now getting into the ‘weirder’ stuff that interests fewer people instead of getting a second dragon / vampire / … adventure

In that case it will be interesting to see what they do 3 or so years from now after having covered all the old worlds and revived all the interesting modules. Do they come up with new worlds and themes, or dip into the old ones a second time and have a second Ravenloft / DL / SJ / … book

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