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

Meech17

WotC President Runner-Up.
This is why WotC goes with DMs Guild... so that they can allow other people to make the quick and cheap modules that WotC doesn't want to spend their time on.

But of course when that gets pointed out to people, the usual response back is "Oh, but 3PP quality sucks! I'm not going to risk it!". Despite the fact that they will then turn around and say that the quality of the WotC adventure paths suck too. Which begs the question why they would want WotC to be the ones to make the short, cheap modules then?

At some point if a person wants short modules, they have to find and take what they can get.
That's fair I guess..

I don't know, I like third party content. Especially some brands like Kobold Press or here at EnWorld quality isn't an issue. When you get into the real indie stuff, sure some of it can be dodgy, but generally that's reflected in the price.
 

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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.
That's the way I look at it.

Do we even have any sales numbers on the Dragonlance book? Sales numbers, not Amazon rankings. The board game seems pretty obvious to say it was a mess given it's being dumped in a discount store cheaply, but I've not heard or seen anything to suggest SotDQ didn't sell basically as well as most other adventures that have generally sold well enough to warrant multiple print runs. The adventures generally don't sell as well as the other books because the audience that buys them is smaller and the time required to get the most out of them is pretty steep. In 3 years, my group finished 2 full 5e adventure campaigns. In that time, they probably released 5 of them? It just wasn't possible for us to play them all even if we wanted to.

SotDQ not lighting the world on fire enough to draw attention from Hollywood execs isn't the same thing as saying it sold poorly. It just didn't sell well enough for a studio to want to gamble millions of dollars on it.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
That's the way I look at it.

Do we even have any sales numbers on the Dragonlance book? Sales numbers, not Amazon rankings. The board game seems pretty obvious to say it was a mess given it's being dumped in a discount store cheaply, but I've not heard or seen anything to suggest SotDQ didn't sell basically as well as most other adventures that have generally sold well enough to warrant multiple print runs. The adventures generally don't sell as well as the other books because the audience that buys them is smaller and the time required to get the most out of them is pretty steep. In 3 years, my group finished 2 full 5e adventure campaigns. In that time, they probably released 5 of them? It just wasn't possible for us to play them all even if we wanted to.

SotDQ not lighting the world on fire enough to draw attention from Hollywood execs isn't the same thing as saying it sold poorly. It just didn't sell well enough for a studio to want to gamble millions of dollars on it.

Bookscan data showed the new books selling around 1/3rd to half of the older adventures in a similar time frame.

Outliers being core rules, CoS and HotDQ.

Probably a combination of saturation point, lower quality and eve of new version.
 

Remathilis

Legend
On the Campaign settings, I think if they did full in-depth treatments, instead of frosting with a half-baked adventure, they'd be a lot more successful. That was the big problem with SpellJammer and Dragonlance - there was more focus on the adventure instead of the campaign setting itself. Planescape did a bit better, but it's still fairly just skimming the surface. The only oddity is Ravenloft - folks love the adventure, but the dedicated campaign book felt pretty off - probably due to the retcons and re-imaginings permeating it.

If they gave the settings the old boxed set level of detail (like the FR gray box), then a separate 3-module set of adventures I think they could get away with it - covering the campaign in enough detail to ignite the DM's imagination to create their own story, and enough actual adventure for those folks who need premade materials to run.
I actually had the opposite opinion when I looked back at Ravnica and Theros. Even as full setting books, they feel thin enough that I couldn't see getting more than one campaign out of them. I'd have much rather both be dedicated fleshing out an adventure rather than a bunch of deity and guild info and scarcely any plot points.

Of course, the joiner to that is WotC needs to quit treating modules as campaign skeletons with barely enough meat to run with. You are flying from plot point to plot point with barely any time to breathe and rocketing up levels before you even know what your character can do. The page counts are too small for the stories that they want to tell. I'd love more adventures with a smaller level range and scope with a LOT more info, encounters, backstory and such.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I actually had the opposite opinion when I looked back at Ravnica and Theros. Even as full setting books, they feel thin enough that I couldn't see getting more than one campaign out of them. I'd have much rather both be dedicated fleshing out an adventure rather than a bunch of deity and guild info and scarcely any plot points.

Of course, the joiner to that is WotC needs to quit treating modules as campaign skeletons with barely enough meat to run with. You are flying from plot point to plot point with barely any time to breathe and rocketing up levels before you even know what your character can do. The page counts are too small for the stories that they want to tell. I'd love more adventures with a smaller level range and scope with a LOT more info, encounters, backstory and such.

I don't care about adventures in setting books. I need material to actually run said setting.

Ravnica had guild mechanics, Theros had piety. Stuff like that I want. I can write my own adventure, wingbit or adapt another one even to something like Darksun.
 

DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
I actually had the opposite opinion when I looked back at Ravnica and Theros. Even as full setting books, they feel thin enough that I couldn't see getting more than one campaign out of them. I'd have much rather both be dedicated fleshing out an adventure rather than a bunch of deity and guild info and scarcely any plot points.

Of course, the joiner to that is WotC needs to quit treating modules as campaign skeletons with barely enough meat to run with. You are flying from plot point to plot point with barely any time to breathe and rocketing up levels before you even know what your character can do. The page counts are too small for the stories that they want to tell. I'd love more adventures with a smaller level range and scope with a LOT more info, encounters, backstory and such.
The old Faerun grey box has a booklet that is just lists of places and interesting things and people in those places and ever single entry gives an adventure nugget.

"The mayor is secretly colluding with an orc village near by."

"The inn keeper's daughter was kidnapped by trolls and he hasn't seen her in 5 years."

"The river running through the village hides a pathway deep into an underground pool of KoaToa who are waiting for the right moment to attack."

It's probably the single greatest adventure hook booklet I've seen. Just entry after entry of interesting (and normal) places with an nugget for the DM to expand on.
 

Simple. The person who decided what gets published read "War of the Burning Sky" and thought, "Gasp! Enworld Publishing produced an adventure path of such high quality that's also full of great content. Nothing we could ever make could match this! We might as well cut our loses and publish less adventures to ensure they don't get overshadowed by such a masterpiece of TTRPG design!"
 

Quickleaf

Legend
It's an order of magnitude issue.

In D&D's recent history – and this is what WotC realized when they purchased D&D and created 3rd edition – player splats / supplemental stuff sells better. It was the Magic: the Gathering formula applied to TTRPGs.

An OSR adventure being kickstarted might raise tens of thousands of U.S. dollars, and that's a great milestone for the small publisher.

But compared to book sales for the 5e core books, XGtE, TCoE, that's peanuts to WotC/Hasbro.

Even Curse of Strahd (WotC's best-selling hardcover adventure), Teos reported it at 147,244 BookScan sales, whereas Tasha's was 347,408 BookScan sales and Volo's Guide to Monsters was 341,319 BookScan sales.

The usability to a given GM or player seems to be a factor to me. The supplements/monster books can be used across a wider spectrum of gaming, while the adventures are narrower bandwidth of gaming. First, you've got to be a GM who is into running published adventures or borrowing from them. Second, you've got to buy into that specific adventure's premse. That's probably why you see even good selling WotC adventures selling roughly 1/3 the copies of supplements.

I think this is also why they're trying more "merged product" formats like Spelljammer and Planescape where you have a little player-facing stuff, a little lore, a little monster, and an adventure. I'm very curious to see sales data about that format compared to their other adventures.
 

Hussar

Legend
I actually had the opposite opinion when I looked back at Ravnica and Theros. Even as full setting books, they feel thin enough that I couldn't see getting more than one campaign out of them. I'd have much rather both be dedicated fleshing out an adventure rather than a bunch of deity and guild info and scarcely any plot points.

Of course, the joiner to that is WotC needs to quit treating modules as campaign skeletons with barely enough meat to run with. You are flying from plot point to plot point with barely any time to breathe and rocketing up levels before you even know what your character can do. The page counts are too small for the stories that they want to tell. I'd love more adventures with a smaller level range and scope with a LOT more info, encounters, backstory and such.

Whereas I’m the opposite. You’re describing the Paizo AP’s. Lots and lots of background material. I could not care less. I don’t want more backstory.

I’m perfectly happy with campaign frameworks. I can and do add my own material to it.

Dragon Heist? Fantastic module. Very fun adventure that grounds the group deeply into the setting. Really, almost exactly what you describe. And everyone hates it.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Whereas I’m the opposite. You’re describing the Paizo AP’s. Lots and lots of background material. I could not care less. I don’t want more backstory.

I’m perfectly happy with campaign frameworks. I can and do add my own material to it.

Dragon Heist? Fantastic module. Very fun adventure that grounds the group deeply into the setting. Really, almost exactly what you describe. And everyone hates it.
Actually, I'm thinking more something akin to Red Hand of Doom: a tight level spread (5-10), detailed area with lots of NPCs, dungeons, and quests, and an overarching story element.

Curse of Strahd is close (it sags a little without a good DM to provide reasons to explore until Strahd calls, esp if the cards put most of the quest items IN the castle). Wild Beyond the Witchlight is likewise close. But adventures like Light of Xarysis or Turn of the Fortune's Wheel are too epic to be crammed into "explore this six room dungeon. Congrats, gain a level. Next chapter" structure.
 

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