D&D General What are the minimum standards for a published adventure campaign?

TheSword

Legend
EnPublishing has two amazing adventure paths you can buy and read TODAY! If you trust Morrus to run your favorite TTRPG forum, surely you trust him to oversee an adventure path to greatness??
I’d probably want to see substantive qualities aside from association before buying it. Lol

Why are they amazing?
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
It depends in what the adventure is trying to achieve.

Most important thing is its hook. It needs to convince me to run it.
 

"It has to be interesting to read. If I can’t enjoy reading the book first - it ain’t never gonna make it to the table. I’m not looking for a reference book - it’s got to take me on a journey."

So like, I violently disagree with this, and I feel like this standard is one WotC holds its campaigns to, but I think it's also why so many of WotC's campaigns are not very good, and fail in other areas. Because they've been designed to be read, not designed to be run.

By all means, have a strong and convincing synopsis of the campaign at the beginning, great, needed, useful. But if you design the entire campaign to read well, as a story, especially if you treat the DM as reader to be surprised by twists or the like, you end up writing a campaign that simply isn't designed primarily to play well, and that damages the product.

Quite a few of the very best campaigns I've ever run for anything didn't read excitingly as I went through them, because they had good synopses which outlined the entire campaign in an easy-to-understand way, and gave me context for what I was going on to read, but also meant it wasn't a very exciting read, because I understood what was going on. Whereas I've read campaigns that were exciting to read, even thrilling, and played like absolute trash. Specifically the latter required vastly more effort from me to run - because they were so badly organised, organised like a story not a campaign, there was huge amounts of page-flipping, huge amounts of note-taking, and in general the through-line of the campaign wasn't anywhere near as robust as the campaigns that didn't take that approach.

My minimum standard is thus that the campaign is written like a campaign, designed to be run as a campaign, not like a story, to be read. These two things are in conflict.
 

MGibster

Legend
My minimum base line is that it must not be a railroad.
I'm reading through Winter of Atom, which is a campaign for Modiphus' Fallout RPG based on the video game franchise. I'm about 1/3rd of the way through the book, and so far it's not so bad in regards to player choices. Kind of like the video game, you get assigned a task, but you're free to complete the task in multiple ways. But the introduction to the campaign is terrible. For the campaign to start, the PCs must perform certain actions, and if they don't, then the campaign pretty much comes to a halt. i.e. The GM then has to figure out a way to get the PCs back into the campaign again.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
A really good thread discussion topic @TheSword.

I may expand in a bit, im still soaking all that has been said. However, one thing I havent seen said yet, is a good player's campaign guide. I think these are invaluable to launching a published adventure campaign. They are a player facing resource that gives them setting info, theme explanation, and mechanical advice on things more or less useful. I have used these to good effect and have taken a bit of load off of my GM plate. I set up a thread in the past to discuss them in more detail in the link above.
 

For the campaign to start, the PCs must perform certain actions, and if they don't, then the campaign pretty much comes to a halt. i.e. The GM then has to figure out a way to get the PCs back into the campaign again.
This is absolutely one of the greatest sins a campaign can have, and surprisingly not that uncommon.

For the avoidance of doubt to people reading this, this is different to PCs just derailing a campaign by doing something wildly unexpected. This is when there are de facto secret things the PCs have to do in order for the campaign to advance, things that are different to the apparent goals of the missions/adventures they're given. I've seen it a few times - even one of the best campaigns ever written unfortunately has this (I am told, by a DM I know), the Darkstryder campaign for Star Wars D6.
 

MGibster

Legend
For the avoidance of doubt to people reading this, this is different to PCs just derailing a campaign by doing something wildly unexpected.
Yeah, this most definitely isn't that. On occasion, with less frequency as the years roll by, I've had players who simply wanted to watch the campaign burn or who simply reveled in whatever chaos they could cause. I suspect many of us have witnessed such behavior from time-to-time, Vampire the Masqurade has the infamouse Fish-Malk, and it's quite frustrating when it happens. I don't believe there's any written scenario that can counter players acting in bad faith. John Wick gave good advice on this back in the late 1990s, basically just telling GMs to put an immediate stop to it.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yeah, this most definitely isn't that. On occasion, with less frequency as the years roll by, I've had players who simply wanted to watch the campaign burn or who simply reveled in whatever chaos they could cause. I suspect many of us have witnessed such behavior from time-to-time, Vampire the Masqurade has the infamouse Fish-Malk, and it's quite frustrating when it happens. I don't believe there's any written scenario that can counter players acting in bad faith. John Wick gave good advice on this back in the late 1990s, basically just telling GMs to put an immediate stop to it.

VtM Kender.

I just booted 3 players like this in 2015. They went to another group and got booted from that one as well


CN annoying would be their MO. One was just a sniveling coward every character. As in cowardly enough to not want to adventure.
 

MGibster

Legend
VtM Kender.

I just booted 3 players like this in 2015.
Back in 2019, I ran a Vampire campaign and three of the players were completely new. One of them asked me if they could play a Malkavian which I found a bit puzzling. She had been doing a lot of reading on the internet and was under the impression that a lot of Keepers wouldn't allow Malk characters. I was fine with a Malkavian, just so long as she didn't do stupid wacky baloney that would derail the game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, this most definitely isn't that. On occasion, with less frequency as the years roll by, I've had players who simply wanted to watch the campaign burn or who simply reveled in whatever chaos they could cause.
If the campaign (or path) is narrow enough that players can derail it simply by doing unexpected and-or chaotic things, to me that's a problem with how the campaign has been designed or set up.

Put another way, no campaign can ever be derailed as long as two things are and remain true:
1. There's no rails to begin with; and
2. The DM can hit whatever curveballs the players can throw.
 

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