What Do You Expect of Published Adventures?

Retreater

Legend
No, WotC used it first prior to Paizo existing, for the 3E Adventure Path line.
I'm not saying no one else has literally never used the words "adventure" and "path" in a game product before. Sure, Wizards did it one time twenty years ago. But Paizo's use of it includes designing (now) two core game systems based around the name, around three annual product lines that have become the bread and butter of the company.
For anyone in the industry, anyone who is involved in the hobby whatsoever, they're going to associate "adventure path" with Paizo.
 

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This is one thing I think many WoTC adventures struggle with and I don’t think it’s a new issue. A backstory is often provided, “this house is spooky because 100 years ago a wizard…” but there is no way for players to learn any of that unless the DM has a book fall from the sky or an NPC show up and recount the history. Neither of these is pre-written into the adventure because I suspect the writers know it would be weird.

Fundamental to RPG adventure writing as opposed to regular story and novel writing is that the history has to be (should be) discovered in play. It’s hard to do, and often not done because the history doesn’t exactly matter, monsters attack, deal with it. But it’s so much more engaging if why those monsters attack is known. Showing, rather than telling (and often only to the DM and not the players) that reason is sorely missing.

I suppose one could argue that weaving that engaging history throughout the encounters limits the portability of the adventure, but i’d argue it doesn’t. Even if you want to entirely replace the motivation and backstory, having a clearly presented way for the players to slowly discover it gives the DM a map to inserting their own history and motivations.
I know whenever I write backstory, especially for an antagonist or lore that makes the story cohesive, I use the "hammer over the head" method. I mean, I literally provide foreshadowing, context clues, and then a direct info drop near the end in case the players still didn't pick up on it. But it is always peppered all the way through, in context, subtext, and theme. It is one of the hardest parts about creating a cohesive lore/antagonist driven adventure.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm not saying no one else has literally never used the words "adventure" and "path" in a game product before. Sure, Wizards did it one time twenty years ago. But Paizo's use of it includes designing (now) two core game systems based around the name, around three annual product lines that have become the bread and butter of the company.
For anyone in the industry, anyone who is involved in the hobby whatsoever, they're going to associate "adventure path" with Paizo.
Sure, that's true. But what I'm pointing out is that WotC has never billed the 5E products as Adventure Paths in that sense, and they aren't (maybe Tyranny of Dragons might be). If viewed as a collection of thematic Modules with some connective tissue that is itself modular, they are a different animal.
 

payn

Legend
Sure, that's true. But what I'm pointing out is that WotC has never billed the 5E products as Adventure Paths in that sense, and they aren't (maybe Tyranny of Dragons might be). If viewed as a collection of thematic Modules with some connective tissue that is itself modular, they are a different animal.
IDK, we did the rise of Tiamat and it sure as hell didnt feel like a bunch of loosely connected adventures. I'm not sure how you would go about making it so. I can only speak as a player tho, i did not run it or have the materials.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
IDK, we did the rise of Tiamat and it sure as hell didnt feel like a bunch of loosely connected adventures. I'm not sure how you would go about making it so. I can only speak as a player tho, i did not run it or have the materials.
Tyranny of Dragons is the one exception, but even that can be easily divided up, especially the Rise chapters.
 


delericho

Legend
Yeah. Exactly right. I remember Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide all in Dungeon using that description. So yeah, Paizo pretty much coined the use of "Adventure Path" even if it was during 3.5 right before the publication of Pathfinder. I would say that the term became more synonymous with Paizo during the Pathfinder era. In fact, I don't recall if I've seen any other publisher use the term since that time period (though I would see it from time-to-time during the 3.5 era).
As noted elsewhere, the term was used of the first 3.0e adventures published by WotC. These days, though, Paizo have a trademark on the term, so you won't see others use it. (WotC might, claiming prior art, but they don't seem to care to do so.)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I guess this makes the assumption that adventure paths cant be divided up but that is not my experience either.
Fair point: but after Tyranny of Dragons, there usually isn't even a driving plot, more geographical proximity and a handwave towards connecting the Chapters together.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
IDK, we did the rise of Tiamat and it sure as hell didnt feel like a bunch of loosely connected adventures. I'm not sure how you would go about making it so. I can only speak as a player tho, i did not run it or have the materials.
I have heard Christopher Perkins speak at length on Dragon Talk about how his go to one shot is Chapter 2 of Rise of Tiamat, "The Sea of Moving Ice." The other Dungeon-y episodes are also great as modules unconnected to the "plot" as such.
 

payn

Legend
I have heard Christopher Perkins speak at length on Dragon Talk about how his go to one shot is Chapter 2 of Rise of Tiamat, "The Sea of Moving Ice." The other Dungeon-y episodes are also great as modules unconnected to the "plot" as such.
I dont think all AP/campaign style adventures can be cut up as modules easily, but some do it naturally.
 



Smackpixi

Adventurer
Not all, but the WotC 5E line has had that as an intention the whole way through, at least per Chris Perkins.
This is just my impression, but having listened to a bunch of old Dragon Talks while painting my house over the summer, I came to the belief that Chris often retroactively ascribes intent. “It was purposely left [incomplete/ambiguous/unfinished/open-ended] to allow for more DM freedom” being one of his favorites. Not broken, designed that way.
 

Retreater

Legend
This is just my impression, but having listened to a bunch of old Dragon Talks while painting my house over the summer, I came to the belief that Chris often retroactively ascribes intent. “It was purposely left [incomplete/ambiguous/unfinished/open-ended] to allow for more DM freedom” being one of his favorites. Not broken, designed that way.
That's kind of like catching an error and saying a year later "I meant to do it that way."
Leaving something open-ended is fine, but a good writer should acknowledge that in the text, provide some suggestions, call the DM's attention to areas that should be developed. Otherwise, it's just more plot holes and issues that a DM has to juggle along with table dynamics, rules, linking together 300 pages of plot, etc.
More likely, it's been written by committee and someone didn't catch it. It's not a feature, it's not even a bug, it's an ankheg.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
This is just my impression, but having listened to a bunch of old Dragon Talks while painting my house over the summer, I came to the belief that Chris often retroactively ascribes intent. “It was purposely left [incomplete/ambiguous/unfinished/open-ended] to allow for more DM freedom” being one of his favorites. Not broken, designed that way.
I mean, I got that ot was designed to be modular reading the books in 2014.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
That's kind of like catching an error and saying a year later "I meant to do it that way."
Leaving something open-ended is fine, but a good writer should acknowledge that in the text, provide some suggestions, call the DM's attention to areas that should be developed. Otherwise, it's just more plot holes and issues that a DM has to juggle along with table dynamics, rules, linking together 300 pages of plot, etc.
More likely, it's been written by committee and someone didn't catch it. It's not a feature, it's not even a bug, it's an ankheg.
That assumes that it is an error and not an intentional design strategy. They've been laying it down for 8 years, and I for one have been picking it up.
 

Retreater

Legend
That assumes that it is an error and not an intentional design strategy. They've been laying it down for 8 years, and I for one have been picking it up.
Well, the Twilight books were bestsellers for years too. I've purchased (and DMed) most of the WotC adventure books. This is just my take on it, and I think that for me (and probably others) these adventures could be improved with tighter, more deliberate writing, with purposeful design, and quality of life improvements that can make them easier to run and more enjoyable for players.
 

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