D&D 5E Where's the Villain? and other musings. Why some published campaigns are great and some aren't (Spoiler alerts)

Hussar

Legend
Don’t forget I’m talking about (and always have been talking about) published campaigns.

BG is pointed out as excellent, yet it features these big three points.

Homebrew is totally different.
But, again, even with published campaigns, how much do you think they paid for BG3 vs any given module? Even if we only include the writers, not coders or anything like that, the cost of developing BG3 probably exceeds the cost of every single 5e module combined.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
I see a lot of this, its the style most popular around here. I personally often GM bought adventures. But adventure paths often does not support their own story, or at least does not advertise themselves enough, making it hard to make suitable characters. My main experience is with Paizo adventure paths prior to PF2.

As an example I actually GMed, Savage Tide sold itself as a city adventure in the City of Sasserine, then turned into a swashbuckling sea voyage/lost island exploration, and finally planar war in the Abyss. Each of these parts were great, but it was hard to build and manage player expectations. We actually had a spin-off campaign that Stayed in Sasserine.

Jade Regent is perhaps the worst bait-and-switch, it begins as a polar expedition from a land of vikings and ends as a horror anime in a Japanese court environment. Not exactly easy to make a character suitable for this, especially if the GM is stingy with information beforehand. :eek: I never tried to actually play this one.

Paizo got better at this, the later adventure paths stayed closer to their original theme.

Sasserine was great but then you leave. After Islevof Dread campaign isn't as good at least to read. Vanthus was a great early villain.

I think you could tweak it to occur locally the Isle part is deeper in the jungle.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well I think the adventure does matter, a great deal and I think they can be compared meaningfully.

I don’t dispute that the delivery is exceptionally important but once you’ve decided to run a pre-published campaign some run better than others. That absolutely impacts on the delivery.

The experience of DMing Curse of Strahd was completely different to the experience of running Rime of the Frost Maiden. Even though they had many similarities.

I say the same for Tomb of Annihilaton and Princes of the Apocalypse. Both lots of exploration and dungeon delving but fundamentally different levels of enjoyment to run.

Same players, same DM, same game space.
Again though, that's specifically for you. They ran completely differently for you.

Granted, I haven't run those particular modules, but, I have run more than my fair share. And, no, they aren't "completely different".
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
I haven't played Savage Tide, but to me the title suggests a nautical pirate campaign.

It's not. It has elements in it but the nautical part is short and part 3 or 4.
Early on urban adventure, then voyage, then jungles ends up extra planar iirc.

The start is great one of the best lvl 1-3 or 1-5 adventures ever. Ran it in 5E.

Kingmaker Pt1 is also great.

Recurring tgem in those AP. Great start or sweet spot then meh later on.

Think it's more difficulty of running high level games to level 20 and writing good adventures.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Played the CRPG of this, and found it a bit dull TBH. Perhaps because ruling my own kingdom is the last thing I would want to do in real life, and would fight to the death to avoid!?

Part 1 you don't build the kingdom part.

High concept but falls apart after Stolen lands. Pt 2 was good after that eh.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
And you might as well try and compare oranges in a bowl, because the adventure doesn't matter. It's what you do with it that counts.

Take memorable NPCs and villains. Sure, they make adventures great, but you cannot write "this villain is great" into an adventure path. What makes them great is their dialogue and performance, and that is simply not included in an adventure path. A skilled DM can make Tavern Guard #2 a memorable NPC, and every villain is dull with a lacklustre performance.

Adventures do matter. A good one requires less work.
 

TheSword

Legend
Again though, that's specifically for you. They ran completely differently for you.

Granted, I haven't run those particular modules, but, I have run more than my fair share. And, no, they aren't "completely different".
Of course. But I can articulate what elements were different about the two adventures that caused them to be that way… the three elements raised in the original post.

It doesn’t mean that will be the same for everyone. But nonetheless they can be compared meaningfully. Can we go back to that rather than debating whether it’s possible to have great published campaigns?
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
This bit seems a bit perfunctory in the CRPG version. Not much more than an extended tutorial.

Haven't played it.

Didn't work so well and we gave up start of part 4.

Pt 1 was fantastic, 2 was good. I've since run kingnaker inspired adventures. Running one now in Ancient Greece themed.

I knock the hex crawling on the head around level 3/4.
 

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