D&D General Why 5E Adventurs Suck!!!!!

Staffan

Legend
1st one was great, second one was good, 3rd one was OK and the kingdom building aspects were fun at first but became monotonous/abusable.

I've used pt 1 as a template for years though and use its blank hexmap template.

Hence my OP. A lot of the APs started off strong and often they weren't completed I suspect.
Part of it is that it's hard to roll six successes in a row. And if you fail out on an early roll, people will maybe not even start on that AP and just try another instead. But if you fail out on roll 4-5, people will start playing and then hit a place that doesn't work for them, souring them on that whole AP and tarnishing their memories of the good parts.

Another part is that maybe not all concepts work well for a 1-20 (well, more like 15ish in PF1, but still) campaign. And it seems Paizo has learned this lesson and are now focusing more on 3-part APs, often 1-10 but sometimes 11-20 as well, and they seem open to experimentation about doing other intervals as well.
 

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MGibster

Legend
If you get stuck with those kinds of players, it's no wonder no one would want to run a 10 level AP... with little to no chance that schmuck players like that would actually take the campaign seriously.
As Alfred tells Bruce in The Dark Knight, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." There are players who enjoy different aspects of the game more. You might have one player who really loves combat, another who enjoys role playing, still another who is really into the story, or even a player whose primary reason to game is just to hang out with their friends. But there are some players who just like to stir the pot and sow the seeds of chaos.

It's not necessarily malevolence on their part, though it can be, but for whatever reason they have a lot of fun having their character behave in a manner that's disruptive to the campaign. Why?

For some, I think it's because they expect the campaign to progress how it's going to progress regardless of their actions. None of this is real (true), there are no consequences (mostly true), and they expect the GM to give them the information needed or allow them to be successfully in order to move on to the next part of the scenario.

It could be an indication the player is simply bored. While it would be nice if the player would select a more productive way of saying they're bored, it might actually be a good idea for the GM to check in and see what they can do to help the player be more engaged. (See? I don't always blame the player.)

There's a real possibility the player is just an #%%^#%^. You should just stop gaming with that person.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Part of it is that it's hard to roll six successes in a row. And if you fail out on an early roll, people will maybe not even start on that AP and just try another instead. But if you fail out on roll 4-5, people will start playing and then hit a place that doesn't work for them, souring them on that whole AP and tarnishing their memories of the good parts.

Another part is that maybe not all concepts work well for a 1-20 (well, more like 15ish in PF1, but still) campaign. And it seems Paizo has learned this lesson and are now focusing more on 3-part APs, often 1-10 but sometimes 11-20 as well, and they seem open to experimentation about doing other intervals as well.

Not sure what they're doing now.

But yeah if you nail part 1-3 it's going to be regarded as a great AP. Even without an AP falling apart you probably won't play level 15+ anyway. Level 10 might even be pushing it.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
There's a real possibility the player is just an #%%^#%^. You should just stop gaming with that person.
Heh... I wouldn't game with those people regardless of their reasons. And I'm certainly not going to put the fault onto the adventure designers for not writing the adventure in such a way that it stops those players from behaving the way they do, LOL. :)
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Well they don't generally they're more mediocre imho. But why? We know WotC is capable of making good ones.

The big problem is the format. It's very hard to design a level 1-10 adventure let alone 1-20. It's an art form not a science.

.





I agree wholeheartedly. I wouldn't say they suck but I don't enjoy the fact that they are effectively whole campaigns (not counting here those couple of books which are collections of shorter adventures).

Roughly (not strictly) they assume/require to start with new characters, level 1 or slightly higher, and at the end you are so high level that you won't find another adventure to continue with them, so unless you homebrew the continuation AND actually want to run a tier 3/4 game, you retire those PCs and play the next published adventure with new ones.

The positive aspect of this, is that you wade through the character material: if you played one official adventure per year during 5e, by now you have probably experienced almost all classes at al levels.

On the other hand, it has several aspects I don't like:

- the narrative doesn't vibe with me at all: my ideal narrative is that an adventurer (PC) lives through A LOT of adventures in a lifetime, not just THE ONE adventure of their life: more Indiana Joneses and less Frodos for me

- narratively again, I don't want to always have to start with an apprentice, who then breezes through levels and becomes a legend... in a week of in-game time

- I actually dislike having to control my PCs level advancement to stay up with the adventure challenges

The last point really bothers me as a DM. I don't like this adventure format because it clearly has an artificial difficulty progression: you're supposed to reach level X by the time you are in chapter N, well NO THANKS! There's a tolerance for sure, it's not like the game breaks if you're a couple of levels off, but to me it is pretty much the idea that you have to bump up the level to match the story which I dislike. And if you do that properly, the adventure difficulty doesn't actually increase.

My ideal adventure instead is one during which nobody levels up. You play the whole adventure at the starting level. So when you reach the BBEG that part is normally actually harder than more or less anything in the adventure so far. When you play at fixed level, players can stop worrying about XP and focus on in-game power ups (treasure, knowledge, social gains, equipment...) and for instance there is no shenanigans like XP farming from useless critters. Then at the end of the adventure, you count the XPs and see if you gain a level (and if you want, add a narrative on learning new abilities off-screen). I know this is a bit extreme but works for me, and I don't have usually problems doing so with an adventure that has for example a designed 3-4 levels spans: I start it when then PCs are 1 level lower than the level they are supposed to reach before the final part, and keep them there: so the whole adventure plays easy-to-hard instead of mostly the same. But I can't do that if the adventure has a 10-15 level span!
 

Kingmaker is excellent, though some encounters are unbalanced. The finale is pretty good, if a bit weird.

Abomination Vault is great, but the GM and the players need to spice it up a bit or else you will get endless dungeon stuff and nothing else.

</sidenote>
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
The big thing that I can tell is that most of the adventures are designed by a team of authors who don't know what the others are doing. And the editors aren't doing their jobs to make sure there is a unified theme and that things work together.
They will give assignments to work-for-hire writers and then just glue the individual chapters together, creating uneven tone and challenge, in a flavorless book made as cheaply as possible.
I can't agree with this enough. Gone are the days of one person designing an adventure, but it seems like different chapters are done in a vacuum. It's 2024, so I can't imagine how it is difficult to collaborate on a project like this. In my job I work with people all over the State since we can all work from home, and we meet every day to discuss the projects we're collaborating on.

Get an overall PM for the adventure and write an outline. Then regularly meet to discuss putting something in a chapter that will be relevant later. Have the PM review the work and ensure it comes together as a single story.

Or just write everything in a vacuum and expect the DM to connect the dots. That is the easier approach, I suppose.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
but it seems like different chapters are done in a vacuum
The process at Wizards has been in flux for some time, and reached its nadir with Descent into Avernus. They did realise afterwards that a big team of freelancers not communicating was a bad idea (though not quickly enough to save Icewind Dale), and so most "teams not communicating" products seem to be those that are more suited to it - e.g. adventure anthologies.

I didn't feel in either The Shattered Obelisk or Shadow of the Dragon Queen that they lack thematic coherence. There are ideas that are executed badly or differently from how I'd do it, but they feel of a piece. My problems with those adventures tend towards a lack of polish on some sections, or a lack of vision.

Cheers,
Merric
 

Quickleaf

Legend
The process at Wizards has been in flux for some time, and reached its nadir with Descent into Avernus. They did realise afterwards that a big team of freelancers not communicating was a bad idea (though not quickly enough to save Icewind Dale), and so most "teams not communicating" products seem to be those that are more suited to it - e.g. adventure anthologies.

I didn't feel in either The Shattered Obelisk or Shadow of the Dragon Queen that they lack thematic coherence. There are ideas that are executed badly or differently from how I'd do it, but they feel of a piece. My problems with those adventures tend towards a lack of polish on some sections, or a lack of vision.

Cheers,
Merric
You've reviewed a loooot of adventures, Merric. Do you have a place where you've written down your thoughts on what makes a good or great adventure?
 

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