5E Why is Hoard of the Dragon Queen such a bad adventure?

Parmandur

Legend
No it doesn't, the episode clearly state that if the characters don't enter the town than the cult forces pillage and burn to thier heart content and leave at dawn.



Warder

Yeah, the writers take consideration of a number of probable actions that players can take; sure, it requires meta-game buy in, but guess what? New players generally have boatloads of meta-game buy in, as they come in highly conscious of this being a game. It takes a certain amount of experience to get so into character as to make realistically smart moves instead of action movie or video game moves.
 

Hussar

Legend
Ok, I'll admit, I haven't read the module, so, i'm going by what I read. If I understand this right, the party arrives at the town, which is under attack from a dragon. The module contains information for the DM if the PC's attack the dragon or run away and avoid the dragon.

So, explain to me again where the railroad is because I'm seeing an adventure that has a number of possible outcomes here.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Ok, I'll admit, I haven't read the module, so, i'm going by what I read. If I understand this right, the party arrives at the town, which is under attack from a dragon. The module contains information for the DM if the PC's attack the dragon or run away and avoid the dragon.



So, explain to me again where the railroad is because I'm seeing an adventure that has a number of possible outcomes here.

Well, enter the town and make your way to the keep along with helpless refugees (given bounded accuracy, strength in position and numbers makes sense, and is explained by an NPC who is being attacked by Kobolds as you enter town), definitely not attack the dragon directly.

All the actual stuff in the module assumes you went for the keep; there is an aside explaining how everyone in town doesn't like you if you sit it out, and there is no XP or loot to be had.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, enter the town and make your way to the keep along with helpless refugees (given bounded accuracy, strength in position and numbers makes sense, and is explained by an NPC who is being attacked by Kobolds as you enter town), definitely not attack the dragon directly.

All the actual stuff in the module assumes you went for the keep; there is an aside explaining how everyone in town doesn't like you if you sit it out, and there is no XP or loot to be had.
Oh, noes, the party avoids the encounters, acts like cowards, and everyone hates them and they aren't rewarded? I'd say that's precisely the way we want to teach new players.
 

Blackwarder

Adventurer
Ok, I'll admit, I haven't read the module, so, i'm going by what I read. If I understand this right, the party arrives at the town, which is under attack from a dragon. The module contains information for the DM if the PC's attack the dragon or run away and avoid the dragon.

So, explain to me again where the railroad is because I'm seeing an adventure that has a number of possible outcomes here.
I think that the railroad is the fact that there is a part where the DM can have the dragon attack the keep while the characters are inside and if the characters do enough damage (25 hp) it flies away.

And the players aren't forced to engage it, they can choose to not engage it and the mayor won't fault them about that...

Like any published adventure, you need to tweak it to suit your table, and unlike must published adventure the fact that they had to write it without finalized rules cause some unbalanced encounters (and Steve Winter got an errata post in WotC forums) but all in all its a great adventure IMO.

Warder
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Well, enter the town and make your way to the keep along with helpless refugees (given bounded accuracy, strength in position and numbers makes sense, and is explained by an NPC who is being attacked by Kobolds as you enter town), definitely not attack the dragon directly.

All the actual stuff in the module assumes you went for the keep; there is an aside explaining how everyone in town doesn't like you if you sit it out, and there is no XP or loot to be had.
It also assumes that you decide to infiltrate the enemy camp full of hundreds of enemies, that is what my players avoided, instead just spying from the outside and picking off some groups of guards, before finally trying to get a thief to sneak in after the camp was at full alert in order to try and find where the prisoners were. Well he rolled poorly on his CHA check and was unable to talk his way out of anything and in trying to flee was killed. So the rest of the group pulled out and went back to the keep to report what they knew and recover while finding a new PC. Then when they went back to the camp for Chapter 3 they were a level off where the module kind of expected them to be and its been a slaughter. So we have several new PC's now going to try and recover the ones that were killed or captured. I'm thinking they get killed too unless I start nerfing or giving them free levels..which just isn't how I run a game. So for me its a gamestyle conflict really. I don't go out of my way to modify and tailor everything to always be appropriate for the party if actions on the enemies part are set up to do something else, which has lead to a the current situation where I'm guessing they are going to pull out of the area. Or maybe they will use great tactics and roll good and get it done. We will see next week. This has just really rammed the point home that AP style stuff isn't for a more sandbox DM like me, which I should have learned by now. I may just throw the book away and wing the rest of it.
 
It also assumes that you decide to infiltrate the enemy camp full of hundreds of enemies, that is what my players avoided, instead just spying from the outside and picking off some groups of guards, before finally trying to get a thief to sneak in after the camp was at full alert in order to try and find where the prisoners were. Well he rolled poorly on his CHA check and was unable to talk his way out of anything and in trying to flee was killed. So the rest of the group pulled out and went back to the keep to report what they knew and recover while finding a new PC. Then when they went back to the camp for Chapter 3 they were a level off where the module kind of expected them to be and its been a slaughter. So we have several new PC's now going to try and recover the ones that were killed or captured. I'm thinking they get killed too unless I start nerfing or giving them free levels..which just isn't how I run a game. So for me its a gamestyle conflict really. I don't go out of my way to modify and tailor everything to always be appropriate for the party if actions on the enemies part are set up to do something else, which has lead to a the current situation where I'm guessing they are going to pull out of the area. Or maybe they will use great tactics and roll good and get it done. We will see next week. This has just really rammed the point home that AP style stuff isn't for a more sandbox DM like me, which I should have learned by now. I may just throw the book away and wing the rest of it.
Instead of giving free levels, maybe you could hand out a bunch of "random" encounters with hobgoblins and werewolves and stuff while they are travelling/resting? That should level them up pretty quickly.
 

SirAntoine

Visitor
That's too bad it's such a poor module. I had high hopes that Wizards of the Coast would get everything right this time around. Adventure writing is pretty basic, and if they're having trouble with it that could be a sign of a lot of problems.

All you can do is make the most of the module, or write your own.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
That's too bad it's such a poor module. I had high hopes that Wizards of the Coast would get everything right this time around. Adventure writing is pretty basic, and if they're having trouble with it that could be a sign of a lot of problems.

All you can do is make the most of the module, or write your own.
It's actually not that basic, particularly if you want to write an adventure you can actually sell and expect others to be able to play rather than just something you're writing at home for your own table. When writing a home adventure, you know the players and their characters so you only have to plan for the things they're capable of and likely to do, but in a commercial adventure you have to plan for everything. You also need to spell things out in greater detail, because the person running the adventure is not the one with all the background info in his or her head.

Even Paizo, who are generally lauded for their adventure writing, have made some clunkers.
 

Derren

Adventurer
That's too bad it's such a poor module. I had high hopes that Wizards of the Coast would get everything right this time around. Adventure writing is pretty basic, and if they're having trouble with it that could be a sign of a lot of problems.

All you can do is make the most of the module, or write your own.
The adventure does not come from WotC but from Kobold Press.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
The adventure does not come from WotC but from Kobold Press.
And it's not really poorly written. It's not well edited, but that's not the same as a poorly written adventure.

4 GM's in one room. 4 different sequences in Chapter 1. And chapter 2 was 4 very different results. Chapter 3 was likewise quite different for each table.

The use of Factions to hook people into the story isn't clear until chapter 4... but I was easily able to get buy in from my players because of the factions. And they're in the Player's Basic Rules...
 

Blackwarder

Adventurer
H
Even Paizo, who are generally lauded for their adventure writing, have made some clunkers.
Paizo is a good example, they are lauded for thier AP and adventures but personally I have yet to see a paizo adventure that I thought to be good, I bought a bunch and my general reaction was meh... different taste I guess.

Warder
 

sithramir

Visitor
It also assumes that you decide to infiltrate the enemy camp full of hundreds of enemies, that is what my players avoided, instead just spying from the outside and picking off some groups of guards, before finally trying to get a thief to sneak in after the camp was at full alert in order to try and find where the prisoners were. Well he rolled poorly on his CHA check and was unable to talk his way out of anything and in trying to flee was killed. So the rest of the group pulled out and went back to the keep to report what they knew and recover while finding a new PC. Then when they went back to the camp for Chapter 3 they were a level off where the module kind of expected them to be and its been a slaughter. So we have several new PC's now going to try and recover the ones that were killed or captured. I'm thinking they get killed too unless I start nerfing or giving them free levels..which just isn't how I run a game. So for me its a gamestyle conflict really. I don't go out of my way to modify and tailor everything to always be appropriate for the party if actions on the enemies part are set up to do something else, which has lead to a the current situation where I'm guessing they are going to pull out of the area. Or maybe they will use great tactics and roll good and get it done. We will see next week. This has just really rammed the point home that AP style stuff isn't for a more sandbox DM like me, which I should have learned by now. I may just throw the book away and wing the rest of it.
I'm really shocked here. You don't use suggested milestone leveling AND don't scale the encounters down since your PCs are lower leveled? I hope you don't think this has anything to do with the adventure fault wise?

This is like starting 3rd level adventurers in an adventure for level 9 characters and then being mad at the adventure. No one says every encounter should be balanced but this doesn't seem an issue with the adventure.

Maybe you could blame it for not having options on how to properly scale up and down?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I was gonna run it yesterday but ran the 2E night below adventure or at least part 1. It actually ran quite well and jsut subbed in CR2 bandit leaders for lvl 2 fighters, level 3 thieves became scouts.
 
Simple answer: It's a railroad - but there's nothing wrong with that for the right (or perhaps wrong) group. Where it is bad (although a huge step up on Keep on the Shadowfell for 4e) is that the writers didn't have access to the design math, so the numbers are all off.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I'm really shocked here. You don't use suggested milestone leveling AND don't scale the encounters down since your PCs are lower leveled? I hope you don't think this has anything to do with the adventure fault wise?

This is like starting 3rd level adventurers in an adventure for level 9 characters and then being mad at the adventure. No one says every encounter should be balanced but this doesn't seem an issue with the adventure.

Maybe you could blame it for not having options on how to properly scale up and down?
I think I just said in the part you quoted that its a bad fit for my style of gaming. Sure the large numbers of errors and kind of iffy plot don't help but I can work with that a bit better since that is more fixable. Who said I was mad at a collection of paper and ink? Kind of strange to get mad at that. Getting mad at the designers maybe but even that is kind of unreasonable.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Simple answer: It's a railroad - but there's nothing wrong with that for the right (or perhaps wrong) group. Where it is bad (although a huge step up on Keep on the Shadowfell for 4e) is that the writers didn't have access to the design math, so the numbers are all off.
Yep, for the appropriate DM and group I'm sure there is fun to be had all around.
 

dream66_

Visitor
The problem isn't that it's a railroad, I could handle that, it's how vague it is, then assumes that the charaters did some railroady thing to get to the next chapter

Don't give me this whole chapter of setting and freedom and anything can happen only to start the next chapter with "Now that the PC's have resqued the monk" What they did? where? when? Either railroad or sandbox but PICK ONE!!!
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Simple answer: It's a railroad - but there's nothing wrong with that for the right (or perhaps wrong) group. Where it is bad (although a huge step up on Keep on the Shadowfell for 4e) is that the writers didn't have access to the design math, so the numbers are all off.
You have evidence for this?

Easy to make the claim.
 

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