D&D 5E Why is WoTc still pushing AP's when the majority of gamers want something else?


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Out of curiosity, I looked up how big Sunless Citadel was. Eight modules, with five being 32 pages and the final two being 48.
A total page count of 288 pages. Just a tad larger than one of the storyline adventure hardcovers. Only they crammed 20 levels into those pages. At a slower progression of leveling. And released them slowly over two years.

Did anyone have these?
How much actual story was in the modules? Or was it just eight giant dungeons?
 

Sammael

Adventurer
Some modules were more story-focused, and others were just megadungeons. The overarching plot was very thinly connected. By today's standards, I don't think the series even qualifies as an AP.
 


pemerton

Legend
Out of curiosity, I looked up how big Sunless Citadel was. Eight modules, with five being 32 pages and the final two being 48.

<snip>

Did anyone have these?
How much actual story was in the modules? Or was it just eight giant dungeons?
I believe I own 4 of them: Sunless Citadel, Nightfang Spire, Speaker in Dreams and Bastion of Broken Souls.

The first two I have found completely uninspiring and have never used - they seem just to be dungeons.

Bastion of Broken Souls has a very interesting premise, poor GM advice (too many interesting NPCs are described as "always attacking" or "being unable to be reasoned with") and a crappy dungeon at the end. I ignored the dungeon, and the advice, but got good use out of the basic set-up and the NPCs in a Rolemaster game.

Speaker in Dreams has a fairly cliched plot. I've not used it, but have used bits of the module - the friendly dwarven NPCs, the alienists, the baron's hall - in my 4e game.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Out of curiosity, I looked up how big Sunless Citadel was. Eight modules, with five being 32 pages and the final two being 48.
A total page count of 288 pages. Just a tad larger than one of the storyline adventure hardcovers. Only they crammed 20 levels into those pages. At a slower progression of leveling. And released them slowly over two years.

Did anyone have these?
How much actual story was in the modules? Or was it just eight giant dungeons?

I have all of them and I've run over half of them of them.

First thing to note - they're not an adventure path. They're a series of 8 barely-connected modules. They really don't connect directly together at all into a larger story - only a few of them share overlapping background and most of that is in the hints that are dropped about NPC villains in early modules that play out in later modules [sblock](Gulthias is mentioned in the first module - Sunless Citadel and then shows up in the 10th level adventure Heart of Nightfang Spire. Ashardalon is mentioned in Sunless Citadel as well and shows up in the 18th level adventure Bastion of Broken Souls. All three of these adventures are written by Bruce Cordell, which I suspect has more to do with why the recurring references show up than any intent at Wizards to build an Adventure Path at the time).[/sblock]

Second thing to note is that unless you use milestone levelling of somekind, they do not take you from 1st through 20th level. Or at least the way my players played they wouldn't have. They levelled up enough in Sunless Citadel to tackle Forge of Fury, and then levelled up enough to tackle the third adventure. But by the fourth adventure they hadn't earned enough XP to really be close to the level indicated and we started to fill in with other adventures. The last one I ran before that group collapsed was Heart of Nighfang Spire, but there were a lot of other adventures filled in between to make them work.

As far as story goes - Sunless Citadel and Forge of Fury were pretty bog-standard dungeon crawls. I still use Sunless Citadel when introducing new groups to the game - especially kids - because it is so standard that I think it makes a good intro (replacing B2 for me - which I'd always used as an intro adventure until then). Speaker in Dreams was a mystery set in an urban setting and it worked okay but I remember my players getting antsy and needing me to throw in some extra gratuitous combat to keep things going (that may have been that group though - they liked their combats). The Standing Stone was in my memories a really good "save the village" story that involved demons and evil fey - but I don't have it at hand to review and I can't remember how much of my memories are actually in the published adventure and how much was tweaked by me to fit the PCs that I had at the time. Heart of Nightfang Spire I only vaguely recall - it was a high level dungeon crawl but I can't think of anything that made it particularly memorable.

Note too that if you got all 8 they were $10 apiece back in 2002, which the inflation calculator tells me is over $13 apiece today. So the 4 modules to take you from levels 1-10 would cost the equivalent of $53.68 today but only had half the page count of one of the current AP books. Which is from what I understand a large chunk of the reason why the shift happened from lots of tiny adventures to one big collection of adventures.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I don't think it would be all that difficult to come up with a campaign that utilized different parts of the adventure books cobbled together to create a new campaign.

Start with Phandelver, and then have the players discover something from the Black Spider that leads to the Underdark, where you can use some elements of Out of the Abyss. From there, you could use almost any of the dungeons from Princes of the Apocalypse. The heroes could return to the surface through that dungeon. Unfortunately, the dungeon connected to Castle Naerytar, which is inhabited by a group of creatures intent on unlocking an ancient evil from within its resting place, high in the mountains, in a Temple of Amber.

You could come up with a ton of these, and creating little hooks to get the PCs to go from one to the next wouldn't be very difficult. You could also create some NPCs and villains to help connect things.

I've done a lot of this kind of thing in my current campaign.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Some modules were more story-focused, and others were just megadungeons. The overarching plot was very thinly connected. By today's standards, I don't think the series even qualifies as an AP.


But isn't that one of the criticisms of the WotC APs, they feel more like a smorgasbord of smaller modules with a thin theoretical veneer of plot than a PF-style Path?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think it would be all that difficult to come up with a campaign that utilized different parts of the adventure books cobbled together to create a new campaign.

Start with Phandelver, and then have the players discover something from the Black Spider that leads to the Underdark, where you can use some elements of Out of the Abyss. From there, you could use almost any of the dungeons from Princes of the Apocalypse. The heroes could return to the surface through that dungeon. Unfortunately, the dungeon connected to Castle Naerytar, which is inhabited by a group of creatures intent on unlocking an ancient evil from within its resting place, high in the mountains, in a Temple of Amber.

You could come up with a ton of these, and creating little hooks to get the PCs to go from one to the next wouldn't be very difficult. You could also create some NPCs and villains to help connect things.

I've done a lot of this kind of thing in my current campaign.


They even put a whole Appendix in SKT to point in that direction.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Pretty straightforward reasons they never will, though: because they essentially already are! Sky Kings Thunder could have been a book of minimodules, and had the exact same content more or less: bit for those who want a connection, they built it in. Every "AP" they have put out so far is a collection of minimidules, with an overarching plot that can be easily tossed aside before or during play as needed. Notice also, they are themed, so ToD has a bunch of dragon-y modules, PotA is a bunch of Elemental cult themes modules, OotA is a bunch of Underdark modules, etc. (Curse of Strahd, less so, but still ample stuff to loot and repurpose ina horror theme...).
No, I mean one book with half a dozen tier II adventures.

They are welcome to share a common theme, but they should be standalone enough to not have any dependencies or expectations of order.



Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

CapnZapp

Legend
That is literally what Princes of the Apocalypse and Storm Kings Thunder are.
Well, not really... I'm envisioning a book collecting six adventures each with its own name, it's own start and finish.

No given order to run them in. All for about the same rough level range.

Just picking a chapter of PotA to run independent of the others isn't really a thing. No obvious support for it. Not even a good name in the sense "have you run Sunless Citadel?".

There's little name recognition in "chapter 6 of PotA"

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm not saying this because I believe that's something well actually get.

I'm saying this as an example of what I can perceive a certain segment of the customer base is lacking when they browse the 5e shelf...

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

Satyrn

First Post
I'm not saying this because I believe that's something well actually get.

I'm saying this as an example of what I can perceive a certain segment of the customer base is lacking when they browse the 5e shelf...

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app

If they've got a good game store stocking more than just WotC products, then they could see Quests of Doom by Frog God Games. It is exactly what you describe.
 

Well, not really... I'm envisioning a book collecting six adventures each with its own name, it's own start and finish.

No given order to run them in. All for about the same rough level range.

Just picking a chapter of PotA to run independent of the others isn't really a thing. No obvious support for it. Not even a good name in the sense "have you run Sunless Citadel?".

There's little name recognition in "chapter 6 of PotA"

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
What's the benefit of that?
Rather than a series of small adventures that are all linked but can be run separately you have a bunch of separate adventures that have to be run separately? That just seems to take away the option of running as a campaign.
And if they're all the same level range, once you're run one, what do you run next?
Sure "chapter 6 of PotA" lacks name recognition but "the stone cultist monastery" or "feathergale spire" do. There's a lot of memorable mini adventures in ToD, and PotA, and SKT. Plus having six unrelated adventures in a single books just means seven names have to be remembered. They still might be identified as "the third adventure in <Book X>" or "the adventure in <book X> with the pyramid."


This is ignoring that Storm King's Thunder is pretty much exactly that. There are the six chapters in the middle that each feature a single giant lair and all have their own name. Each one is it's own little mini adventure.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
No, I mean one book with half a dozen tier II adventures.

They are welcome to share a common theme, but they should be standalone enough to not have any dependencies or expectations of order.



Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app


Sky Kings Thunder, levels 5-10, has at least 6 completely separate Giant adventures, with an easily ignorable plot.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Well, not really... I'm envisioning a book collecting six adventures each with its own name, it's own start and finish.

No given order to run them in. All for about the same rough level range.

Just picking a chapter of PotA to run independent of the others isn't really a thing. No obvious support for it. Not even a good name in the sense "have you run Sunless Citadel?".

There's little name recognition in "chapter 6 of PotA"

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app


Sure it's a thing, the books even encourage that: they have provides a veneer of plot, the same way LEGO sets have instructions, but you can do literally anything with the parts.
 

darjr

I crit!
I agree that the parts can be pulled apart and used individually, which is awesome, I do like the plots in most of them and consider them more in-depth than a veneer.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I agree that the parts can be pulled apart and used individually, which is awesome, I do like the plots in most of them and consider them more in-depth than a veneer.


Not saying they are bad, but it's pretty painless to separate the Stone Giant dungeon from the whole story of the Orduning without changing much; same with the Cloud Giant castle from HotDQ, or any other section from an of the APs. They have an overarching plot, but it is not that deeply embedded and can be modified as needed; hence, I say veneer as in light covering
 



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