A geek's thoughts and ideas on the RPGs he loves... with an emphasis on 5th edition D&D.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

In Search of Adventure

As much as I love 5th edition, I do wish the WotC would release short adventure modules as they and TSR did from the late 1970s until the late 2000s.

While I do have plenty of classic adventures that I can easily convert to 5th edition, it would be great to see something new get released.  At the same time, it would be awesome if they also re-released classic adventures, in pdf format, that are statted out for 5th edition.  

My informal method of converting AD&D adventures is to start by dividing all treasures' value by 8 to get its 5th edition value.  For monsters, I pretty much use their 5th edition counterparts (when available) or substitute level appropriate creatures for those that I can't track down.  NPCs are slightly trickier but, thankfully, they are easy enough to generate.  

Megadventures that cover the entire span of a campaign don't thrill me because I prefer running adventure arcs that could change dependent upon the players' action.  Right now, for example, the party has completed A0:  Danger at Darkshelf Quarry and could now take several different paths that could lead them to either T1:  The Village of Hommlet, N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God, or U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

Megadventures, even those that allow players to take the lead as to how to proceed through the adventure, strike me as too limiting and, with 5th edition, too earth-shattering.  Every one of WotC's current megadventures has vast destruction as the price for the PCs' failure. I'd much prefer short adventures that I can plop into my campaign, with some minor tweaks, to create a story that revolves around the players' actions and choices.

Some of my favorite classics, in no particular order, are:
  • B1:  In Search of the Unknown
  • B2:  Keep on the Borderland
  • G1-3:  Against the Giants
  • I1:  Dwellers of the Forbidden City
  • I2:  Tomb of the Lizard King
  • I6:  Ravenloft
  • L2:  The Assassin's Knot
  • N1:  Against the Cult of the Reptile God (the boss fight needs to be tweaked)
  • S1:  The Tomb of Horrors
  • S3:  Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
  • T1: The Village of Hommlet
  • U1:  The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  • X1:  The Isle of Dread
  • The Red Hand of Doom
  • Rappan Athuk


  1. I would agree with you in that I wish WotC would release "short" adventure modules. Their 5e release schedule is cachectic to the point where I wonder if they really are working on "new" material; and I would love to see the return of Dungeon and Dragon magazines (which I think would solve the "short adventure problem").

    However, I think that campaign adventures have their place as well. Typically with a slower burn the payoff is that much better - there's a bigger sense of accomplishment after destroying Lolth at the end of Q1 (and yes the G-D-Q series is a campaign) or the Slave Lords in A4 than there is in defeating the generic BBEG at the end of a one shot.

    If you look at a campaign as a series of interconnected adventures, then there is a just as much of a chance for the characters to affect the outcome than there is in a shorter adventure. think of Masks of Nyarlathotep or Age of Worms. The little victories (of defeats) have as much effect on the outcome as a shorter "campaign".

  2. "Cachetic." Wow! Just wow! ;P

    I guess I prefer to run a pulpier, episodic, campaign that has more of a sandbox feel to it. Long term campaigns can easily get derailed if the players aren't on board with following along with the scripted path and signing on to the social contract to follow the DM's lead. Also, using GDQ as an example, long-term adventure arcs can suffer if a portion of that arc is subpar in relation to the rest of the adventures. In the GDQ series, I'd say that G1&3 and D1-2 are excellent... with G2, D3, and Q1 requiring a lot of DM tweaking to be successful. The same could be said for T1-4. Hommlet and the moathouse are nearly perfect (other than Lareth worshiping Lolth.. wuh?), while the temple portion (particularly the nodes) becomes a long slog that loses it's momentum.

    Campaigns that, at least, give the illusion of options allow for players to take different tacks to achieve their goals. For example, in my current game, the players have heard bits about humanoid incursions into the Verbobonc area that ties into Keep on the Borderlands and have encountered black-robed monk/cleric worshipers of the Elder Eye in the slave-dug mines of Darkshelf... which ties those mines to the Slavers series, the Blackthorns splinter sect of the Scarlet Brotherhood, and The Temple of Elemental Evil. At the same time, some of the slavers have escaped with a group of prisoners on the Jewel River. If the party tracks them down, it'll tie into U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (with the "haunted house" being on the outskirts of Safeton and the smuggler ship, The Sea Ghost, being refit as a slaver vessel.