The 5e Hardcovers, Part 1

Running TTRPG games online for profit is still a business in infancy for me.  I don’t have a sense of what sort of adventure people would be willing to pay for or where the demand is.  So my first months out I’m trying to offer things I’ve done before that I know I can do well.  I wonder though what would be desired outside my experience.

I’ve read most of the 5e Hardcover adventures to date.  To paraphrase Sly Flourish, even on an adventure you don’t have interest in running these books are a tremendous value for the money.  In terms of potential hours at the table per dollar they’re a great offer.  Two I’ve reviewed on this site, Descent Into Avernus and Rime of the Frostmaiden, I did not care for.  But I respect that each has 6-9 months or more of enough D&D content for a weekly game.  So I thought what I’d do is go through these briefly, give some and highlights.  If the spirit does move you that one of these adventures is something you’d always wanted to run, message me on Twitter or Startplaying Games and I’ll do my best to put a crew together and keep you in mind.  I think nothing drives one’s interest so much as the interest of others.

Rime of the Frostmaiden & Descent Into Avernus: Let’s start with the two I have reviews up for already.  As I said, I don’t particularly like these two and for very similar reasons.  There are too many cooks, too many writers and even though the writers are excellent the adventures feel disjointed.  Scenes don’t flow into each other or reach satisfying conclusions.  It feels like these were written separately and glued together in editing.  And then marketing is heavy handed dictating “we need to include these locations because they tie in to games/movies that are coming out years after the books.”  But I still want to do something with these adventures.  I like the idea of an adventuring party helping out people in Icewind Dale and contesting against gods and dragons even if this adventure has no detail about how best to confront the God or the Dragon.  And I tried to run Avernus but I failed and it gnaws at me, I want another shot.  Fighting a fallen angel in hell should be awesome so I should write into this adventure, “The PCs fight a fallen angel in hell” because it doesn’t happen here.

Curse of Strahd: I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say this is the best 5e adventure to date.  Fighting monsters on the ragged frontier is a damn good time.  This is the only one of these I’ve done as a DM and a player and I’d do it again if I had a group to run it for.  The singular interested villain, setting it at the edge of civilization rather than the extremes of a city or entirely hostile country.  It got no better than this.

Tyranny of Dragons: Everyone bought these first two adventures, Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat to get a look at what a 5th edition D&D adventure looked like.  These are very typical fantasy TTRPG adventures.  Here’s a map, it’s filled with bad guys and some treasure.  Do things.  As in many things, you don’t want to be first through the breach and Hoard suffers for it.  What I really want to run here is Rise of Tiamat, the second half of the adventure where the PCs undertake missions for the Council of Waterdeep.  I love the idea of that Council.  It almost feels like Dragon Age: Inquisition or something, managing their interests to keep them engaged, building a coalition to save the world.

Princes of the Apocalypse: The adventure itself is a series of dungeons, each one is a level’s worth of content.  Again, like Tyranny of Dragon, this is typical.  Maps, Traps, Elemental Themed Bad Guys.  What I like most about this one are the Cult NPCs especially the leaders.  They’re all great fleshed out NPCs and I’d really like to run them as campaign villains.

Out of the Abyss: For content this is a weird one.  The majority of the game here is rolling on random encounter tables as the players walk through the Underdark.  I did the math once and if I recall correctly over the course of this adventure the players cover the equivalent of the Appalachian Trail.  This is a US hiking path that goes from Georgia to Maine.  In the first half the players are trying to escape the Underdark.  In the second half, they go back in and fix things.  I like the idea of exploring different cultures that exist entirely underground.  I like contesting with the drow and the pursuit that makes up the first half of the adventure.  I think that because it is so random encounter driven Out of the Abyss really benefits from the being tailored to your players’ interests and their PCs which I think is something I do well.

That is all the time I have to write today, I’ll be back with other 5e adventures.  If you’d like me to run a game for you or your crew or try to put some people together for a game you can find me at the link below.


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