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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Worst module you've ever seen?

    So, I was gifted some modules to add to my existing stack. Long story short, one of them was absolutely horrific. Now, a lot of modules are *bad*, and I often write up a list of errors as I'm reading through modules, but this was decidedly the worst I'd ever seen - worse than even the worst random fan-written modules I'd had the misfortune of reading. It was a professional D&D module, apparently written by someone who has never cracked a D&D book, didn't know how the rules worked, didn't know how simple human social interaction worked, was horrifyingly Railroaded, and filled with OP NPCs (honestly, if rather be running the NPCs (you know, the ones asking for help) against the module than the PCs). I'd written a whole page of notes about head scratchers… just reading the first page of the module. And it just got worse from there.

    Yeah.

    So, what's your horror story? What's the worst module you've ever seen, where you had to ask yourself, "someone got paid to write this trash?!" (or, if fan-made, "at least they didn't get *paid* to write this")? Tell me all about it in face palm detail. (EDIT: preferably, include the system for context, so we're not completely confused, as it doesn't have to be a D&D module.)
    Last edited by Quertus; 2020-09-05 at 04:51 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The Witchfire trilogy. 3E D20, Iron Kingdoms setting.

    This is no adventure, what it is, is a railroad of the purest form and it should not be played, but rather read as a novel around a campfire.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The Witchfire trilogy. 3E D20, Iron Kingdoms setting.
    Oh wow I was thinking of the same module and couldn't think of the name. It's so bad. First it has serious theming issues the introduction makes a big deal about how magic is on the decline while steampunk tech is on the rise and necromancy has been dead for decades. Then the module is about a necromancer that can raise a ridiculous army.

    One segment was a big windy dungeon where you're supposed to be chasing the villain. I had a scroll of Aspect of the Wolf allowing me to track her perfectly. The module flat out rubber bands the villain to get out just ahead of you and drops the next pressing plot hook on you.

    This is partly on the DM, but he then teased us about the loot and xp we missed out on by circumventing much of the dungeon that the plot doesn't give you time to go back to. I say partly because the design is terrible too.

    After the next dungeon a skeleton army is marching to the city and nobody will take you seriously. I walked from the game after various guildmasters refused payments of hundreds of gold to ready a force to defend the town based on my paranoia.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    It was a professional D&D module, ...
    Hey! No fair asking for everyone to name names and then you don't. What is this module you are talking about?

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Is "Tomb of Horrors" cheating? Because probably that. It's not that it particularly ignores the rules, it's just that it's a series of "what number am I thinking of" challenges where if you don't guess the right number every time your character is deleted.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Friends Like These for FFG's Star Wars. It's very railroaded and really asks for characters to take actions that are likely not what they would do (we need allies...let's get the slavers to help us by throwing expendable slave troops into the face of the Imperial attack and replaying them for their help by letting they take more slaves). And the ending is a multistage mass combat where every stage is virtually guaranteed to have the preset outcome and then the final end is really an auto-fail. It's absolutely terrible.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The Avatar Trilogy, namely: Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep. It's the Chutes & Ladders of adventure modules in terms of decision making required by the PCs. Unlike Chutes & Ladders which mercifully ends after a bit, these set of trains run quite a while.

    Truly awful.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by daryen View Post
    Hey! No fair asking for everyone to name names and then you don't. What is this module you are talking about?
    True that. I intentionally didn't name the module initially, so as not to bias the results. I'm curious if anyone else found this particular module as bad as I did.

    To be fair, I only said to name the system. Although, clearly, naming the module is a huge help.

    But the real reason? I'm AFB. I've wanted to make a thread like this for a bit; now that I've remembered to make the thread, I've forgotten the module's name.

    I'll post it when I remember.

    When I get my hands on the module (and/or my notes) again, I'll go into more detail while roasting it.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorren View Post
    The Avatar Trilogy, namely: Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep. It's the Chutes & Ladders of adventure modules in terms of decision making required by the PCs. Unlike Chutes & Ladders which mercifully ends after a bit, these set of trains run quite a while.

    Truly awful.
    Ugh, seconded. Players are expected to just spectate and do whatever the main characters of the module want. Midnight is an horrible Mary Sue if you play the modules as written, and all the players get for their suffering through this thing is watching someone else ascend to godhood.

    It's not even a railroad, because trains can be nice to be on. This is a bus ride, but the AC is broken, everything smells and the driver refuses to stop until he crashes into a brick wall.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    I haven't played a lot of modules so my pool of experience is fairly small, however Descent Into Avernus really sticks out.

    It may be a personal bias rather than the actual quality of the book, but I found it to be full of the sort of "lol random" nonsense that Forgotten Realms seems to think is funny, and I just can't take it.

    Spoiler: Minor D-i-A details
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    For example: You're in Baldur's Gate, and you need to find a Wizard to cast a spell for you. One would think that would be a fairly trivial thing to do in one of the greatest metropolis along the Sword Coast but no; you arbitrarily have to slog your way down to Candlekeep in order to speak to a mage, who then conjours up a flock of Griffons for you to ride to find another mage... Who happens to be a magical talking otter.
    And who can't actually cast the spell that the book says she can cast because she's not high enough level, but who cares about the rules? We'll just let Plane Shift work the same way as Gate because why worry about the details?

    Also the Paladin who came with you from Baldur's Gate? She decides that she's not coming with you any further and goes home alone. She then dies offscreen, because players aren't allowed to have friendly NPCs that they can relate to.

    At some point you meet an Elf Ranger NPC who the book takes great pains to point out is non-binary. This is excellent - more representation is greatly important and it's about time that WotC started to make up for lost time. Except that the character in question doesn't have a single word of written dialogue, they're just THERE and otherwise ignored so it comes across as pandering.

    To say nothing of the actual module itself. If there's a map of a castle with 30+ rooms in it and only something of significance in 3 of those rooms, the books should tell you so right away. My GM was kind enough to read ahead and flatly tell us that the Duchess' manor was 95% empty rooms so he trimmed it down for us, but that kind of set the tone for the book.

    Extensive corridors of empty rooms? Check. Lengthy fights with devils who throw out multiple poisonous/necrotic attacks per round and are also immune/resistant to most things that you can throw back? Check. The whole thing is just inane plot and NPCs propping up a grind through empty rooms and long, un-fun fights against enemies who can't really be conversed or interacted with.


    In the end, I think we as a group decided to skip out large chunks so I admit I didn't experience the full thing, but I have been assured that the plot isn't redeemed by anything that we missed. All in all, I can't recommend.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    Is "Tomb of Horrors" cheating? Because probably that. It's not that it particularly ignores the rules, it's just that it's a series of "what number am I thinking of" challenges where if you don't guess the right number every time your character is deleted.
    I've definitely gotta second Tomb of Horrors. I get why it is the way it is, but it's almost the antithesis of what i consider the modern game to be.
    Last edited by NorthernPhoenix; 2020-09-06 at 11:59 AM.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

    Start with maps that were reprinted from their first appearance, but with none of the known issues corrected (the labels don't match the text description and the stiarcases between the first few levels don't match at all).
    Then I cannot work out how some of the new maps for the later levels are supposed to connect either.
    Add on poor design - 20 levesl and the monsters on each level are that CR (it's 3.5 OGL). The PCs are expected to spend a lot of time outide the dungeon getting enough xp to progress futher - not terrible design, but...
    A large part of the dungeon is supposed to evolve over time - good design right? Well no - the DM is given the starting point not the point when the PCs first get there, and when you add in the way the levels work means there's a high chance they will trigger it then have to leave for a while to level up before going back thus rendering most of that area of the dungeon dead (full of lava as it happens).

    It's got a lot of elements that could be marks of good design, but the way they are put together actually makes them into bad design.

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    MesiDoomstalker's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Jade Regent Adventure Path by Paizo for Pathfinder. It is, repeatedly, called out as Paizo's "Journey to the West" but the only thing similar to it is the fact you travel a long distance and there's a lot of NPC hanger on's. You are supposed to escort the true Empress of Not-Japan so she can retake the throne but since she starts out higher level than the party, they go out of their way to sideline her to keep the PC's in the spot light. And when the PC's out level her, they just kinda...forget about her till the last book where she's suddenly takes a center role and totes becomes a DMPC. The third book (out of 6) is literally filler. It has no bearing on the main plot besides getting closer to your destination. The designer's fell hard into job=class fallacy, so a lot of NPC foes from book 2 onward are Ninja and Samurai, which beyond the fact both those classes are terrible, are also built by Paizo (who can't build NPC's for nothing). So most things with class levels are weak, boring and very samey. For the campaign that is advertised for the Weebs, it spends a significant amount of time in familiar Not-Europe areas and not in Not-Japan. The campaign has 2 side-game rules, both of which are sketchy. The caravan rules are boring, largely a single player resource grind and largely ignored by the majority of the campaign (except worthless Book 3). The romance rules are hot garbage. If you aren't a Diplomancer, you are forever alone. The closer you get to a relationship with someone, the harder it is to progress relations. You can instantly change your friendly, love-hate rivalry to absolute infatuation and "True Love" in a single diplomacy check.

    There are other issues, but those are the biggest.
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    Zeb's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The worst module I got to experience as a player was The Fright at Tristor. At first I thought it was because the DM was new but no it was just that bad. Especially since it was "designed" for level 1 characters.

    Plus the villian reads like they tried to make a whole party into one character- "Reuven learned the ways of the forest in the distant Adri, saw combat in Nyrond during the Creyhawk Wars, and picked up a host of thiefly skills in the decrepit city of Seltaren, in the Duchy of Urnst. To the Sorcerers Nexus of Rel Astra he traded his immortal soul for the ability to channel magic at will. Finally, in the bandit town of Stoink, Reuven spent his savings on a trained circus bear, Tasptaddle, with which he planned to exact his revenge against the cruel people of Tristor. He has been instructing the bear to kill wildlife and farm animals to frighten the Tristor residents, a prelude to a final act of villainy that will make his revenge complete."

    Directions, spacing, and encounter distances are also a mess throughout the module.The first encounter is with an owlbear who 'only' has 25hp but is already engaged in melee with commoners who he can one shot so the party needs to get real lucky to have a chance of saving either of them.

    Lots of the plot hook check DC's start plausible then jump to nigh impossible, start following the tracks: DC-18 continue following off the road: DC 28, hope you specialized in tracking at level 1.
    Or 60% of the 80 villagers know the story, but only 10% of them are willing to talk and only if you succeed at a DC17 charisma check, and then you have a 50% chance they will be 'proud of the murder', so 4.8 useful villagers?

    There are no real sympathetic characters and the encounters are either deadly or a joke, I know it was 3.0 but I can only recommend it as an example of what not to do.
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    Eldritch Horror in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MesiDoomstalker View Post
    The romance rules are hot garbage. If you aren't a Diplomancer, you are forever alone. The closer you get to a relationship with someone, the harder it is to progress relations. You can instantly change your friendly, love-hate rivalry to absolute infatuation and "True Love" in a single diplomacy check.

    There are other issues, but those are the biggest.
    Sounds like every romantic comedy movie ever - the male protagonist does something that drives the female protagonist away, so he performs a crazy/stupid/insane romantic action that instantly reverses her feelings.

    Or possibly elementary school, where you indicate your attraction to someone by harassing them. So pull your NPC love interest's hair and hide frogs in their saddlebags, to make it easier to fall in love.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The Witchfire trilogy. 3E D20, Iron Kingdoms setting.

    This is no adventure, what it is, is a railroad of the purest form and it should not be played, but rather read as a novel around a campfire.
    My brother bought this back in the day; never ran it, though. He'd read it through and thought it was crap.
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernPhoenix View Post
    I've definitely gotta second Tomb of Horrors. It get why it is the way it is, but it's almost the antithesis of what i consider the modern game to be.
    A third vote for Tomb of Horrors....there isnt even an objective to it, just survive. No one takes a PC into a module where there is nothing to gain.
    Only a fool fights in a burning house - Klingon proverb

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MesiDoomstalker View Post
    You can instantly change your friendly, love-hate rivalry to absolute infatuation and "True Love" in a single diplomacy check.
    They are aiming at the late teens to early twenties age group.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikelaC1 View Post
    A third vote for Tomb of Horrors....there isnt even an objective to it, just survive. No one takes a PC into a module where there is nothing to gain.
    In fairness to Tomb, it was written for D&D (not AD&D as that didn't exist yet) for the Origins convention in 1975. And Gygax designed it for PCs such as Tenser and Robilar, and the players knew going in that this was very much a DM vs. Players adventure, where success was measured in how long you survived, not whether or not you finished.

    It's a perfectly fine module as long as EVERYONE goes into it with the understanding that the DM is actively trying to kill them. (And of course, it's so well known now that you can't really use it anymore in that context).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorren View Post
    The Avatar Trilogy, namely: Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep. It's the Chutes & Ladders of adventure modules in terms of decision making required by the PCs. Unlike Chutes & Ladders which mercifully ends after a bit, these set of trains run quite a while.

    Truly awful.
    Along those lines, the original Dragonlance modules that followed the books. Railroading at its finest.
    "That's a horrible idea! What time?"

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomandtish View Post
    Along those lines, the original Dragonlance modules that followed the books. Railroading at its finest.
    The big difference is that while the DL modules are railroady, they have the decency to place the PCs in the role of the main characters, so at the very least they can feel like they're having an impact.

    In the Avatar Trilogy, the story happens at the players. Kelemvor, Midnight and Cyric are there, doing the actual cool stuff while the players spectate.
    Last edited by Silly Name; 2020-09-06 at 01:26 PM.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    The big difference is that while the DL modules are railroady, they have the decency to place the PCs in the role of the main characters, so at the very least they can feel like they're having an impact.

    In the Avatar Trilogy, the story happens at the players. Kelemvor, Midnight and Cyric are there, doing the actual cool stuff while the players spectate.
    That reminds me of the final "End Times" adventures for World of Darkness.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    Descent Into Avernus really sticks out.

    Spoiler: Minor D-i-A details
    Show
    For example: You're in Baldur's Gate, and you need to find a Wizard to cast a spell for you. One would think that would be a fairly trivial thing to do in one of the greatest metropolis along the Sword Coast but no; you arbitrarily have to slog your way down to Candlekeep in order to speak to a mage, who then conjours up a flock of Griffons for you to ride to find another mage... Who happens to be a magical talking otter.
    And who can't actually cast the spell that the book says she can cast because she's not high enough level, but who cares about the rules? We'll just let Plane Shift work the same way as Gate because why worry about the details?

    Also the Paladin who came with you from Baldur's Gate? She decides that she's not coming with you any further and goes home alone. She then dies offscreen, because players aren't allowed to have friendly NPCs that they can relate to.

    At some point you meet an Elf Ranger NPC who the book takes great pains to point out is non-binary. This is excellent - more representation is greatly important and it's about time that WotC started to make up for lost time. Except that the character in question doesn't have a single word of written dialogue, they're just THERE and otherwise ignored so it comes across as pandering.

    To say nothing of the actual module itself. If there's a map of a castle with 30+ rooms in it and only something of significance in 3 of those rooms, the books should tell you so right away. My GM was kind enough to read ahead and flatly tell us that the Duchess' manor was 95% empty rooms so he trimmed it down for us, but that kind of set the tone for the book.

    Extensive corridors of empty rooms? Check. Lengthy fights with devils who throw out multiple poisonous/necrotic attacks per round and are also immune/resistant to most things that you can throw back? Check. The whole thing is just inane plot and NPCs propping up a grind through empty rooms and long, un-fun fights against enemies who can't really be conversed or interacted with.
    Different plot, but similar types of flaws to those in my module. I wonder if they had the same author? I may Google that later, if I remember.

    Definitely on my list of modules to check out now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

    Start with maps that were reprinted from their first appearance, but with none of the known issues corrected (the labels don't match the text description and the stiarcases between the first few levels don't match at all).
    Then I cannot work out how some of the new maps for the later levels are supposed to connect either.
    Add on poor design - 20 levesl and the monsters on each level are that CR (it's 3.5 OGL). The PCs are expected to spend a lot of time outide the dungeon getting enough xp to progress futher - not terrible design, but...
    A large part of the dungeon is supposed to evolve over time - good design right? Well no - the DM is given the starting point not the point when the PCs first get there, and when you add in the way the levels work means there's a high chance they will trigger it then have to leave for a while to level up before going back thus rendering most of that area of the dungeon dead (full of lava as it happens).

    It's got a lot of elements that could be marks of good design, but the way they are put together actually makes them into bad design.
    Areas you've adventured through… get filled with lava?

    Also, was this "random encounters give you the needed (treasure and) XP to continue the module", or "come back after you've played through "Descent Into Avernus"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeb View Post
    The worst module I got to experience as a player was The Fright at Tristor. At first I thought it was because the DM was new but no it was just that bad. Especially since it was "designed" for level 1 characters.

    Plus the villian reads like they tried to make a whole party into one character- "Reuven learned the ways of the forest in the distant Adri, saw combat in Nyrond during the Creyhawk Wars, and picked up a host of thiefly skills in the decrepit city of Seltaren, in the Duchy of Urnst. To the Sorcerers Nexus of Rel Astra he traded his immortal soul for the ability to channel magic at will. Finally, in the bandit town of Stoink, Reuven spent his savings on a trained circus bear, Tasptaddle, with which he planned to exact his revenge against the cruel people of Tristor. He has been instructing the bear to kill wildlife and farm animals to frighten the Tristor residents, a prelude to a final act of villainy that will make his revenge complete."

    Directions, spacing, and encounter distances are also a mess throughout the module.The first encounter is with an owlbear who 'only' has 25hp but is already engaged in melee with commoners who he can one shot so the party needs to get real lucky to have a chance of saving either of them.

    Lots of the plot hook check DC's start plausible then jump to nigh impossible, start following the tracks: DC-18 continue following off the road: DC 28, hope you specialized in tracking at level 1.
    Or 60% of the 80 villagers know the story, but only 10% of them are willing to talk and only if you succeed at a DC17 charisma check, and then you have a 50% chance they will be 'proud of the murder', so 4.8 useful villagers?

    There are no real sympathetic characters and the encounters are either deadly or a joke, I know it was 3.0 but I can only recommend it as an example of what not to do.
    Hmmm… what if we get one character to run up to the owlbear while a second goes all-out defense? Then Benign Transposition them. And have the Rogue sneak attack the owlbear in the 2nd round? Any chance of saving the NPCs then?

    I'm… kinda liking the "proud of the killer" angle, actually. So we may be using different definitions for "sympathetic character". (Granted, if it's just random rolls for any given villager's response, well, then there aren't any characters, let alone any sympathetic ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    The big difference is that while the DL modules are railroady, they have the decency to place the PCs in the role of the main characters, so at the very least they can feel like they're having an impact.

    In the Avatar Trilogy, the story happens at the players. Kelemvor, Midnight and Cyric are there, doing the actual cool stuff while the players spectate.
    Yeah, the module I'm complaining about at least had the decency to put the PCs in the starring roles (mostly). Of course, the fact that every NPC was better than the PCs makes you question why the PCs have the starring roles…

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    BardGirl

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze View Post
    That reminds me of the final "End Times" adventures for World of Darkness.
    I liked some of those, especially the "blow up the setting!" ones, but others were...baaaad. Mage had one good scenario (I liked the twist at the end, where the PC's are fighting to destroy the world and the villain is trying to preserve it), and four variations on "an unstoppable asteroid / super-Nephandus / fleet of aliens turns up, you lose times infinity".

    Man, White Wolf have had some real stinkers in their time......because I didn't read them personally, I'm not even including Aberrant adventures or most of the Sam Haight Saga.


    Fear To Tread for Demon: The Fallen. This RPG is awesome, the peak of the World of Darkness according to me, and you should check it out. This adventure was not awesome, and you should avoid it. For the most part, it's fairly basic errors in adventure design (a PC who is a child or who can shapeshift into one can't infiltrate the evil orphanage because we say so, you have two NPC's tagging along for a big chunk of it, one scenario is smuggling a wounded ally to safety....if you don't have PC's who can teleport or take a shortcut through the spirit world), but it completely comes unglued with the ending.

    The PC's discover that many of the infernal leaders in Los Angeles have become puppets of an Earthbound, one of the big bads of the setting! Surrounded by powerful enemies, their only hope of survival is to sell their souls and become its finger puppets. And then the module ends. Yup! You are now either dead or the servants of an evil, insane monster! Thanks for playing! And this is sold as an INTRODUCTORY scenario to the game!


    Rage Across the Amazon, for Werewolf. It's a railroaded series of fights where the reward of the PC's is to find a legendary mage deep in the Amazon and then.....White Wolf's pet NPC to end all pet NPC's, Sam Haight, defeats him in a cutscene while the PC's presumably sit around picking their noses, and he escapes into a no-you-can't-chase-him Umbral pocket, now a vampire-werewolf-mage with a staff that makes him immune to Paradox.


    Rage Across New York, for Werewolf. The climax of the story involves the PC's fighting Wyrm-spirits in the Umbra across from a TV debate. Their aim is to prove that the Satanic child abuse scandal was real. Yeah.....


    Crusaders of the Machine God, for Exalted. Now, the Autochthonians were an element of the setting not in the core but introduced very early on. They lived inside, essentially, Fantasy Unicron, keeping him maintained after he fled Creation back at the dawn of time. They got a basic writeup, and a quick adventure where they were returning to Creation to try and find a cure for the sickness that was slowly causing their god and home to fall apart, establishing a beachhead in Creation with their weird artificial Exalts and funky technology.

    Now, when the Alchemicals got a full book near the end of 1e, this scenario was expanded into a big adventure, where it was expanded into a Creation-threatening scenario that could form the backbone of an entire campaign.

    One thing about Exalted is, most of the PC's are pretty much demigods. Not invulnerable, but at a power level where you can't really plan for what they're going to do. Think if you had Kratos, Wonder Woman, Sun Wukong and Elric in a party of PC's. So obviously, you want to go with a more diffuse "this is what happens if the PC's don't intervene, these are points where they could intervene, here is a general indication of the effects their intervention could have" writing style, right?

    White Wolf did not do that. It's essentially fan fiction about a whole bunch of existing NPC's who run the entire arc of the invasion by themselves while the one paragraph that acknowledges this is an RPG is about the PC's "rallying" in a desert fortress and interfering with none of the events of the war. If your PC's do throw things off the rails--say if they're the scouting Alchemicals and decide something weird and unpredictable like "Let's not trust this creepy guy who's the first person to meet us.", then the entire story goes down in smoking ruins. A particular highlight is the Autocthonians (people who did not know what a sea was until they came to Creation) destroying the navy of the Dragon-Blooded, people who can quite literally have sailing in their blood.


    The second War In The Heavens book for Fading Suns. FS has quite a few good adventures--generally, they set up a scenario and a cast of NPC's with clear agendas, and then take their hands off the wheel, allowing for several different ways the PC's might approach it. But this one....I knew I was in trouble when it began with "One of the PC's is KO'd and replaced by a doppleganger.". And the final reward is that you get to stumble round an illusory maze for a while, and then the Vau may or may not have been impressed by you and may or may not decide to change something based on what you did. I was actually kind of glad the third book never saw a release back then.
    Last edited by Azuresun; 2020-09-07 at 03:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Adding my vote for the Witchfire Trilogy. The module is really a novel series about the necromancer in question, who is the protagonist thereof. If the players do well enough in the dungeon crawls and realize they’re supposed to appease the necromancer NPC, they get a front row seat to the module’s plot, which they cannot influence beyond determining if they’re in the ultimate victor’s good graces or not.

    There’s a scene where the PCs are given a choice between two characters of questionable morals to give a plot-important artifact to. The choice is skewed by one choice being evil “but sympathetic,” at least by the way the module presents the NPC’s motives. Worse, there is effectively a right and wrong choice. If you choose right, things follow as if your choice mattered and you get points in your favor for the best seats from which to watch the plot unfold. If you choose wrong, the “right” NPC cutscene-kills the NPC you gave it to right then and there, tells you off, and storms off to keep enacting the plot, which you might not have as good a seat to watch, now.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The Pazio AP for StarFinder called Dead Suns was pretty bad for my group. I remember that we ran across at least 6 or 7 different instances of "you cannot X your spaceship here" without any explanation. With X usually being land, although it did include fly over, scan, leave, use as transportation, and use as cover during a fight.

    So the whole thing was a "race against the clock to stop bad guys getting the superweapon" scenario spanning a 3.p style 1st to about 15th levels. Literally every step of the way ends with a "they just left/got what they needed, you have to hurry to catch them". Unfortunately space travel time is random, from 1d6 days between ultra-civilization core worlds to 5d6 days for completely uncharted destinations. Then space combat requires upgrading your spaceship every level, which is 1d6 days per thing upgraded.

    Suffice it to say that the AP is actually "speed of plot" but tells you that time & speed is critical. There's no difference between the PCs spending 14d6 days upgrading the ship then 5d6 days getting somewhere and just getting the best engines at level 4 or something and speed running all the space stuff at 1/3 * 5d6 days plus out running all the fights. Well there is a difference, the space fights count for xp and sometimes loot or plot critical info, and of course failing one involves your ship being destroyed by people who have no reason to take prisoners. The AP requires you to level up you ship, then fight and win all the space combats, despite telling the players that they have to catch up to the enemies.

    There were other things of course. The gas trap on the airless asteroid that poisoned people through their space suits. The expectation that the PCs walk something like 4+ hours through a poisonous and mildly radioactive hellscape instead of renting an air car. The expectation that at 13th level either all the PCs can fly at 60'+ or none of them can. Loot that was, in one case, literally useless and nearly worthless. The usual stuff.
    Niven's Laws, #5
    If you've nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn't get it then, let it not be your fault.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Good enough!
    Last edited by HappyDaze; 2020-09-07 at 08:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Many of these modules are bad, but I'm not sure they hold a candle to D&D 3.0's Diablo II: To Hell and Back. In addition to being a companion book to possibly the worst character options sourcebook in the history of 3E, every aspect of the book is a nightmare. The plot follows the plot of the video game slavishly, but without giving any of the secondary information the video game's narration sequences provided. The NPCs are nonsensical. The maps are designed to create dozens of level-appropriate encounters using CR 1-3 enemies even after you've finished fighting CR 15-20 bosses. Several areas include groups of enemies with a listed CR lower than a single member of the group. Many monsters are wildly overpowered for their CR, others are wildly underpowered in obvious ways. Several areas include treasure that contradicts itself. Artwork is repeated. The random encounter tables are misprinted, and many of them include monster names that do not exist. Maps don't include proper room numbering for their generation method. 120' square maps exist within a 40' square on a larger map. The game suggests respawning bosses and major NPCs if the PCs go back into places they've already been. DMs are required to manually generated 8d6+32 magic items every week, with each generation not actually being possible because the game doesn't include a mechanism to generate magic items as a whole, only a mechanism to generate items and see whether they are magical.

    If there was an aspect of module design that could be done incorrectly or half-assed, To Hell and Back did it. I wrote a hilariously lengthy review of it and its companion volume, which started as an attempt to mine interesting things from the pair of books and turned into me unleashing my most vitriolic sarcasm halfway through the character creation chapter.
    Last edited by Friv; 2020-09-06 at 06:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    I wrote a hilariously lengthy review of it and its companion volume, which started as an attempt to mine interesting things from the pair of books and turned into me unleashing my most vitriolic sarcasm halfway through the character creation chapter.
    Do you have a link to that review? I'm a big fan of lengthy sarcasm.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Damned Cities (for first ed Dark Heresy) - Not so much the whole module, but a specific element of it.

    The parties base of operations during the adventure is an old tower currently occupied by the planetary arbities (40k police force). The section of the module about this building includes a description, floor plans, and a picture of the building from the outside... and no two of these three things match. It would require escher levels of spacial inprobability for the floor plans to occupy the building shape shown by the picture (and I don't just blame the artist for this, because the plan includes several subterranean passages that just disappear off the page with no clear idea where they are going and why the security force occupying the building are so blase about these unguarded passages), and the descriptions in the flavour text boxes don't match either the drawing or the plans. It is like all three were done in complete isolation. Sure, its an easy thing to completely ignore as a DM, but it signifies such a woeful lack of editting and proofreading that it sours the product right from the offset
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2020-09-07 at 03:52 AM.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    HmmmÂ… what if we get one character to run up to the owlbear while a second goes all-out defense? Then Benign Transposition them. And have the Rogue sneak attack the owlbear in the 2nd round? Any chance of saving the NPCs then?
    Not bad, but Benign Transposition came out fairly deep into 3.5's life cycle. You are right that a lvl 1 tank going full defense would do pretty well soaking up the owl Bear's full attack looks like around 7-8 damage a round, but open to a lucky kill by the DM. Without the Benign Transposition switcheroo I don't see how you get them focused on when the Owlbear could continue killing villagers.

    You could put that tank up front and have the rest of the party use their probably mediocre ranged attacks. Colors Spray would be a good option to give you a free round with no Villager or PC deaths. The Owlbear will probably get to charge a light armored PC, but this hopefully won't kill them. If they are conscious after one attack, full defense and pray while everyone else wails on the Owlbear.

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