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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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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.
    IMHO, the Tomb of Horror is a module with a lot of potential.

    I've had a lot of fun sessions (for both me and multiple groups of players) with it during the last few years. The catch is that I do not use the D&D system for it, but rather a narrative-heavy homebrew system (with powers as generalist as "air bending" or "alchemy").

    Main consequence is that the PCs always have the possibility to react, and with clever enough use of their powers (and basic paranoia at every step of the exploration), they can escape almost every deadly traps of the tomb even after triggering them.

    The first time I DMed this homebrew version, I messed up the balance of the PC powers and the PCs got away without even feeling threatened. I feel like I've managed to find a more acceptable balance, where they end up severely injured and afraid of every corridor, but still have the tools to survive various traps and ultimately defeat the tomb. [I also cut a third of the content of the tomb away, because it's too long to my taste. Since I push my players to advance very slowly, that would take way too long for them to go through the whole module.]
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2020-09-07 at 06:52 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Storm King's Thunder is split into four parts. Part 1 is an optional prologue designed to power-level the party from 1st to 5th with barely any semblance of actual challenge, including sneaking up on pairs of unaware goblins until you've murdered a town's worth of them, and shooting a small army of orcs that refuse to shoot back until they've figured out that the wall can't be climbed and maybe they should circle this thorp until they find somewhere easier to enter. Oh and they run away if you kill half of them in this time. Oh and if they're kicking your ass too hard, a band of elves shows up and basically immediately shoots them to death, then rides off to avoid any conversation. I wanna clarify that yes, them appearing if you're losing is written into the adventure, it's not a matter of "how long before they show up", it's explicitly a "save the game from TPK" thing.

    Part 2 involves traveling to some far-off town to deliver news of dead family members. When you arrive, you find the town in the process of getting rolled by giants. You stop the giants, then go on to fight the leader giant of that particular faction. If you picked the wrong place to go to first, you might be in for a remarkably tough fight because some giants are tougher than others, but fortunately the closest town (and the one 90% of players will pick to go to) is where the hill giants are attacking (the weakest giants). However, the game puts in an option for you to reach the much further towns slightly faster, if you feel like giving yourself a difficulty spike with tougher giants: a cloud giant wizard 8 (just high enough level that he could be considered epic, just low enough level that he can't cast teleport) flies down in his cloud castle and offers to ferry you to one of the other towns for reasons. He's crazy and also not really super-interested in helping you beyond being a glorified taxi service.

    Part 3 starts after slaying that first giant lord, where now you know that two towns have gotten rolled by giants, and you've gotten information that all giants are doing stuff like this right now for complicated religious reasons, and maybe that's something somebody should look into. Part 3 is the part of Storm King's Thunder where the party wanders around half of Faerun's wilderness picking random fights until they accidentally stumble onto the plot. In the form of another epic giant adventurer, who can escort them to a temple where they can get more info. Don't worry about this epic giant adventurer outshining the lvl 8 PCs he's traveling with, though - the designer's wrote in his description that he's aware of the fragile egos of small folk like you and that he'll deliberately hold back a lot in fights to let them have a bit of glory. When you reach the temple, you get to hear some fragments of giant prophecy that amounts to "the giant king was kidnapped", and then this random epic dragon adventurer shows up to try and kill you all. The giant and the dragon duke it out while the party runs away.

    Part 4 is the climax, where the party realizes this teleportation item they got off the giant lord can be used to go talk to the giant princess. They go to talk to her and find out hey wait a minute that vizier or whatever has horns that are really similar to the horns on the giant princess' throne - specifically, the horns that are on the dragon skulls that are on the throne. They're also similar to that dragon who attacked you at the temple and oh hey surprise surprise it's the same dragon and this was all a big plot to topple the giants or whatever. Now that the traitor is revealed you just gotta rescue the giant king to restore balance to the giant kingdoms. The giant king was kidnapped in part by that epic dragon lady, who maybe gets away, but also she was in cahoots with a kraken. What's a kraken doing in an adventure focused around giants and (more broadly) an attempt to rekindle the giant-dragon wars of old? The kraken is the mastermind behind the mastermind, or something. Anyway, you can end up picking fights with one or both of these epic monsters, the kraken or the dragon. You're 13th lvl at this point. Good luck!


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  3. - Top - End - #33
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomandtish View Post
    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).
    A lot of the really old modules like Tomb of Horrors were designed for PCs that didn't exist before you started and wouldn't exist after you finished it. Because they were intended to be played in a convention tournament setting where multiple groups would run the same dungeon to see how much of the bull**** they could dodge.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    Storm King's Thunder ...
    I find it quite funny to compare your review to some of the reviews on the wikipedia page, e.g.:

    Alex Springer, for SLUG Magazine, wrote "where most campaigns tend to begin in some kind of neutral, relatively safe location, Storm King’s Thunder thrusts our intrepid adventurers into a recently sieged village that is being picked apart by goblins. [...] Allowing the players to shift gears and take the role of a relatively normal person in the middle of a city-wide attack lets players experience the fantastic world of Dungeons & Dragons from the eyes of a civilian. In a game that expects its players to become superheroes, it was a nice dose of reality to see what it’s like to face a supernatural being without the benefit of supernatural powers. As we continued through the campaign, I was impressed at how well Storm King’s Thunder balanced structure with improvisational freedom. [...] We’re not talking about generic “go fetch” missions or cleansing ruin after ruin of its monstrous occupants, either—one chance encounter finds the players manipulating a lovesick hill giant into betraying her husband-stealing queen. Based on my experience running Storm King’s Thunder as a novice DM, I continue to be impressed with the quality of work that Wizards of the Coast puts into their roleplaying game peripherals. The art is fantastic, the maps are meticulous and all of it is set against a Shakespearean story of corruption, betrayal and power".

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    I find it quite funny to compare your review to some of the reviews on the wikipedia page, e.g.:
    After enjoying Curse of Strahd and Out of the Abyss, I was looking forward to running Storm King's Thunder.

    Then I read it.

    The module falls prey to the illusion of choice. There are three towns where the actual plot can kick off, but it doesn't really matter which one you use--the other two will never be touched. There are a huge number of locations detailed in the "wandering around the north" chapter, but no hints about how to tie them together. There are six giant villages, each of which gets its own substantial chapter, but there's no need to use more than two of them. It looks like a full-sized module, but in practice you're going to waste, like, half the material you paid for. I don't mind a bit of railroading in a module; quite frankly, I'd rather have one interesting path for the party to follow than waste page count on a bunch of alternates that will never get used.

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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by GloatingSwine View Post
    A lot of the really old modules like Tomb of Horrors were designed for PCs that didn't exist before you started and wouldn't exist after you finished it. Because they were intended to be played in a convention tournament setting where multiple groups would run the same dungeon to see how much of the bull**** they could dodge.
    I still don't consider that particularly interesting. Tomb of Horrors is certainly less stupid if it kills characters you don't really care about, but the baseline of the module is that the stuff that happens isn't really predictable or avoidable by any kind of skill. Whether you get ganked or not basically comes down to whether you win a series of coin flips. I can definitely get behind a high-lethality module as a thing worth doing in some contexts, but the danger has to be a lot more responsive to informed player choice than it is in Tomb.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    I still don't consider that particularly interesting. Tomb of Horrors is certainly less stupid if it kills characters you don't really care about, but the baseline of the module is that the stuff that happens isn't really predictable or avoidable by any kind of skill. Whether you get ganked or not basically comes down to whether you win a series of coin flips. I can definitely get behind a high-lethality module as a thing worth doing in some contexts, but the danger has to be a lot more responsive to informed player choice than it is in Tomb.
    If i recall correctly old school d&d encouraged what we would call meta gaming and pcs brought tons of minions along. So maybe the first person who steps into an instant death trap dies but that might not actually be a pc and even if it was you just make a new character who now knows about that trap.

    also remember that wacky antics were common in those days so i would not be surprised to see an adventurer going into the dungeon with a herd of goats or sack of chickens to test for traps.

    In part these traps seem unfair because the traps were in an arms race of 10ft poles and other tricks.
    Last edited by awa; 2020-09-07 at 10:04 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    After enjoying Curse of Strahd and Out of the Abyss, I was looking forward to running Storm King's Thunder.

    Then I read it.

    The module falls prey to the illusion of choice. There are three towns where the actual plot can kick off, but it doesn't really matter which one you use--the other two will never be touched. There are a huge number of locations detailed in the "wandering around the north" chapter, but no hints about how to tie them together. There are six giant villages, each of which gets its own substantial chapter, but there's no need to use more than two of them. It looks like a full-sized module, but in practice you're going to waste, like, half the material you paid for. I don't mind a bit of railroading in a module; quite frankly, I'd rather have one interesting path for the party to follow than waste page count on a bunch of alternates that will never get used.
    It doesn't help that the first bit is just blatantly power-leveling the PCs (and doesn't even need to be so blatant, since it uses milestone leveling). I'm convinced the Nightstone stuff only exists because the authors wanted to tell a Giants vs Dragons story, but corporate required it start at lvl 1 for AL games, so they wrote some grindy nonsense in "Middle Of Nowhere, Faerun" for PCs to cut their teeth on - and the adventure even encourages you to skip it if you wanna get to the real story.

    This disconnectedness makes it hard to solve the other problems that exist in this early part. Lvl 1 PCs are going to see Nightstone post-bombardment and think "if whatever did that is still here, Im gonna die" and they'll just leave, unless they metagame and know the adventure won't kill them five minutes in. I tried to "solve" this problem, and the difficulty of the grindy fights against the mass of orcs (and the mass of goblins, if you made the mistake of killing the ones in the church first, which most people probably do), but having the PCs be from Nightstone originally, and they got sent out on a more appropriate lvl 1 mission. Then, when they return to Nightstone to find it rolled, not only do they have a few levels under their belt, but they have enough personal connection that they probably want to actually see if their friends and neighbors and love interests are alive and alright. It's a really great way of making the early section not totally suck, but then it falls apart because you never come back to Nightstone, because it doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things.

    It also doesn't help that, in the four steps I described above, it's possible for players to skip from step 2 to step 4 by using the conch they looted from a giant leader - except for step 4, you really need the info about the missing king and the enemy dragon that happen in step 3. But hey it's not like PCs are gonna try divining the uses of new magic items they get, or test them out to see what they do. Oh wait.

    I'm running this game for my forever-group and they're fun but the adventure very much isn't. >.<


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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    After enjoying Curse of Strahd and Out of the Abyss, I was looking forward to running Storm King's Thunder.

    Then I read it.

    The module falls prey to the illusion of choice. There are three towns where the actual plot can kick off, but it doesn't really matter which one you use--the other two will never be touched. There are a huge number of locations detailed in the "wandering around the north" chapter, but no hints about how to tie them together. There are six giant villages, each of which gets its own substantial chapter, but there's no need to use more than two of them. It looks like a full-sized module, but in practice you're going to waste, like, half the material you paid for. I don't mind a bit of railroading in a module; quite frankly, I'd rather have one interesting path for the party to follow than waste page count on a bunch of alternates that will never get used.
    The theory is that STK has replayability. In practice, I would suggest repurposing some of the giant lands and villages for other campaigns.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    Do you have a link to that review? I'm a big fan of lengthy sarcasm.
    I absolutely do! The thread, along with some lovely colour commentary by others, is located over here. It's an rpgnet link, but you can read without having an account. :)

    Oh, and if you want to skip the godawful mechanics and poorly-designed treasure generation of the 'character' book, the actual campaign module starts here for unsigned in people.
    Last edited by Friv; 2020-09-07 at 11:10 AM.
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  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The Times of Trouble trilogy. I don't recall the names, but basically - the worst design decision of Forgotten Realms was made into a trilogy of books, which were among the worst fiction ever written, then made into a series of modules, which are hands down the worst junk produced by an industry with already horrendously low standards.

    I may not have the chronology right - maybe the modules were before the books? No matter. As you may surmise, I didn't like them =)

    Edit: Ah - someone else voiced the same sentiment, far earlier. Oh well.
    Last edited by Kaptin Keen; 2020-09-07 at 11:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    It's got to be "F'Dech Fo's Tomb." Scarcely more than a few pages, anemic maps and totally phoned-in encounters (what few of them there are). Terrible value; you can practically make something better off the top of your head for free!

    I think "Tomb of Horrors" gets a bad rub because, being a competition module, it'd be too inconclusive to determine a winner if it were too easy. So, by necessity, it needs to be harsh. It preys on player assumptions and nuggets of 'conventional' wisdom that were already familiar in its day to create a serious challenge.
    Last edited by Zakhara; 2020-09-08 at 05:02 AM.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    I have heard lots of good things about World’s Largest Dungeon.

    One thing that always struck out to me is that once the last boss is engaged, every monster in the dungeon animates as undead and then makes a beeline for the party. The sheer logistical nightmare of running this encounter as written must dwarf the effort some DMs put into entire campaigns...
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The theory is that STK has replayability. In practice, I would suggest repurposing some of the giant lands and villages for other campaigns.
    90% of all design problems in D&D modules track back to the unexamined assumption of designers that a player ordinarily goes through the same module or adventure three or four times.
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    90% of all design problems in D&D modules track back to the unexamined assumption of designers that a player ordinarily goes through the same module or adventure three or four times.
    Can you give examples in other modules? There’s a little of that in any Hex Crawl, but most modules seem to only have a few “dropped” content bits for a given play through, and those due to giving meaningful choices.

    STK isn’t in that latter category because while the choice of which chapter to do is meaningful, it is only really so because it’s choosing content. STK definitely expects replay to be valuable. I don’t know if any other modules that do.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????

  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Some GMs run them because they need practice/don't feel they're good enough to design their own adventures yet.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    I run Tomb of Annihilation because it's a lot of content I didn't have to write up, myself, and has some fun and cool ideas I definitely wouldn't have come up with on my own. I also tweak and modify as I see fit. For instance, the first dungeon they went to was the Sunless Citadel, modified to be an ancient sunken Chultan monastery with Ashalderon being a figure tied to Ubtao. One of the dead adventurers they were after I replaced with one of the Merchant Princes' sons, and introduced the Death Curse to the PCs when the Merchant Prince tried to pay to have him resurrected and the resurrection failed.

    Spoiler: My players don't peek
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    I'm also going to have Blechorz have lightning bolts that disintegrate rather than a single-target force damage disintegration ray, because I want to make for a more threatening tactical situation on his level when the Tomb Guardians show up.

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    Modules are fast food.

    DMing is storytelling. Most people don't like DMing, or just aren't very good at it, but some are pretty good storytellers. Most good storytellers aren't necessarily good story writers. That's not to say that they couldn't put out something worth playing, but it would take them longer to write than a good writer could. And that's a time investment that might not be worth it for the enjoyment they and their friends get out of the storytellling. Even if the effort that it would take to make a good adventure/campaign would be worth it for how good a storyteller that DM is, the DM just might not have the time in their life to write that story from scratch, not even to write enough of it to just run a session next week, or week after next.

    Even if you're an amazing writer, these things take time. Stephen King has an absurd writing speed (5-6 hours a day to get 2k words out, which he gets pretty consistently without burnout), and it'd take him a month at first-draft-writing-speed to pump out Curse Of Strahd length campaign, which could take about 30 sessions to get through. If your DM could write adventures at that speed, each week could be running the game for four hours on the weekend, and an hour spent writing at Stephen King speeds every other day of the week. That's the kinda pace you'd need to just keep having weekly sessions forever.

    But your DM isn't Stephen King, in speed or quality, I'll bet. More likely, your DM has some adventures or campaigns he's been tweaking for years and just keeps running groups through because he's the forever DM, and if anybody manages to complete those games, they've gotta take a break from DMing for a month to get working on something to follow it up (which is how all the other games they have ready to run got started too). But that's a big free time investment if you get to that point, and while you could put in the time every day, or big chunks on the weekends, that makes DMing basically all your freetime. And because that time is spent just making sure you have something, anything to run next time, it's more about quantity than quality so you gotta hope that your improvisation skills can make up for the lackluster content (unless you're a writing god, but you probably aren't). It's a big time investment that isn't going to deliver the kind of experience you really wanna give your friends, but it's the best you can do on your own.

    Spoiler: ...unless...
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    50 bucks for a campaign module from WotC. Less if it's something from years ago. Bargain bin if it's an adventure from a previous edition. Writing a full campaign that's good takes lots of time, but if you skip the time by spending money, you usually have a decent-ish campaign. Sure the combats aren't balanced for your particular party, and there's not NPCs and plothooks specific to them, and maybe it has to be converted to this edition, but you can do those things yourself, and shuffle around NPCs to fit better. It's far easier and quicker to buy an existing module and alter it, than it is to write a good campaign from scratch. Ho ho ho ho, delightfully devilish, Seymour!
    Last edited by AvatarVecna; 2020-09-08 at 11:46 AM.


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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    I got myself an adventure/ruleset book for beginners. And while I understand that the game expect the GM to also be a newbie, and that running a railroad is easier, boy is that book railroady.
    All five scenario reek of the "one right answer" problem. Especialy the first one where the GM is instructed on how to enforce that one answer, but not before explicitly letting players waste time trying to find their own answer. And you have to do that, because it ends on a cliffhanger plothook for the next scenario that can't realisticaly be reached otherwise. Talk about sending mixed signals.
    The fourth scenario has a guard golem that is litteraly unkillable. And your players have to guess that before escaping it with their lives for the sole reason that it's a non-thinking automaton that got simple instructions and won't leave its post. Until they decide to lure it away halfway through town (because they will think of luring it away, no way beginners fixate on any other solutions to that problem, amirite?), then you have chase rules for that. Huh.
    And there's a bunch of editing issues. Notably with plus/minus signs on combat modifiers. The fighter's armor rating is easy enough to guess (he's supposed to have the best defense, not one ****tier that what's supposedly the lowest possible), but there is only one weapon table and no way to know if those numbers don't make sense because it's an abstraction or because it's a mistake.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Why do people play modules????
    Making your own adventures takes work. Especialy when running a heavy system like D&D.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    A real question is Why Not?

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    Running a module makes me feel more like part of the group.

    Being the GM of an original campaign is more like being a puppet-master. I'm not directly controlling the player characters, I'm not railroading, but I am in total control of the circumstances they're reacting to and the options they're presented with. The contents of the world are up to me. The NPCs of the world are up to me. The choices are up to me-- maybe not which of several options the party will take, but tine times out of ten the party makes will follow a branch of events that I planned out (probably two hours before the session started, because I'm a horrible procrastinator, but the point stands). It's no bad thing, but it can get tiring. Running sessions doesn't burn me out, and neither does building encounters, but trying to figure out what happens next is exhausting sometimes.

    A module strips all that away. I'm not a puppet-master; I'm not building the world around the party. The web of events and options and characters that create the framework in which players make their choices already exists, and I'm discovering it alongside the party. I'm not the source of the world, I'm just a referee. I don't have to decide how dangerous this entity is verses that entity verses the players; I don't have to decide what is and isn't possible to persuade NPCs to do. When encounters are amazingly weird or bad, we can laugh at them together.

    Do I change things? Absolutely. I'll rewrite boring bits, weave new subplots to steer the group through the more open bits of the module, continue to develop characters the players like and sideline the ones they don't. When I ran Out of the Abyss, for instance, I completely overhauled the Rockblight, Gravenhollow, and Menzoberranzan. I pushed the Drow to the side, added an Orcus plotline that turned him into the main secondary antagonist, and brought Fraz-Urb'luu in as the ultimate big bad after the Monk picked up the diamond containing his mind. But I also got to crack up trying to pronounce names in Sloobludop, fall in love with Stool and the mycanoids, end enjoy the madness of the Maze Engine right alongside my players.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

  23. - Top - End - #53
    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2014

    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Using modules frees up workload on the GM. One of our GMs converted an old Dragon magazine adventure into a FFG Star Wars adventure, and it wasn't actually noticeable until he told us.

    Also, you get to make fun of the adventure with them, boxed text especially.

    My favorite, from a Shadowrun 4e adventure, has the PCs going to an antediluvian pyramid in Bosnia, into tunnels opened but inexplicably unexplored by the corporate archaeologists, in search of the MacGuffin. The tunnels have structural elements composed of orichalcum, with enough of it on site that they could remove one structural element, sell pieces of that for decades, and be set for life. No, we didn't run that one.

  24. - Top - End - #54
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    United States

    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    First adventure I ever ran was a module, and it was freaking terrible.

    "Fright At Tristor"

    Complete trash, utter garbage module that was a total railroad and awful "mystery" that literally required players to follow a fragile breadcrumb trail and make certain moral decisions or the adventure literally could not continue.
    My D&D 5e blog, with lots of ideas inspired by the great posters here.
    https://dungeonofsouls.blogspot.com/

  25. - Top - End - #55
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    I tell myself I can design a general plot arch in my head, and fill in the many, many blanks as I go along.

    The advantage to this method is that it's almost 100% inspiration, which is an adrenaline fuelled joyride. The disadvantage is that inspiration is by no means foolproof, it has no filter, and sometimes - to be totally honest - it falls flat on it's face.

    If you're not like me, and make an actual effort to prepare ahead of time, making your own is very time comsuming, and playing modules is just .. easier. Also, sometimes, better than what you can come up with on your own. Sometimes.

  26. - Top - End - #56
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Telok's Avatar

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    Mar 2005
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernPhoenix View Post
    A real question is Why Not?
    Personally I generally spend about 6 months of spare time building a sand box and custom beastiary before letting a group run amuck in it. Then it usually takes me about 2 hours post session to record notes, dissection, and how the sandbox reacts. Then often another 2 or 3 hours of prep before the next session, usually fleshing out the setting reaction to the PCs and updating plots/quests. That's pushing 6 hours a week just keeping up with a prepped sandbox that I'm intimately familiar with and just doing reactions to PCs.

    I know a DM who doesn't prep a setting and writes the campaign as it goes along. That reportedly takes 12 to 16 hours a week and has occasional hiccups when the DM misses something in all the loose pages of notes they keep.

    We don't use modules because they usually don't do what we want to do, and we have experienced players who accidentally break modules. Once a module breaks it's either continue with a bad sandbox or do the "the module author didn't expect you to <perfectly reasonable action>, please get back on the railroad?" speech again. That speech gets annoying after about the third time. For everyone. So the modules don't save us any real work after a while.

    I also know two DMs who only use modules because they haven't been running games for years/decades, made the mistakes, and learned from them. Yet. They're getting there. However one will only run games for kids because they stay on the rails more and don't notice massive logic/plot holes as much. They want the structure and support that they think a module should supply. What kicks them in the head is that a lot of modules are strings of loosely related places and fights interspersed with occasional npc cutscenes, or sandboxy settings with some linked quests and a few set piece encounters that are like little bits of unconnected railroad track. Things that may be fine for an experienced DM (or one with lots of free time and energy) to mine or hack, but tends to be rough on the unprepared DM who thought they bought something they could play with very little prep time.

    That link to the let's read of the Diablo d20 abomination on rpg.net? That's a hilariously terrible complete disaster of a module being documented in excruciating detail. It deserves every swear word it gets, and more. It should be used as a handbook on how not to write adventures.

    Edit: Oh, yeah, reasons. "Uses modules" is often limited time or inexperience looking for support. "Doesn't use modules" is usually don't need to, modules don't have what we want, or they don't really help because players.
    Last edited by Telok; 2020-09-08 at 03:40 PM.

  27. - Top - End - #57
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Composer99's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2013

    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    I'm running two games right now. In one, the players are running through Hoard of the Dragon Queen. In the other, the PCs' backstories are driving the plot, in my own setting.

    Honest answer? I'm enjoying running both: the custom game because I enjoy doing the worldbuilding, establishing details, the webs of cause and effect, and improvising encounters, scenes, and NPCs, and Hoard of the Dragon Queen because it's also enjoyable not to have to do that stuff (beyond tinkering with the module here and there) and instead just sit down and run the game (more or less).
    ~ Composer99

    D&D 5e Homebrew:
    Character Options: Fighter Remix, Paladin Oaths, Ranger Remix, Sorcerer Remix
    Playing the Game: Using Ability Score Variants
    New Subsystems: Combat Manoeuvre System, Weapon Generator
    Monsters: Yogg-Saron

  28. - Top - End - #58
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    Why not? It´s already sorta-kinda a luxury to spent the necessary time with friends to play the game, you know, besides family, kids, job, other hobbies and such. So unless someone pays me for it, there's next to now time to work out custom stuff.

  29. - Top - End - #59
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Oct 2005
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Worst module I read was some free sequel to the lost mines of Phandelver. Started with the ghosts of the humanoids the PCs slaughtered in the original module coming to attack the PCs, as a way to teach PCs that slaughtering humanoids is bad. I wondered at the logic, you could just tell the players if you're uncomfortable with murder hoboeing. Also it was useless as my PCs had taken hostages and only killed the chief.

    Then I asked the players for sugestions, and they suggested the Fires of Creation. We went though the whole adventure path, and I tell you, it was despite the systems, not because of it. I bought all the module pdfs. The setting was interesting enough. There was nothing like a roster of threats, with enemy stat blocks either after the room description, or in one of two seperate appendixes in back. The maps had multiple paths to the same destination. The advice for if the players played smart and start fights was to add more random encounters, so the PCs would be high enough level to beat the threats later on.

    But it was great at teaching me to improvise 5e using info from another system, or two as this was using a lot of starfinder alpha stuff. Or three as some of the creatures seemed a bit 40k. I am great at bad sandboxes, as Telok puts it. And I would never come up with the idea to have a buried spaceship grow it's own a autistic android assasin to repair itself. Think about it. Now you've thought about Seerath in her role as anything but a threat moreso than the writers of The Smoking Tower.

    I like to use other people's imaginations as a springboard of my own. Thinking about plot holes makes me think of plots. Seerath's whole deal made me work out specific limits Cassandra's brain image copy later on.
    yo

  30. - Top - End - #60
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    I've played D&D for close to 20 years now and I'm still pretty much unable to write a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Dont' know why, but whenever I try, it falls apart in the middle.

    So I instead take a module, absolutely gut it, put it in a different setting, rewrite the encounters, take out most of the combat, introduce more NPCs and change some of the motivations of the bad guys until I like it.

    Basically, I steal outlines.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

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