Cherry Pick or Series?

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The question inspired by the following review quote:
"Don't judge this mod off the quality of previous ADAP modules."

I ended up GMing last week at the last minute at the local LFR that I have started to attend. This was at least a couple weeks sooner than I was expecting to GM and to say I was unprepared was a serious understatement. Not only had I not read the adventure I was running in advance, it was the first time I had even read a LFR adventure. My entire experience before that with LFR was playing two adventures.

I refuse to be that unprepared again. I plan on ordering some adventures so I can read and prepare in advance. (Just as soon as I figure out HOW to order adventures.) In doing so I can make counters for the monsters in advance (instead of using markers like stones and dice. I no longer have a miniatures collection.) 

I had planned on ordering a series of connected adventures, but as I looked at the review I wondered if I would be better off simply cherry picking some of the higher rated adventures and using a loot cheat sheet to make sure that they'll contain a good mixture of loot.

Suggestions? Opinions? 

It depends. Personally, I would be inclined to select some series, but there are some caveats to that.

1. Unfortunately, most of the related adventures are the later ones and they tend to have extremely poor loot*. (Of all the 1-4s, etc I've played, only Mini 1-1 had any item that was an improvement over extra gold). If you were to just play recent mods, your characters might well end up as underequipped as a 6th level barbarian I just played with this Thursday who was sporting +1 armor, a +1 neck slot, and a +1 vicious weapon. (And no, the 4-7 mod we played didn't have a +2 armor, weapon, or neck slot for him either (though it did have a +2 implement)).

Why I think the loot in recent H1 mods is poor

It's not just that +2 magic, +2 dwarven, +2 vicious, +2 resounding, etc are available in older H1 mods. It is more than that--even on my first character to get serious play time, I stopped grabbing any of the +1 loot available in H1 mods. The basic problem is this: With very few exceptions, the +1 items with properties are not any better than basic +1 magic items. +1 magic items are easy to afford (most characters can buy one after their second or third adventure if they take extra gold) and don't cost an item slot. If you are willing to wait a little bit longer (as you probably should be for things that aren't weapons, you can get many of the better +1 items with gold. In the mini-campaign, for instance, it seems pretty obvious to pick up some +1 armor of fire resistance. That's a lvl 2 item--available after the second adventure even if you took the good amulet in the first one--but it is better than any armor you will find in the adventures. Likewise, +1 rhythm blade weapons, +1 badge of the beserker, +1 orb of inevitable continuance, etc are better items than you will find as bundles and are available after only a few adventures.

In order to compete with the pick of the +1 items, the essentially random items that are available as bundles need to be +2. And even then, after H1, you're not going to see me just grab the first +2 armor or neck slot item to come along. The defense is nice, but they need useful properties in order to be worth taking

2. Most of the series that are out at the moment are very short or span a large range of levels. The arts and crafts series, for instance, is two adventures--maybe three if you count the very very loosely related Dale 1-1. Even longer series like the necromancer series of waterdeep adventures are only (I think) 3 or 4 adventures long and they are spread out over two tiers (H3 and P1). The mini-campaign and Scepter Tower of Spellguard adaptable adventures are the only series where you could really plan on playing the series with minimal (or no) unrelated adventures interspersed.

With that in mind, if you have a regular group of players, what I would recommend doing is selecting a group of modules that seem good, have some good treasure, and make some minor modifications and order them so as to tie them together (if you use the LFR compendium website, don't just look at ratings, log in and read the full reviews to determine which of the ratings to pay attention to use). For example, you might start your players off in the Dalelands with Dale 1-1 (good treasure on high though you'd only want to run it high for new characters if the players are all experienced and willing to endure some hefty risk), then run Arts (Dale 1-7, don't play high) which will naturally lead them to the Dragon Coast. You could follow up with Drag 1-1 when they get into town and then allow their investigations to bear fruit in Crafts (Drag 1-7). If they went to Baldur's Gate from there (for some reason), they could then play Bald 1-1, Bald 1-4, Bald 1-6, and Bald 1-2. Depending on whether they started brand new characters and what tiers they played at, you might have to toss a MYRE in before Bald 1-6 to get the PCs to 4th level.
The above advice is sound, if influenced too heavily by the loot on offer.

Also, DRAG1-7 occurs after DRAG1-1 - not that it is a dealbreaker - so I would swap the order and play the Dragon Coast ones first and Dalelands next. The Arts and Crafts "series" can be played in any order...

Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
All parts of a series should be able to played independendly of each other. They are indeed rarely longer than 3 parts, although, there are usually some references (mostly NPCs) to earlier adventures. The reason for this is guidelines from higher hand. LG was very story orientated, which lead to many complaints about it being very unfriendly to the casual and new players. In any event, MYRE and DME (you cannot change plots, but you can add extra plothooks and minor NPCs or tie your own storyline in with the existing plot of an adventure) were added to tie stories more tightly together.