Crypt of the Ninja Queen (with Bruce Cordell)

In today's D&D Next conversation, designer Bruce Cordell talks about the iconic adventures and shared experiences of D&D's past, and asks what you want to see from adventures in D&D's future. Once you've read the article and filled out the poll, come back here for some deeper discussion.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Why are we limited to only being able to choose three? I like lots of different elements in my games.

PS: I wouldn't say that D&D contains a mighty corpus of great adventures.
Why are we limited to only being able to choose three? I like lots of different elements in my games.

PS: I wouldn't say that D&D contains a mighty corpus of great adventures.

I would assume because forcing us to choose which three we find most important would help generate some good discussion, and force us to think a bit more about the choices we make. Sure, I could find cases where I would want all of those to be true, but I think we get to the meat of it and have some stuff to talk about it if I have to narrow it down to the things I want the most.

Return P.S. - Awesome then, you and I would disagree :P

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

It's important to distinguish between 'what I want in an adventure' and 'what I want in a game'. As a DM, I generally want an adventure to do the grunt work for me (things like coming up with a bunch of random minor NPCs, statting out a bunch of monsters, or the like), and leave things like big plots to the DM and players.
It's important to distinguish between 'what I want in an adventure' and 'what I want in a game'. As a DM, I generally want an adventure to do the grunt work for me (things like coming up with a bunch of random minor NPCs, statting out a bunch of monsters, or the like), and leave things like big plots to the DM and players.

Agreed.  One of my favorite supplements is Dungeon Delve and I hope to see more supplements like it in 5E.  However, my campaign preference is long, story-driven, epic campaigns that I can occasionally plug a dungeon delve into if I need one in a pinch.

Celebrate our differences.

Argh. I really wanted five votes for both. D:

I want: Story, Urban Setting, Mysteries (plus Campaign Design and Archvillain)

I don't want: Classic Dungeoncrawl, Episodic Design, Horror (plus Puzzles and Riddles and Open Ended Adventure) 
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
The poll lacks an important qualifier. Are they talking about what they will publish or what I want to actually see in a campaign? From published material I'm more interested in short episode material with a mix of adventure types but setup so they can easily be used for one shots, dropped into my campaign or mined for ideas. However, I would also love to see a book of information and advice on building campaign worlds and long running campaigns. I'm not going to buy a chain of 10 adventures that makes up a campaign though.

Why does this article have a thread here AND a comments section of its own?


Anyway, I went for campaign design, geographical wonders and traditional dungeons as the three I liked best, but the only one I could actually say I DISliked was world-shaking events (talk about limiting the usability of your adventure - early in 2nd Edition this was a recurring problem that affected Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun and eventually Planescape adventures).
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
The poll lacks an important qualifier. Are they talking about what they will publish or what I want to actually see in a campaign? From published material I'm more interested in short episode material with a mix of adventure types but setup so they can easily be used for one shots, dropped into my campaign or mined for ideas. However, I would also love to see a book of information and advice on building campaign worlds and long running campaigns. I'm not going to buy a chain of 10 adventures that makes up a campaign though.



I completely agree.  What I want from published adventures, and what I want from adventures in general, are two (mostly) very different things.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
Why does this article have a thread here AND a comments section of its own?

So there is a place for Other comments and a place to discuss the article.

*shrug*  It's like every other entry I've ever read.

The poll lacks an important qualifier. Are they talking about what they will publish or what I want to actually see in a campaign? From published material I'm more interested in short episode material with a mix of adventure types but setup so they can easily be used for one shots, dropped into my campaign or mined for ideas. However, I would also love to see a book of information and advice on building campaign worlds and long running campaigns. I'm not going to buy a chain of 10 adventures that makes up a campaign though.


I completely agree.  What I want from published adventures, and what I want from adventures in general, are two (mostly) very different things.

So select Other and explain your differences.

Celebrate our differences.

I think it was a poll to discourage Arithezoo Wink

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter


I am going to take a few moments to talk about different types of adventures:


For an idea of what type of adventure modual that I will buy lots of I would like to direct WOTC to Goodman games dungeon crawl classic advetnures line that it published for 3.x. Generally, they were nice adventures that could be played in 2-3 sessions, that focus on intersting combats, villians, and treasure. They are easily adaptible to drop into a big campaign, or could be linked together as a long compaing in themselves. 3.x had some great adventures as well. Their line of what I call the "blue adventures," since each adventure was published in a blue paperback cover, and staple bound, were excellent. each one covered about 2 levels of play, and they each stood on their own as an independant adventure but still offered advice on how to link a commen thread between them all, so you could run a level 1-20 campaign out of them, and I did :D It was three years of awsome DnD in college. They also varried and mixed it up a bit with some adventures being dungeon crawls, wilderness adventures with mystery, urban adventures with evil cults, underdark adventures with drow, durger, and other creatures, and extra planer adventures. 

The first adventure was "sunless citidale" fighting pesky goblins and the plot of an evil druid drying to create an army of throny poisonis twig monsters and ends with the players defeating the druid, and destroying an evil undead tree that is spawning the twig monsters with fire. The thing is, the whole dungeon is a lost citidale swallowed up by the earth, and was once occupied by a cult that worshiped Ashaderalon the great red dragon, and the evil tree actually grew out of a steak that was used to kill the leader of the cult, who had turned himself into a vampire so that he could live long enough to see Ashaderalon's return. Well, destroying the tree meant destroying the steak, and so the vampire came back to life, heads off to "Heart of night fang spire," his citdale that the players will later assult at level 10. Inebetween these two adventures are others, one is an urban adventure, one is a neat wilderness adventure with a mystery thrown into the mix, and adventures after "Heart of nightfang spire" include underdark adventures, extra planer adventures, and of course ends with the players having to fight Ashadarlon at level 20. 

These were great fun, and they were nice and cheap, being paper back, black and white, and stable bound. I much prefer adventures like this instead of a 35 or 40 dollar hard back mini campaign of tomb of horrors. 3.5 also had at least one adventure, "the demon gates of something something...." which was cool. It was more of the folder type style that Keep on the shadowfell is, but it also had a mini players book, with prestige classes and back ground info, and feats to help tie the players into the story. With next using things like "themes," I would think that the bigger adventures taht they publish could offer such booklets with new themes for players to use to help get them involved with the story. 

"The shackled city" is a different kind of adventure that I also loved. It was one big book with a level 1-20 campaign. I earned the reputation of killing pcs off left and right in this game, even though all I did was play the modual as was, and earned the nick name "DM O-Dead." Having 12 players running around the lava tubes beneath Cauldren City looking for a hobgoblin vampire was quite a blast. I hope a few of these make it into publication for DnD next.

Then there are the shorter adventures, but are super deadly. Tomb of horrors being most famous, this adventure type is remembered with fondness but, at the same time, you would not want your standard game to   a tomb of horros adventure. Other great "your going to die, get used to it" adventures was "The Crypt of The devil Lich" by goodman games and "Rappanathuk: Dungeon of Graves" by sword and sworcery. Have not really seen DnD make adventures like this (although Heart of Nightfang Spire gets pretty close). I would like to see DnD create a new "dont use your own characters, use the pre gens cause you will just cry if you take your own tenth level party in here" tomb of horrors type adventure for DnD next.

Along with the deadly dungeons mentioned above, I would like to see a DnD mega dungeon. The only mega dungeons I know of right now are castle white rock by good man games, dungeon of graves by sword and sorcery, AEG's worlds largest dungeon, and another sowrd and sworcer called "escape fron Zelbars maze" or, something like that. I know they have an undermountan book coming out for 4th ed (which I will be getting, love undermountain!), but undermountant to me was never a true mega dungeon, as it was "here is some big maps and a general idea of what the dungeon is, but you have to fill in the details" To me, a megadungeon is tons of maps, all detailed out with encounters, and covers at least 5 levels of play. I would like to see DnDN have its own, offical DnD mega dungeon!

Finally, the sand box adventures. things like keep on the boarderlands. Generally, these have a town or base of operations, some interesting areas to explore, with a main dungeon detailed. I would like to see a right and proper sand box game as a box set, with nice poster map that players can look at, a dm eyes only map, details of the area, and a few dungeons/adventures deatailed. It seemed like in 4th ed, DnD starting creating sandboxes without the detailed adventure section. For example, Hammerfast and, there was another one of a ruined city, dont remember what that was called. These are really cool as they give you an interesting setting and bits to get your imagination going, and help in outlining possible campaign ideas. But they would be even better if the locations on the maps were detailed out. For example, one place was called something like citidale of the fire opal gem. That sounds awsome yet, nothing else is offered about it in the hammerfast book. If those locations on the map had detailed dungeon descriptions I would be much more tempted to use them.

Any way, thats my rant on adventure products. I hope there are lots of adventures, and lots of varity of adventures in DnDN!










 
My favorite modules from days gone by...  (I own original editions of almost all of them)

  1. Keep on the Borderlands (B2)

  2. Castle Ravenloft (I6)

  3. Tomb of Horrors (S1)

  4. Against the Giants (G1-G3)

  5. The Drow (D1-D3)

  6. Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4)

  7. White Plume Mountain (S2)

  8. Ghost Tower Inverness  (C2)

  9. Slave Pits (A1-A4)

  10. Queen of the Demonweb Pits (Q1)

  11. Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (WG4)

  12. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (S3)

  13. Hidden Shrine of Tomaochan (C1)

  14. Dwellers of the Forbidden City (I1)

  15. Isle of Dread (X1)

  16. Against the Cult of the Reptile God (N1)


I loved the way in the old days a module was given two or three locations in the world where it could be at. (Not all of them of course but many).   I ranked the above roughly in order of admiration.  Not necessarily iby number of times played.  Probably the Slavers were played more than any other series.   

End of nostalgic look back... return to arguments. 

EDIT:  OMG.  How did I forget Ravenloft??  Wow.  I played that thing through three times with groups.  I changed a lot of names and locations.   That one ranks real high. 
I really wish TSR had put out more thoughtful and fleshed out megadungeons.

The only really well done mega-dungeon was Greyhawk Ruins (my favorite) and that isn't even the greatest megadungeon out there.

I really think in 5e, they should put out one awesome 25 level megadungeon for the players to get lost in for a good 1-2 years straight. My players have just learned to start mapping, and when they get part of the map done, after the session I print the portion of the map they drew out on graph paper so then they have it as a permanent reference since they went to the trouble of painstakingly mapping their progress.

The team always really feels engaged when they are performing such tasks as Mapping, timekeeping, treasure tracking...I find I always get volunteers jumping at the opportunity.
"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
I can't tell you how many times I would end up running Ruins of Undermountain I and II.


 Greyhawk Ruins



love it


There are 3 published adventures I remember fairly fondly

1) Eyes of the Lich Queen (probably the only Eberron published adventure my group and I liked, it was fun, different, and pretty damn entertaining).

2) Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (Strahd is a fun villain though I did need to make some modifications. Part of the fun with this one is that the players can get quite paranoid. My only complaint is that the maps gave me a headache trying to track stuff in the castle, other than that quite cool, especially the destiny tarot)

3) The Lost City, it was one of the first old school big adventures and it had an awesome story, some fun lovecraftian elements, and the right mix of danger and fun. Not to mention that this was one of the few adventures where the players could fight a god at low levels and maybe win.
Good to see some megadungeon love.

I'm going to go  a step further than others have, and come right out and say WotC owes it to itself (to say nothing of the memory of the man without whom we wouldn't have this game to discuss) to try and get the original, authentic Castle Greyhawk into print after all these years. Greyhawk Ruins is pretty good but not even close to being the real deal. Gail Gygax is very much interested in getting this out to the public in some form, and the best way to do that is with WotC's participation.

I don't know the Gygax family or have any other inside information so perhaps anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt, but this honestly seems like a win-win scenario for everyone concerned to me.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
never cared much for megadungeon/adventure paths/campaigns in a bottle or whatnot.

the few rare adventures i did buy were to get an idea of what the devs expect gameplay to be like and i go from there... it helps get a better bearing on adventure design for the system. i might not use the adventure at all, but it gives me an idea of how to prepare my own campaign's adventures from.

what i want from an adventure?

open-ended starts and endings. several pre-fab plothooks, from "a family member/mentor/friend asks for your help" to "you arrive into town and suddenly, ninjas!".

it should also give a few ideas on how to link pre-existing campaign elements into the adventure  "Mordecai works the Evil Duke that's been antagonizing the party!" or "a relic in the treasure horde could belong to a player's religion/family/country".

one problem i've had with many adventures is that while there is plot, the characters aren't really important to the main story unless the players make their character around the plot. it might seem like semantics, but would rather the story focus on the characters, not the other way around.

once the adventure is wrapped up, rather then lead directly into a second pre-published adventure it should give alternative paths on where the GM can go from there, rather then simply handing them a plot coupon to the next adventure.

this could be anything: a note on Mordecai from the Duke, on closer inspection the relic is a replica but it also contains a map to the true relic, an NPC giving them directions to a ruin nearby on the map (the ruin isn't integral to the adventure but would still be on the map as a possible place of interest), more ninjas, etc...

outside of that i just want some decent plot, interesting environments, fun combat & some potential for roleplay sprinkled around to the party's taste, same as i ask of any GM.
i admit i have no faith wizards can really make good adventures. nearly all 4e adventures are these melodramatic soap opera railroads
On the contrary, I expect D&D Next adventures to be better and more varied than 4e adventures.

One reason is that the level range and the difference in power between character levels should shrink.
This was a major issue for sandbox adventures in 4e: since each adventure takes on three or even four levels, encounters that are appropriate for the beginning of the adventure are not anymore appropriate at the end, and vice versa, which forces the designers into linear plots.
With the level range issue reduced or even removed, it should be easier to design sandbox adventures.

A second point in favor of D&D Next is the emphasis on Exploration and Interaction. In 4e, an attempt was done with Skill Challenges, but these had a mixed reception, and in the end they are going to be scrapped as a mechanic in D&D Next. Add to this the complexity of combat encounter design when terrain matters so much, and you get that most space in an adventure was consumed in the description of tactical encounters (in comparison, AD&D 1e "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief" is 8 pages, the size of a two-encounter side-trek in 4e) -- but D&D Next might well default to a non-tactical type of combat, freeing up even more space.

never cared much for megadungeon/adventure paths/campaigns in a bottle or whatnot.

Talking about "megadungeons" and "adventure paths" as though they were interchangable misses the point of what people are hoping for when they ask for the former. They're not the same, in fact apart from both being a lot larger than the average adventure they are nearly opposites.

It's hard for me to work out from your comments exactly what your preference in adventutres is, I see you naming a lot of individual elements but if there's a unified thought behind them I'm afraid I've failed to discern it. However, it seems like you should find a lot to like about the megadungeon format - the nonlinearity you seem, in places, to want is the point of such a format.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here but there are countless discussions of this topic elsewhere - as I have recently discovered, googling "megadungeon" is a lot like visiting TV Tropes, it's crazy how much is out there and where you can get just following links.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011

I like that wizards has redone some of the classic modules over the years but I would like to see some new campaigns (read 2-4compleat campaigns level 1 to 20.) done for the old settings.  Gray Hawk and the forgotten realms could each use some new adventures and I would love to see professional authors game designers and artists get together in the same room to work on these campaigns, let’s not phone it in give me some real effort.