Things Missing From Modern D&D

Once upon a time WoTC did not own D&D but for some strange reason people seemed to like D&D. These days AD&D would not win any awards for mechanics but you had published adventures and campaign settings to suit a variety of tastes. Things were not all rosy as apparently the setting bloat helped contribute to the downfall of TSR.

 If you were a gamer though things were great. 3rd and 4th ed both lacked quality adventures with a few exceptions via the OGL or Dungeon magazine as Paizo started the adventure paths back in 2002 IIRC with The Shackled City. In the 1st ed and BECMI days TSR did link adventures togather but these fell out of favor. The last great adventure printed by TSR/WoTC IMHO was The Night Below. The RRP on this product was $30 or $45 roughly these days adjusted for inflation. Less than the price of 3 Paizo adventure paths.



A boxed set mega adveture for levels 1-10+. This included 6 poster sized maps, 3 books of adventures, 16 pages of DM hand outs and 8 double sided DM reference cards including tokens.


 2nd Ed artwork IMHO was also some of the best D&D ever had. Not so much in the basic books as the MM looked bad but in the settings and full colour artwork in the splats.



 This is the DM screen from the 1995 Revised Darksun boxed set. These days one is lucky to get a map with a campaign setting it seems. The same Darksun boxed set had 2 poster sized maps of the Darksun world but also this map of the Tyr region. Apologies for the poor quality photo.



 It may be hard to see but that map is actually printed on cloth.

 Now as I said TSR went belly up but it was good to be a gamer. These type of products most likely would come with a premium price if duplicated now. But they helped set the tone and feel of the various D&D worlds and good adventure support is great. IMHO this is what D&DN needs. Mechanics do not matter that much IMHO as D&D lasted for decades before the d20 system came around and they made a few mistakes there. This is why I think D&DN is trying for that retro feel. Modern mechanics, classic D&D feel and ease of use running the damn game. 

 If they can reignite the fire D&DN will be massive IMHO. I do not think D&DN will be an average edition. It will be 1983 or 2001 all over again or it will flop hard. In some ways these photos may help explain the appeal of AD&D and pre 2000 D&D. This is what I want from D&DN. Vibrant worlds and options and easy to DM/design for. Here is hoping.


((Dragonette says: Spoiler tagged the images to make the post easier for some people's computers/browsers to handle))

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Yeah those bring back some memories alright.  There are a lot of companies out there already doing this sort of thing, Fantasy Flight Games Warhammer Fantasy 3rd edition is fantastic for its visuals, writing and awsomely narrative mechanics.  Its by far my favorite RPG in the fantasy genre, but the drawback is that its soooo bloody expensive it hurts.

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

The best thing missing from modern D&D is AD&D.
Zardnaar

Just to clear some things up for you.   D&D did not go out of business because they were not getting revenue.   They had revenue.   The problem is they had a lot of inventory that was not sellable.   And I'd say most of that stuff is things we haven't even heard of.   Most of the "classics" of 2e sold very well.

The PHB, MM, and DMG sold very well and if that was your business you'd be rich.  

So the AD&D style was not a losing business model.   Poor quality on a lot of stuff was a bad model.  I think adventures generally went south after Gygax left.   I own every 1e module just about.  Most of them are usable.  I own almost nothing from any other edition.   None of them were worth much.

I think there is room for multiple games that all move a bit slower version to version.  
D&D Basic -  basically a clean retroclone of 1e/2e that was in the core books.
D&D Challenge - basically 5e intended as a competitor against Pathfinder/3.5e
D&D High Fantasy -  basically 4e.

Right now 5e is trying to cater to all of them.  I think they might achieve 1 and 2 or 1 and 3 but not all.

But if the version for each game ran 10 years, they could introduce a new version of one of their games every 3.3 years.   Some people might play all of them.   Campaign settings and adventure modules could provide support for all three games.   The only thing they have to have different is the rules.   All the fluff products can support all three games.




 
Zardnaar

Just to clear some things up for you.   D&D did not go out of business because they were not getting revenue.   They had revenue.   The problem is they had a lot of inventory that was not sellable.   And I'd say most of that stuff is things we haven't even heard of.   Most of the "classics" of 2e sold very well.

That doesn't match what happened to TSR or anything we have herd from former employees..

The PHB, MM, and DMG sold very well and if that was your business you'd be rich. 

you do no that no one has ever in history gotten rich that way... the best you could hope for is a good but not great year of income, and then a few years of low income, and a life time of little bits here and there... 

So the AD&D style was not a losing business model.  

yes becuse wining business models go out of buisness all the time... Undecided

[qupte]Poor quality on a lot of stuff was a bad model.  I think adventures generally went south after Gygax left.   I own every 1e module just about.  Most of them are usable.  I own almost nothing from any other edition.   None of them were worth much.
wow that is a very subjective and maybe even blind thought. I own mods from 1e, 2e, third party 2nd, 3rd, third party 3rd, and 4th... in general the best are not 1e

I think there is room for multiple games that all move a bit slower version to version.  
D&D Basic -  basically a clean retroclone of 1e/2e that was in the core books.
D&D Challenge - basically 5e intended as a competitor against Pathfinder/3.5e
D&D High Fantasy -  basically 4e.

and you are going to pay 3 sets of creaters to work on them, or one creator team that has to split it's time and creative energy over 3 VERY diffrent games?



But if the version for each game ran 10 years, they could introduce a new version of one of their games every 3.3 years.   Some people might play all of them.   Campaign settings and adventure modules could provide support for all three games.   The only thing they have to have different is the rules.   All the fluff products can support all three games.
 

  um, there is no way that will work. many less people buy fluff then crunch, so you are baseing your entire buisness model on selling 3 sets of core books, when most groups will not buy all three (meaning you lose out on bulk printing becuse each must be a smaller print run), then to sell less and less products over the years...




Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

...many less people buy fluff then crunch....



At D&D's height, the "crunch" was pretty much awful, and everyone ignored it.  Books were bought almost entirely on the basis of their aesthetic.
Nobody remembers the stat-block of the four-armed gargoyle in Tomb of Horrors.  That adventure was, and remains, the iconic product of the era because it encapsulated the fluffy, fluffy, aesthetic of its time.  

The misconception that D&D was a game about numbers is what kept many peole out of the hobby who might otherwise have embraced it, and is, I think, the primary cause of the downfall of the brand.  Getting rid of that misconception is step one in making D&D as big as it ought to be, and always should have been.  Step two is hiring a dozen authors, not game designers, to put together the long-term money-making side of the brand, really good published adventures.  

  

At D&D's height


How do you measure "height"? Is it based on the number of books sold? The percentage of market share? The subjective "quality" of the books being written and products being made?

Step two is hiring a dozen authors, not game designers, to put together the long-term money-making side of the brand, really good published adventures.


I actually agree with this. While books dealing heavily in crunch do sell well, they don't have quite the same impact and "feel" that a great adventure or campaign setting can have. It took a while, but Magic: the Gathering also discovered this and beefed up and involved their creative team in the making of their sets at a far greater level than they had done for a good long while, which greatly improved the quality of the settings and the cohesive feel of their sets.
At D&D's height


How do you measure "height"? Is it based on the number of books sold? .



The year it hit the best sellers list?
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Never bought a single adventure for any game, except when one was included in a campaign setting box.
It certainly has nothing to do with the fact I followed D&D all these years. 
First of all folks I have heard people who actually worked at TSR during that era speak.    The PHB, DMG, MM are always great selling books.   I doubt there has ever been a product that outsold the PHB ever in any time frame.   So the product could be a good one but PHB's are the meat and potatoes of gaming.   Yes they decline some as the edition ages and thats why we have business people wanting to make new editions all the time.   To get that PHB revenue again.

2e made a bunch of toys that didn't sell.   A bunch of support products that didn't sell.   They made some good ones but they made a lot of bad ones.   Thus the weight of all this inventory pulled them down.    It was driven in part by the loss of Gygax and someone who didn't know the business taking over.   

The model of the core books and maybe one book every year or two after that along with good modules is a very good business model.   In fact Paizo seems to be doing very well using that model.

@GMforPowergamers 
I know your hatred for pre-4e games maybe makes you spout off about something of which you don't really know.   Unless you have some hard facts to support a counter claim I think we should just drop it.   I have talked with real people who worked there and I've also read many written opinions from real people onsight about what happened.   But if all you are going to do is spout your opinion then we both won't get anywhere.   You've got mine.   Believe it or not.   I don't care.

 
Never bought a single adventure for any game, except when one was included in a campaign setting box.
It certainly has nothing to do with the fact I followed D&D all these years. 



That reminds me of someone... oh yeh me.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

yes becuse wining business models go out of buisness all the time... Undecided



It's a fact of any product that your market base shrinks the more and more specialized your accesories are. A great more people will buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 than will buy the DLC packs for instance. Further, the more accessories you produce, the less people will buy them. Eventually there's a point where people don't need anymore feats, settings, spells, whatever.

TSR's main failure wasn't so much that the business model from the start was flawed, it was because they were too slow in producing 3rd edition, and their products got too numerous and specialized.
I agree.
If TSR has produced 3rd edition instead of the messy (and bordering amateurish at some times) player's options line, maybe we wouldn't have the pleasure to elaborate all these conspiracy theories about WotC…
[...] 3rd and 4th ed both lacked quality adventures with a few exceptions via the OGL or Dungeon magazine [...]


I, respectfully, disagree. The Sunless Citadel is a great and engaging adventure.

Never bought a single adventure for any game, except when one was included in a campaign setting box.
It certainly has nothing to do with the fact I followed D&D all these years. 



And that's true for a small percentage of D&D's fans.  Heck, that might even define the remaining fanbase, considering how poor the recent published adventures have been.  I think that to do better than simply retaining that fanbase, D&D must return to an era defined by excellent published material.
3rd and 4th ed both lacked quality adventures...

That jab was totally uncalled for. Every edition of D&D has lacked quality adventures. The older adventures seemed okay because you were younger and had lower standards, but adventure quality has actually remained pretty consistent across editions, which is to say they have always been pretty bad.

2nd Ed artwork IMHO was also some of the best D&D ever had.

Are you joking? 2E art was just awful.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Are you joking? 2E art was just awful.



While I understand that art is subjective, I didn't realize -anyone- had taste -this- bad.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

3rd and 4th ed both lacked quality adventures...

That jab was totally uncalled for. Every edition of D&D has lacked quality adventures. The older adventures seemed okay because you were younger and had lower standards...



You wanna talk about uncalled-for jabs, you can start by rescinding that one.

I think one of the essential fractures in adventures, as noted over at the excellent Grognardia blog, was when the Dragonlance modules came out, and Weiss and Hickman changed the structure of adventures from "sandbox" to "storyline."  Before that point, whether an open hub like "Village of Hommlet" or a Gygaxian-'realism' dissassociative dungeon-crawl like "Tomb of Horrors" or the (pretty awful) "In Search of the Unknown," a module was just a place, a collection of rooms or locations, and it was up to the DM and players to generate the 'story' part of the adventure.  After DragonLance, with its scripted events and unkillable NPCs and such, the DM was there to narrate a story, and the PCs were only spectators.

That's a massive oversimplification, of course, but not without some truth.  I think it telling that when gamers are quizzed about what adventures stick in the minds in various polls, the older-school modules usually dominate the rankings.

On a related note, I think 4e's "delve" structure needs to be wildly changed.  I think there's a beautful place in the brand for an adventure you could entirely cover in a half-hour lunchbreak at school or work.  I thin kdeciding that the only format for such adventures was "three-rooms, three-combat encounters," was a tragic screwup.

@Crimson: "Everyone was young and stupid" fails to hold water when people who started in later editions still nominate TSR-Era adventures as their favorites or the best.  Ravenloft, the Temple of Elemental Evil, Against the Giants, the S-series...  You seriously think these only endure in public conciousness, when the people who played them in 1e and 2e are an ever-declining segment of the D&D market, because we all encounter them with lower standards?  If your thesis were correct, I'd expect to see misplaced affection for the first few modules of any given edition, not a wide smattering of TSRs run with very little representation from the WotC years.


@ Product Lines:  In general, quality modules seem the place to go if maintaining profits with a long-lived edition is the goal.  After all, modules are more or less disposable: a group buys one, runs it, and... then what? They know all the twists and turns now, so you can't very well run it again with the same group and expect the same level of experience.  D&D adventures have a very low replay value, so when you've used one, if the edition is producing more worth their cash in quality, you get another one.  And unlike rules suppliments, adventures are not inherantly finite.   You can sustain an edition on releasing crunch book after crunch book -- 3e proved this and to a lesser extent 4e proved this -- but it results in a more rapid edition cycle than does relying on adventures and to a lesser extent campaign settings, with far fewer crunch expansions.

Because while, eventually, any edition is going to run out of material and the company in charge push a new edition out the door to resell PHBs, the difference between doing that every 5 years and doing it every 12 years is going to be big for retention of the playerbase.  As a side benefit, good adventures (especially low level ones) would make the system more accessable for new DMs (and thus new groups), as they could cut their teeth running one of those.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Are you joking? 2E art was just awful.

While I understand that art is subjective, I didn't realize -anyone- had taste -this- bad.

2E art was bad, and everybody needs to just get over that.

You wanna talk about uncalled-for jabs, you can start by rescinding that one.

No, I think that "jab", if you want to call it that, was called for. I wasn't doing anything but pointing out what's clearly just nostalgia. Nostalgia goggles should be called out at every available opportunity and not be allowed to be taken seriously if that can be helped.

I think it telling that when gamers are quizzed about what adventures stick in the minds in various polls, the older-school modules usually dominate the rankings.

I agree that it's telling, but I don't think it's telling me what it's telling you. Sticking out in somebody's mind is not indicative of quality. There are various other factors that cause things to stick out in somebody's mind. Pikachu sticks out in people's minds as a Pokemon, but it's pretty awful in-game, it's design is decidedly average, and its popularity can pretty much entirely be attributed to how it was marketed.


You seriously think these only endure in public conciousness, when the people who played them in 1e and 2e are an ever-declining segment of the D&D market, because we all encounter them with lower standards?

Yes, absolutely. Or, if you prefer this phrase to "low standards", try "relative inexperience".

If your thesis were correct, I'd expect to see misplaced affection for the first few modules of any given edition

No, that does not follow logically at all from what I said.



((Dragonette:Edited for continuity))

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
First of all folks I have heard people who actually worked at TSR during that era speak.    The PHB, DMG, MM are always great selling books.   I doubt there has ever been a product that outsold the PHB ever in any time frame.   So the product could be a good one but PHB's are the meat and potatoes of gaming.   Yes they decline some as the edition ages and thats why we have business people wanting to make new editions all the time.   To get that PHB revenue again.


 yes I have heard the same. Infact later in this post I will tell you some great stories talking to 3 RPG creaters... but for now you need to clair up, they are 90% one time sales, and still not enough to make anyone rich.


@GMforPowergamers 
I know your hatred for pre-4e games maybe makes you spout off about something of which you don't really know.   Unless you have some hard facts to support a counter claim I think we should just drop it.   I have talked with real people who worked there and I've also read many written opinions from real people onsight about what happened.   But if all you are going to do is spout your opinion then we both won't get anywhere.   You've got mine.   Believe it or not.   I don't care.




ok quite a bit wrong here...

  first I do nothate pre 4e games. I have been playing RPGs since 1995, and D&D since 1996... in 16-17 years I have been playing 4e was only the last 4 1/2 years... in fact since I did not upgrade to 3e until a year in (bought books day 1 but then finished campaigns) I played 2e 5-6 years, 3 and 3.5 6-7 years and 4e 4-41/2 years... it is the least D&D I have played.  

I will never understand why when I say "every Edtion has pros and cons, and none are perfect" all people seem to think that means 4e rules and 1-3e suck...


Secodn no one has hard facts, not you, not me, no one. atleast noone posting here. We do have some hear say and soft facts though...


I watched the interviews with old (gary era) writers, and talked to and read interviews with the 2e era people, and got to sit in on some great gen con talks too. They all said the same thing, 2e died 5 years before 3e came out, it was just at negatives and bleeding a while (optional rule in 2e, but one I never new anyone not to use).


 at gen con two diffrent years (I think 2001 and 2005) I got to talk to two diffrent creaters that gave me alot of insight (at the time I wanted to be a designer).  The first was a writer for West end games who tried to help me by explaining the Metroplise source book for there DC game. 

he explained in a much longer (like 2 hour wait at the RAM and then the whole dinner) that he had to put mechanics that would sell the book, and stat blocks that would sell the book (becuse those are the two things people buy books for) but then have all the setting info that would not sell, but would make the book useful at the table.
I assume it is the same at TSR and WotC you buy more books for powers feats spells and stat blocks... but the thing that makes them great and memories is the fluff


the second was a WW designer who spent as much time trashing WotC as he did telling me about the scarrd lands (ther third party setting) and he explained that they wanted to put as much in the way of PHB material spread through diffrent books (so a book of spells, a book of prestige classes) to spread the sales out.


               
To stay in biusness and in the black every year you need to sell X books where X is a function of your overhead+ your exceptable profit margin.  I know of no company that can sustain that on 1, 2, or 3 books for more then a year.


so again, year one you can sell phb and dmg and mm and one or two fluff/adventure books and be fine... year 2 you eaither drop WAY below the amount you make (and cut staff) or you make more new books. Each new book will sell less then the big 3, but the better they sell the longer you last. No company can afford to drop below cost of overhead, but the larger the company the higher that profit margine you need as well.


example: If I got my RPG off the ground, and could cover expences, pluse a few thousand dollors a year, I could be happy and keep my day job. If I could pay myself $30,000 a year I would be throwing a party, and quite my day job.   but that would be after paying other employees     

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Yikes. 2e as the edition with the best art....

I don't even....what?


Better than what came before it? Absolutely, no question.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
Yeah those bring back some memories alright.  There are a lot of companies out there already doing this sort of thing, Fantasy Flight Games Warhammer Fantasy 3rd edition is fantastic for its visuals, writing and awsomely narrative mechanics.  Its by far my favorite RPG in the fantasy genre, but the drawback is that its soooo bloody expensive it hurts.



IDK, those narrative mechanics tend to do more to screw with the narrative than enhance it, IME. I find FF games to be really clunky and up their own tailpipe, mechanically.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />
If your thesis were correct, I'd expect to see misplaced affection for the first few modules of any given edition

No, that does not follow logically at all from what I said.



Logical Evidence
Postulate 1) Not all players of D&D began playing when the game itself started: new players have joined during each edition
Postulate 2) Some players cease playing D&D (by active choice, circumstance, death, etc.), and in doing so may cease giving feedback on D&D.
Postulate 3) A D&D player begins playing the game in the edition that is "Current" when he or she begins play, and will be exposed to that edition's products first.
Conclusion A) As time goes on, the porportion of players who were exsposed to TSR-era modules first shrinks.

Postulate 4) TSR-Era modules remain more well-regarded than WotC-Era modules by the collective of D&D players
Hypothesis) This is because starting players have lower standards: Quality has been constant

Now here comes the tricky part: the number of players who experience TSR modules before WotC's offerings is a shrinking population, relative to those gamers who began in the WotC era.  It may not seem like it, but WotC has had the game for a lot of time: if someone picked up 3.0 as an 18-year-old college student, at 3e's launch, that player is now age 30.  A player who started college and gaming at 2e's launch (when many of the "classic" TSR modules were already older, but still used) has had 24 years in the game.  I suspect a goodly number of players were now born after that marker.  And in that 24 years, how many attracted by 2e's launch are no longer with us, no longer contributing to the gestalt opinion that is the sum of those who consider themselves D&D players?  It's a nonzero number, to be sure.

So, the fact is, not everyone who now played, is now commentating and part of the general opinion, experienced TSR modules when they were young and of less refined tastes -- some would have started with WotC products, even 4e products.  If first exposure is the marker of what modules are best regarded by an individual, the modules best regarded by the gestalt should be any of those that acted as a first access point.  If the distrobution of adds and drops was even, you'd see no consensus.  I hypothesize that there is going to be a greater turnover (both more old players departing and new players entering) at edition changes, so that would bias the count towards introductory modules for each edition.  I see a little love (very little, but present) for The Sunless Citadel, but almost no one willing to put in a good word for Keep on the Shadowfell, while its ancestor Keep on the Borderlands has some continued following... though perhaps less than some higher level adventures (the S Series, Against the Giants) are more enduring yet, and you would expect those to be encountered later than Keep by the same population.

Hypothesis does not seem to fit with observation; new hypothesis required.

Ancedotal Evidence

I started playing in 3rd edition myself, in 2001.  I did not play AD&D on the tabletop until after 4th edition was in stores.  And yet... 2e planescape suppliments line my shelves for fluff alone, and when I think of great modules it is not Speaker in Dreams, my first encounter with published adventures, but Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, and Squaring the Circle that come to mind when I try to think of the best adventures that have been produced for Dungeons and Dragons, all of which I encountered significantly later (I didn't get my mitts on Hellbound: The Blood War until late 2011) when by your assumption, which is logical, I should have higher standards than I did when starting out ten years prior.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

This is why I think D&DN is trying for that retro feel. Modern mechanics, classic D&D feel and ease of use running the damn game.


DDN is trying for the retro feel for two main reasons: 1) to attract the fans of earlier editions, and 2) because earlier editions were rules-light, and they need a rules-light base to build on an modify with modules.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

No, I think that "jab", if you want to call it that, was called for. I wasn't doing anything but pointing out what's clearly just nostalgia....



1.) You're wrong.
2.) You ain't psychic.
3.) EVEN IF YOU WERE RIGHT - which, I emphasize, you are not - one of the tasks DDN must accomplish is to hale back to the traditional elements of D&D which made it iconic, and which new, curious players might want to therefore investigate.  
4.) But no, really, you're totally wrong.


I agree that it's telling, but I don't think it's telling me what it's telling you. Sticking out in somebody's mind is not indicative of quality. There are various other factors that cause things to stick out in somebody's mind. Pikachu sticks out in people's minds as a Pokemon, but it's pretty awful in-game, it's design is decidedly average, and its popularity can pretty much entirely be attributed to how it was marketed.


D&D should *DREAM* of having an iconic character as widely known as Pikachu is.  But Pikachu, like most pokemon, can be evaluated, since it's simply a brief mechanical construct, on an objective basis as 'good' or 'bad.'  Not so with a D&D adventure.  Have I mentioned how bloody wrong you are yet?


Here's a hypothesis for you:

Older gamers who remember D&D during the BECMI/AD&D years have more disposable income to spend on the game.

Those older gamers have kids who will be starting the games. The older gamers will buy and play stuff with their kids that remains true to the original game. They can go with D&D, or they can go with another system.

D&D would be wise to capture the expendable income demographic. Heck, half of the players I play with don't even own 2 books between them. Me, I own close to 100. Beggars can't be choosers.
"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
2.) You ain't psychic.

You should know by now that I most certainly am.

3.) ...one of the tasks DDN must accomplish is to hale back to the traditional elements of D&D which made it iconic

It needn't do any such thing.

D&D should *DREAM* of having an iconic character as widely known as Pikachu is.

Something else that we agree on.

Have I mentioned how bloody wrong you are yet?

Repeating that over and over isn't going to make it any more true. ;)

Also, weren't you that guy that argued vehemently and still believes that the Pokemon games aren't RPGs? Yeah, you just telling other people that they're wrong doesn't exactly carry a lot of weight.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!

               
To stay in biusness and in the black every year you need to sell X books where X is a function of your overhead+ your exceptable profit margin.  I know of no company that can sustain that on 1, 2, or 3 books for more then a year.


so again, year one you can sell phb and dmg and mm and one or two fluff/adventure books and be fine... year 2 you eaither drop WAY below the amount you make (and cut staff) or you make more new books. Each new book will sell less then the big 3, but the better they sell the longer you last. No company can afford to drop below cost of overhead, but the larger the company the higher that profit margine you need as well 



If you stick with the traditional RPG publishing format, yes, this seems accurate enough modeling.  But plenty of publishers are doing *much* better than that, by simply not following that traditional RPG publishing format.  
WotC shouldn't model themselves on what worked for TSR in the 1980s for a few years, or even a decade...they should market themselves on the basis of how Scholastic, say, publishes umpty-bajillion books in a series, and lines up fifty-million teenagers every time they do so.  Print and publish the Big Three Core Books, yeah, whatever...but your profit comes from the published adventures, written by major authors, that you pop out every single month.  Hell, sign a deal with Scholastic and have them show up at book fairs.

Are you joking? 2E art was just awful.



While I understand that art is subjective, I didn't realize -anyone- had taste -this- bad.




I respectfully disagree.   I own and have played the 1e modules many times with great fun had by all. I would consider them any time as good options for a campaign.   I've seen few if any since that time that I considered really good.

The A,S,D,G,Q series where all great.   Tower inverness was good too. 
Somewhere along the line D&D lost its soul.
Surprised at the jabs at 2nd Ed art, I thought Brom (original Dark Sun), Terlizzi (original Planescape), Elmore, the original Ravenloft artist, etc, were considered good.
Surprised at the jabs at 2nd Ed art, I thought Brom (original Dark Sun), Terlizzi (original Planescape), Elmore, the original Ravenloft artist, etc, were considered good.


Love the 2e Planescape art.  When I got rid of my AD&D 2e books, I kept the Planescape ones just because of the art.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Surprised at the jabs at 2nd Ed art, I thought Brom (original Dark Sun), Terlizzi (original Planescape), Elmore, the original Ravenloft artist, etc, were considered good.



Multiple?  I only saw C_C's.  That's why I said his taste was bad.  2E doesn't even have competition imo, in the game books.  Now, some of Reynolds PF work is okay, but some of it is just atrocious also.  It's almost a toss-up -- flip a coin, see if it'll be a good piece.  I didn't look at that much 4e art, but what I saw in the main 3 books wasn't very good, with some notable exceptions in the MM.  Again, imo.  The Elmore, Easley, Brom's are quintessential D&D to me, and rivalled only by the old works of Frank Frazyta (sp?) and Boris Vallejo.

Edit: ah, I see the multiples now.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

Yikes. 2e as the edition with the best art....

I don't even....what?



Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Brom, Keith Parkinson, Daniel Horne, Tony DiTerlizzi, Hildebrand, Fred Fields, Just to name a few.  They are easily on par if not better than any D&D artist doing work now.  The greatest advantage the newer artists have is technology.  THose guys listed above are easily on par with them, and they were the bread and butter artists of AD&D 1st and 2nd edition. 

I will grant only one thing, the art director of 2nd edition ruined most of it by superimposing employees heads on art.  Other than that, any of those artists can hold their own with the artists contracted now.

It is ludicrous to post as if the artists of that era were poor quality. 





CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
In general, quality modules seem the place to go if maintaining profits with a long-lived edition is the goal.

Adventures are not big sellers or big money-makers. That's because


  • Players don't buy them, so there goes 80% of your possible purchasers.

  • Only some DMs buy them, so there goes one-half or three-quarters of the remaining purchasers. 


In other words, adventures target the smallest possible sector of potential customers. 

Splat books, OTOH, sell to players. Even if only one player per group buys a book, you've probably sold two or three times as many copies as you would have sold of an adventure. If two or three players per group buy it, that's a doubling or tripling of sales. 

As a publisher, you need quality adventures for two reasons.

First, new DMs should have a small range of adventures to help them get started and teach them good habits.

Second, they're excellent marketing. It's great when players from different campaigns can get together and talk about their shared experience in a popular adventure. That's one area where MMOs beat D&D six ways to Sunday -- everyone is playing the same game and they all can talk about a common experience. Contrast that to DMs, who strive to make their campaigns different from everyone else's. 

So adventures are necessary to keep an RPG product line healthy and growing, but outside of that larger marketing concern, they are not individually solid money makers.

Steve
 

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

Surprised at the jabs at 2nd Ed art, I thought Brom (original Dark Sun), Terlizzi (original Planescape), Elmore, the original Ravenloft artist, etc, were considered good.



Multiple?  I only saw C_C's.  That's why I said his taste was bad.  2E doesn't even have competition imo, in the game books.  Now, some of Reynolds PF work is okay, but some of it is just atrocious also.  It's almost a toss-up -- flip a coin, see if it'll be a good piece.  I didn't look at that much 4e art, but what I saw in the main 3 books wasn't very good, with some notable exceptions in the MM.  Again, imo.  The Elmore, Easley, Brom's are quintessential D&D to me, and rivalled only by the old works of Frank Frazyta (sp?) and Boris Vallejo.



I still dig some Erol Otis, for vibe!
Surprised at the jabs at 2nd Ed art, I thought Brom (original Dark Sun), Terlizzi (original Planescape), Elmore, the original Ravenloft artist, etc, were considered good.

By some people.
That's pretty much what I've been getting at with mosts my posts here, though it seems to have gone over the heads of many. There's a lot of talk about how some of these things were great as though by some objective measure. Talking about them the as though they were objectively the opposite should demonstrate the ridiculous of such claims. Some people don't get it, though. Whataya gonna do?

Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Brom, Keith Parkinson, Daniel Horne, Tony DiTerlizzi, Hildebrand, Fred Fields, Just to name a few. They are easily on par if not better than any D&D artist doing work now.

In terms of what? Awfulness? Lack of taste? I'll give them that they were talented, but I would have liked to have seen them use that talent for something that was actually good. I mean, M. Night Syamalan has talent, but you can only tell if you look really closely because most of what he produces is crap.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Yikes. 2e as the edition with the best art....

I don't even....what?



Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Brom, Keith Parkinson, Daniel Horne, Tony DiTerlizzi, Hildebrand, Fred Fields, Just to name a few.  They are easily on par if not better than any D&D artist doing work now.




Oh, yeah, Fred Fields is insane, his stuff was way ahead.

I also like old school Jeff Dee (the 1st Ed Deities & Demigods is still cool to look at the art, love his Elric), and the black and white illustrations for Al-Qadim
In general, quality modules seem the place to go if maintaining profits with a long-lived edition is the goal.

Adventures are not big sellers or big money-makers. That's because


  • Players don't buy them, so there goes 80% of your possible purchasers.

  • Only some DMs buy them, so there goes one-half or three-quarters of the remaining purchasers. 


In other words, adventures target the smallest possible sector of potential customers. 


 



That's foolish. Let's get one thing straight to begin with. Players don't generally buy anything (unless they DM or collect) I have a table of 7 players, and only myself and one other actually own anything.

The Adventure Path subscription model for modules is very popular. Why? because people that spend money on RPG's want something glossy and solid in their hands. The adventure paths fulfill that need for a subscription magazine once Dragon/Dungeon went all digital.

You need to look at who is actually spending the money. By and large, it isn't the casual players.
"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 still dig some Erol Otis, for vibe!


I confess, I had to Google him...I didn't know who he was.  He's very...stylized.  In one way, it's outright terrible.  Yet...for some unexplainable reason, it's very appealing to me.  Especially the mushroom man b&w and the m-u on the Basic set (the fighter I don't like at all).  Very strange.  I can definitely see what you mean, though, about vibe.

@Crimson_Concerto
Whataya gonna do?  Why, if art critics can't argue one-true-artism, the whole genre will come crashing down!

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."