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Author Topic: Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?  (Read 3554 times)

Ulairi

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I picked up "Into the Borderlands" today which is an homage to B1 and B2 and reading through it reminded me how much more useful the old modular adventure products were compared to what 5E is releasing. From my understanding, and I could be wrong because I quit buying the 5E product after the Timat adventures (which were two books) Prince of the Apocalypse. I know that Wizards is trying to do fewer books but what they are producing are a single book that takes parties from level 1 all the way to level 10+. When I got started we were buying the classic module model that may be a module for new groups (B1 and B2) or different modules for parties from 3-5 or 5-7, or what have you. This made my move to "sandbox" gaming so much easier because I could repurpose content from these modules and easily slot them in.

Is the market for the modular style adventures just not there anymore? Folks want the linear product that takes their group from beginning to the end?

One more thought for those folks look to get "Into the Borderlands" It's $50 and I wish it would have been a box set that had the modules printed in the original format.

fearsomepirate

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2018, 02:20:05 PM »
Because a hardback campaign allows you to center the year's marketing around it and concentrate on a single product. Much easier to keep people's awareness of Tomb of Annihilation high than diffuse attention among dozens of modules. The books sell very well, too.
Every time I think the Forgotten Realms can't be a dumber setting, I get proven to be an unimaginative idiot.

S'mon

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2018, 02:20:07 PM »
The hardbacks presumably sell well and have nice fat profit nargins.

I certainly prefer modular adventures to linear paths. Some of my GMs at my Meetup are good at extracting modular adventures out of the WotC hardbacks - maybe WotC assume most sandbox gms can and will do that. Personally I find it easier to convert an OSR adventure to 5e.

Willie the Duck

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2018, 02:26:44 PM »
I would say that since you stopped buying them, the adventure books have gotten better at being modular and or usable/minable for modular gaming needs (Tales from the Yawning Portal is specifically a bunch of smaller adventures, Tomb of Annihilation is a sandbox/hex-crawl island with a massive end-dungeon that can be ignored along with the overall plot if preferred, or used in isolation, Storm King's Thunder is very much more multi-outcome with more ways to go about it than the more linear railroads of the earlier ones).

That said, yes. It appears that a $50 purchase that takes up a quarter, half, or most of a 20-level campaign is the preferred model for module gaming, as far as WotC wants to be in charge of.

I will say that WotC has been upfront that it expects people to take advantage of third party products. So it might not be that WotC doesn't think that there is a market for modular style adventures, only that they don't want to attempt to make a profit doing so, given their overarching corporate strategy.

Overall, however, I've often wondered what model has been more profitable. Were B1 and B2, that you mentioned, profitable for TSR? I assume so, but I guess I don't know.

estar

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2018, 02:45:44 PM »
Quote from: Ulairi;1034899
Is the market for the modular style adventures just not there anymore? Folks want the linear product that takes their group from beginning to the end?

One more thought for those folks look to get "Into the Borderlands" It's $50 and I wish it would have been a box set that had the modules printed in the original format.

Traditional tournament style modules don't scale. The WoTC offerings are larger in scope than the most of the classic AD&D modules.

Ratman_tf

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2018, 03:00:10 PM »
At a guess, I'd say the popularity of Paizo's adventure paths.
Though 3rd parties like Goodman Games have picked up a lot of the slack.
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estar

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2018, 03:04:08 PM »
Quote from: Ratman_tf;1034921
At a guess, I'd say the popularity of Paizo's adventure paths.
Though 3rd parties like Goodman Games have picked up a lot of the slack.

Paizo is a factor but the Wizards has their own take on the presentation.

Ratman_tf

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2018, 03:18:02 PM »
Quote from: estar;1034923
Paizo is a factor but the Wizards has their own take on the presentation.

Sure enough.
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fearsomepirate

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2018, 03:23:51 PM »
If you have a dozen level 1 adventures, you won't play very many of them unless you are running a lot of games, people are happy resetting at 1 after each one, or it takes forever to hit level 2. A 1-15 campaign book is nice because you end up using nearly 100% of the content. And, not coincidentally at all, if you play at a normal pace, you will finish right about the time a new one comes out.
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Haffrung

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2018, 03:47:20 PM »
1) The D&D experience these days is promoted as an epic story with ongoing stories and villains. Paizo's adventure paths and WotC's campaigns in a book provide that.

2) A great many DMs today do not create their own material. They don't feel confident in it, they don't have the time - whatever. But where DMs used to fit modules into a homebrew campaign, many DMs today don't have a homebrew campaign to fit it into.

3) Jamming a bunch of unrelated modules together can be awkward in an RPG climate that's all about ongoing stories.

4) As has already been mentioned, the marketing model for WotC today is multi-platform. Far easier to do with with a big flagpole campaign than a bunch of smaller modules.

5) I'm sure there's some kind of publishing economy of scale involved, where it's more efficient to design, publish, and distribute two 240 page books a year than twelve 20 page adventures.
 

finarvyn

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2018, 03:58:21 PM »
In the old days, the early TSR modules were tournament adventures. The G-series and D-series modules (and many others of the era) were played at GenCon with OD&D and later re-written to be published as AD&D modules. Somewhere along the line they found that several modules linked together (which they called a "super module") were popular, so the G-series and Desert of Desolation and Elemental Evil books started to sell.

I think that the current hardback promotional strategy probably goes back to the 3E days where so many modules were created that stores got left with boxes of unsold product. (At least, most of the stores around me started selling 3E stuff at a huge discount just to clear shelf space.) This leads to the conclusion that one large hardback module would sell better than a pile of random smaller modules.

Personally, I like the Goodman Games modules. They're small, self-contained (mostly), and can be played in a small number of sessions. I wish more companies would take this approach, or maybe take a number of similarly themed modules and sell them as boxed sets. I find that having a hardback at the game table is a lot less useful than a thin module that can lay flat.
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Gronan of Simmerya

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2018, 04:18:55 PM »
Why?

Money.
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Larsdangly

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2018, 04:43:22 PM »
Whatever the reason, I think the spread of this style of adventure material has all but ruined the core population engaged in the hobby. If this is what you think D+D is, then you've basically resigned everyone at the table to passive roles, either spooning out or eating dollops of whatever 'story' you are all supposedly enjoying. It is so unlike the experience of actually playing D+D that I find it almost unrecognizable. But, in fairness to the current authors, we started sliding down this slope a long time ago, when TSR started re-formatting their adventure modules to include a block of text the DM was supposed to read at each room entry - a subtle little tweak on earlier game play that gets everyone conditioned to the idea that the module is in charge of the game instead of the players. There is a straight line from that boxed 'color' text to adventures in which the whole arc of play just follows along from one scripted event or encounter to another. And then, of course, you only get to 'enjoy' the adventure if you survive and 'win'. So, the rules of the game have to be adapted to make sure each character has a predictable and very high chance of surviving each encounter, which leads to another requirement that each character more or less 'resets' after each encounter, so the outcomes remain highly predictable. And here we are. If it weren't for the OSR and its close relatives, this hobby would be a big shit show right now.

S'mon

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2018, 04:47:50 PM »
Quote from: Larsdangly;1034947
If it weren't for the OSR and its close relatives, this hobby would be a big shit show right now.

For me, running OSR stuff with 5e rules definitely hits the sweet spot. Enough random lethality to be interesting, not so much as to be discouraging.

Gronan of Simmerya

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Why did Wizards of the Coast move away from the modular adventures?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2018, 04:48:12 PM »
Quote from: Larsdangly;1034947
Whatever the reason, I think the spread of this style of adventure material has all but ruined the core population engaged in the hobby. If this is what you think D+D is, then you've basically resigned everyone at the table to passive roles, either spooning out or eating dollops of whatever 'story' you are all supposedly enjoying. It is so unlike the experience of actually playing D+D that I find it almost unrecognizable. But, in fairness to the current authors, we started sliding down this slope a long time ago, when TSR started re-formatting their adventure modules to include a block of text the DM was supposed to read at each room entry - a subtle little tweak on earlier game play that gets everyone conditioned to the idea that the module is in charge of the game instead of the players. There is a straight line from that boxed 'color' text to adventures in which the whole arc of play just follows along from one scripted event or encounter to another. And then, of course, you only get to 'enjoy' the adventure if you survive and 'win'. So, the rules of the game have to be adapted to make sure each character has a predictable and very high chance of surviving each encounter, which leads to another requirement that each character more or less 'resets' after each encounter, so the outcomes remain highly predictable. And here we are. If it weren't for the OSR and its close relatives, this hobby would be a big shit show right now.

You really, really need to read "Dave Arenson's True Genius" by Rob Kuntz.
You should go to GaryCon.  Period.

The rules can't cure stupid, and the rules can't cure asshole.