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Old 02-09-2020, 05:54 PM
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D&D: Help me pick a module


My D&D group is blessed with not one but two experienced DMs. But one of them is so experienced, that he's feeling sucked dry of ideas lately: He's been doing it since back in the 70s. And the other one isn't quite that dry, but he still likes a break every now and again. Clearly, it's time for someone else to take a seat behind the screen.

Well, I've DMed before. Once. Way back in 2nd edition days. And while I'm our group's resident rules lawyer, I still don't entirely get how 5e is balanced, for things like what encounters a group should be expected to handle. And besides, I don't have as much time as I has back in the 2e days.

So clearly what I need is a module. The current plan is for me to take the group from level 3ish to 5ish, and then hand off to the other DM. WotC or third party either one is fine, as long as it works with 5e D&D. And it can't be Lost Mines of Phandelver, Rise of the Dragon Queen, Curse of Strahd, Sunken Citadel, or Dungeon of the Mad Mage, because we've already done or will be doing all of those.

Suggestions?
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:11 PM
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I've heard good things about Dragon Heist, and I think it fits your level range.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:54 AM
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If you do go with Dragon Heist, I suggest a look at this.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:33 AM
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I picked up the Curse of Strahd. I love Ravenloft though. That said, I haven't DM'd it. Right now I have a home brew for my kids and their friends that we are playing. I plan on incorporating CoS in the next few months.
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:45 PM
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All my personal opinion:

The D&D Essentials Kit is fairly brilliant, and the included adventure, Dragon of Icespire Peak, is very well done. It covers levels 1-5, and hits a very good balance between sandbox, player-directed adventure, and a plot-oriented adventure. Like the Starter Set and The Lost Mines of Phandelver, it's very much set up to teach someone how to be a D&D 5E DM. It also come with a bunch of cool handouts for players.

For grognards who've been playing since the 70s interested in a bit of nostalgia, you might also want to take a look at Goodman Games' "Original Adventures Reincarnated" line, which updates classic D&D modules to 5E (and also faithfully re-printing the previous version and including essays on the original modules and their places in D&D history). The Keep on the Borderlands and The Isle of Dread are roughly in your desired level range.
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:57 PM
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I bought Ghosts of Saltmarsh using some gift cards in December, and I'm planning on running my kids and some of their friends through it. I like coastal/water campaigns a lot, so there's a lot of good stuff there.

Some spoilers:
-I don't particularly care for the Scarlet Brotherhood as a villain. Like Hydra, they're just too mwahahaha for my tastes. Instead, I'm replacing them with a Hot Fuzz/Innsmouth scenario; there's an old cult in town that performs secret rituals to keep the fish flowing, and also performs assassinations and other skulduggery to prevent anything from changing in town.
-The Sea Princes, a nearby pirate kingdom, don't get used much, and that feels like a lost opportunity. I'm tying them in with a lot of the smuggling: they're selling weapons to the lizardfolk and the sahaugin both, hoping to weaken Saltmarsh and its kingdom, in preparation for the inevitable war between the Sea Princes and Saltmarsh's kingdom.

I'm making some other changes, but these are the big ones.

As a player, I played through Dragon Heist. Honestly, I didn't much care for it: the city intrigue wasn't particularly intriguing, Xanathar as a villain was cartoonish, and several of the setpieces were pretty arbitrary in nature. It felt old-school and not in a particularly good way.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:18 PM
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I feel confident in my ability to replace villain groups/motivations, and just keep the stats on the important encounters, so if that's all that's wrong with a module, I'm not worried. And I think I'm reading that Dragon Heist comes with an interchangeable selection of villains, anyway?
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:41 PM
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It may work. And in reading a little bit, it seems that one of the most arbitrary parts is actually a standalone module, "Blue Alley", that a lot of DMs use as a sidequest. So it may not be as arbitrary as I thought it was!
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:58 PM
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What characters can handle depends on your player group, as some players just don't make effective characters. If you use the challenge creation rules in the DMG (You can use https://kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder to do the calcs for you), you can get a good idea of encounter difficulty, though there's some non-intuitive stuff. The challenge ratings and danger levels are built with the idea that PCs will face 6-8 encounters between each long rest, maybe half of them combat. So a fight rated as 'hard' just means that it's going to burn some resources, and 'deadly' just means 'there's a decent chance of player death. Tough 'boss fight' type fights need to be about 2-3 times a 'deadly' encounter if they're going to be the only one for the day. Generally PC damage is huge, so I usually give max HP to anything that's supposed to be tough and any caster types. Also, unless your party is really small (2-3 players), because of the action economy 'boss' monsters fighting alone are either going to be a pushover for a party or so overwhelming that it's pure luck to not die to them. Give a boss pets, lieutenants, and/or minions so that players have to spread their actions around - if that mummy lord has a pack of lesser undead at his command, that vampire has thralls flanking the party, or the wizard has some hired muscle guarding his back the fights will be a lot closer and more interesting.

If you're just doing 3rd to 5th level, Running a few of the Adventurer's League mods might work. A couple that I really like from Season I are DDEX1-14 Dues for the dead (straightforward dungeon), DDEX1-02 Secrets of Sokol Keep (bit of a mystery and dungeon), DDEX1-08 Tales Trees Tale (the scary kind of fairy tale forest), and DDEX1-6 The Scroll Thief (investigation of a theft, then a chase). That season was all tied to the Tyranny of Dragons hardcover, but the adventures only loosely connect to it, and if you've run before it's easy enough to change locations and backstory around while keeping the crunchy bits from the mods. Also since they're built for AL, the encounters mostly have adjustments for different size and levels of party so it's easy for you to play around with the difficulty. (These are all available from dmsguild.com and I think some of them may be free now if you search for the number).

If you've already got "Tales from the Yawning Portal" (which has the 5e version of Sunless Citadel), Forge of Fury is built for Characters around that level and I've heard good things about it.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:09 PM
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My group is six players, and we generally find ourselves having less than the recommended number of resource-draining encounters per day (we're considering tweaking the rest rules to increase that). So we'll probably need to aim for the hard end. On the other hand, two of the players, well, let's just say that they do best with mechanically-simple characters (though they'll have help for character creation).
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:37 PM
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I don't play 5e or modules but I had a look at what I could find and if I were to pick it would be either: "The Vault of Devourer" which is "optimized for a party of five 3rd-level characters" but can be adjusted or "Secrets of Sokol Keep" which is "optimized for five 2nd level characters."

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/199...f-the-Devourer

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/170...-Sokol-Keep-5e

Apparently there are also a bunch of free 5e adventures on the internet if you want to surprise them with something new: https://www.thedmlair.com/free-level-1-5-dd-adventures/

Last edited by by-tor; 02-10-2020 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
My group is six players, and we generally find ourselves having less than the recommended number of resource-draining encounters per day (we're considering tweaking the rest rules to increase that). So we'll probably need to aim for the hard end.
Double deadly is a good rule of thumb.

Quote:
On the other hand, two of the players, well, let's just say that they do best with mechanically-simple characters (though they'll have help for character creation).
I'm not sure exactly what you mean with mechanically simple characters - 5e is not like 3/3.5/Pathfinder. Single class characters and characters with a straightforward 1-3 level dip are generally the most effective, not complicated mixes of various classes and prestige classes. People online like to make all kinds of weird builds, but these A. Often depend on really absurd rule interpretations and/or B. Do one neat trick really well once or twice per day if circumstances all like up. Some classes are mechanically difficult to play (Wizard with their spell list and Druids with that plus wild shape come to mind), but there are plenty that are effective without needing to do much complicated in game. If you are really just euphemising for people who don't play very well overall, then yeah that's a thing. But if it's people who don't do good at complex 3/3.5 style characters and abilities with complex interactions, they really aren't as bad off in 5e.

For example, I made a character for a friend of mine who's completely new to the game. Mechanically, she is a variant human Ancestral Guardians barbarian with Maxed STR, plus good con and dex and the Great Weapon master feat, with all levels in barbarian. (That's all you need to build the character). Her standard combat action is to rage, rush the nearest enemy, and recklessly attack, using GWM if they're not heavy-armored-looking a not otherwise. Then she just keeps running around chopping things until they're dead or something takes her out of the fight. It's not quite as simple as you can get, but it's a sequence that you can easily write down on an index card and repeat if you can't remember it. She's also a very effective character, who's hard to kill, helps keep enemies from hurting party members, and does a ton of damage.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:43 PM
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"Simple characters" as in barbarian or fighter, because spellcasters have too many options to choose from in play. And for that matter, even fighter sometimes has too many.
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Old 02-11-2020, 06:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
And I think I'm reading that Dragon Heist comes with an interchangeable selection of villains, anyway?
I've only skimmed it, but I think that's right. The players choose who the main antagonist is.
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
My D&D group is blessed with not one but two experienced DMs. But one of them is so experienced, that he's feeling sucked dry of ideas lately: He's been doing it since back in the 70s. And the other one isn't quite that dry, but he still likes a break every now and again. Clearly, it's time for someone else to take a seat behind the screen.

Well, I've DMed before. Once. Way back in 2nd edition days. And while I'm our group's resident rules lawyer, I still don't entirely get how 5e is balanced, for things like what encounters a group should be expected to handle. And besides, I don't have as much time as I has back in the 2e days.

So clearly what I need is a module. The current plan is for me to take the group from level 3ish to 5ish, and then hand off to the other DM. WotC or third party either one is fine, as long as it works with 5e D&D. And it can't be Lost Mines of Phandelver, Rise of the Dragon Queen, Curse of Strahd, Sunken Citadel, or Dungeon of the Mad Mage, because we've already done or will be doing all of those.

Suggestions?
If you're going to do Rise of Tiamat, then why not do "hoard of the dragon queen" It will take you up to higher than level 5 tho.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:00 AM
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There are also a ton of downloadable at adventurer's league
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:05 AM
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On that note, does anyone have a good site for converted old modules. I am looking for the giants/drow/lolth series. I know it well enough to dm it but not well enough t6o convert it in a balanced way.
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Old 02-11-2020, 03:01 PM
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OK, I guess I mangled the name, but it was "Hoard of the Dragon Queen" (the low-level one) that we did, not "Rise". Sunless Citadel is what we're currently doing, Dungeon of the Mad Mage is the one that will be following on after me, and all the rest are past tense.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
OK, I guess I mangled the name, but it was "Hoard of the Dragon Queen" (the low-level one) that we did, not "Rise". Sunless Citadel is what we're currently doing, Dungeon of the Mad Mage is the one that will be following on after me, and all the rest are past tense.
A couple of people have mentioned Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. I didn't particularly like it, but it is supposed to take characters from Level 1 to Level 5, and then lead directly into Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage.
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