I’m going to put a HUGE SPOILER TAG on this post because I’m going to talk about problems with a D&D module that I ran this weekend and which not too many people will have been exposed to.
Over the weekend, I ran DDEX1-3 Shadows Over the Moonsea, a D&D Expeditions module for Adventurer’s League.
Before I begin, let me give you the format of these adventures.
The DDEX series is the “Expeditions” series of Organized Play (Adventurer’s League) for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. In Adventurer’s League, there are many options for play, including:
- Encounters: a 2-hour adventure in an ongoing campaign that is run in-store (using the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module, either the free short version provided to stores, or the full module sold as a book)
- Expeditions: a 4-hour adventure, run in-store using the provided Expeditions modules (6 of them are currently available). There is no way to access Expeditions if you are not sponsored by a store.
- Epics: run only at conventions. There is no way to play an Epic outside of a convention.
- Home Games: held in-store or at home, using “any other officially published adventure,” which currently includes Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Lost Mines of Phandelver (the adventure in the Starter Kit).
All adventures have an appropriate level rating for the adventure. For example, most of the current Expeditions are for levels 1-4. If you are level 5, you can’t play that adventure. Characters can go from one format to another– as long as they were built and played using the AL guidelines and they track their play on their log sheet, you can take your PC to an Encounters game anywhere, play at home or in a store, whatever. And DMs get experience points for running the games, so my paladin gained 300 XP on Sunday, just by virtue of me running this module.
Although it’s important to prep, as a GM, for any adventure, the reality is that organized play GMs often do not have a lot of time to prepare the adventure and make adjustments. They never know exactly who will be playing until they sit down to play.
I have long maintained that all organized play adventures need to be written not for the great GM, who can save any game and make up a great adventure on the fly. They need to be written for the mediocre GM, who is learning or maybe not that creative (or maybe a little hungover… you know what I mean if you’ve ever played convention games!)
This adventure fell into the Expeditions format. It is approximately 4 hours long and should contain a complete story in one session. I don’t like to do a lot of prep for RPGs, so these modules really need to have everything in one place to work from (most of the time, they do). Some of these modules are very mediocre. Once in a while, however, you get one that is just bad.
This is one such adventure….
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!