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  1. #1
    swbuza's Avatar
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    Best 5E Campaign in the FG store?

    What's the best campaign available for purchase on FG that a) isn't entirely dungeon crawl, b) isn't disjointed encounters the DM has to stitch together?


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  2. #2
    Zacchaeus's Avatar
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    Dungeon of the Mad Mage is the only real dungeon Crawl. None of the others have disjointed encounters that the DM has to stitch together (I'm making an assumption as to what you mean by this). Each of the campaigns are sufficiently different that it's hard to recommend one over another since a lot depends on the kind of campaign you like to run.
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  3. #3
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    I don't know them all, but here's my impressions of the ones I have run.

    Dragon Heist: to me this one is a really good setting and setup of events. But as written is a poor use of all the content it gives (i.e the story line is weak). IMO, if you are willing to read and invest some DM time, use the Alexandrian Remix and it is a very high quality and fun campaign. Though it does have an issue with a tier 2 party ending up with more money than they can spend. I've got notes on this remix if you want.

    Princes of the Apocalypse: I like this one as well. Doesn't really require anything to be changed or enhanced. I would suggest you consider running it in a sandbox mode by feeding the party more than one choice/lead at a time, but that's easy to do. This one, if you do it right, can really give a solid feeling of a living and changing world impacted by the player's choices.

    Storm Lord's Wrath/Sleeping Dragon's Wake/Divine Contention: This one is pretty simple and straight forward. Pretty solid all things considered and like PotA can easily be presented in a way to make the players feel they are in a living and changing world. I am running this for my campaign following Dragon Heist, fits well level wise and location. Minor changes to adjust for party history. I've got notes and enhancements of other things to flesh this out more if you want. Not this is posted as following Dragon's of Icespire Peak from the Essential Kit. My understanding is that it requires minor updates to make them continuous.

  4. #4
    It's hard to say which is the best, since that'll depend on your preferences and play style. There are lots of good reviews of the official WotC hardcover adventures that can give you an idea of what each adventure offers. Many of the adventures have an underlying theme or mechanic that you and your players would probably want to be on board with. For example, Curse of Strahd is a gothic horror setting with limited resources, but one of the best villains who your players are sure to hate with a passion. Tomb of Annihilation has a lot of hex-based exploration and cool locations to discover, but there are no resurrections as written which might scare away some groups.

    Based on your requirements, you probably won't enjoy Dungeon of the Mad Mage (a dungeon), Ghosts of Saltmarsh, or Tales from the Yawning Portal (individual adventures that can be strung together). I suspect you might not like Princes of the Apocalypse either - a very large portion (at least 75%) of the adventure is spent in dungeons of lairs of some sort. Tomb of Annihilation is maybe 50-50 jungle and dungeons, but depending on what you consider "disjointed" it may be not what you're looking for (I wouldn't call it disjointed, but there are tons of locations in the jungle that your players may never find without a little guidance).

    Of those that I've run, played, or read - I think Curse of Strahd is the best. But I'm not familiar with Descent into Avernus or Rime of the Frostmaiden (yet).

    Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a non-WotC adventure that is also worth looking into. It's from the lead designer of Baldur's Gate I & II and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I haven't run or even read the adventure, but there is a discord server for it that probably has a ton of resources.
    Last edited by Ecks; January 22nd, 2021 at 06:04.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by swbuza View Post
    What's the best campaign available for purchase on FG that a) isn't entirely dungeon crawl, b) isn't disjointed encounters the DM has to stitch together?
    Can you please give more information on what it is that you like or are looking for? Instead of just saying what you don't want, tell also what it is that you specifically do want. For example, can you give an example of a campaign which you have liked and why?

    From the official campaigns Curse of Strahd is my favourite, although I have not read, played let alone GMed them all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecks View Post
    It's hard to say which is the best, since that'll depend on your preferences and play style. There are lots of good reviews of the official WotC hardcover adventures that can give you an idea of what each adventure offers. Many of the adventures have an underlying theme or mechanic that you and your players would probably want to be on board with. For example, Curse of Strahd is a gothic horror setting with limited resources, but one of the best villains who your players are sure to hate with a passion. Tomb of Annihilation has a lot of hex-based exploration and cool locations to discover, but there are no resurrections as written which might scare away some groups.

    Based on your requirements, you probably won't enjoy Dungeon of the Mad Mage (a dungeon), Ghosts of Saltmarsh, or Tales from the Yawning Portal (individual adventures that can be strung together). I suspect you might not like Princes of the Apocalypse either - a very large portion (at least 75%) of the adventure is spent in dungeons of lairs of some sort. Tomb of Annihilation is maybe 50-50 jungle and dungeons, but depending on what you consider "disjointed" it may be not what you're looking for (I wouldn't call it disjointed, but there are tons of locations in the jungle that your players may never find without a little guidance).

    Of those that I've run, played, or read - I think Curse of Strahd is the best. But I'm not familiar with Descent into Avernus or Rime of the Frostmaiden (yet).

    Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a non-WotC adventure that is also worth looking into. It's from the lead designer of Baldur's Gate I & II and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I haven't run or even read the adventure, but there is a discord server for it that probably has a ton of resources.
    Wow, I didn't know about the background. I just read some reviews when it came out and the reviewers did not seem impressed so I never looked into it more. But thanks to you, I really need to now.

  6. #6

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    I DMed Tyranny of Dragons (Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat) and liked it quite a bit as a large scale heroic campaign. There is a good mix of locations. It's not without flaws and has a pretty dangerous start which fits the campaign and sets the PCs up to really start hating the cult bad guys. The final battle of the campaign is too hard and needs to be toned down and the bridge between the heroic and was a bit awkward. It was also the first campaign made for 5E so it's not as polished and goes up higher than some. I've run it twice and I would run it again if I had the time.

  7. #7
    The best adventure I have ever run was Tomb of Annihilation. It literally had everything. A level 1 start, brilliant setting, awesome locations and NPCs, fiendish traps and everything else you could want in a D&D campaign.

  8. #8
    If you and your players haven't already done it, I'd put in a word for the combination of Icespire Peak and Lost Mines of Phandelver.

    LMOP has a fairly linear structure. Icespire Peak has a very freeform "quest board" structure with lots of mini-adventures, and both are based around the town of Phandalin. Mix the two together and you have a really satisfying detailed area to romp around in with lots of stuff going on and an over-arching plot (the LMOP bit). When your players hit 6th level you can add in the three "Add on" adventures (Storm Lord's Wrath, Divine Contention and Sleeping Dragon's Wake). These have a mix of quest board and linear plot, too, and will take your players up to 12th level or so.

    The versions of these campaigns on FG are very well done. There are occluders on all the maps for line of sight. One or two maps are not provided by WOTC but it is easy to add them - a quick google will provide. The only real advance work the GM needs to do is a quick read through of the modules, and prepare a master overland map with the points of interest from both LMOP and Icespire Peak on it so you can just use the one map for everything. Since it is all done by drag-and-dropping the links, it took me just a few minutes to do.

    They are also very well supported by external supplements. For example, you can find pre-done soundscapes for pretty much every episode in every one of these adventures at Syrinscape, which makes it very easy to deliver an involving soundtrack to your players with very little work. You can find Patreon map makers who have filled in gaps. For example, each of the three groups I've run through this have ended up taking over Tresendar Manor in Phandalin as their base. https://www.patreon.com/morvoldpress/posts has some excellent maps of the restored manor house, other buildings in Phandalin and so on.

    It leads fairly naturally into Princes of the Apocalypse or Storm King's Thunder, too.


    Of the other campaigns, I'd say all seem to have a pretty good FG conversion.

    Prince of the Apocalypse is OK, but it does devolve into quite a lot of dungeon crawling, fighting cultists and NOT going down to deeper levels of stuff right away. I think LMOP/IP gives a much more varied and satisfying campaign, but working some of PoA into a campaign that started in Phandalin works really well.

    Storm King's Thunder is a bit rambling, and if your players are the sort to get enmeshed in mysteries in one place rather than moving on every night I think it'll start being a lot of work for the GM. You'll need to flesh out a lot wherever their attention gets directed.

    Ghosts of Saltmarsh is more of a sandbox. It's got some strong scenarios and some weak ones. IMO the weakest part of it (and several other recent modules) is the maps - they switched back to old-school black and white plain maps at just the wrong time for when we all had to start playing via VTT. For VTT, you really want very detailed maps with all the furniture etc. so players can see what's going on without the GM having to do tons of description - it is so much more efficient. Fortunately, a lot of third parties have done colour maps for these modules, but it will be more work to implement (putting encounters and story links on the maps doesn't take long but doing the line of sight walls etc. is a pain).

    Descent into Avernus has a very (very) railroady start, before getting much more freeform in the middle. I'm playing in it at the moment on a different platform. Same problem with the black and white maps, so the GM has had to get colour maps from third party suppliers. In the hands of a good GM and with a good group it is a lot of fun, but I have to say there's a lot of fairly murky morality in it so I wouldn't be wanting to play it with either a more jokey group or (shudder) a more power-gamey group.

    Icewind Dale looks lovely but I've not run or played it yet. Not the time to be doing a campaign about isolation and loneliness in the snows, for me.

    As others said Odyssey of the Dragonlords is the best of the block-buster non-WOTC campaigns I've played in. We got about half way through it before the group fragmented and I was REALLY enjoying it. Requires a GM with enough sensitivity of touch to know when to stick to the railroady plot and when to let players off the leash for a few sessions - the game book does an admirable job of providing lots of stuff to do, but is a bit short on guidance of how to allow them time inside a time-constrained plot. If the GM bangs on too much about the big time deadlines you could end up missing 75% of the fun stuff. But if your players are at all interested in something with an Ancient Greek myth flavour, it's a really good campaign.

    I've just been reading Rise of the Drow, haven't played it yet. It's impressive in scope with a lot of component encounters but I must admit reading the hardback my eyes gloss over and I find it hard to load it into my brain as an actual living and breathing campaign. Maybe it is just not organised the way I expect. The FG conversion looks pretty good, but this is one I definitely wouldn't want to attempt without the hardback to read outside of sessions. (Probably true of Odyssey of the Dragonlords too. Whereas LMOP/IP/Princes is perfectly runnable just by bringing up the FG map and clicking on the linked stories).

    I played and enjoyed Kobold Press' "Court of the Shadow Fey" on roll20, but IMO it needs a very flexible GM. I think it plays better with a freewheeling style and not sticking too closely to the written plotline when players inevitably deviate. Good for experienced groups, I think.

    Empire of the Ghouls looks pretty good, too, but I've not played it. The hardback is certainly easier to follow than Rise of the Drow! I might be tempted to run it and steal encounter areas and plotlines from Vault of the Drow, actually.

    I hope that's of some help.

    Cheers, Hywel

  9. #9
    Odyssey of the Dragonlords looks like one of the most fun to me. A Greek-themed path just looks so fun! Ofiicial Wizard's I'd say Curse of Strahd is probably the best but you have to do a little bit of planning.

  10. #10
    I ran Curse of Strahd twice. It was awesome both times. It is my favourite.
    I also loved Tomb of Annihilation, but it is an (awesome) dungeon crawl at the end.
    I did not enjoy running Out of the Abyss.
    I ran Princes of Apocalypse twice. It is sooo easy to run, but it is a huge dungeon crawl.
    I did not enjoy Tales of the Old Margreve at all.

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