With the upcoming release of Candlekeep Mysteries, I think it’s time to discuss what I feel is lacking in the current D&D development plan.
Even though I only started playing D&D with 4th Edition, and only got into regular games with 5th, even I’m familiar with the classic slim modules and honestly.. it’s something I miss.
You might think that odd, and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised, I’d think myself.
Okay, I think I can verbalise my position, but first let’s look at why the old style modules aren’t used anymore, this is of course a mixture of research and conjecture.
It all comes down to presence on a shelf, as I understand it having a thicker book increases visibility on a shelf or in a store.
Where as slim modules would necessitate a forward facing product in order to get any real shelf presence.
If that is the case, it’s understandable but I think it’s a case of not moving with the times.
In a world where a large volume of sales are done online, whether by digital download or for delivery, the need to focus on this send outdated.
Candlekeep Mysteries, much like Tales from the Yawning Portal and Ghosts of Saltmarsh, is an anthology book of apparently 17 individual adventures and as much as I’m admittedly looking forward to it, part of me cannot help but wonder why these anthologies couldn’t have been released in an episodic manner.
Of course, this isn’t in any way a deal breaker, I will buying Candlekeep Mysteries on release, but I still would like to see Wizards focus on a quicker release cycle, with smaller modules, that could even be part of an over arching plot line.
Now, I do realise that it could be viewed that I’m asking for something akin to Adventure League, but I’m not looking for the organised play of AL, though admittedly you can just play AL around your table it only theoretically covers a portion of what I want.
Fundamentally, I don’t see why Wizards have focused on a long design cycle with big hardbound books, even when they’ve tried scaling back (Tyranny of Dragons, anyone?) they still have that mentality of a publication needing to be a big hardbound affair.
What I’d like to see, is smaller releases that cover a portion of the larger adventure, maybe even doing two per Tier of play, crafting an adventure from level 1 to 20, but each being flexible enough to run without inclusion in the greater adventure.
Even if it were just smaller adventures that focused on getting you to know an area, like in Rime of the Frostmaiden, you get to explore all the ten towns but with a single mission in each location they all feel somewhat superficial, if instead Wizards had published between 3 and 5 classic style modules, each one covering a couple of the ten towns in interconnected ways. Heck, you can use the Average Party Level system to allow groups to play them in what ever order they want.
I could just ramble off planning this all my own, and I will try to avoid this, I just feel as if that kind of starting point would have been stronger within the RoFM adventure, it would have given players more chance to explore the world before they start feeling like there’s too many balls in the air and fleshed out each individual location more than the simple and single mission we get in each.
Ultimately, it isn’t just the Ten Towns of Frostmaiden, we can see in Saltmarsh and Yawning Portal that current D&D is leaning heavily on classics, but rather than work for quicker turn around and doing straight adaptations of the classic content, Wizards seem intent on shoehorning them into a hardcover book and slowing down the release cycle because of it.
Now, I don’t think Wizards would ever notice me, let alone listen to me, but I think going forward as digital sales grow, I don’t think there is anything stopping them from adopting a smaller release mentality with regular titles.
But then, I would also like more settings released, but that’s a topic for another entry.