Monday, January 12, 2015

Adventure Module Survey Results

Yeah so this isn't scientific by any means.

1) Preferred Game System
Labyrinth Lord / BX : 25%
Lamentations of the Flame Princess: 12.5%
Dungeon Crawl Classics: 10%
Agnostic: 10%
5E D&D: 7.5%
OD&D: 7.5%
Swords & Wizardry: 5%
Dungeon World: 5%
Other 5%
Basic Fantasy: 2.5%
Warhammer FRP: 2.5%
Castles & Crusades: 2.5%
Adventurer Conquerer King: 2.5%
AD&D: 2.5%

The complete lack of Pathfinder tells you I didn't ask over at the Paizo Forums. But basically for indie press it seems that LL/BX is the way to go, especially when you roll in LotFP which is like its evil sister. And if you think I'm echo chambering with this, the only game I'm playing on here with any regularity is D&D 5E.

2) Preferred Module Dimensions:
A5/Half Letter Size: 41.9%
A4/Letter Size: 41.9%
6x9/Digest: 6.4%
Don't Care: 9.7%

Take your pick: A5 or A4. Your production costs on an A5 are going to be higher (it's 7c/A5 page down here vs 10c/A4 page at the local print shop). A4 is good for bigger maps, legibility; not so good for postage.

3) Preferred Module Length (in time to play... longer = bigger = more $):
One Session: 31%
Two Sessions: 41.4%
Three Sessions: 13.8%
Four Sessions or more: 13.8%

4) Encounters per Session:
3.7 was the average respondents' answers.

So with the majority preferring a two session module you're looking at 7 to 8 encounters per adventure module.

5) Main Map Location:
Inside Loose Cover: 72%
Opposite Page to Encounter: 20%
Back of Book: 4%
Other (gatefold map that pops out the side, like Qelong): 4%

Pretty obvious really, the D&D classic loose cover is the fave.

6) Adventure Requirements:
Here's a whole bunch of insight:

"Interesting NPCs atmospheric design"

"Either intriguing concept that makes me want to run it (and is something I wouldn't've come up with) or very strong utility/replay/expansion possibilities that save me work or act as the spine of a whole mini-campaign."

"A premise that will pique the players' interests"

"non-linearity is a must."

"Good art"

"Good layout and art."

"Somewhat plausible storyline!"

"Gonzo rules!"

"A simple concept done well"

"Good map, non-linear"

"Not be a railroad; not be a loosely tied together bunch of blanks that I have to fill in myself; not be boring (not a high bar to clear, I'll happily buy and run your goblin-infested abandoned dwarven mine if it's well executed. Gonzo and weirdness by itself are not selling points for me)."

"An interesting hook and, hopefully, competent writing and editing. Actual player choice is always great."

"Interesting hook that I feel I genuinely couldn't think of myself within the confines of 10 - 20 minutes long trip to the toilet"

"Either intriguing concept that makes me want to run it (and is something I wouldn't've come up with) or very strong utility/replay/expansion possibilities that save me work or act as the spine of a whole mini-campaign."

"map with keyed locations that have enough description I can run this more easily than making something up myself."

"Something interesting, a lack of the mundane, something unique, some freedom from a linear plot and a nice chunk of player choice - also traps and puzzles are the hardest thing to think up on the fly, so make sure those are good - I can steal them even if the rest of the module is dull.
Also just follow these suggestions and you should be okay:"

"It can't be a railroad. And it has to have some idea I wouldn't have thought of."

"Give me a reason to buy it. Awesome artwork. A review of someone I usually trust raving about it. An idea that makes me say "that's neat." Something I haven't seen before--and by now, I've seen a LOT of fantasy RPGing. Make a cheapish PDF available with some way for me to get a couple bucks off the print version if I decide to buy the print version. Unless you're publishing The Excellent Travelling Companion you'd better make a PDF available. First, that's the thing I'm more likely to actually use at the table, and second, if I like the way it looks I'm pretty likely to buy the hardcopy."

"Interesting concept, but not so off-the-wall that it'll be a campaign-breaker or only good as a one-shot. Needs to present something I couldn't easily throw together myself. Needs to be adaptable to my campaign setting. Decent art is a plus, and good layout/graphic design will get me to pick it up in the first place. There's a lot of junk on DriveThruRPG to sift through, so it could be well-written, but if it looks like amateur crap, I'll skip it unless it has a lot of recommendations."

"Flexibility. Guidelines. No railroading."

"Non-linear, site based. Doesn't screw over the players (so basically not LoftP)."

"A sense of humour."

7) Generic Monster Stats:

Complete Monster Stats in Module: 45%
Abridged Monster Stats in Module: 30%
Reference to Monster Stats in Core Book: 15%

Whole hog please.

8) Preferred Price Point for an 8 page Module (black and white w/ maps+illos):
less than $5: 33%
$5-$10: 67%
$10+: —

So that averages out to be $5.85 for an 8 page Module. 73c per page.

9) Preferred Price Point for a 16 page Module (black and white w/ maps+illos):
less than $5: 5%
$5-$10: 80%
$10-$15: 15%
$15+: —

And that averages out to be about $8.00 for a 16 page module. or 50c per page.

10) Preferred Price Point for an 32 page Module (black and white w/ maps+illos):
less than $5: —
$5-$10: 47.8%
$10-$15: 34.8%
$15-$20: 17.4%

Averages out to be about $14.57 for a 32 page module. or 46c per page.

11) If you could name one adventure module as the benchmark (big publishers, indie module or homepress, doesn't matter) what would it be and why?
Whole bunch of different suggestions here:

"The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar"

"I really like the old TSR modules for the amount of information they pack into a low page-count, frankly."

"B5 Horror on the Hill or U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. They have good maps, keyed locations, and let you quickly run a game instead of having to read the entire thing in advance of running it."

"RPL and Vornheim are still my gold standards in terms of organization and content. I'm also a big fan of Keep on the Shadowfell from the 4e days. Big maps, a big folder to hold two stapled books. If you're going for an A4 sized book, that's my preferred way of doing it." 
"No Salvation for Witches, and J Waltons Planarch Codex for Dungeon World"
"A Red & Pleasant Land."
"Sailors on the Starless Sea Because - 16 pages, 10$, great art through out including pictorial handouts, awesome hand drawn isometric maps, The Players can go numerous ways and still end up at the climax. It is crammed full of all sorts of weirdness and roleplaying inspiring moments."
"B4 was an excellent introduction to "how to be a DM" (as is "The Lost Mines of Phandelver"). R&PL is awesome, but much more than a module as you're defining it. So's Qelong, but again, same thing. X1 is how you do a wilderness adventure right. D1-2 might be a good touchstone for more straightforward dungeon crawling."

"Qelong and Forgive Us."

"Sailors on the Starless Sea, short but comprehensive (had everything) and also emphasizes that you can have BIG ADVENTURES with 1st-level characters."

"Anomalous Subsurface Environment 1 by +Patrick Wetmore because it got me back into old school gaming and it has such great gonzo content that can be expanded upon by the user. The Orbital Gods are pure genius!"

"One-Page Dungeons (or, at least, the best of them), because they look good, they have all the info I really need right there, they're easy to insert into my game, and since the authors are forced to conserve space, there's no useless bloat like game fiction or boxed text. Also, stuff that Zak Smith does, because even if his ideas end up being too out-there for my relatively vanilla pseudo-Tolkien game, they inspire a ton of ideas and get me thinking along lines I might not have when left to my own devices. Flavor and setting conveyed via random tables is a brilliant idea. Finally, +Dyson Logos' maps are luvverly, and make me want to run dungeon crawls."

"I think U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh was great and I really enjoyed L2, forgot its name Assassin's Knot? and I got a lot of use out of A2 separate from the Slaver series."

"Oh, and good god I forgot City-State of the Invincible Overlord!"

"Tegel Manor by judges guild. Most fun ever both as a player and then running it as a GM
the original I6(?) Ravenloft, because it had a fun card-based "fortune-telling" mechanic that determined important details like the villain's motivation and weakness. Also, isometric maps!"

"A Thousand Dead Babies by Zzarchov Kowolski - it's small, it is complex yet simple to run, it is awesome."

"Anomalous Subsurface Environment is tits, both in content and in the way it's all presented."

"Necessary Evil for Savage Worlds. Best purchased campaign I've ever ran. For something a little more D&D, though, I'll go with Night Below. For something more standalone, Small Niche Games kills it about every time out. Inn of Lost Heroes is a favorite."


"Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes."

"Advanced Adventures #26 - The Witch Mounds by Keith Sloan. Not the best looking module, true, but manages to fit a 4 sessions dungeon in 12 pages (and with several new monsters)."

"Servants of the Cinder Queen"

"Servants of the Cinder Queen by Jason Lutes. Interesting location, enemies, plot, beautiful presentation."

"Ravenloft (I6) is probably the one I've run most often (as one-offs) because it is very easy to grasp for newbies to roleplaying, but I only run it with superficial adherence to the actual module as written. So no. One of the most exciting and interesting adventures I've run wasThe Grey Knight for Pendragon. In fact many of the Pendragon adventures have a lot to recommend them as a template (coming from the time when Chaosium was writing stuff decades in advance of everyone else). Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues for Paranoia was difficult to run because I was laughing so hard at the jokes inside of it. I do like how the old Ironclawadventures were presented (in a sourcebook, so that it introduced players to the material in the sourcebook). I've always had a soft spot for Paul Jacquays's stuff so Caverns of Thracia is probably my choice."

"Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. It's full of iconic locations, it's a run in a wizards dungeon that has been squatted by another wizard that has then been vanquished but it's still full of weird, so it's very DND in its framing. It links deeply to its setting but without letting you know or forcing you. It's full of awesome and comes with a 16 pages sourcebook. It has a big wilderness to explore, and politics, albeit simple. Most importantly, it's a fun exploration module that is full of wonders."

Got some reading to do here...


Looks like my first first foray into indie publishing will be a 16 page A5 (or maybe A4, unsure now) black and white module with a loose color cover, black and white map on the inside with essential info on the map, and if space permits, smaller map sections on the relevant page with the 8 or so encounter details. Which is good, cause that's what I'd planned to do anyhoo. So thanks for confirming that for me, and taking the time to lemme know what you want.

Only real decision is what system... LL/BX is clearly the most popular, even moreso as it's easily portable into LotFP and DCC, but I never run it. Hmmm...

Next.... what kind of adventure?


  1. How many responses did you get? Any chance of seeing some of this in graph form?

  2. 30 something, some less coherent than others.

    Ain't got time to turn these into graphs, I got an adventure to write!