Sunday, April 09, 2006

Using Published Adventures

I'm very much a do-it-yourself DM for my campaigns. I love sitting down to craft out a plot structured on a monster/NPC/group chosen days in advance of the game. Unfortunately, one doesn't always have the luxury of time to complete a mental walk-through of the module. When I write an adventure for my group, I like to have a week in advance. This week...ehhhh, didn't happen. Up until 8pm last night I thought I was going to run an adventure set in Waterdeep where the PCs are ordered to play babysitter at a Protectorate-sponsered ball. A thief breaks into the hosting noble's villa to steal...something. That was as far as I got. I just couldn't get over the mental speed bump to figure out the rest of the adventure (who was the bad guy? what was the item? why was it important? how do the PCs track it back to the unnamed baddies?).

So, in frustration, I turned to the stack of adventures I've got in my collection. I have to say that when I initially reach for a published adventure I feel like I'm "cheating" somehow. You see, I've lovingly cobbled together my own modules for years. To suddenly leave the creative process to someone else makes me feel a bit like a back seat driver. But now that I've run a few of them, I realize what utter nonsense it is. No matter how detailed an adventure is (whether those I write for the groupor for publication), it is merely a skeleton waiting for the flesh and life the DM breathes brings to it. Once played, a group likely forgets the "official" nature of the product and forever after recognizes the adventure for the personality the DM brings to it. Not only does the adventure have to be modified (perhaps) for the DM's campaign setting but it has to be tailored to the PCs themselves if, for example, their rogue is not up to the challenge of that CR 8 trap.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that if there's anyone out there who thought like I did, you needn't worry. Published adventures free you up to concentrate on the roleplaying aspects--voices, mannersisms, etc--and to not be stressed when game time comes. There's always that time when the PCs deviate from the outlined course of the adventure but that's a whole other blog entry.

Here's a sound bite from work yesterday. One of our regulars, I long-haired, hippie-ish man named Larry, came in for something and when I went out front to wait on him I saw something rising from behind him. Well, that something was smoke and it wasn't behind him it was on him! I slowly came around to his side and saw something dark smoldering in the fringes of his frazzled hair and commented, "Larry, you're on fire." No harm done. He batted the clump of smoldering ashes from his hair and life went on.


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