Module Design




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    Module Design

    I've seen a lot of complaint about the current way in which modules are designed in Dungeon. I've also seen a lot of praise for the KotS method. And, of course, vice versa.

    I'm interested to see just how you would do it, or what your preferences are in terms of module design.

    Personally, I like my fluff up front in one big section that I can completely ignore. I like my encounters to be short'n'sweet in presentation and style. Fluffing encounters with lots of text makes Kzach a very unhappy boy.

    I'm not a big fan of modules period as I'd prefer to just make things up on the spot. But I occasionally mine modules for inspiration or trap/encounter ideas so separating the fluff from the crunch is what is useful for me.

    That, and reading a friggin novella when you're trying to run an encounter is just bloody annoying. Bullet points are a DM's friend.

 

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    I prefer my fluff text and my encounter description together - I can't stand having to flip pages to figure out where something is, or what an object in the room is, etc...

    But I also hate to get lost in descriptions and find bits of text everywhere. I like the old Dungeon way - it seemed they had a good consistent layout that made it easy to familiarize myself with. Not that it was the best layout, possibly, but it was always the SAME.

    I do like bullet points whenever possible. I can fancy up a description just fine - it's harder to chill it down to the bare minimum when necessary.

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    I want story in my module. I can look up stats in MMs and other books myself. I want crtisp clean maps and something cool inside. I tire of dungeon crawls that do not give us anything new. I tire of dungeons crawls period. I want encounters in different places. I want modules that are non linear and creative. I want the wow factor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    I'm not a big fan of modules period as I'd prefer to just make things up on the spot. But I occasionally mine modules for inspiration or trap/encounter ideas so separating the fluff from the crunch is what is useful for me.
    I think that why you are using the module has a lot of impact in which type of design format you prefer. In your case Kzach, I can easily see why you would prefer your crunch in one section that is concise and free of fluff and story. You're mining the modules for crunchy details and and inspiration.

    Personally I like to create my own adventures. But when I use a module, I want to utilize every part of it. Its themes, mood, fluff, crunch etc etc. For that reason, having a module that I constantly need to flip back and forth drives me nuts. I want to be able to refer to the fluff, see the stat block and the floorplan in just 1 or 2 pages. This is one of the reasons why WotC's "Expedition to ..." series of adventures never made it to my gaming table. Just too much of a pain in the *** to use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devyn View Post
    I think that why you are using the module has a lot of impact in which type of design format you prefer. In your case Kzach, I can easily see why you would prefer your crunch in one section that is concise and free of fluff and story. You're mining the modules for crunchy details and and inspiration.
    Well, the reason I posted this was because I'm reading through the Last Breaths of Ashenport module to run it in a few days. I'd already skimmed it but now I'm trying to actually piece everything together in my head.

    My head hurts.

    Modules annoy me because they tend to bury so many things in the bulk of fluff text, most of which I really don't need to know to run the module. That and all the conditions and preconditions and event timing and miniscule little addendum's that can alter the entire plot.

    There is just no way in Hell I'm going to remember even a quarter of this stuff. And there's even less chance that I'm going to halt the game to reread things to run it properly.

    So I figure, if I'm going to have to fudge things and make stuff up to keep things interesting and involving, why even use a module at all?

    However, if there was a different design used, maybe I might change my tune. I don't think it's impossible or too much to ask that some effort be put in to finding what the best module design is, or could be, that facilitates an interesting and involving game without bogging the DM down in minutia and making them read novella's to run a game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    I've seen a lot of complaint about the current way in which modules are designed in Dungeon. I've also seen a lot of praise for the KotS method. And, of course, vice versa.

    I'm interested to see just how you would do it, or what your preferences are in terms of module design.
    I don't think I've seen any "vice versa," aside from this post. The KotS encounter design, while I have not used it in play myself, looks highly convenient. The PCs enter an area on the map. You go straight to that writeup in the book, which is a 2 page spread that tells you everything you need to know about that area: what's there, dealing with the approach of the PCs, monster stats & tactics, area features & treasure. Plus a little tactical map.

    With the Dungeon layout (also used in latter-day 3e adventures, I believe), the players enter an area on the map. You go straight to its entry in the adventure, which tells you... to flip to the back of the adventure for what actually happens in that area. Or not, depending. All that flipping around slows things down at the table. When I look up something in the adventure, I want all the relevant information for that area in one easy-to-find location.

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    For 4e Dungeon, I want them to use the KotS/TL/PoS format with some extra descriptive text for the rooms.

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    I really like the format and layout of the Pathfinder AP modules. It's entirely possible that this is just because I've grown used to the format.

    I haven't read any of the 4e modules (hardcopy or eDungeon), so can't comment on those, but while I was a big fan of the 'Delve Format' in principle, I found it unappealing in practice.

    One format I know I don't like is the 'classic' format used by Goodman Games in "Castle Whiterock" (and I imagine elsewhere also). While it reads well, finding specific information quickly in actual play is likely to be hard - I would much prefer having monsters, treasure, traps, etc all split out under clearly marked headings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
    One format I know I don't like is the 'classic' format used by Goodman Games in "Castle Whiterock" (and I imagine elsewhere also). While it reads well, finding specific information quickly in actual play is likely to be hard - I would much prefer having monsters, treasure, traps, etc all split out under clearly marked headings.
    Maybe I'm just used to the 4e WoTC format, but I find this kind of format to not be the best for 4e as demonstrated in DCC 53. Besides the jarring changes to terminology, I really dislike that terrain effects are not called out.

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