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A Growing Appreciation of Modules

You need to do a little "grad student reading," by which I mean the approach to lots of reading I learned in grad school: professors assign a lot more reading than you can literally get done in the allotted time, in addition to your own independent work and reading, so I got good at doing the kind of reading that familiarized me with ideas and let me know I needed to dedicated more time to reading in depth or moving on.
I'm quite familiar with "Grad Student Reading" and have done my share. In fact as long as I attended classes regularly I found that I didn't need to read as much as was assigned. I too generally skim modules I'm considering to run trying to get an idea of the quality; if something jumps out as either really good or really bad. That usually takes a little more scrutiny and in-depth reading though. I find any of the D&D rulebooks, (excluding settings and other types of supplements) just too dry to read cover to cover. I tried reading the 5E PHB about two years ago and I go half way through the class section and gave up. I think by reading what I need in smaller pieces I've eventually read most of the 3 core books of the all the editions I've played over the years.
 

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Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I have noticed something about my gaming habits over the last few years. I've come to appreciate modules more and more. Perhaps it's because when I first started to play D&D my DMs wrote everything themselves. And that's what I learned to do. And so, I turned my nose up at those pre-written modules. And then I joined a D&D group where we played part of the Shackled City AP and ... I liked it. A lot. I even wound up running it for another group years later and it was a hit. Now that my eldest is starting to play D&D, and free time is at a premium, I find myself using prewritten modules more and more. They're not perfect* but I've found them to be a good starting point. Change a villain here, tie in some backstory there, and we're good to go!

So I'm just wondering who here has had similar experiences as myself. Or have you, kind reader, sworn of anything pre-written for good?




*Module: A large monster lives in this room.
Me: But how does it get out? How does it hunt or eat?
Module: shrug
Me: But that makes no sense! Rewrites
Funny. I was just thinking that as both a player and DM.

itgets a lot of work out of the way and you can just modify it for yourself and group.

we just started playing descent to avernus. My buddy sprang for fantasy ground.

I don’t like forgotten realms generally but really liked him posting a picture of baldurs gate and seeing the maps of the bars.

I have no experience with baldurs gate. At all. But it has seemed seedy and nasty and I can imagine it.

so I say kudos to the authors already. And I appreciate the design so far. Don’t spoil it for me!

but I have more of an appreciation for detail I don’t have to fuss with and yet get to live in and modify....

I am with you. And it’s inspiring should I dm again and need to design something
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Funny. I was just thinking that as both a player and DM.

itgets a lot of work out of the way and you can just modify it for yourself and group.

we just started playing descent to avernus. My buddy sprang for fantasy ground.

I don’t like forgotten realms generally but really liked him posting a picture of baldurs gate and seeing the maps of the bars.

I have no experience with baldurs gate. At all. But it has seemed seedy and nasty and I can imagine it.

so I say kudos to the authors already. And I appreciate the design so far. Don’t spoil it for me!

but I have more of an appreciation for detail I don’t have to fuss with and yet get to live in and modify....

I am with you. And it’s inspiring should I dm again and need to design something
I just started running this and have nearly the opposite opinion on the design. Shrug.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I just started running this and have nearly the opposite opinion on the design. Shrug.
I am just a player and my DM modified the start of it based on some online critiques. Whatever he has done has been good.

I feel like we are in a dirty corrupt city so far.

also I don’t see behind the curtain...maybe your players like it more than you do?
 

I have to admit I do love some of the Call of Cthulhu adventures that come with the core rule book. I've never ran any of them, but for the purpose of understanding the structure of a CoC adventure, they are a great help. They help the DM understand how to sprinkle clues around, and slowly escalate the horror.

Running a CoC adventure is very different from running a D&D adventure, even if you use similar rules. There are just a lot less locations, and more characters and details. And not to forget handouts! Plus a timeline of day to day events can be very important. Without an example adventure, I might not have known where to start.

One of the sample adventures in D20 Cthulhu took place at a movie theater. Just one theater. But the adventure was very detailed in all the goings on, and what every room looked like. It also had a nice list of whammies; little jumpscares that the DM could just drop in at any time to keep things exciting. That made me think different about writing adventures in general.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Examples of play were always my favorites parts of the original BECMI red, blue, etc. . .books and in the 2E core books. I don't remember any in 3E or 5E, but I never read those books as closely - even though I run both! 🤣
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I am just a player and my DM modified the start of it based on some online critiques. Whatever he has done has been good.

I feel like we are in a dirty corrupt city so far.

also I don’t see behind the curtain...maybe your players like it more than you do?
My player are enjoying the gane, yes, but it would be a challenge to say they're enjoying the module -- that's not what they are experiencing. They aren't experiencing the way the module just starts with death threats and a very weak hook, but something else entirely, although with shared thematic elements.
 

kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
For me, it’s varied over time. When I first started GMing, I just winged it. I made things up as I went along and riffed on things that were discussed at the table. The campaign was silly, but it was memorable. I stopped running for a while before coming back around the time of PF1. I decided to run modules then because I thought they would save me time, but I was wrong.

I’ve run a handful of Pathfinder Adventure Paths (Council of Thieves, Kingmaker, Rise of the Runelords, and Shattered Star; but only Kingmaker was run to completion) and a few standalone adventures as well as some 5e adventures. I’m not sure they really saved me a lot of time. I usually end up having to rekey them or prepare supplemental notes to make them actually usable at the table.

I’m now back to running my own stuff. I’m comfortable improvising, so I think it works out better that way. Is it faster? Not necessarily, but that’s by choice. I’ve been trying to get better at and more into dungeon design, so that takes up a bit of time. I’ve also got a homebrew setting that I like working on and refining as we change systems (first Open Legend then 5e then PF2 and possibly now OSE).

However, I’ll agree that there’s something to being inspired by a module to try or do something different. One of my favorite modules is Murder in Baldur’s Gate because it’s so different from the typical D&D adventure. The PCs aren’t really heroes in that one. They can try to be, but it’s not feasible to solve every problem or prevent all the bad things from happening. It was more like we were playing to see how the PCs responded to a bad and badly deteriorating situation.
 

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