How Do You Feel About Published Adventures as a GM?

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Just picking up what Perkins has laid down over the years: he likes to point out how modular tge 5E campaigns are, and they really are when you look at them. Each campaign is built as a series of independent pieces that is easy to repurpise. Nit even "with experience," the modular nature is pretty plain. As far as SKY, check out Appendix A.

These aren't Paizo style strong "Adventure Paths", they are bundled individual modules that have a throuoghline that can be used or ignored. And this is not an unusual experience with the modern big campaign books.
The book is the book. What folks say in marketing materials is irrelevant.

Send, look, all I said was: just make the toolkit without the module pretense. Dragon Heist, as an example, would have been a phenomenal product if not for the terrible adventure.
 

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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Anyway, enough about me. How do you feel about published/pre-written adventures? Do you run them as is? Strip them for parts? Don't even consider them? When you run an adventure of your own design, do you "write it" before play? If you do use pre-written adventures, what kind of "prep" do you do with them?
I like Necrotic Gnome’s adventures (and also here). Murder in Baldur’s Gate is my favorite 5e adventure. None of these are very heavy on plot or what the PCs should do. They tend to be open-ended in how PCs can approach and interact with them. I ran some Pathfinder APs. We liked Kingmaker quite a bit, but it was also pretty open about how you approach it (though it sounds like they added plot crap from the video game in the PF2 version, which is stupid and lame). I ran Carnival of Tears as a side adventure for Oleg and Svetlana (they died). It was pretty fun too, and the PCs came back and wrecked everyone in revenge for killing their friends. (It doesn’t really have a plot either, though there is a nudge towards a climatic encounter.)

I think pre-written adventures can be useful supplements to a game provided that they aren’t trying to force you into a plot. I don’t think they are necessarily representative of how a game should be run. Often, especially early in a game’s life, they aren’t well-written or have problems. Ideally, the game should include everything you need to understand how to run and play it.

Edit: I also saw mention of Lost Mines of Phandelver. I liked that one too, though the PCs TPK’d on the green dragon in Thundertree.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
The book is the book.
Indeed, and Adventure books are toolkits. They aren't ready to eat meals, they provide the tools to make a meal.
What folks say in marketing materials is irrelevant.
Demonstrating is different than just saying.
Send, look, all I said was: just make the toolkit without the module pretense. Dragon Heist, as an example, would have been a phenomenal product if not for the terrible adventure.
Modules are toolkits. And the big campaign books aren't even modules in the same sense as an old TSR book, they are bulk packages of modules. Storm King's Thunder, specifically, is no less than 10 AD&D module equivalents, as can even be seen in the outline.

It is a valid criticism that they aren't often a super coherent whole (Dragon Heist is a good example, though it worked in practice for us), but the component modules are the unit that are worth examining more than the gestalt "campaign" usually.
 

MGibster

Legend
I've used a lot of published adventures over the years but most often I design my own adventures. For my first D&D 5th edition campaign, I did something odd in that the campaign revolved around a demon who figured out he was a character in a work of fiction and tried to bust out into the real world. I ended up using some classic AD&D adventures or having elements of them incoroporated into the campaign.

Some campaigns have their own problems. I recently ran the Horror at Headstone Hill which had a big problem in that there was nothing to connect Act I to Act II. In Act I the PCs find some information about the person they were sent to find and that's it. It doesn't actually lead them to Act II and the mystery f what happened to this person isn't part of the campaign which is very, very odd. The campaign is salvagable, so if I ever run it again I'll just fix it up a bit. Uinta County in the Wyoming territory is full of interested NPCs, places, and adventures that there's plenty of things to do. It's a good product and I'd recommend it even if it isn't perfect.

My absolute favorite AD&D adventure of all time is the original I-6 Castle Ravenloft from 1983. I've run this adventure multiple times in various game systems. For Deadlands, I had Strahd read too many dime novels and decide to move his entire castle to Colorado. Good times. It's a great adventure because Strahd is such a memorable villain and the map of Castle Ravenloft is top notch.

I'm about to run an East Texas University (Savage Worlds) campaign except I'm setting it at Mistakotic University in Arkham and using the Call of Cthulhu campaign A Time to Harvest. As I was getting things ready, I decided I would work my way up to the CoC campaign and start out with mostly my own adventures. Without spoiling Harvest, there are NPCs I want the players to have a chance to build connections with before the events of the published campaign I want to use.

A lot of adventures do need some work if you're going to use them with your particularly group. With so many different tables, it's almost impossible to come up with an adventure that's applicable to everyone's needs. Some of them are written rather poorly. Winter of the Atom for Fallout isn't a bad campaign, but some of the adventures within require the PCs to perform some very specific actions or the plot can't move forward. That's bad writing right there.
 

MGibster

Legend
I forgot to give a shout out to the Rise of the Runelords campaign from Paizo. This was produced for 3rd edition at a time when WotC decided they didn't want to be in the adventure publishing business. I loved playing this campaign with one of my favorite moments being my rogue's face getting ripped off by a hillbilly ogre armed with a hook. This was a seriously awesome campaign and one of the best ones produced for D&D.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Indeed, and Adventure books are toolkits. They aren't ready to eat meals, they provide the tools to make a meal.

Demonstrating is different than just saying.

Modules are toolkits. And the big campaign books aren't even modules in the same sense as an old TSR book, they are bulk packages of modules. Storm King's Thunder, specifically, is no less than 10 AD&D module equivalents, as can even be seen in the outline.
Your continued assertions that things aren't what they are makes this discussion impossible. Which is too bad, because talking about how to use a campaign module as a toolkit is a worthwhile one.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Your continued assertions that things aren't what they are makes this discussion impossible. Which is too bad, because talking about how to use a campaign module as a toolkit is a worthwhile one.
That is what they are, though: Adventure books have always been like cookbooks or Lego Sets, if yoy go back and look at the earliest examples. You cannot run them straight without preparation and building them out. They are toolkits. That is the answer to the question of the thread question "How do you feel about published Adventures as a GM?" That's how they work.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Unless they're complete sandboxes, I strongly dislike them. I didn't learn to play using them, so they've always seemed completely superfluous to me.

If I'm going to spend a half-hour reading a book to try to prep it in my mind, I could spend the same half-hour just making up my own stuff which fits the PCs better.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Unless they're complete sandboxes, I strongly dislike them. I didn't learn to play using them, so they've always seemed completely superfluous to me.

If I'm going to spend a half-hour reading a book to try to prep it in my mind, I could spend the same half-hour just making up my own stuff which fits the PCs better.
Or at least reading a cool supplement or monster manual with 100 idea.
 

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