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D&D General Your Top Tip(s) for Prepping a Published Adventure

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
DOH no one mentioned it. USING VARIOUS COLOR HIGHLIGHTERS on text.
Oh, yeah! I have a system: I highlight AC and to-hit modifiers in yellow. HP and damage in pink, as well as any required die rolls (spell saves, etc.) If I have time and extra colors, I also highlight multiattack and special combat abilities like pack tactics in orange and resistances/vulnerabilities in green.
 
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1. (Most important) Read the adventure. From cover to cover. You shouldn't ever be surprised by something you read at the table.

2. Make a rough flowchart how the story runs.

3. Make a list of every clue and required item and maguffin. When the players get the clues and items, cross them off your list. "Summoning amulet, needed to open the door into area J5, curerntly carried by Jo the barbarian in area B21, Jerome the necromancer from area G14 is actively searching for the amulet."

4. Make a list of every important NPC in the adventure. Write a one sentence description. "Joss, innkeeper, gives the PCs the clue to go to the old manor house."

Now...

5. Run the adventure. Trust your prep. Have fun.
 

Two ideas that I haven't seen suggested so far...

1. Many suggest reading thoroughly the module before running it, and reading about "reading" made me think... many modules include descriptions with the advice to "read or paraphrase this to your players". While it can sound helpful to read the boxed text if you can't (or fear you can't) make lively or interesting description... it is not. Long descriptions are often a drag on the adventure, and the player will take not of a few distinctive things at most for an npc. In most case, they won't care about the madapollam emerald green robe with purple and golden embroideries on the wizard's robe if his sole destiny is to last 3 rounds and provide 9,600 xp when defeated. AND... interaction is king. When you're reading, you are not talking to players and engaging them. So, PARAPHRASE, don't read, those parts (which implies that you actually read them beforehand).

2. I read something about preparing for player failure... In a fight, maybe, maybe not. But be prepared for player being stumped by something. Not everyone is Sherlock Holmes. Even if you think you gave 148 obvious clues on what to do next, there is still a chance of a roadblock. So be prepared to nudge the players toward the solution in that case, if when preparing you spot some point where the players could be blocked (less important in a dungeon than in a sandbox adventure).
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Does anyone ever prep for the event that the module doesn't work? One of my players bought the FR module Castle Spulzeer and asked me to run it. I read it and was ready to run it a few weeks later. The person who bought the book couldn't make it last minute, I had 6-7 other people to run a game for so I couldn't just cancel and I didn't have time to prepare anything else. Long story short the players wouldn't take the hook and ended up scrapping the module and improvising but because I usually wrote my own adventures it never occurred to me to have a back up plan. Wasn't my best moment as a DM lets say.
 

I think the big thing here is prep time varies from DM to DM and from adventure to adventure, so itd be hard for a publisher to quantify with any accuracy in my opinion. Same thing for the amount of prep, a new DM needs to read spells, monsters, magic items and other various rules where a more experienced DM may not. Except for the DMs who started with the original game out of the gate, most people who DM started as players and should have a general idea what it takes to prep and run a module but maybe not the time involved.

I started as DM never having played before. My daughter got the Starter Kit for 5e for her birthday, and I am the only one in our house qualified to thoroughly read all the handbooks and manuals and to do the prep work. My husband has the knowledge, but not the desire. (We can rarely get him to join us -- and his character is never allowed to die. Grrr.) My kids don't have the experience to know what to do. It is my hope that they will run a second game with their friends, using stuff that I have already gathered/created, and eventually be able to at least run short side adventures.
 


Youre the DM, sure he is!

Nope. If that happens, he has stated that he will never return to the table. He is, however, willing to be knocked unconscious and lose all of that session's XP. If it was a regular game, I'd just lose him as a player. However, when we only have those that live in our house, sometimes we really, really need the extra firepower. We live in too small of a community to have other playing options without driving for an hour.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Nope. If that happens, he has stated that he will never return to the table. He is, however, willing to be knocked unconscious and lose all of that session's XP. If it was a regular game, I'd just lose him as a player. However, when we only have those that live in our house, sometimes we really, really need the extra firepower. We live in too small of a community to have other playing options without driving for an hour.

I understand your predicament, not worth the drama or losing a player.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Integrate the party into the module.

In Curse of Strahd, my players wanted gothic horror. We mutually agreed that in this setting tieflings and dragonborn and so on didnt fit that flavor. Next, I took a hook and used it as the basis for players to weave a story of why they're invested and connected.

Also, scour blogs for guides from people who've run it, added or modified encounters, seen what doesn't work and what does. Some are brilliant.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
We need more tips in this thread! Here's my usual process:
  1. Read through the whole adventure twice. Seriously. Once is not enough.
  2. Review your players' character sheets (if you have access to them). Read up on every spell and ability they have, so you know how they work.
  3. In your mind, walk through some of the paths that the players are likely to take in the upcoming session. When you actually see how a doorway in room 1 leads to room 2 and how room 2 leads to room 3 by a short hallway, then you have a much better sense of a dungeon's shape and flow.
  4. Give up on memorizing everything. Accept that you will forget an NPC's name or that the players will ask about something you don't have an answer for. Be prepared to improvise and have fun doing it.
 

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