Paizo and Wizards of the Coast have recently announced new adventure titles to run for your tabletop adventuring party. Here are some helpful tips to help you take that adventure to the next level at Major’s Spoilers’ TTRP Corner!
RUNNING A PREWRITTEN ADVENTURE
With Icewind Dale: Rim of the Frostmaiden and Agents of Edgewatch both coming out soon, I figure we can take a moment and discuss tips on how to run these adventures. Almost every game has a prewritten adventure written for you. These help new players and Game Masters understand the system and provide a provocative story. Let us start by looking at the pros and cons!
BENEFITS OF RUNNING A MODULE
When you run a prewritten adventure, you cut your prep work down quite a bit. You receive your storyhook, adventure, and encounters written for you and you must narrate the scenes from the book to your players at the table. Often these books come with created maps with engaging combat mechanics. Additionally, the story is complete and you know that you will get your full story structure from start to finish within the adventure.
This is an excellent choice for new and old gamemasters alike! You receive a well thought out story written for you and your prep work is to read the module and introduce your player characters to the story. Additionally, there is a huge community of people playing this game that will provide you with guidance if you need it. With such a huge community, it is quite possible to start a conversation when you begin to ask people, “How did you solve this issue?” This allows you to compare and contrast stories and create a talking point between fans of the hobby.
CONS OF RUNNING A MODULE
When you sit down to write a game that is going to be played by thousands of people, you don’t inherently see a personalized experience for a player. My warlock has this patron here, but the story will never approach that. For some people this is fine. I just want to play the game and react to this content. For others, they want to see their character develop in unique and critical ways. Additionally, your choices don’t matter as much. The story continues with or without you because any hero can solve the problem, not your specific character. This means that the story is plot driven rather than character driven which I consider a hindrance.
ADDING THE CHARACTER INTO THE ADVENTURE
My first suggestion is to find places to include your characters. The easiest thing to do is to attach location and important NPCs to the PCs backstory or personal objectives. Perhaps one of your PCs met a great wizard in their backstory and you as the GM knows there is a wizard in this module. If you can connect the wizard to the character then the player is going to have a good time.
Modules offer the foundation of a campaign but you can take that foundation and add your own creativity on it. I think good stories have a fair amount of subplots interjected for your party to explore and create player agency. Be flexible if they do not want to do the main plot right away. Allow them to make choices of where to take the story even if it strays a little from the module. If you can manage this the player is going to feel more free to do what they want and ultimately create a better story.
LEARN THE LORE
When you play in a module, you are playing in an established world. I often run into the issue where my players know the lore better than I do. I am constantly trying to adjust quickly on the fly to make sure the continuity is accurate to the world. If your module talks about a certain god or location; make sure you know the core content and make sure that you can follow the threads being laid out. If a location is known for its wild jungle, don’t mention that a bunch of desert creatures are attacking the city at random. If you do want a desert creature to attack, find the reason that makes sense in the world. (The answer is probably magic.)
This is even more critical for certain characters that are presented. Wizards of the Coast has a huge collection of novels that feature prominent characters. These characters are often featured in their adventures as easter eggs and players who know the larger world are going to want to interact with them. Make sure you know the names and their personality profiles to roleplay them in a way that is accurate to their previous portrayals!
I have run both prewritten adventures and complete homebrew settings. I think there is a lot to say about having an adventure written by a professional team for you. Plus, I love hearing groups talk to each other about how they handled certain situations in the story. If you find yourself short on time but wanting to run a game then pick up a module! It is just a matter of reading the book, doing some minor research, and then adding some player content for a good time. Additionally, if you are new at leading a table a module can really help get you started before deep diving into world building. Good luck adventuring heroes!