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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default The Issue with Pre-written Material

    As a DM, I've never run pre-written adventures. I've always enjoyed world building, so I never saw a reason to use someone else's setting. Twice I have tried to incorporate some module or adventure into a campaign. Both times I ditched the module and changed the direction it was taking the players.

    Modules are restrictive. My players have done things that the material didn't take into account; and honestly, more power to them. I am very good at making things up as I go, although I don't like to make up an arc on the spot as I do when running things like this. After my second attempt to run a pre-written, I decided I disliked them. I use them for inspiration all the time; they are a source of ideas and I appreciate them for that.

    Two players of mine also play under another GM. Now, I run 5e and the other GM runs Pathfinder. My players can get past the system differences just fine. However, the other GM is running an adventure he didn't write. I don't understand how any GM in their right mind could go through 6 sessions of open sea with nothing going on. The only action they see is climbing to the top sail or other manual labor tasks. They are prisoners so they have no rights. 6 sessions of nothingness.

    The players have told this GM that they are not really enjoying the game. This is a really close knit group of guys, so walking away is pretty unheard of. Instead, the players took this dullness as a cue that they had to do something exciting. They tried to mutiny, but that was quickly (and unfairly) stopped. After repeated attempts, it seems like all they have going on is the nothingness of slave labor.

    It has reached the point where the players are trying to just kill anything and everything. The GM has RetConned at least 3 times, and the players have tried to commit suicide in-game as a way to end the campaign and move onto something else. I was horrified when I was told all of this, but when I heard he was running a pre-written module, I knew why it was like this.

    The point is that it takes a certain type of DM and a cetain type of player to effectively run a module or any pre-written material. It lacks the freedom of something that a DM wrote themselves. It restricts the players entirely. Derailing a campaign is only possible if the campaign was railroaded to begin with.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Well, that sounds horrible. Sounds like it's time to have a good OOC conversation to try to get everyone in sync.

    Modules are terrible, sure. But they're also great. Two players who have played through the same module under different GMs have a shared experience, even if they've never played together, so long as the GM didn't change the module. It'd ruin the effect, like if movie studios put out 100 different versions of the same movie.

    Why do I run modules? To give my players that shared experience with the larger gaming community.

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I refuse to believe that there is a module in existence that promotes six sessions of useless slave labour at sea. Absolutely none of this is because of the module; it is because that DM is absolute garbage.

    (Which is not to say modules are inherently good; there are some real stinkers out there. But this cannot possibly be a case of that. No chance.)

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Yeah, this is a GM/player problem and not the module. My weekday group is terribly slow and may spend several sessions on stuff that should be over in one. There are also GMs (and I've been guilty of this myself) that have a single solution to a problem or a set in stone vision of how something is supposed to play out and just wait for the players to do it, even if it takes them frickin' ages. Neither of these things is the fault of a module. No matter how badly written I find it unlikely that it tells the GM to bore the players for 6 sessions.

    Personally, I love modules and adventures, and half or more of my D&D sessions are modules. I usually adapt them a bit to fit the game I'm running. I add, subtract, alter and tweak stuff all the time because the things are rarely perfectly suited for an existing campaign out of the box. What they do provide is a basic idea and progression I can work with, which saves me a lot of time.

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    He's running Skull and Shackles, and he's running it wrong. The AP's not perfect, and it does technically involve thirty days of sailing up front, but the extent of those days is rolling a few daily tasks, and maybe sneaking around at night, with interesting events every few days to break things up (like attacks by monsters or the crew officers ****ing with the PCs because they've taken a disliking to them).

    The first book exists to instill a deep animosity toward the crew of the Wormwood (whose captain is an antagonist as far in the AP as book 5 of 6, and potentially beyond). That is not achieved by "nothing". The first book of S&S has the potential to be unfun if run wrong, and downright unpleasant if run a little too "right", but that's entirely in the hands of the GM who can fail to know when to streamline or compress the daily activities (which can be dealt with in a matter of 30 seconds per player on average days, leaving only the special events significant time sinks).

    Six sessions of nothing is only possible if the GM has completely failed to read the AP, or has for some reason insisted on playing out every day hour by hour or something.

    While the PCs are unable to mutiny at the start (Captain Harrigan is far too strong for them to overthrow, being a 16th level character), they should have opportunities to do so throughout, and a big basically impossible to fail one near the 3/4 mark of the AP. The first book is literally called "The Wormwood Mutiny", and it's not called that for no reason.

    Source: I'm running the AP right now, my players are nearing the end of book 4.
    Last edited by Rynjin; 2017-09-20 at 11:32 PM.

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by GladiusVCreed View Post
    As a DM, I've never run pre-written adventures. I've always enjoyed world building, so I never saw a reason to use someone else's setting. Twice I have tried to incorporate some module or adventure into a campaign. Both times I ditched the module and changed the direction it was taking the players.

    Modules are restrictive. My players have done things that the material didn't take into account; and honestly, more power to them. I am very good at making things up as I go, although I don't like to make up an arc on the spot as I do when running things like this. After my second attempt to run a pre-written, I decided I disliked them. I use them for inspiration all the time; they are a source of ideas and I appreciate them for that.

    Two players of mine also play under another GM. Now, I run 5e and the other GM runs Pathfinder. My players can get past the system differences just fine. However, the other GM is running an adventure he didn't write. I don't understand how any GM in their right mind could go through 6 sessions of open sea with nothing going on. The only action they see is climbing to the top sail or other manual labor tasks. They are prisoners so they have no rights. 6 sessions of nothingness.

    The players have told this GM that they are not really enjoying the game. This is a really close knit group of guys, so walking away is pretty unheard of. Instead, the players took this dullness as a cue that they had to do something exciting. They tried to mutiny, but that was quickly (and unfairly) stopped. After repeated attempts, it seems like all they have going on is the nothingness of slave labor.

    It has reached the point where the players are trying to just kill anything and everything. The GM has RetConned at least 3 times, and the players have tried to commit suicide in-game as a way to end the campaign and move onto something else. I was horrified when I was told all of this, but when I heard he was running a pre-written module, I knew why it was like this.

    The point is that it takes a certain type of DM and a cetain type of player to effectively run a module or any pre-written material. It lacks the freedom of something that a DM wrote themselves. It restricts the players entirely. Derailing a campaign is only possible if the campaign was railroaded to begin with.

    Some people are creative and don't like the restriction that pre written modules put on them. Some modules are utter garbage while some are decent. Like you I like to run my own settings and sometimes I'll rob a a module for som good idea I can adapt to my games. I'm pretty sure that if I ran a module with my group we'd end somewhere the module never intended us to be in the first place and I'd have better luck herding cats than herding my group of players who are often best left to their own devices anyways.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I write modules as a freelancer, and several of my friends contribute to other other companies professionally. I can tell you there are a couple of different camps when it comes to design intent of adventures. While most modules give you a play-by-play set of encounters, even the most rigid dungeoncrawl expects that the DM will change things and try to give guidelines for multiple solutions.

    I usually design on the other end, giving very broad strokes of an adventure outline, suggesting encounter frameworks and developing character interactions with the knowledge that PCs will gonk things up.

    OP should shop around. Could be you just haven't found what you like yet. Your friends PF DM should not ever go into design though.
    Back in my day we used all of our spells before the fight, and it was just a matter of time before the DM realized his encounter was over.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I'll +1 that it sounds like he's running Skull & Shackles and that he's running it very very wrong.

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    He's running Skull and Shackles, and he's running it wrong. The AP's not perfect, and it does technically involve thirty days of sailing up front, but the extent of those days is rolling a few daily tasks, and maybe sneaking around at night, with interesting events every few days to break things up (like attacks by monsters or the crew officers ****ing with the PCs because they've taken a disliking to them).
    Hah! I knew it.

    Yeah, I can imagine how a really, really bad DM would end up running 30 days of sailing for six full sessions. It would still take a solid hour of playtime per in-game day, and no more than four hours per session, which is just... really, really bad DMing. Really bad.

    *EDIT* Yeah, I went and looked it up. Without proper player-buy in, that's an early campaign that could breed some resentment. But it's also ten days with one major scene each, and ten days without major scenes. A day without major scenes, you can get through in 15-20 minutes; one roll, one extracurricular per player, a minute or two for each. So that's about two or three hours on the minor scenes. Days with major scenes probably take half an hour, and require some real choices from the players. That's about 5 hours. That totals 7-8 hours on the "setting the stage and building alliances" section, which should finish up in the second session.
    Last edited by Friv; 2017-09-21 at 12:25 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Never run it myself but from everything that I've heard the first module can fall into this so easily it's almost ridiculous. Ya gotsta give it some meat! I've heard a few people say that it's actually the worst written (as is) first part of an AP that they've ever seen and definitely not for a newer GM. Some people also really didn't like the fact that it peaks 5/6ths of the way through and not right at the end.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    Hah! I knew it.

    Yeah, I can imagine how a really, really bad DM would end up running 30 days of sailing for six full sessions. It would still take a solid hour of playtime per in-game day, and no more than four hours per session, which is just... really, really bad DMing. Really bad.

    *EDIT* Yeah, I went and looked it up. Without proper player-buy in, that's an early campaign that could breed some resentment. But it's also ten days with one major scene each, and ten days without major scenes. A day without major scenes, you can get through in 15-20 minutes; one roll, one extracurricular per player, a minute or two for each. So that's about two or three hours on the minor scenes. Days with major scenes probably take half an hour, and require some real choices from the players. That's about 5 hours. That totals 7-8 hours on the "setting the stage and building alliances" section, which should finish up in the second session.


    It sounds like a horribly designed adventure. Give it to a new inexperienced GM to ruin his GMing Career.

    This is also a problem, new GMs may read a module and think it looks good on paper.

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    My players are pretty good about not going nuts when I run modules. Mostly cuz they wanna see where it goes, partially cuz they don't want to make me spend 20 minutes figuring out how to fix their mess
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    It sounds like a horribly designed adventure. Give it to a new inexperienced GM to ruin his GMing Career.

    This is also a problem, new GMs may read a module and think it looks good on paper.
    It's not the greatest, but it's not horrible. All the worst of it is in the first book with it potential repetitiveness and killer rum. Once the crew mutinies and they get their own ship, things open up considerably.

    The only things I've had to significantly change as a GM is time compression in various spots (EX book 4 has a part where multiple events are supposed to happen in succession, but I've shifted some around so certain ones are concurrent) and some encounters being far too easy for a 5-6 man party with their crew backing them up.

    I do agree it's not a good choice for a first GM, but neither is one of peoples' favorites PF APs (Kingmaker, the sandbox kingdom building campaign).
    Last edited by Rynjin; 2017-09-21 at 01:36 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I spent a long time not running any modules. Then I bought Lamentations of the Flame Princess and a handfull of modules for it. At first reading, the first module, Tower of the Stargazer, didn't really appeal to me. But the author of the game, in the referee's booklet, managed to sell the idea of running it anyway, by stressing a really basic point:

    You're using a module for the challenge of doing something you wouldn't otherwise do or even think about.

    So I ran the module exactly as it was written to a new group of players to introduce them to the game. It worked just fine. Since then, I've ran the module to various groups... ten or so times? I've lost count. In any case, I found out you can get a surprising amount of mileage from the same location if you just enough different characters through it. This inspired me to recycle more of my own work as well.

    Since then, I've run lots of other LotFP products and generally been very happy with them. Death Love Doom is my own favorite, precisely because it's something I wouldn't have thought of myself. Gory shock horror against the backdrop of historical London run with a D&D retroclone is a pretty particular combination, but works fine for one-shots. (It would be easy to build a campaign upon too, just haven't had the opportunity.) It's worth it just to see the looks on the players' faces.

    Then again: comparing LotFP with few WotC modules I have, it's easy to see LotFP products are superior and why. LotFP detail locations, objects and motives rather than sequence of events. They tend to make very little assumptions of what the player characters will do. They also tend to use random elements to genuinely create content. LotFP random events are not window-dressing or a breather episide between "real" encounters. They are actually important things which might become focus of the module in their own right.

    By contrast, the WotC modules have been fairly linear event sequences which seem to be build on the assumption that players will obediently follow. They're also kind of bland, lacking any particular vision. They've lacked the element of "this is something I otherwise wouldn't have done or though of". Too often, it feels like I could've ran a comparable session just by rolling random encounters from the 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual. More, WotC modules have so far presented to me no random generation elements which would be interesting to use as a GM.
    Last edited by Frozen_Feet; 2017-09-21 at 03:35 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    I spent a long time not running any modules. Then I bought Lamentations of the Flame Princess and a handfull of modules for it. At first reading, the first module, Tower of the Stargazer, didn't really appeal to me. But the author of the game, in the referee's booklet, managed to sell the idea of running it anyway, by stressing a really basic point:

    You're using a module for the challenge of doing something you wouldn't otherwise do or even think about.

    So I ran the module exactly as it was written to a new group of players to introduce them to the game. It worked just fine.
    Precisely why I wound up running some modules at various times. When running a game you wind up making subconscious choices due to how you learned to GM. Running a module can be a great way to break free of those habits and see what else works. In case I hadn't made it clear I love hearing about new ways to look at gaming and modules provide exactly that.
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    It sounds like a horribly designed adventure. Give it to a new inexperienced GM to ruin his GMing Career.

    This is also a problem, new GMs may read a module and think it looks good on paper.
    There are a few notes that improve it. The first is that the opening paragraph of the adventure says, "Tell your players to make characters who want to be pirates, and let them know that the early parts of the adventure start with them being press-ganged and imprisoned with no equipment." It actually includes the quote, "Played right, this can be a fun way to start an adventuring career, but your players need to be onboard with the assumptions of the adventure."

    That is an important note, and helps to set the stage for the adventure. There are also some notes on ways to let the PCs accomplish things, steal equipment, make friends and frustrate the bad guys while they're imprisoned, so that it's not a cavalcade of failure and punishment until they break free, and there's an interesting event every other day, roughly, each of which has real ways to interact with the crew.

    It's not a great adventure, but it's not bad, either.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    A funny thing is that I've used Weird New World, an early LotFP supplement, to run a campaign where the player characters spent days, even months trapped in their ship with little to do.

    The difference is, when nothing is happening, days tend to pass fast in my games. Day a minute is perfectly possible. So these lulls usually didn't take a lot of game time.

    Didn't stop players from declaring "our character goes insane from boredom, drink all the rum and the hold orgy in the cargo hold". Which is perfectly acceptable reaction, I guess "rum, lash and sodomy" had to come from somewhere. I don't remember if anyone tried to jump overboard to commit suicide. Would've fit the situation, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    Hah! I knew it.

    Yeah, I can imagine how a really, really bad DM would end up running 30 days of sailing for six full sessions. It would still take a solid hour of playtime per in-game day, and no more than four hours per session, which is just... really, really bad DMing. Really bad.

    *EDIT* Yeah, I went and looked it up. Without proper player-buy in, that's an early campaign that could breed some resentment. But it's also ten days with one major scene each, and ten days without major scenes. A day without major scenes, you can get through in 15-20 minutes; one roll, one extracurricular per player, a minute or two for each. So that's about two or three hours on the minor scenes. Days with major scenes probably take half an hour, and require some real choices from the players. That's about 5 hours. That totals 7-8 hours on the "setting the stage and building alliances" section, which should finish up in the second session.
    That still seems like an awfully long time to spend on a "your characters are enslaved and have practically no ability to make decisions" segment. If you're actually starting the campaign with this, I would want it done in no more than half an hour, or faster than that if at all possible. This sounds like the D&D equivalent of a video game with an absurdly long opening cutscene, that works a couple of quick time events in here and there to force the player to stay there instead of getting up to do something else until they're allowed to play the game. If I were to run this module, I would truncate the hell out of an opening like this, to get on to the part where players are actually doing something.

    -----------------------

    Overall though, I'm not much of a module person. I've never run one myself, other than a half-hour thing out of the 5e starter kit that we did at a library once as a teen program.

    I've played in a few that went pretty well, most notably Curse of Strahd. But for the most part, D&D modules have never felt as real or immersive to me as games where everything was created by the DM. It feels comparable to the difference between someone telling me their own story versus reciting one that they memorized.

    That said, I do think modules have their advantages. While I strongly prefer games created by the DM (provided that they're good enough at running adventures to know what they're doing), running a module can be a HUGE time saver. Even then though, I think it's important to modify the adventure around the players at the table. I'm not interested in a shared experience with the greater community, for the same reason I'm not interested in playing at conventions. For me, RPG's are about sitting down with friends and creating an experience together.
    Last edited by Velaryon; 2017-09-22 at 10:31 AM.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    That still seems like an awfully long time to spend on a "your characters are enslaved and have practically no ability to make decisions" segment. If you're actually starting the campaign with this, I would want it done in no more than half an hour, or faster than that if at all possible. This sounds like the D&D equivalent of a video game with an absurdly long opening cutscene, that works a couple of quick time events in here and there to force the player to stay there instead of getting up to do something else until they're allowed to play the game. If I were to run this module, I would truncate the hell out of an opening like this, to get on to the part where players are actually doing something.
    There are still decisions to make and planning to be done. It's not just being ordered around the whole time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Then again: comparing LotFP with few WotC modules I have, it's easy to see LotFP products are superior and why. LotFP detail locations, objects and motives rather than sequence of events. They tend to make very little assumptions of what the player characters will do.
    Leaving aside the random elements (which I do appreciate), I think this is a key detail. A bad adventure reads like a JRPG script - These are the things you need to do, you can't avoid the cutscenes, do not break sequence. If the plot only moves if the players do certain key things, and any point of failure leaves no alternate route, it's a bad adventure. I'm sure all of us have made that mistake at least once in our lives. The better adventures present a situation - a location or set of locations or events (past, present, and future) that the PCs are hooked into, and that they can impact, but does not require their involvement to progress. Your plot should be what happens if the PCs do nothing. Now figure out how the various agents will respond to these spanners.

    It is completely valid for a quest/plot elements to remain "on hold" - raiders will raid, Tombs remain entombed, sacrifices will be sacrificed, bandits will band... it... until the PCs do something about them. But you can have them evolve. Every additional week, another tribe falls sway to the Priests of the Chaos Chalice, presenting a more organized front to your intrusions. Another market day passes without being able to sell, reducing the spider elves influence on local trade (and strengthening their rivals). More kidnappings may occur, or more prisoners are killed (and/or eaten). The longer you take to resolve the leadership issue, the more likely it is the town will fall to the invading army, or simply starve out from poor food. This also means that the quality or quantity of any rewards can change over time - you can catch the bandits with a larger stash. The town becomes more desperate (increasing the reward) or destitute ("We can feed you") as time goes on.
    Last edited by Joe the Rat; 2017-09-22 at 12:13 PM.
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    That still seems like an awfully long time to spend on a "your characters are enslaved and have practically no ability to make decisions" segment. If you're actually starting the campaign with this, I would want it done in no more than half an hour, or faster than that if at all possible. This sounds like the D&D equivalent of a video game with an absurdly long opening cutscene, that works a couple of quick time events in here and there to force the player to stay there instead of getting up to do something else until they're allowed to play the game. If I were to run this module, I would truncate the hell out of an opening like this, to get on to the part where players are actually doing something.
    I may have described it poorly.

    The opening three weeks of the game are roughly described as follows. First, the players are press-ganged onto a ship. On the ship, they have to do basic tasks during the day, and then at night they go out and take actions (carousing, chatting, sneaking off to steal things from other sailors, engineering murders, whatever they feel like). It's supposed to become obvious very quickly that there are a couple power blocs on the ship, and one of those blocs dislikes the PCs.

    The pre-written scenes are events that take place during the three weeks. In each of those, there'll be a fight, or a problem on the ship, or a social interaction that the PCs stumble across, and they can do whatever they want.

    At the end of the three weeks, there's a boarding action, and the PCs and a bunch of NPCs are set as the skeleton crew of a second ship to sail it back and sell it. At this point, all of the choices they've made vis a vis building allies for a mutiny or pissing people off result in a crew fracture, and they have to either survive an entrenched power group that hates them, or take over the ship. The first act is basically a politics module using pirates.

    So if you're running the module halfway competently, each day is a short "here's someone you meet" scene, and the players can continue meeting new people or strengthen relationships with existing people. It's a very unusual structure for D&D (and I get the feeling that some of the fights were there just because people expect to fight things in D&D), but it's pretty solid conceptually. On the flip side, the execution is shaky in places, and a bad GM could do some damage (for example, in the OP's version the DM seems to have just declared that all attempts by the players to interact with the ship fail in favour of random punishments, which is BS.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    I refuse to believe that there is a module in existence that promotes six sessions of useless slave labour at sea. Absolutely none of this is because of the module; it is because that DM is absolute garbage.

    (Which is not to say modules are inherently good; there are some real stinkers out there. But this cannot possibly be a case of that. No chance.)
    Honestly, I could see a module that promoted having one session of useless slave labour with character introductions before something happens (the ship sinks, the captain catches a bad case of shank, the god of the decides that he doesn't like slave labour and sends a mermaid to every ship currently on the waters with this information). Maybe two or three if the characters can meaningfully interact.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk748 View Post
    My players are pretty good about not going nuts when I run modules. Mostly cuz they wanna see where it goes, partially cuz they don't want to make me spend 20 minutes figuring out how to fix their mess
    I mean, there's also a case of surprise module being bad, but agreement is good and allows you to avoid most of the problems by the players agreeing to not mess anything up too bad. I'm effectively writing a module for a one-shot I'm running in a month, and while I can improvise well enough I'm going to request that the players don't go too far away from the rails so we can finish the game in a session.
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I have yet to see a module that I truly approve of. But boy I'd like to make some, if I didn't have to worry about work.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Random thought for a potential future game: What if, if the PCs went off the rails in a pre-written module and went into an unwritten/described area... there was nothing there? As in literally nothing, just an empty void, as the world hadn't been built in that area yet. As the PCs investigate this more, they'll eventually realize that they are in a Trueman Show-esque situation/scenario, and the DM would improvise the story from there (basing parts of it off of the original module, of course).

    It'd be a one-time thing, of course, but it'd be interesting.
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    "No" means "yes".
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    My other idea was to be a troglodyte were-cockroach and just smell bad in people's squares.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I tend to work best with a framework to build off of, so I'll typically pick an AP or module to start in and weave together a story based on how that progresses, usually almost completely distinct from the intended track.

    But yeah, that DM is just **** and running S&S wrong

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    He's running Skull and Shackles, and he's running it wrong. The AP's not perfect, and it does technically involve thirty days of sailing up front, but the extent of those days is rolling a few daily tasks, and maybe sneaking around at night, with interesting events every few days to break things up (like attacks by monsters or the crew officers ****ing with the PCs because they've taken a disliking to them).

    The first book exists to instill a deep animosity toward the crew of the Wormwood (whose captain is an antagonist as far in the AP as book 5 of 6, and potentially beyond). That is not achieved by "nothing". The first book of S&S has the potential to be unfun if run wrong, and downright unpleasant if run a little too "right", but that's entirely in the hands of the GM who can fail to know when to streamline or compress the daily activities (which can be dealt with in a matter of 30 seconds per player on average days, leaving only the special events significant time sinks).

    Six sessions of nothing is only possible if the GM has completely failed to read the AP, or has for some reason insisted on playing out every day hour by hour or something.

    While the PCs are unable to mutiny at the start (Captain Harrigan is far too strong for them to overthrow, being a 16th level character), they should have opportunities to do so throughout, and a big basically impossible to fail one near the 3/4 mark of the AP. The first book is literally called "The Wormwood Mutiny", and it's not called that for no reason.

    Source: I'm running the AP right now, my players are nearing the end of book 4.
    SO, literally its this..

    I had the same exact situation with a few sessions, it took 4 in our case. we managed to get through the first book and into the 2nd before real life came into it and we had to end.

    Managed to get inot another group with a couple of the original players and those forst 4 sessions turned inot MAYBE 2/3 of 1.

    In the end its the DM here that costing you 6 sessions of nothing in what should have been 5 or 6 hours of rolling a dozen or so skill checks with some opportunities to RP and end up perma-ticked off at the crew of that ship.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I have known far too many Players who attack scenery or choose the sixth option from the four presented by the module to find modules very satisfying.
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Dec 2010

    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    I'll use prewritten NPCs or locations, but I've always had difficulty with modules in particular being incoherent when I try to step outside of the sequence and think about why these events are going on in this particular fashion.

    NPCs and their schemes, motivations, and connections though... Uncaged: Faces of Sigil was my favorite Planescape source book in the end.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Issue with Pre-written Material

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    There are still decisions to make and planning to be done. It's not just being ordered around the whole time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    I may have described it poorly.

    The opening three weeks of the game are roughly described as follows. First, the players are press-ganged onto a ship. On the ship, they have to do basic tasks during the day, and then at night they go out and take actions (carousing, chatting, sneaking off to steal things from other sailors, engineering murders, whatever they feel like). It's supposed to become obvious very quickly that there are a couple power blocs on the ship, and one of those blocs dislikes the PCs.

    The pre-written scenes are events that take place during the three weeks. In each of those, there'll be a fight, or a problem on the ship, or a social interaction that the PCs stumble across, and they can do whatever they want.

    At the end of the three weeks, there's a boarding action, and the PCs and a bunch of NPCs are set as the skeleton crew of a second ship to sail it back and sell it. At this point, all of the choices they've made vis a vis building allies for a mutiny or pissing people off result in a crew fracture, and they have to either survive an entrenched power group that hates them, or take over the ship. The first act is basically a politics module using pirates.

    So if you're running the module halfway competently, each day is a short "here's someone you meet" scene, and the players can continue meeting new people or strengthen relationships with existing people. It's a very unusual structure for D&D (and I get the feeling that some of the fights were there just because people expect to fight things in D&D), but it's pretty solid conceptually. On the flip side, the execution is shaky in places, and a bad GM could do some damage (for example, in the OP's version the DM seems to have just declared that all attempts by the players to interact with the ship fail in favour of random punishments, which is BS.)
    Thanks for the clarification. Even so, I think I would try to condense it down quite a lot, unless players had a lot of things they really wanted to do in that time.

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