Did I post this before? Reading Refreshed and Reenergized or “Why I don’t like Adventure Paths” by Tony Law reminded me of a problem I have with Adventure Paths.
An Adventure Path promises a good story, good characters, maps, and a lot of background information for the referee. Structurally, we’re often talking about an introduction, a synopsis, character background, settlement background, room descriptions, and monster and magic item stats in the back of the book. The problem comes up at the table: whenever the party does something I don’t know by heart, I start fumbling through the book. I know she had some secret plan. Where do I look it up? At the beginning of the book? At the beginning of the chapter? In the character description? Somewhere else? And instead of driving the story forward, I’m stalling.
If there were less text, I’d know that I need to improvise. With little defined, new facts I invent will not contradict published material. I’d be fine. But I haven’t read the entire Adventure Path when we’re starting to play. After all, I’m trying to save time by not writing everything myself. I don’t have the time to read anything but material for the next one or two sessions. The net result is that the typical Adventure Path format inhibits my ability to improvise.
I’m trying to deal with it by introducing extra adventures, skipping big chunks of the adventures, treating the material as a suggestion, a background. I’m not yet sure that it’ll work, but as it stands I’m noticing the limitations of the format.