2012-08-10 Buying Modules


Brendan Strejcek wrote In Praise of Modules and argued that there are a number of positive aspects to modules.

On his Google+ post linking to the blog post, I left a comment that I’ve copied and edited somewhat.

Lately I find that modules take too damn long to read. Perhaps I’m spoilt by the One Page Dungeon Contest I’ve been trying to keep my own adventure notes very short, and when I wrote the Caverns of Slime for the upcoming issue of Fight On! I tried hard to keep things short.

When I ran the Paizo modules, the two or three I ran went just fine, but I always felt slightly confused. I was already stretched thin. When I ran the Paizo adventure paths, it was worse. I discovered that I didn’t really want to read the modules. It was too much, it took too long, it wasn’t the kind of reading I enjoy. When I ran the Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics for D&D 3.5, I also felt that they would have been great if they had been half as long. The two hard-cover collections of short adventures in the same line, on the other hand, seem perfect!

When modules are too long, I like to jokingly say that I could have written my own in the time it takes me to read it. That’s not true, obviously. Raggi’s argument is a valid one: to run adventures somebody else created is a challenge, a refreshing change of pace, maybe a learning experience. Lately, however, I’ve come to think that I don’t like it enough to spend money on modules. I didn’t invest in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess drive, for example, even though many of the authors caught my attention and many of the adventure blurbs seemed right up my alley.

Do you find your money is well spent when buying adventures? Perhaps my problem is that I didn’t read reviews before buying adventures. I was subscribed to the Paizo modules and the adventure paths both, and when there was a big sale of Dungeon Crawl Classic modules for D&D 3.5 I bought as many as I could get my hands on.

Do you feel the same tension? Some aspects you like – the enthusiasm, the ideas, the art, the change of pace – and some aspects you don’t like – spending money, investing the time, negative surprises.

How do you decide which modules to buy?



My #1 criteria for a new module/adventure is that it must be around 30 pages or just a few more and less than 30 pages really catches my attention.

I like the One Page Dungeon Contest format quite a bit and pull a few every now and then to add to our game.

I do buy higher page count modules/adventures, Stonehell Dungeon immediately comes to mind. Its simple room format and very well laid out dungeon section by dungeon section format is perfect for me.

Crose87420 2012-08-11 02:57 UTC

Hehe, I just bought L1, L2 and N1 (again, don’t know where my original copies went), and these locales are already in my campaign world, ready to happen when or if the PCs go there, maybe even happening and getting changed to the worse if they don’t go there... Oh, and stonehell will find it’s place somewhere, too... I like lookng at modules and then extrapolate what happens when no pc got there in time. Adventure Path’s sites are used for plundering. This dungeon and that village etc. So, yes, I buy modules, but not to use them as written, but as inspiration. And running Pathfinder, for looting stat blocks... :P

Rorschachhamster 2012-08-11 07:34 UTC

I enjoy reading modules. They are like building blocks. You both have to figure out how the original person fit them together, and what you can do to make it interesting. It fills in detail in a way I wouldn’t.

That said, it certainly is possible to write a bad module. Gygax’s modules are fantastic. Many of the 2e ones are not. The adventures in fight on, as well as many of the Goodman Games 3.x modules are very very good. Some are not.

-C 2012-08-11 13:16 UTC

The one adventure that worked very well for me was the Vault of Larin Karr by Necromancer Games. I think this may have been because it was written such that every adventure location was very small (a small number of rooms or just a simple encounter) and independent of all the other locations in the sense that changes in one location practically never caused changes in another location. There were of course links between the various locations: the elves are pissed because somebody took their statue and this statue is now in the dragon’s hoard. But even if you killed the dragon, the elves are still pissed: you need to return the statue to them to appease them. This structure drastically reduced the awkward “looking for info” moments when I was running the adventure. It simply was not necessary. I often had those moments in the two adventure paths I ran because the locations and characters seemed more tightly bound.

AlexSchroeder 2012-08-11 21:32 UTC

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