30 Days of GMing
While I’ve sung the praises of modules before, I’ve run precious few of them. In fact, I think I’ve completed a total of one in my twenty years as a GM. I blame getting my start as a Larper, where there are no modules and everyone is a snob (myself included). Still, it’s something I’ve been thinking about.
I tend to run my own adventures in part because I love making them, imagining the scenes the PCs might encounter, laying out the traps and encounters of a dungeon or the equally dangerous pitfalls of a court. Creating them myself also means they’re intimately connected to my setting. Legends of Madjan, my online game, just wrapped up an adventure that took them deep inside the ruins of an abandoned wizard tower, where they sought to free slaves and found out the slaves weren’t being used to mine out ancient treasures but being sacrificed to free a vampire from a magical prison. I’m sure that vampire will never be heard from again. The final encounter was three encounters back to back, first with the cultists, then the vampire’s summoned skeletons, then the vampire himself. I love putting together things like that, crunching the numbers and fiddling with the monsters. I’m weird like that.
I also like to try for a more sandbox feel for the game, which to me means that PCs have the ability to walk away from things and that things happen when they’re not there. Having a module seems to imply that there’s less room for the PCs to walk away (which I know isn’t necessarily true) and that the events of the module need to be resolved if they walk away. Which gives me a great idea for a B team of rival adventurers who take up the hooks the party leaves behind. Rivalry is a fun relationship, and there’s things I can definitely do with that. More on that in a later post.
But none of those are reasons not to run modules. I can say things about world persistence, my love for tinkering, and the quality of story, but the truth is that there are lots of really good modules and they’re a great way for a GM to save a ton of work. They can be integrated into the setting and there’s nothing that says you can’t fiddle with them. In fact, you’re often encouraged to. I have a huge archive of pre-published adventures that I look through for ideas, but I’ve never just up and run one. It might be time to change that.
Short version, run my own adventures because I like to and because there may be lingering hints of snobbery about me that I have yet to expunge. Neither of these should stop anyone from picking up a module and rolling with it, my only advice is to read the whole thing before you do. I read it scene by scene once. Bad idea.