DM Tips with Justin: Using Published Adventures
The Dragonlance books are some of the most popular D&D novels ever written. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman created a vibrant world with an amazing and detailed history. It is an impeccable example of a well crafted world. However, the is one huge detail that escaped the author’s attention. Geographically, Krynn is smaller than Earth’s moon. That’s a pretty big deal when it comes to things like physics, but we are dealing with Fantasy so most people overlook that part (a way more important detail in a Sci-fi game I would imagine).
When planning to run a game the setting is a very important part of the recipe. For ease, Wizards of the Coast has fantastic pre-made adventures in their Forgotten Realms Setting. A treasure trove of already established content. If the idea of building a world from scratch seems daunting, these are the products for you. If the idea of building your own world from the ground up seems exciting, check out next week’s article. This time I am focusing on the benefits and challenges of using published material.
The biggest immediate benefit of published adventures and campaign settings is the amount of time that you will save. You no longer have a need to spend hours figuring out why a city exists, what resources it has, who lives there, etc. All of that work has already been done for you. You just need to read the book before you play. All of the rich history is provided.
Another major benefit is the wealth of background already established. Many table top RPG players are fans of fantasy and the odds of them having read about Drizzt or Elminster are pretty good. Even if you end up with players who are unfamiliar with the Forgotten Realms it is easy to point them to the Icewind Dale trilogy to give them a taste of the world. This ease of familiarity allows you to create characters that have an investment in the world. This in turn generates attachment which is a key ingredient in all of the most memorable campaigns I have been a part of.
There are a few pitfalls associated with published content, however. Sometimes your players will have already played, run, or read the adventure. You will need to adjust things or hope that they won’t use meta knowledge to have an easier time. Another issue that I have encountered is not being familiar enough with the material. Some people feel that they can just read from the prompts without knowing the whole story, this can lead to a very disorganized session.
If you plan on using one of the many adventure books from Dungeons and Dragons it can benefit you much as a DM. Remember that you still need to be very familiar with the module that you are using in order to have a smooth session. Next time we will look at building a world from scratch using a homebrew setting of my own creation as an example. As always, if there is a topic that you want me to cover, leave a comment. Happy Gaming!