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Friday, March 13, 2015

Which is more Useful to you as a DM - Adventures or Rules Supplements?



I ask this as a DM that loves both adventures and rules supplements (although I am more likely to use an adventure nearly as is than I am a rules supplement.) What is more useful to you a as DM - pre-written adventures or rules supplements?

Back in the days that Dragon and Dungeon produced useful material for AD&D 1e and 2e, I found Dragon to be more inspirational and Dungeon to be more practical - as the primary DM in my group, I needed adventures faster than I could whip them up myself, and Dungeon was one hell of an asset.

Of course, we have neither these days even if we do have fanzines that do their best to fill in the gaps?

So, Dungeon, Dragon, a mongrelization of the two or neither?

29 comments:

  1. Old School Dragon, when it was both.

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    1. What he said, Dragon back when it was Dragon.

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    2. Agreed. My old group could never stay "on the rails" long enough for any pre-written modules. We "sandboxed" it out of necessity. Dragon had kilotons of inspiration for the sandbox campaigns.

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  2. Fendifencer(sp?) - 'Nuff said :)

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    1. Fedifensor. Which is apparently in my spellcheck, so that's pretty awesome.

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  3. They both have their uses, but generally speaking adventures win by a landslide. Adventures give me trouble to throw at the players. Supplements are weapons to be used against my precious adventures. Of course, the best adventures include supplementary things to use against players like new monsters, traps, artifacts, and such....so there's that.

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  4. Yes I like adventures much more these days because of life constraints and a desire for some small amount of simplicity in my "D&D". I think that is why I really appreciate the DCC modules. They have great hooks and usually some rules tweaks you can take or leave such as the alternative paleolithic starting careers for 0 levels in "Frozen in Time". I also love adventures that have unique monsters or magic items. Even if you do not use the adventure you can pilfer as needed.

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  5. I agree with the Dragon magazine being more inspirational. Written adventures are more secondary to me, even if they can be a great asset as well.

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  6. In the past, I found more value in rules systems, so that I didn't need to make them up myself. Adventures more or less happened because the players would do things. I still like adventures for the ideas that they can engender.

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  7. More Dragon than Dungeon. I find I can come up with adventures easily enough (or wing it when the players go completely off the rails); rules supplements give me more material to work with, and can often be inspirational in their own right.

    -Ed

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  8. Rules supplements, I guess....or as other have said, "Dragon back when it was really DRAGON." Not that I don't want the modules....but practical experience has taught me that I just won't really end up running them very often.

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  9. Rules supplements, magic and mundane items, monsters, NPCs...even just flavor, fluff, atmosphere...that's the kind of stuff I find most useful. Any time I use an adventure module it's just to cannibalize it for interesting stuff to plug into my own thing.

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  10. Maybe I read Dragon in the wrong time window, but I found the majority of articles I encountered to be either unworkable or timewaste. For example there was a funny article Fire For Effect, which went all "what if fire spells were real physics" on D&D, which of course resulted in all the treasure being molten slag.

    Now I don't believe this is necessarily even true. Fire hot enough to kill people in it doesn't necessarily melt metal of significant weight. But leaving that aside..

    There were no seed or sparks of how this would enrich your adventures. It seemed to pretty much just be a either a leg-up for jerky DM-ing or an amusing distraction that didn't contribute to play at all.

    I encountered many articles along these lines.

    I also encountered many that were basically power gaming fantasies, or that just seemed like unnecessary complication.

    Dungeon, meanwhile, I subscribed to for years, and I'm still using them.

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    1. But to answer more in the spirit of the question:
      I find rules *discussions* far more useful than rule sets or modifications. When I read a pile of new rule ideas, I rarely get a good feel for what the creator was going for, and it seems like pointless change. That or it's a very clear and vibrant re-imagining of the game in a very different direction that won't fit my campaign at all.

      Discussions of what works and doesn't and various ways to achieve ends are quite useful. Also when I know I *want* to change a game in a particular way, going and researching what other people have done is very satisfying.

      For example, I wanted my B/X campaign to be less deadly than old B/X where your 2 hitpoint wizard died on his first day out. The -10 rule of AD&D seemed too slow. The 3-saves-until-death of 3rd/4th seemed to take the teeth out of it. Then I found the Death & Dismemberment table and woohoo I love it. I further tweaked it to fit my table by making successive rolls on it more and more deadly.

      However, even so, technique is where I'm doing most of my learning these days, so rulesets don't inform that, while pillaging bits of adventures and stringing them together with my own edits is great fun.

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  11. I always preferred Dungeon....it was full of inspirational ideas!

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    1. In fact, thinking about it...what I really like is fluff. And myabe a little help in how to translate that fluff into my own gameable stuff (rather than ready-made adventures).

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  12. Adventures, which is why we do what we do. Rather than putting out yet another rule set we thought it would be more useful to put out adventures that could be used with any rule set.

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  13. Adventures by far - if you need a new rule/class/spell/magic item/whatever, add it in the context of an adventure

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  14. If the rules were important they should have been in the rulebook not a supplement. So adventures as long as they don't suck. Most suck

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  15. Most useful are setting sourcebooks. But between adventures or supplements, adventures probably win out. Unfortunately, almost all published adventures focus almost entirely on encounters and require the players to follow a preset path. They are written for groups of specific levels and often for specific settings or even locations. The most useful part of adventures is the summary at the front and perhaps the maps, almost everything else needs to be redone from scratch unless you are playing just the right setting and your players have just the right level. There should be more 3-page adventures that only explain the villains plan and resources and leave everything else to GMs. They probably have to do it anyway.

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  16. Replies
    1. I feel this duplication is topically apropos.

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  17. Dragon in its heyday from the start until somewhere in the mid-'80s is my go-to; it had a combination of rules and adventures. That's not to knock Dungeon, which is an incredible resource. But the balance of material in old school Dragon was about right for me.

    These days, I'm much more likely to go for adventures than rules, at least when it comes to 3rd-party or fan material. The exceptions would be random tables of stuff like dungeon dressing; I can't get enough of that stuff, and find it inspirational.

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  18. I like adventures and I use them, but I make a much wider and deeper use of rules supplements. A good supplement will change how we play the game every session. And adventure is always a shorter-term influence even if the consequences last a long time.

    So, rules supplements.

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  19. Neither, I guess? I enjoy reading adventures, but I never run them. And if by "supplements" you mean "splat books", you can keep them.

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  20. In the '80s I certainly valued Dragon a lot more than Dungeon, but I think that was because Dungeon's adventures generally weren't very good; White Dwarf adventures were always vastly superior. Articles in Dragon about urban, military, and castle campaigns ca 138-155 were the golden age for me and influenced me for decades afterwards. The only Dungeon adventure I ever put any value on was from 2008, Dungeon 155's 'Heathen' was a well-done take on Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now.

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  21. Adventures!

    In the early days of the Dragon, I did enjoy reading the NPC classes and other rule variants, but adventures ended up helping the game more. Even if I was not running a Dungeon adventure out of the book, I certainly borrowed many ideas and loved the "Side Treks" mini-encounters that could be dropped into any campaign.

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