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Monday, April 13, 2015

Run as Written or Inspiration or Something Between?

When it comes to commercial or prewritten adventures, as a rule I do not "rune as written." More accurately, it would be safe to say that the shorter the adventure or module, the less changes I will make to it.

As I mentioned in an earlier post today, I've been changing up Castle of the Mad Archmage to suit my group (and me.) In some cases, that may mean adding a Hill Giant where there was none previously, and in others it may mean turning a room full of rat dung into "two fucking feet deep with rat dung!" It all comes down to knowing your players, the challenges they need and basicaly fucking with them.

I do little if any changing of the adventure (besides system conversion) when running DCC RPG adventures, but even there I tune challenges up or down depending on the party that shows up to play.

The one time I ran a large prewritten adventure "as written" was Dwimmermount, back when it was still being play tested but after the Kickstarter had funded. That session is rather (in)famous. Suffice to say, I am an advocate of making adventures fit the party instead of making the party fit the adventure.

Now, if you are one of those fine folks that have an abundance of time and energy to write all of your own adventures, more power to you. The following question does not apply to you ;)

Do you adjust or rewrite commercial or pre-written adventures to better suit your group or do you prefer to run as written, or perhaps somewhere in between?


  1. Back in the day when i used pre written modules i generally used them as is using any pre gen characters at the same time. This made for one-offs when my normal Harn based campaign needed another week or a player in t xampaign was missing.

  2. In my younger days, I admit I'd try to "shoehorn" my PCs into the adventure strictly as written. After all, these were written by Big Name Game Designers, so they knew what they were talking about, right? Later, as I got more comfortable with my own GM style, I moved away from "as written" and onto "as inspired by". Now, behind the screen, I'll do what it takes to make the encounters more interesting, more engaging, more appropriate, and more personal to my players…script be damned! I change up stuff on the fly constantly. (And that includes stuff *I'VE* written!)

    1. Second vote for this. Many pre-written adventures are good, or have good parts that can be run "as-is." But some tweaking is almost always necessary to bring it into line with the current game/party/players.

  3. Have to say inspired, as much of the time I'm using an adventure from an entirely different system, like running a Warhamner adventure using Pathfinder rules.

  4. I occasionally use aspects of published adventures, but I mangle them beyond all recognition (turn maps inside out, restock, alter setting, change setup, etc.)

  5. I wonder if it's even possible to run most adventures exactly as written. I always adapt published modules for my group, or just steal chunks to use in my own adventures

    1. You said it. Never seen a module I could run as written. Always too many assumptions about the campaign world or abundance of magic or what not; anyway I always have to modify things at least a little bit to make a module usable.

  6. Ultimately it's really hard to run any module "as-is" if you have a defined campaign and setting. Customizing a module to reflect the focus/strength of your PCs seems like a normal and usually expected step in prepping a prefab module, but beyond that, I do like running them as close to the original as I can get, if only for the surprises that creates in play that neither I nor my players might have otherwise thought of. Unless the module is prewritten with a lot of default expectations, in which case...I think easier to avoid those modules entirely, especially if the default assumptions are very divergent from my expected PC behavior.

  7. I typically use published adventures. I think the published adventures of the early days in D&D created a shared experience among gamers and connected us. Sure my experience with B2 Keep on the Borderlands was different than everyone else, but it was something we all had in common.

    When I do run them, I like to stick initially close to the a Adventure as written, but often the party derails it and now we're free-styling. Much like you Erik, I change things to challenge the party. Recently I added an Ogre Magi and additional Ogres in final dungeon of the C&C adventure A1: Assualt on Blacktooth Ridge, it was a fun challenge and transparent to the party. I also find it fun figuring out how to fit an adventure into the game I'm running, but YMMV.

  8. I like to tinker. I'll make changes here or there to make the adventure fit my setting better or because I'll have a flash of inspiration.

    Last time I ran Hammers of the God I changed the zombies into skeletons, both because I like skeletons better and because there were already zombies spreading through the land after the players went through Death Frost Doom.



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