pre-written adventures vs. homebrew

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VirtualMachine
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pre-written adventures vs. homebrew

Postby VirtualMachine » Sat Aug 18, 2007 5:03 am

Just curious as to how many of you folks gamemaster, and how you go about starting a new campaign:

- Do you throw yourself into a game setting and devise an overreaching plot of your own?

- Do you rely on published campaigns or adventure modules?

- Do you actually use the little suggestions for adventures given in may of the core rulebooks? (usually a one or two sentance concept under an "Adventure ideas" sort of heading)

I plan on actually starting my first Conan campaign in September, and i guess what i'm looking for is a few ideas from experienced players on how you "start" the whole ballgame, how you bring the characters together etc.

I've never been one for pre-written adventures myself (started running games in 1987-1988).
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Postby Aholibamah » Sat Aug 18, 2007 11:33 am

I like at least looking through prewritten material for ideas--some of them are really good.

Right now I'm running Shadizar from the boxed set but mostly the ideas come from various prewritten adventures and from ideas I've gotten from movies, books etc.

However essentially I'm running a combination of the books of Alexandre Dumas and REH, with Dumas being the centerpiece. So I guess what I am doing is running a sort of classical idea about a group of adventurers caught up in intrigues and their own affairs and putting it in the context of REH's Zamora.
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Postby Majestic7 » Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:37 pm

I never run published campaigns. They have all turned out to be too railroaded or not having complex enough plots for my liking so far. Most of them do not branch enough for my liking - for example, they assume that the characters will hunt villain X instead of joining him, which would be an interesting possibility in many games. I have nothing in principle against running one, if I found one that fits my taste. Sometimes I use ready adventures as a base that I heavily customize for my needs. Most of the time I just get ideas of my own by reading background material for the game. In case of Conan, I kind of knew the basic plot of the campaign I would run even before I had bought any Conan books, based on REH's work.

I might run Heretics of Tarantia as a heavily modified version later on in my current campaign. Mainly, changing Tarantia to the capital of Nemedia, Asura to Ibis, adding some Cthulhu Mythos and so forth.

However, I like to use ready NPCs, monsters and places in my campaigns. I don't usually have the patience for fiddling with game mechanics, so it is much easier to just grab a NPC that looks to be about the right kind and use it. I have little patience for drawing dungeons and designing traps likewise.
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Postby bradius » Sun Aug 19, 2007 8:23 pm

If I'm doing a one-shot game at a convention, I'll run published stuff. Otherwise, I run my own stuff. However, I do look at published scenarios just to get some ideas. Mostly, I find the published stuff just doesnt work for me or my play group. I did run Black Kingdoms, but tweaked it so heavily, that it would be hardly recognizable by the authors. One thing I do use from the scenrios are the NPC's. I rarely have time to create NPC's from scratch. One thing that helps me is that I run a session once a month. That gives me plenty of time to create my own scenarios.
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Postby Hervé » Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:54 am

Actually, I use a mix of pre made and homebrew adventures. I read a lot of RPGs scenarios from various sources and systems, pick up the ideas I like, throw away the ones I don't to adapt them to my playing group.

You can find lot of ideas in published material and it's generally no big deal to adapt it. Many brains are normally more efficient than just one. I don't pretend to have all the best ideas around and I'm pretty lazy (southern french, what do you expect?) so I'm generally glad to scrounge other people work...

And don't forget that buying RPG stuff, even from other systems or other gaming companies helps to keep the industry afloat.
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Postby Oake » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:28 pm

I'm using a lot of pre-written stuff at the moment, we're playing through Across Thunder River. Well actually, we're about to, we just completed the adventure related to it in the Conan Compendium. I do like to add in a lot of extra stuff, new characters, sub-plots and an on-going story/plot in the background though.
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Postby Dpetroc » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:44 pm

Right now, I'm letting my players explore Hyboria without having an overall campaign arc, or even any set, premade (either by me or modules). So far, they've created a good deal of their own trouble. I give them a few possible hooks and go with whatever one they bite on.

One of the things about Conan that I really appreciate is that it really lends itself to 'organic' GM-ing. I just go with the flow and sooner or later someone will start a fight, rob a temple, rescue a damsel, etc.
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Postby pasuuli » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:36 pm

All of the above.

I tend to fit published material into the game setting, which is influenced by what I think it should be like. Often enough, the little plot hooks in the core rules often take on a life of their own, and grow into adventures.
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Postby Halfbat » Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:54 am

I have a real mix, from loose 'plot sketches' through to slightly firmer locaiton descriptions through to fully-described adventures as well as published adventures.

I'm currently running a lengthy scenario based on an idea on posted on these boards, but before that my players had run through Golden Skull (Messantia), Heretics and Hanuman, and all in pretty vanilla incarnations, too.

I don't have a problem with the "apparent railroading" of single threaded adventures - I find that very often other options are a delusion anyway. We found that scenarios like Heretics give scope for allowing the players to explore or even to switch (but, then, they are playing the heroic group, in the Conan "caught up in events" style rather than the "questers after power" approach).
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Postby DaveNC » Sat Aug 25, 2007 11:29 am

I used to run all my own stuff, but real life (work, kids, etc.) doesn't leave much time to play, so I run much more published material now. I usually have a broad general flow to a campaign with recurring NPC, villians, etc. and adapt the published material into the "chapters" of the campaign. I just substitute my bad guys for the ones in the published material and have them escape or lead the characters into something bigger in the scope of my campaign.
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Postby Bjorn the Barbarian » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:26 pm

I also use a mix of my own stuff along with published adventures. I have stolen several good ideas from various modules and used them in my campaigns. I really have had a lot of fun with using the old Lankhmar modules with Conan. :)
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Postby Brass Jester » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:15 pm

I run home-brewed stuff, most of which is created using my Adventure Design system (was posted here some time ago0. BTW, this has undergone a major revision which has added a whole new set of levels

I read published stuff but rarely use it. I am not a big fan of 'read aloud' text boxes; I realise this is the modern way of doing things but I find that whilst I'm trying to read it out I can't keep an eye on what the Player's are up to. I pefer the old sheet of A4 with the hand-drawn diagram and a few notes.
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Postby librarycharlie » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:36 pm

Jester, I'd be glad to see your home brewed system if you have a link or updated version.

I do largely custom adventures with an outline and major events that happen regardless of the party's actions (wars, etc.) in chronological order.

I ran a conanized White Plume Mountain adventure (posted on the WotC site) and while it didn't bomb, it didn't really jive until I wove all the "monsters" into a larger storyline that had nothing to do with the old published module. I'm starting to think that pre-made adventures aren't the way to go.

On the other hand, I've got a printout of Aghrapur from S&P, and my characters have so many urges and desires that it's like a bag o' adventures by itself.
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Postby flatscan » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:16 pm

I lean heavily on published adventures. I think the rail-roading criticism about them depends on the GM. A clever GM will allow players to seek their own goals, interact with whatever nPeeps they want to and subtley draw them back into the events of the published scenario. For my group it works great and my players have said they can never tell whether I'm running from a published scenario or not (of course, if they read this they'll know :wink: ). I'm not including any over-arching campaign as I'm rolling with an REH style wandering and adventuring episodic style of gaming. So far my players have run through Hanuman, Kovag-Re, Elephant Tower, Shadizar, and are now dealing with the Lurking Terror of Nahab.
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Postby shouit » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:23 pm

I personally love coming up with the adventure but really hate the mechanics. I hate making NPC stat blocks and such, so I tend to try to steal NPCs where I can. Heck, I even hate making my own PCs, but I love RPing them.

Which is why I wish Mongoose would come up with a book of various NPCs. Sean K Reynolds did this a while back for standard DnD and I loved it. Not specifically to Conan stories mind you, just various NPCs that could be thrown into the game.
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Postby Hervé » Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:40 pm

shouit wrote:
I wish Mongoose would come up with a book of various NPCs
I just wish they don't. I have nothing to do of a book full of stat blocks and I guess I'm not the only one on this forum.

That's one of the major problems of the D20 system (among others...): making a NPC can be such a pain in the ass that you have to scavenge other publications in order to save some time.
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Postby Brass Jester » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:07 pm

I have a 'quick' NPC creation system that puts the bare bones together, enough to create an NPC 'on the fly'. I'll try posting it; but you may need to e-mail me for the Word doc.
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Postby Hervé » Fri Oct 19, 2007 8:41 am

Brass Jester wrote:
I have a 'quick' NPC creation system that puts the bare bones together, enough to create an NPC 'on the fly'.
After seeing your adventure creation system, I can't wait to see what you did with NPCs...
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