Friday, April 23, 2010

Fluffing That Pillow

Running a published adventure should be like fluffing a pillow.

The pillow is already made. You could lie right down and rest your sweet little face on it, no real problem. But for maximum comfort, you need to position that downy sack of feathers just so.
When running a published adventure, you could just dive in, run it as written and stick to the script. But players are not privy to the script. They have goals, aspirations, and machinations all their own that may (see also: likely) not exist within the confines of your purchased module.
I really like Paizo modules. They seem to take this well-known fact into account with most of their published adventures. NPCs, plot hooks, bestiaries, and the like litter their pages as ancillary material to the main thrust of the adventure plot. This gives GMs fertile ground in which to, as Fleetwood Mac says, go their own way.
Now what the GM does with this material is obviously up to them.
I’m running Curse of the Crimson Throne, a gritty, urban adventure, and I am using the loose ends to offer a counterpoint to the darker tone of the published adventure.
My group is relatively beer & pretzels. They like the dark mystery that is building up, but they also want to let loose a bit of steam. Thus when the first big loose end came up (a mob beating up a noble that the group dispersed), I turned that into a light-hearted sidetrek. The mob became a group of drunken louts that nearly fouled up a later mission by the PCs (but ultimately got slaughtered by the PCs – seeds for future sidetreks) and the saved noble is fulfilling the overly thankful, sniveling, comic relief. This saved noble has also asked the group if they’d be interested in helping a noble friend of his, one that some research has shown comes from a fallen family that is rumored to dabble in dark sorcery.
None of this is actually included in the adventure module, but it has provided some of the best and funniest moments of the campaign so far.
How do you guys change written adventures to better suit your PCs? Any particular examples? I’d like to hear . . . that way I can steal those ideas. I’m a rogue, after all.

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