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Stat Boost – Adventure Modules: are they just for DMs without creativity?

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We’ve been talking about adventures today, and Glen Cooper – the author of Deadly Dungeon Doors – was kind enough to offer to write another guest post for me. (You can find his last one about traps here.) Glen released a collection of 9 lesser-known adventures on DMs Guild earlier today; it’s already been incredibly popular, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

I’ll talk more about Glen’s collection at the end of this post, but for now I’d like to hand you over to the man himself.

Adventure Modules: are they just for DMs without creativity?

I love the D&D Starter Set. I’m a fan of it because of ‘The Lost Mines of Phandelver’ adventure module which introduced me back to Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition. After a 20 year roleplaying hiatus I was ready, and this experience really helped me to acclimatise back into it.

Initially I did feel a bit guilty that I was exposing my newly formed group to a published campaign module. It felt like cheating somehow, and to be honest it still does… but only a tiny little bit.

But how about you though? Do you feel like it is cheating or less creative to grab a module or two, perhaps from the ye olde ‘Dungeon Masters Guild’?

If you feel like it is beneath a Dungeon Master proper to use published adventures, then you might have, or already be doing some of the following:

  1. You’ve got an endless list of NPC’s, interesting locations, story-hook ideas, and unique magical items designed to fit in with any adventure.
  2. You and your players feel no need to share your thoughts on how to run classic encounters in modules such as The Lost Mines of Phandelver, Curse of Strahd, Storm King’s Thunder or even Tales of the Yawning Portal. Say; what did you do in that first goblin ambush or the showdown with Venomfang? You did nothing because sharing module experiences doesn’t bother you.
  3. You have large amounts of spare time! Yes, you can easily find several hours to mature a ‘down the tavern’ adventure synopsis into usable, balanced and play-tested content! OR you make it up as you go along and are now on your 12th month of improvised mayhem.

Alternatively, if you do use published material:

  1. You are probably fairly new to Dungeons & Dragons and appreciate the usefulness of an adventuring framework, designed by someone who has had plenty of experience in Dungeon Mastering.
  2. You may lack ideas from time to time, and need a helpful prod to get the creative juices flowing. In fact you believe that reading other’s ideas is ESSENTIAL to bringing out the best in your adventures or encounters.
  3. Your DM ability and players are way more than capable of breaking away from a restricting preprepared adventure, and make it your OWN! You punctuate all your sessions with improvised roleplay awesomeness, so that after you and your players have finished with it… that adventure module is almost unrecognisable.

It’s not that we don’t all have lots of ideas right? For starters, reading through the Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide is a fantastic way to plant a new adventure seed – especially the random villainous NPC tables! It’s great, you should try it.

You understand my point now, right? Operating in a vacuum is way less fun than picking up a short published module from time to time, and making it your own.

However, looking over the mountains of content already out there, it’d be easy to think that we were reaching ‘peak adventure’ – the hypothetical point in time when global production of adventure ideas reaches it’s maximum, after which our attention will gradually decline. What with all those podcasts, videos, and Facebook groups vying for our attention – inspiration is only a click and a few minutes away. But who has the time to check them all out? Worse of all, we might be left feeling like we are somehow missing out on all that prime content we missed. FOMO (fear of missing out). Deadly to our productivity, and creativity.

My answer to this would be that you need to find lists of great ideas and adventures, curated by the people you can trust to spot a fun idea or adventure. Go to the Dungeon Masters Guild and have a spin through ‘highest rated’, compare them to the ‘hottest now’. Get knee deep in their creativity and then… add you own flavour!!

Yes! You don’t have to use the content as read. These published adventure modules are just the beginning. Take those ideas, NPCs, items and locations and turn them into a session which your players will remember for ever!

So are adventure modules for dungeon masters without creativity? No, not at all.

So, back to the Ultimate Fantasy Collection! Glen was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of it and, while I haven’t had the chance to run any of the adventures in it myself (because I don’t tend to run published adventures, and I haven’t played D&D in the past week or two), I have read through it all. And it’s great.

One of the things Glen told me he wanted to do with this bundle was to highlight some of the lesser-known adventures on the DMs Guild – things that were uploaded to the site in the early days of the Guild and quickly got buried amongst the constantly growing mountain of content there. If you’ve read this site before, you’ll know that that’s something that I feel passionately about. That’s the entire point behind my monthly Best Of DMs Guild roundups – shining a light on great products that, for one reason or another, fell through the cracks.

The Ultimate Fantasy Collection collects 9 great adventures that you’ve probably never heard of into one place, along with a number of high-quality supplements with new character options. But this isn’t just any old adventure bundle – there’s a larger plot arc to it, designed to take those adventures and weave them into a campaign that will take your players around the Moonshaes and all the way from first level up to level 9, should you wish. I’m assured that it’s only going to be available for a limited time, so I’d highly recommend that you check it out now and grab a copy if you like what you see.




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