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Found a Module Format I Like

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A while back, I complained about the lack of useful content in the D&DI subscription. Just recently I found a section that I really like, I donít know that it makes the subscription worthwhile, but its certainly a bright spot in it.

Most of the modules they offer are on the bland side, very little RP, then a dungeon crawl. This is probably a format that probably works for a some players. Myself, I prefer a story that is told throughout the adventure, there ought to be places between the combats where the plot is advanced. Something more than a pretext for getting into a bunch of encounters. For the most part I tear up their modules to get encounter ideas, occasionally Iíll come across some story idea that I like but its not too common.

Anyway, some time ago they started releasing new Domains of Dread; so far I think theyíve released 4 of them. Initially I had overlooked these, I wasnít playing in Ravenloft so it didnít seem worth reading at the time. Now though two things have changed; first the Shadowfell book is out, and second the Shadowfell apparently has absorbed Ravenloft. As my current campaign will eventually lead the players to the Shadowfell it gives me the opportunity to throw in some Ravenloft elements, so the domains of dread are viable choices.

The Domains of Dread that Wizards have put out are like the perfect module, in my opinion anyway. They describe the area that can be explored, the people and prominent NPCís, define a goal which allows the players to leave, and then offers a few thematic monsters to have them run into. There isnít a single encounter in the entire article.

What you end up with is this pristine sandbox that the players can explore and the DM has the freedom to put in whatever events are needed to tell the story. Finally, a non-linear module! Not only that, but some extremely clever players might even be able to solve the whole thing with role play alone.

The only real trouble I have is that all of these places are self contained. These Domains are all cut off from the rest of the Shadowfell, so the only way to get there is if the shadowmist brings you there. This seems like a minor complaint though, with a bit of creativity you can find ways to get the players there and make it pertinent to the larger story of the campaign.

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  1. templeorder's Avatar
    Thats how the majority of my play scenarios are written. I do a few planned encounters though... most GM's do prefer some linear advancement; though a lot of them are just encounters with results - not necessarily linear. However... its more about the story and weaving together people, places, events, and a immersive experience that makes the players go "wow, that was freakin cool". I write a section on "continuing the adventure" that lists several ideas for added plots and ways it ties in with other scenarios - but i really prefer to leave a lot of it open ended. Then i share them with the players when done, and let others use them for GMing in other groups. My weakness is media and maps... total amateur and i hate taking the time to do it.
  2. Q-man's Avatar
    I guess its a question of your GMing style. I tend to draft an outline of events that will happen during the campaign, which coincides with the machinations of the NPC's (both good and evil). Then I drop the players into the game and offer them a few quest hooks that lead them to discover whats going on. At which point I prefer to take away the guidance and leave them to decide what course they should take to disrupt the plans of the evil NPC's.

    The idea is to give the players a lot of freedom to drive the story. The timeline is just there to provide motivation; they may not see all of the events, but they'll see the result of these events in one form or another. Obviously their actions will change the timeline, so I'll adapt that as needed to show that they are having an effect on the world.

    So having something like those domains which are totally open for the players to figure out and solve on their own is right up my alley. They lack the timeline for motivation, but I would think the ever present danger of the domain should be enough to keep them moving.