Wednesday, October 19, 2011

After Game Discussion: Adventure Paths

I thought I would start a new series of blogs called, The After Game Discussion.  I realized how much good gaming stuff was discussed after the game.  This last week we discussed Adventure Paths or Adventure Series which ever you prefer.

At the beginning of the summer Rusty started a C&C campaign and he decided to use an adventure series for the foundation.  It was short lived.  I think about three sessions (real life took Rusty away for a few months).  He discussed how he thought running a canned series would be easier on him, but found out it wasn't.  He said that if the players didn't do certain things the entire adventure came to a halt.  That some of the things that needed to be done were no in the players best interest or even of interest.

Campaigns and character development are more sophisticated even with the stripped down rules of the basic systems.  GMs are creating elaborate worlds.  And because of this there are fewer pick up games.  In the early 80s I carried around a folder of characters in case I found a game, those days are gone.  Back then I didn't worry about my character other than the equipment he had and his level.  The GM would usually run a canned module and everyone was in.  No need to explain our motivation.  We would usually skip the long reading introductions and get right to the meat.  The only motivation needed at that time was there was a game and we were about to roll dice.

Today, I don't do pick up games anymore (unless at a con).  I like having a period of time to run my guy and see what what happens.  When I first make a character I have certain personality marks determined.  Maybe a short backstory.  Then I am ready to dive into some adventure and see what happens.  If the GM tells me ahead of time we will be playing a certain adventure series I will try to gear my guy to make that transition as easy as possible.  But even when I do this there a certain things that come up in an adventure series that if you do not do it comes to a halt.  And in the case the adventure series Rusty was running there were a couple of times when what the players needed to do was...well, a bit stupid.  After playing through the first of the adventure series I am positive they did not playtest it.

The whole point of getting the adventure series was to save time.  But after reading through the adventure Rusty said it would have taken almost as much time to go redo the parts than to have done his own thing.  I found this true of Pathfinder's King Maker adventure path.  Where it had a lot of great stuff to mine from, running it would have been difficult if you had players who liked to explore and were not playing within the limitations of the AP.  It is set up to be a sandbox and it is to a point, but should they party stray to far this way or that then they go into an area where everything is set for higher levels or there is nothing.

Those damn players, like myself, like freewill.  I want to go where I want when I want and let me suffer the consequences.  Don't restrict my movement because I failed to be interested in your village quest.  That's what they do in video games.  That stupid north gate won't open until you gather seven more hogs and deliver them to Herman the Half-Wit.  Once you gather the pigs the gate opens.  Adventure Paths/Series kind of do this also.

I guess what it boils down to for me is these canned adventure series don't save time for me unless I mine them for bits and pieces I can use during the running of my own world.  In this way I think it saves time, but trying to run it as is I've found to be frustrating.


  1. I never ran any of the adventure path stuff. When I was doing 3e, my main campaign was a mix of my own design work and Rappan Athuk thrown in as the tent-pole megadungeon (I didn't know what a tent-pole was back then, but it just seemed to be the most natural way to use it, at the time.)

    I don't think I've ever even read an Advent. Path. I used to read Paizo's Dragon, but never did get into their Dungeon mag, so...

    As an aside, I see the old Gaming Purchases widget is about to break 1k! :)

  2. I know. And I still have months to go and there are a few goodies I would like to get.

    When I am speaking of adventure path/series I am even talking about the old GDQ series, the A series and up the the APs that Pathfinder develops. I don't remember ever playing through the whole giant, drow, lilith series. I know we always said we would, but not sure it ever happened.

  3. We're currently three sessions into The Serpent's Skull adventure path from Paizo. We chose it because of the apparently strong narrative thread (which some folks wanted), the definite sense of progression, and the (hopeful) ease of DMing it.

    I am just playing, but I will say it hasn't seemed to restrictive. The game started with a mysterious shipwreck, but other than that I've felt like we can kinda do whatever we want. Right now we're wandering about the island trying to find our way to a lighthouse. (The whole adventure thus far has a Lost vibe to it). Actually, a bunch of us have just been captured by cannibals, but what are you gonna do?

  4. I have the first in that series and really liked it. Glad to hear it's going well.

  5. I bought the first installment in the Jade Regent path. I definitely share the notion that the time I'd save running it is almost canceled out by the time I'd have to put in to fit it into my particular style (to say nothing of any of my campaign worlds) I think it would be fun to do at a convention, but you could never run the entire path... and it seems like it would be mighty unsatisfying to play just a small portion of a much larger adventure.

    Still, if nothing else, it's pretty to look at and has some ideas I can crib.

  6. I just like reading the adventure paths by Paizo, they are very interesting and have cool storylines,but I don't think I would ever be able to play a whole one.

  7. Peirce, I do to. I like their presentation, the content all the extras they throw in, but I'm not sure if I would ever run any of them. Although I would love to run to try and run a Kingmaker campaign.