It’s come up a time or two that this Gassy Gnoll is a bit… free… with his campaigns. At times the sand in the box has been a bit course, rubbing both the GM and the players a bit raw.
Honestly I typically create a world, dump the characters into it, and then do something mean or interesting to get them involved. In the battle for creative freedom, I would sometimes borrow an idea here or there from a published module, but found them far too constrained and railroad-y for the most part.
Early in July, the Warden @ Roleplayers Chronicle posted an article trying to explain the warring points of view plaguing every game story designer – players want freedom and designers want those player characters to stay in between the padded walls he or she has written to constrain things. Somewhere between those two poles is a happy medium or at least a stretch of land where the two parties can meet to throw things at each another.
Even as a GM if you’re writing for your own campaign and can predict the behavior of your players and PCs, there’s no way to predict EVERY eventuality for an adventure or session. So how can a designer hope to predict where the winds will go after a butterfly farts somewhere far away? Obviously they can’t. The best they can do is to offer enough windows into the world of the adventure that an enterprising DM/GM can fill in the blanks if his or her players roam out of frame.
Honestly that’s the kind of game I appreciate. Sure, there may be a big ugly situation you’re dealing with in-game, but eventually you get to explore the edges. As a GM, I feel the most stretched and challenged when the players pull me along into those edges. I often never know where they’re going to lead or if we’ll ever get back to what we were
doing before. And often those meanderings into the dark are the most fun for me.
Though I appreciate a well-crafted module, unless it’s a dungeon I’ve never just used any module as-is (and even then it’s iffy). Inevitably either I or my players have roamed out of frame and then come back with ideas about what’s “out there.” As a result, I find myself gravitating more towards gaming supplements that offer little bits and pieces (or even big set pieces) that I could throw together as islands in the chaos.
As a GM, how do you design your adventures? Do they have distinct beginnings, middles, and ends and a tight schedule to keep? Or is there flexibility so your players could completely skip sections and cross the wires to end up in a tangled mess of plots and stories?
What are you looking for in supplements? Places? People? Things? Collections of ideas? Entire end-to-end adventures? What’s your idea of a perfect supplement? If you could go to your FLGS and find the “just right” supplement for your game today – what would it look like?
Let us know in the comments!