Understanding the many joys of pre-written adventures

You want to run a D&D game but for whatever reason, crafting a whole adventure isn’t working. Maybe you’re lacking motivation, don’t have the time or just don’t see the appeal in creating a whole story.

Luckily for you, there are a bunch of pre-written adventures out there that you can start playing straight away!

If you’ve played any modules before, tell me about your experiences in them! If you’re new to modules, take a quick skim of all the official adventures and tell me which one peaks your interest.

We’ll be discussing what a module is, how to prepare for one and how to make it your own for your table.

What is a Module?

In short, modules are pre-written adventures that tell their own self-contained story. They are made for the DM/GM to open up and run right from the pages, with pre-made encounters, NPCs, maps and magic items.

Wizards of the Coast have their own official modules that they’ve published, but there are loads of other non-official modules out there too.

Some of the more popular official modules by WoTC include:

  • Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
  • Lost Mines of Phandelver
  • Curse of Strahd

Each module has a theme ranging from the gothic to the fantastical, so there will always be one out there that fits what you want to play at the table. They also tend to start at stop at a certain level, for example some modules may start at level 5 and end at level 10.

Find a module that speaks to your interests, and skim through it before anything else.

I think an important thing to note is that modules are not railroads, but do have specific plot beats you should be hitting as a DM. Without knowing the main story, you’ll be stumped.

Preparing for Your Module

Preparing for a homebrew game and a module are very different things. Depending on the type of DM you are, one may come more easily to you than the other.

It’s a common assumption that you need to make less notes, but that all depends on how you personally prepare for the game.

First things first, read the module. By read I don’t mean cram it all in and try to learn it off by heart. Skim read the book multiple times, make notes on what you think are some of the important things in the module to you.

Some examples are:

  • NPCs – their names, their locations and their importance
  • Monsters – statblocks and their locations
  • Plot points – main quests, side quests and optional content
  • Magic items – what they do and where they are
  • Maps – what is generally on each map

There are certain modules that have separate lists or appendices that help with this, but I personally suggest customising your notes to fit you.

Summarising the adventure is the most important. You have to know what the goal of the module is, and what is the goal of the players? And more importantly, what is the goal of the villains?

Once you know all these, and have made your initial notes you can get more in depth and perhaps even personalise the module to your tastes.

Make the Module Your Own

The module you pick might not suit your needs, and that’s okay! You’re allowed to personalise your game, and I encourage you to.

Is there something you don’t like? An NPC you don’t want to include? A side quest that isn’t of any interest to your party?

You’re allowed to just remove it or change it! No one is stopping you, and the Module Making Police aren’t going to burst through your door or anything.

I’d try to stay as close to the module as you can, and not change anything drastic but just enough to stay in line with the module’s themes.

Final Thoughts

There are a large selection of modules, official or not, that will suit your needs. I’d recommend at least trying one out and seeing how you enjoy it.

Maybe the new prep style will be appealing to you, or maybe you’ll apply some of your experience to your homebrew campaign.

Additionally, making the module your own is very important. Modules are made to be general, but at the end of the day it is being played at your table with your players.

I intend to provide more inspiration, resources and tips on a weekly basis so subscribe for more upcoming contentAnd may your rolls be ever in your favour!