What Sucks Most About Preparing a Module?

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16 thoughts on “What Sucks Most About Preparing a Module?

  1. Three things.

    1. Having to figure out the maps and figure out how to print them off to scale. (Shards of Sin is particularly bad at easily understanding what stairs lead to what level)

    2. Understanding monster tactics. A lot of modules assume that you will intrinsically know how to run the combat encounter. I am tactically challenged. Please give me a few notes. (Adventure Paths do this well, but only with their unique monsters and challenges.)

    3. Conversion. I know no one can fix this but I wish Wizards would put out conversion notes for some of their best modules (The Temple of Elemental Evil!!).

  2. Trying (usuaally in vain), to anticipate what the players might do. That and big bad boss’ motivation without it being cliche.

  3. I run a bunch of 4e modules in 5e and figuring out how to maintain enemy diversity while keeping encounters balanced is tough to do. I dont want only one type of orc or one type of goblin. I want orcs with spells and goblins with swarms of rats and other shit that 4e had.

  4. +1 for maps. I suck at drawing and even take forever to prepare a complex arena (which I favor) on a dry-erase mat. Having great maps is a huge plus. Also: I use good artwork as handouts.

    Retrieving art from files, printing, scanning…ton of work. Art-appendices help there. Same goes for key-less maps. I hate it when maps have “hotspots” for the PCs…or show that e.g. these 5 rooms have the same number, thus they have the same or only marginally different content. Plus: Numbers on the page tend to show where the PCs need to go to face the BBEG. (Find the highest number!)

    Similarly annoying: Secret doors and traps on (player) maps. A DM needs to know where they are, but eliminating them from a hand-drawn, gorgeous map? Impossible in most cases. :/

  5. Thinking I have a good grasp on the adventure only to get “zinged” by it during play. That one paragraph I skimmed over had a super crucial X and now I’ve gotta think fast to salvage the adventure and the players time.
    1. Piss poor summaries. This just pisses me off.
    2.Crap assed layout, some adventures have flow and some are suffused with a festival of mad page flipping and scrambling to find the right… the next…and so on.
    3. I think every adventure needs a paragraph of other stuff (geography, rumors, other dungeons, politics, natural disasters…) related or not to the adventure. Brain candy for the DM.

  6. I love it preparing adventures. Nothing sucks but the time it takes. I like taking the invention, the planning, and making it as good as I can get it, but sometimes that is not good enough. Your Tier system saved my butt a few weeks ago. So, I would say, ‘Time’ (or lack thereof). Time sucks the most.

  7. Converting the maps! I like to present my players with a visually engaging battlefield and drawing on a battle mat with wet-erase markers doesn’t cut it. If I want to use my Dwarven Forge sets or print out some tiles, then I end up redesigning the layout to suit what I have (and that can take a lot of time). I just bought Emerald Spire and the flip mats are gorgeous and totally solved this problem for me, but modules like that are few and far between.

    A companion .pdf for a published adventure containing the maps on a 1″ grid (sized for printing on standard size paper like American 8-1/2″x11″ or A4(?) for the European crowd) would be awesome. And something I would pay extra for…

  8. i think that the worst is trying to be prepared for anything. You can’t really be ready for everythng. players tend to throw a monkey wrench into the process and try to send things in a direction you weren’t ready for. so, i’d say “being prepared for impromptu encounters “that aren’t there”” …

  9. Figuring out how everything relates to each other. What NPCs are in a given area, which NPCs have a relationship to each other, what are travel times from one location to another, etc.

    For print modules, I understand page count constraints but in digital versions I feel like it’d be great to duplicate text in multiple places. Looking at a town overview? Have a side bar w/ NPC names grouped by location & faction. Have a particularly important faction? List all of their names in one space, even if you repeat that they’re in the faction when you give them their own breakout blocks. At the very least, give multiple detailed indices in the book with different groupings.

    This is a major complaint of mine for Princes of the Apocalypse in particular, but also most publications which have separate print optimized vs screen optimized formats. Most of the time I barely notice any difference between the two but if screen optimized meant tons of repeated text, or even hovers & callouts to elsewhere in the text, that’d be great.

  10. As in a pre written one that I purchased somewhere?

    Probably the prep time. I’m a big fan of that Lazy DMing approach and letting the story grow at the table, so following along with a module is a lot more prep work due to needing to know all the things, rather than winging it with a loose guideline and a stockpile of resources​ on hand.

    They’re still pretty nice caches of resources, but it takes time to dig those out. In some ways I’d rather just purchase another monster book or a lairs/challenges book.