First, They’re Called Modules for a Reason.
So the moral of the story is this: Modules are better than adventures. They force the players to play like grown ups. They force the players to make decisions and direct the play. The give the DM infinite amounts of flexibility. Go ahead and try dropping your average Dungeon adventure or Pathfinder movie-script – er, I mean ‘adventure’, yeah right – into an ongoing campaign without doing more work than you would have if you just wrote your own damn adventure.
How I Started a 2e Campaign
-Made sure I had the AD&D 2e books, including all skills and powers
-Sketched out all the available classes, including making 4 custom builds with the Skills and Powers rules
-Sketched out a world map
-Wrote a precis of history from the Late Paleolithic through current day
-Dove down and made a regional map about the size of the eastern seaboard of North America
-Sketched out the 5 largest cities, made a series of political grouping, and wrote up over 120 NPCs, the most prominent of them including family trees back 5 generations
-Sketched out the capitol cities of the largest nations outside the main game area, about 40 NPCs each
-Wrote the arc for 4 major campaign-long stories adding NPCs and magic items for them, too
-Wrote up a full evil humanoid nation and 8 associated tribes, including lairs and loot
-Conlanged 20-90 words and basic syntax for 3 in-universe languages
-Filled in major trade routes and trade seasons
-Made the first 6 or so adventures to get a new party to 2nd+ level
All before anyone rolled a character!
If you’re wondering what happens when a GM takes his world and adventure building too seriously, the following image is spot on:
Yeah, about that.
One spectacularly lucky computer skills roll while overriding the security protocols (after lobotomizing the other watchstander on the bridge) and suddenly the entire ship was evacuated to vacuum, with only the players in vacc suits.
I suddenly had to figure out what came next.
Since they were such a sloppy and ill-disciplined pirate crew the ship of course needed major repairs, and of course the local authorities wanted to contest the salvage….
Nevertheless, it was an early lesson that the best laid plans of GM’s aft gang agley. That having a loose idea of how the world worked was great, but the players weren’t going to start out “epic.” – you could work up to that.
In this context, the several page Auran Empire primer for ACKs is spot on. A very, *very *rough map, a few notes on gods, a few paragraphs of history, and that’s it. Enough to give you a framework, but loose enough to wedge almost anything in.
- Added a minor update for a missing thought.