This weeks poll was on Why do we buy this Stuff? and is shows some interesting results about the current state of the adventure module.
The question that prompted the poll was whether you actually run the adventures you buy? Generally speaking, the answer is no. 63% responded with “some of them” but only 25% of people opted for either all or most of them. 13% of people never run the modules they buy.
So if we are not running them, why are we buying them? Opinions are pretty evenly split on this with each option receiving a between 22% – 28% of the vote. This means that half of the modules are brought either just as a something to read or as a source of ideas.
Generally people felt that the worse thing about modern adventure modules is that they are too expensive (28%). Interestingly 25% of respondents thought there was too much plot and background and at the same time, 16% thought there was too much dungeon bashing. Which just shows you cannot please all the people all the time.
The best type of adventure with 67% of the vote are one-offs that can be dropped into any campaign. Less than a quarter of people wanted a linked series of adventures and no one wanted adventures specific to a setting or a game world.
Are publishers satisfying their market?
Reading these results I would say yes but it could be better. There seems to be a split in the purpose of modules. When we actually run them, we want something simple that we can drop into our campaigns. Presumably for those occasions when the GM has not the time to write their own adventures. These are probably the same situations when modules have too much background and plot as they slow down the GM.
When we are not running the adventures, we want something to read that is full of ideas. These GMs are not interested in room after room of monsters and treasure unless the author is doing something really inventive with them.
This suggests that publishers should try and develop two types of module.
The “Ready to play” modules should be exactly that. With minimal plot and background the GM should be able to pick it up and within ten minutes be able to start running it.
“Brain Food” modules are the exact opposite. These will be full of ideas, plots and background with an emphasis on an engaging writing style, more akin to a novel than the traditional module. Dungeon plans should be kept to a minimum but stat-blocks for interesting NPCs or novel monsters should be provided.
However, I’m not sure how well either type of module would sell because we are used to our adventures being written and packaged in a particular way. Would you buy one of these new forms of module?