Module Styles - Story Driven vs. Bare Bones Dec 16, 2020 9:47:30 GMT joatmoniac and daxredhammer like this
Post by whiskykuts on Dec 16, 2020 9:47:30 GMT
I wasn't sure where to post this, but here seems as good a place as any.
I'm very story driven when it comes to writing up my campaigns, mostly because I enjoy spending my life writing about goblins. However, having listened to DMB and various other podcasts, I know that the general consensus is: "Don't write up everything possible before a game, just have the outline and work it from there." and whilst that is sound advice, I did not take it. Am I going to write up pages on a subterranean tunnel system built by pre-savagery Orcs some 4000 years previous, hewn from black obsidian and inscribed with the latin-esque script of Old Orcish, in the odd chance that the Players go to the Wishing Woods and head down a particular cave? Yes. Are they anywhere near the Wishing Woods or even know it exists yet? No.
I like to have a real set knowledge of my world, with everything from world politics and pantheons in play, down to the interworkings of a village or town. I'm happy to adapt, improvise and change as the Players tear up the world, but I want there to be actual NPC characters and individual places. Even if the Players burn down and/or accidently kill them. Also, in trying to keep it truly sandbox, have people and places which are actually involved in one another and not inter-changeable. So maybe the Party go down the road to Turin and find the village fayre is going on and have a great time eating their body weight in cheese, or maybe they go the other path and end up in the horrible grey town of Blacksands and get bullied by the Crab catchers and put in jail. Either way, that fayre and those Crabbers won't be found anywhere else.
Anyway, as I would one day like to module-ise some of these places and people, or perhaps the world as a whole, I'd like to get an idea on how other DMs like to use modules. Do you want a description of the musty smell and slop like stew of a tavern, the one eyed dwarf staring into his ale mug and the flustered bar keep who just keeps staring? or just a name of the place and what quests are available?
I appreciate that too much information, or lore dumping etc, is not cool nor does it make for an easy play (even for me, the one who wrote it). Not every NPC needs to have a full description of their ill fitting tunics, lazy eye and accent showing their distance from home, but I have found some of the best ways to precursor a major battle or moment is with an invocative description of time and place. However, DMs are imaginative, so should modules just hint at the descriptions and leave it up to the DM to flesh out?
Long story short, should I be keeping information to the bare bones of stat blocks, town names and quest plot points, or should I be trying to invoke a living, breathing world into modules?
Thanks for your time!