I’ve got mail!

So as I was heading out to work yesterday I checked the mail and found, to my surprise, a large envelope from Wizards of the Coast. I had no clue what it could be. I hadn’t written them asking for anything, and I hadn’t submitted anything for publishing; so I knew it wasn’t a rejection letter.

What treasure did I find hidden inside? Why it was the village of Hommlet! It was sent to me for signing up for the DM rewards program! I had completely forgotten that I was part of that promotional. Since they do mailings twice a year it’s easy to forget that you might have something coming your way. I’m pretty psyched about it, so psyched I pushed back the post I was writing and decided to write about my new adventure.

Where to begin? The village of Hommlet has a very rich history, both in game in out. It’s the base for one of the most popular/notorious adventures in D&D history The Temple of Elemental Evils. It was created by none other than Gary Gygax, the man him self. Since I wasn’t as into D&D when I was younger I now feel like I missed a large part of the history of the game. But getting my hands on something like this makes me feel like I have a bridge, or at least a small window into some of the rich heritage of the last 30 years. Now I’m not a fan of running published adventures, I like doing my own thing, but I don’t think it’s coincidence that my party is 4th level and  Hommlet being a 4th level adventure. This is a sign telling me to connect with the roots of the game.

I have often passed up the pre-packaged adventures, mostly because of the preconception that they don’t allow for personal creativity. To be totally honest, I think I also avoided them because I thought only new or bad DMs use other peoples work. After reading through this adventure I have changed my mind, some what.  Why? I’m very new to the game, so I don’t have many stories to tell, but many of my friends do. When I’m listening or reading stories about games from long ago I have found a common theme: Adventure modules. Drums on Fire Mountain, Temple of Elemental Evil, Ravens Loft, Keep on the Borderlands, Against the Giants, and on and on. So many gamers have played through these classic modules, and not one of them hates their DMs for not making their own adventures. To the contrary, many of the stories they tell, they tell with almost a romantic nostalgia, even those stories which end in a total party kill. And whats more,when listening to multiple people tell old war stories they often have stories about the same adventure with different groups. Two people telling different stories about the same adventure. A meta connection in a game where each group is wholly disconnected from other groups. I want to have those stories! I want to play with a new group, and when a player tells a story about Count Strahd destroying their party, I want to have a story of my own to contribute. Suddenly I get these adventures! Suddenly I like them.

A rail road? Yes published adventures can be very singular in direction, but they also leave a great deal of detail up to the DM to create. Hommlet is only 22 pages, with descriptions of side quests and a few key places of interest in the small town, but not descriptions for everything. I have already begun to flesh out the village with NPCs, most of whom have some information or a side quest to add to the adventure.  I’m writing an optional skill challenge for two of the minor villains to bring them a bit more to the center of the action. Even with a rail road style story, no group ever stays on the tracks for long. There is no accounting for the random ideas players get, and plans they will set into motion. A good DM would not worry about having total control over the whole world, but keeping the world molded around the players and their actions.

I know, this sounds a lot like a defense, which I don’t think these adventures need, really these are the chains of thought I went through which brought me from what I believe was a narrow view of the game and how I should play it, to a much broader view, with far more options to me as a DM and a player! My eyes are open and it’s all thanks to one large white envelop from Wizards.

On the quick, I’ll just go over what came in the adventure.

In side the cover or jacket, there are meta maps for the main dungeon, with markers and reference numbers clearly marked. There is also a full cover fold out map of the first floor of the keep, and on the reverse a great map of an inn. I was stoked to see this, I’m sure it’s going to be the base of operations for many of my heroic tier adventures for a while. The 22 page book included has information on places of interest in the city, along with stat blocks for most of the important NPCs, along with some story hooks, and back story. The map of the village has many locations left with no description, leaving plenty of room for the DM to add new story elements, side quests and encounters. The adventure portion is very straight forward, and from what I understand much if not all of the original content is still in place, including some giant frogs. I guess they have some significance to those who have played this adventure back in 1E.

Do I think everyone should be using adventure modules? Nope, I think it’s great to make your own content, populate your own worlds, and write your own stories. But I think there is something to be said about a shared experience, and a connection to the history of the game that is very exciting. I also know that some very talented people put lots of work into making the adventures sold by Wizards, and other companies. I read books written by other people, why not play some adventures written by others?

Can you tell I’m super excited about my postal love from Wizards? I’m going to have to get my whole party signed up with DCI/WPN so I can keep getting killer stuff sent to me!

T.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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