Yes, that headline is a deep Monty Python reference but trust Ben, it’s comedy gold. The underlying point holds true though. When your game group moves from one module to the next, a good DM wants to make it smooth and seamless. And it just so happens Ben is about to move his party from Thunderspire Labyrinth to the Pyramid of Shadows. Let’s see how he made tried to make this switcheroo memorable and unnoticeable at the same time.
New Characters, New Start
Remember, the finale of any module isn’t meant to be a cakewalk. It’s quite possible a character or two isn’t going to come out of that big boss battle alive. Or, a player might simply want to swap out his current character. Consider turning to the New Character Introductions Worksheet we made with DM Samuel for ideas and guidance.
Also, ask your players to reflect back and explain how their character has grown from the start of the module to present day. Urge the group to write these new traits on their character sheets so they can play them accordingly in the next adventure (and avoid pesky meta gaming).
Example: Exposed to so many new, unknown creatures and environments, Bookman has become obsessed with taking physical samples of every monster/earthy material he encounters so he can try and brew new magical potions to aid the party.
Add-ons, Errata and Threads
It’s quite likely your next module went through a couple updates and corrections since its original printing press days so always do a quick Google search for any errata. Next, take a walk around the EN World forums and see what the RPG community has to say. Finally, it never hurts to search the WotC website and see if anyone has blogged about their own experiences with your new module.
Adventure Companion Worksheet
Ben decided to create a quick reference cheat sheet to aid him and his players’ failing memories. This handy Microsoft Word Doc template serves two distinct roles in the game.
As the DM reads the module for the very first time, you’re going to want to jot down core elements such as setting, villains, allies and items. With all that critical info in a concise handout, it can then be referenced quickly during your DM session prep or as the actual game unfolds. No more clumsy thumbing through the module books to find stuff.
For the players, this worksheet starts out rather sparse and contains only known points/notes obtained from the previous adventure. As the game moves along, important elements are written in one specific place – no more looking on the backs of old character sheets, corners of the game mat or on dirty napkins.
If you tend to have longer breaks in between game sessions, the Adventure Companion Worksheet can even be e-mailed to the group the week of your game and/or simply passed around at the start of the session for a refreshing glance.
Supply and Demand
Do a general inventory of your own RPG Pile and see what’s missing for this next module. If you need some new Flip-Mats, Dungeon Tiles, miniatures or other unique pieces, now’s the time to make an acquisition list. It can take time to find some of this stuff at your local game store or receive it in the mail from your favorite online vendors.
The next chapter of this story was a big transition for Ben. The traditional fieldstone dungeon was mostly out – all sorts of new environments were coming into play. That meant new Hirst Arts pieces to represent the pyramid, travel encounters with their own supporting cast of characters (special thanks to Catattafish), and all sorts of fresh monster miniatures to fight.
Drop the Hook
As much as we love combat, “kill them all” isn’t really a hook. Strive for deeper, more engaging objectives. In this case, Ben felt the Pyramid’s precise location was a critical story element so he made sure he planted the proper hooks within the Thunderspire Labyrinth. You can read about Ben’s homebrewed Barz Brothers Hoard quest and nifty puzzle map component here.
Ben plans on running King of the Trollhaunt Warrens after the Pyramid of Shadows and has already started perusing that module for hook ideas (in his idea box). Don’t skip this DM prep step! Always, always know where you’re going next.
Suggestion Not Stone
The module is a guide. The DM calls the shots. Ben encourages you to make it your own one-of-a-kind adventure. Add more encounters, sprinkle in some skill challenges, create some new NPCs, and swap out some of the monsters.
For starters, Ben plans on adding a town sequence and traveling caravan encounter before the group even gets to the Pyramid. This transition is a golden opportunity to have some memorable outdoor rumbles.
And you know what the best part of a brand spanking new module with all new settings is? A cavalcade of new 3-D game boards for your entertainment pleasure here on the Pile. We hope you’ll join us along the way.
Questions to Ponder: How did Ben do? Did he leave out any critical module transition steps? Do you have an memorable module transition ideas of your own to share? Do you play a lot of module series or are you more of a one-off adventure kinda gamer?