Before you read any further, I just want to warn that this post contains spoilers about the Dungeons & Dragons adventure In Volo’s Wake.
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Recently I’ve run the same Dungeons & Dragons adventure three times. At the Indigenous Hospitality House’s trivia night we auctioned a D&D game, so I prepared the first few adventures from In Volo’s Wake. Before I ran it with the group who won the auction, I ended up having a night free unexpectedly, so I ran it for one friend on his own. (I wrote about that here.) Then I ran it for the group who won the auction (and we’ll probably continue with more sessions). Now I’ve also started running In Volo’s Wake with a weekly group, and we’ll probably continue with more adventures when we’ve finished the series of six.
The first time I was really just running the first two adventures as written, and it was evident that they needed some work to make them more flexible. In these kind of adventures there is often really only one thing going on that the party is supposed to go and investigate which doesn’t make it feel like they’re exploring a real and living world.
However, I think that it’s pretty simple to add more possibilities using some of the techniques in Sly Flourish’s The Lazy Dungeon Master. When I started running In Volo’s Wake for the group who won the silent auction I prepared three directions I thought the players might go in, three major non-player characters they might encounter and three villains who they might come up against. We ended up sticking pretty closely to what was pre-written in the adventure that session, but it was good to know that I was prepared to go off on tangents. As I haven’t yet explored a lot of these tangents with the groups I’m running In Volo’s Wake for, I’ll probably come back to them in another post… I’ll just say that I think there’s plenty of seeds for further adventuring in In Volo’s Wake, and that if the group hasn’t played Lost Mine of Phandelver (which is set around the same frontier mining town) there are plenty of side plots in that adventure that could be transplanted into In Volo’s Wake. There’s also some stuff in Tales from the Yawning Portal that could be easily connected to what’s happening in In Volo’s Wake.
One thing I found interesting was that each time I ran the first adventure, ‘The Green Skin of Treachery’, the same non-player character came to the fore. Eric Merryweather is a spoiled and incompetent lordling who’s read Volo’s Guide to Monsters and set out to find all the monsters described in the book. (Each group made a connection between Eric Merryweather and Pokémon.) I think Eric has a lot of potential for comic relief, and he’ll probably become a recurring character. But I do think there is a risk of overusing him.
Some of the really basic advantages to running the same adventure with different groups is that it means I don’t need to prepare so much each time because the details are familiar. There are also opportunities to improve my running of the game. If I make a mistake it’s easy to remember the mistake and not repeat it the second time.
Coming up at the end of October I’ll be running some games each day at PAX Australia, which will probably mean running some repeat adventures in short succession. I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes and how each session goes.