Tabletop Tuesday — Preprinted Adventures (or, “Store-bought is fine!”)

Yesterday, I got to play my first ever Pathfinder 2e game. I picked up a Pathfinder bundle aeons ago, but never really looked at it since although we were going to play Pathfinder next (this was after a years-long 3.5 edition campaign wrapped up), about half the gaming group had children and if that, as they say, was that. When I did meet with new in-person players, we’d discovered Gloomhaven, and that sent us on years of weekly or alternate-weekly gaming and we never quite got back around to Pathfinder, and the second edition came out, I bought it, and… it sat in my digital gaming folder file.

A screen capture of the HeroForge mini I created to represent my character, Dorn. A muscular human holds a rapier up in the air in his right hand, while wearing a dented shield on the left. His armor and clothing is somewhat mis-matched.
Dorn Freeman, as created via HeroForge. Former gladiators don’t tend to end up with a lot of matching armor.

Making a character with my .pdf edition of the Core Rulebook wasn’t particularly smooth—nothing makes you appreciate a well-organized book like being able to flip back and forth in it to look things up—but I ended up crafting a Human Liberator named Dorn (Pathfinder 2e’s version of a Paladin who cares more about freedom than law), and by the time I was done creating my character, my husband took his turn and made an Elf Cleric, and our third player chose to be a Goblin Sorcerer (with a Strength of 3, because he decided to roll his stats and managed the amazing “four rolls of 1” feat). I was destined to be the punching bag, but that’s fine. Dorn had a couple of minor magic tricks and Dorn is good with a rapier.

Because it was our first time with the system as players, and our GM’s first time as the narrator, and we were looking at two hours or so of play-time, she picked up one of Paizo’s Bounties adventures, specifically, Hillcross Roundup, and we started our journey only to be interrupted by a woodpecker—yep, that’s right, a woodpecker—swooping down and using its beak to hammer in a Help-wanted! sign right in front of us. Someone needed help recovering some lost dinosaur babies.

And we were off. About two hours later, we’d succeeded, been rewarded, and had a decent grasp of the basics of Pathfinder combat, had made some rolls during role-play as well, and honestly, it was a blast, and the perfect introduction both in the sense of length and complexity for us to decide if we wanted to keep going with Pathfinder 2e or not alongside Frosthaven, perhaps alternating weeks.

To which the answer was yes. I’ll be picking up a Bounty to run for when it’s my turn to GM—we’ll take turns, which lets everyone have a chance to play as well as narrate—and once I’m feeling comfortable with the system, I can dive deeper.

If you don’t have Homebrew, Store Bought is fine!

In case it wasn’t obvious from when I had my turn at Bag of Giving with Mutants & Masterminds, I freaking love pre-printed adventures. Picking up Crystal Frasier’s The Reign of Cats and Dogs from their awesome Astonishing Adventures line allowed me to focus on making sure I had the crunch down, while also letting me spend more time prepping some of the role-play aspects. The plot, the villains, the challenges, they were all there on the page, and even came with pre-determined DCs. Instead of coming up with something from scratch—and fearing whether or not I could fit it all into our three hour time slot—nabbing an Astonishing Adventure meant I could instead file off the serial numbers and have some fun turning Frasier’s admittedly already awesome superheroic puns into my own Canadian versions of said puns, but all the math, the powers, the challenges, and everything else? It was already there.

Those are the the main advantages of picking up a preprinted adventure: the work is done, and balanced to the levels listed, and even likely fits a particular time allotment that’s written on the package, too.

You get all the joys of being the narrator without all the pains of staring at an empty screen or a blank piece of paper and wondering what the heck you’re going to do with the characters this time. Especially when it’s a new system, my go-to is a preprinted adventure—or, in the best of all worlds—when the core books come with a small adventure of their own to get you going.

Oh, and bonus? You’re supporting the creators. Because one thing about TTRPGs and the RPG gaming industry that can be tough is the core books are technically all anyone needs to play the game. That one-time purchase can set you up for endless gaming, and that’s a fantastic, wonderful thing. But it also means those amazing publishers who put out that product could maybe use a dime or two from other sources (who am I kidding, there’s no maybe about it), so picking up a preprinted adventure isn’t just a time-saver and a convenience, it’s another way for me to support a gaming system I’m enjoying.

Mix and Match is fine, too.

In the many years ago of the before-times, my last two Dungeons and Dragons campaigns were both built on preprinted adventures. I ran a group from 1st to 20th level through the Shackled City Adventure Path (I still miss you, physically printed Dungeon Magazine, and lament your passing), and then we did the Savage Tide Adventure Path after that (again, 1st through 20th level, though I think in that case the characters just barely squeaked their way to 20th level in the final moments). Having the whole thing in one volume made prep-work minimal, obviously, but for me the real freedom of those pre-printed adventures is how I can then adjust the pre-printed adventure to the characters, tie in their pasts and their personalities, and weave in sub-plots that get the characters more engaged throughout. One of the player characters turned out to be a fragment of a dream of the big-bad given humanoid form in the first Adventure Path, and in the second, the players had so many rivals and friends every attack on Farshore had them worried they’d lose someone they cared about.

With Star Trek Adventures, I’m doing a more mix-and-match approach with my two groups—there are quite a few adventures available from Modiphius, as well as Mission Briefs (core outlines for adventures that give you the ideas and some breakdown of major moments, but none of the actual crunch is done for you), and I did pick up the Shackleton Expanse campaign, which I’m using for one of my two groups, but so far, I’m finding it very enjoyable to mostly come up with my own adventures for these groups. But I know if a scheduled game night shows up and I’m running on empty I’ve got multiple options to go-to in my back pocket—er, digital file folder—to have a session ready to go with a minimum of prep-time.

I’ve also talked about how much I love Deck of Worlds and Story Engine, and I’ll often take a pre-printed adventure, find the important or supporting NPCs, and draw a few cards to flesh out their motives or add complexity to how I’ll role-play them in a session.

Sometimes the lack of pressure created by having a preprinted adventure is all I need to conjure up an idea to turn that blank page into a functional homebrew adventure.

And check out this Bundle of Holding!

Oh, and while I’m here, there’s a Pathfinder 2e Bundle of Holding you should check out. This all-new Rogue Genius Pathfinder Quick Deal presents Pathfinder Second Edition tabletop roleplaying adventure modules from Run Amok Games published by Rogue Genius Games. Send your 1st- to 4th-level Pathfinder heroes into a tiefling’s trap-laden crypt – a troll-infested family cemetery – the caverns of a storm-wracked pirate isle – and a haunted lodge for retired adventurers. And take your characters from 1st to 20th level with a complete adventure path to free the untamed Northfells region from a diabolical demon cult.

More importantly, three quarters of the revenue (after payment gateway fees) from this Pathfinder offer goes to designer Ron Lundeen and Rogue Genius Games publisher Owen K.C. Stephens. In February Owen suffered a pulmonary embolism and a hospital stay that uncovered other serious health issues. Owen has insurance but has taken a hit in income. Ron contributed this offer to help Owen in a tough time. “Owen has been a wonderful friend and mentor. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Owen.”

You’ve still got over a day or so to pick up this bundle. I did, and it’ll likely be my next stop once I’ve gotten comfortable with a few more “Bounty” style adventures and we’re ready for something with a bit more bite or to stretch over multiple sessions.

One thought on “Tabletop Tuesday — Preprinted Adventures (or, “Store-bought is fine!”)

  1. Pingback: Tabletop Tuesday — Throwing it Together (or… “I can barely keep awake…”) | 'Nathan Burgoine

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