For my own information I have copies (that I made at the time) of various old threads (on now dead forums). One of these threads concerns a discussion concerning things about some modules that really annoy the posters. The actual purpose of this thread was to list things to be at least cautious about using when building a module. As finding all eleven pages of this thread on the wayback machine will be, at the very least, very time consuming I thought I would start a similar thread on here. For this thread I have included some of my own pet hates along with some from that thread that I have paraphrased (for copyright and other reasons). If something that you find a turn off in modules isn’t included, please feel free to add to this current thread.
Near silent modules using the default lighting and the default music, yech! Even when these are got right, you’ll come across modules that don’t pay attention to the little details that can add so much to the atmosphere of an area. Example - Your PC enters a long-abandoned monastery. There are skeletons all over the place - presumably the former residents. There is no obvious sign of any looting. Yet there isn’t a single religious text to be found.
Empty (unfinished?) Areas
Now there can be good story reasons to have the odd empty area in a module. Creating empty areas just so you can say your module has X number of areas isn’t one of them. Unless the story demands it, don’t have 20 unlocked empty houses in a town/city when the PC needs to find just the one occupied one.
Walking 5 blank areas to get anywhere
Doesn’t have to be exactly 5, it’s the underlying principle here. Walking through 5 such areas to get to the dungeon is barely acceptable. Having to walk back through the same blank areas after clearing the dungeon is just plain boring. Give the player a shortcut to “home” at the end of the dungeon.
Someone must really hate spell casters here. “But I gave them a safe area to rest… 20 floors up”, “But it’s supposed to be hard for everybody.” and other such excuses don’t cut it especially if you claim the module is for all types of class.
Supposedly Sane, but Totally Mad NPCs
I recently gave up on a mod for another popular game because of this. “Help! Kidnap! Come with me to rescue my wife and child from the evil-doers dungeons”. So, sneak in through a forgotten entrance, deal with the guards and free the quest-giver’s family. The sensible next step is to get out the way you got in. So, what does the quest giver do? “Charge, let’s kill the 20,000 troops on the level above! Oh, and we’ll take my family with us”. Yeah, right. Stopped playing at that point.
No module description
So, tell me, when I start your module with no description, how am I supposed to know -
- What class is this designed for?
- What level is this designed for?
- What type of module is this? Rp, H&S, Comic, etc.?
- How did I/We get here?
By this latter I mean, what is the story behind our arriving at this point? Example “Having escaped from Baron Von NeinGutt, you travelled many days through the almost silent forest. This morning, shortly after breaking camp, you stumbled upon a strangely deserted village. Against your better judgement you decided to see if there were any supplies just laying around. Your adventure starts here”
No Readme File
Closely allied to the above. No description? I know, I’ll look at the readme file… Wait, there isn’t one! A good readme file should, for a start, contain the same information as the description. Additionally, it should contain any special instructions/warnings about installing/playing your module. Also, if you want feedback, try encouraging it by including a link to the project page in here. “But I put all that information on the download page!”. So, I’m supposed to remember the location and go to one page out of thousands because you couldn’t be bothered to copy and paste such information into a simple text document? In that case tell me why I should bother with your module?
Descriptions/Readmes/Project pages that lie
These are the ones that say good for all classes and/or levels when they are patently not. If a module is really designed for a fighting class and is only tested with a fighting class say so. Similarly, with levels. Telling the potential player that a module is suitable for a brand new 1st level PC when you’ve only really tested it with your level 30, god killer, tank is not really on.
Unless there are good story reasons don’t do it. Trying to increase the difficulty level of a module just by having the same mix of monsters keep respawning, I personally find a turn off. If I clear an area, I expect it to stay cleared.
Even worse is where it seems like the monsters that you are fighting just keep respawning every 5 seconds. I know some people actually like that sort of thing. Not Me.
No build up
So, you step off the ship and a stranger comes up to you - “I don’t know you stranger. Now please kill the monster in that building I own”. Sheesh, gimme time to catch my breath and get my bearings already. Let me wander around a little. Maybe have the PC respond to a “Most Wanted” board and kill/capture a bandit or two before people trust them with their problems.
Modules that strip for no reason other than to increase the difficulty
Only strip if the story/back-story demands it. Otherwise you will annoy a bunch of players. This has been done to death. Aside - Yes, I did this in “A is for Adventure”, but it was for a brand new 1st level character and the back-story that I knew (and the player would get hints of) demanded it.
Lack of map pins
Hopefully you, as the builder, know which building is the “Inn of a Thousand Giggling Rats (long story)” but I as a player will at some point probably forget. Put a map pin outside to help my feeble memory. It only takes seconds and will elevate the perceived quality of your module. And don’t forget to use them for exits from an area too.
There’s a rat in my cellar and I’m too mean to buy a trap
Please, please, please. No more kill the rats in the cellar quests. If you must do this try changing it up like was done in TES 4 : Oblivion where you’ve got to stop the rats from being killed. Alternatively, have a search and find quest that maybe features secret passageways or puzzles or anything just not more rats. Heck even rats with rabies/plague/whatever is better than boring squeak, squeak ordinary rats!
Joe -“I’ll give you my doohicky of doughnut making if you get me something from Fred.”. Fred - “Sure you can have my something but first I need you to get me Jules’ rat trap.” etc. ad nauseum. What really killed this type of quest for me was one in Dungeon Siege 2 which went through about twenty steps to finally get the item you originally wanted. Don’t do this. Another done to death thing.
So, what do you think? Have I missed any that you would have included?