Module Descriptions--looking for feedback

Greetings! Not sure if this is die roll or calling BS, but hey, here it is! I am looking for feedback and also proposing a possible show topic. We at Frog God Games are thinking about some short, consistent descriptions on adventures to help people choose what ones might fit them better. Some of the axes I’ve thought about are: amount of GM prep, sandbox v. linear, encounter type (puzzle, combat, social, others?), for level-based games, PC level/party size. Another descriptor line I’ve been thinking about is content warnings (a lot of the FGG adventures tend to run pretty dark). What bits of info do you think are useful when choosing a published adventure? (Obviously game system is a similar piece of info.) How might you describe these axes? More general even, and possible useful for cons, is simply, what important axes or areas of information might you use to describe an expected bit of roleplaying?
Thanks!
Edwin

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I like a lot of that, prep required, party make up, etc. Maybe also GM difficulty? If it dovetails with other modules?

I don’t want to sound like I’m not helping but yes to any/all of that. :smile:

I’m a new GM and would love if creators had something like that included in the description. Whether it’s text or a graphic with sliding scales or a chart. I think it would be really helpful so that people can have a good idea of what they are getting into before purchasing. Maybe you run a certain group of people and you know they like a very specific type of game. The GM can then look for those descriptors on modules, along with reading the general description, and have a better idea if it would work.

Lastly, I do think some sort of content warning would be helpful if a creator knows their content is going beyond the “usual”. I don’t fall into a category of person that would necessarily want/need these warnings, but I’m sure there are plenty of people that would. Killing goblins and dealing with a scene of a lady who has been brutally sacrificed to the gods is one thing. Touching on subjects of rape, suicide, maybe torture elements, etc, may make some people uncomfortable. Now on the other hand, a good GM always reads everything through and can choose to omit or change things at their will, so then it would be good discretion on their part to do so.

I love the sequel/prequel/other adventures in the area part—thank you for that!

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I agree with the idea that GMs read before they present, but there certainly some things individual GMs wouldn’t want to read much less pay for. I think the warnings would be more for them.

I have been thinking about dials or sliders—graphics are always good!

Thanks JoeT!

In general, I think adventure and setting material really needs to start adopting content warnings. One of the things I really liked about the formatting of the adventures in the Uncaged Anthology were the content warnings up front on the adventures.

I also agree that it’s not just the players that should get the benefit of a content warning; taking one for the team and running headlong into something that is disturbing to them shouldn’t be the cost of someone assuming the role of GM for a group.

As for other content notations, I would be really interested to see what kind of emergent terminology might start to come about if companies regularly attempted to quantify structures. A lot of RPG terms seem obvious to a cross section of gamers, but it doesn’t take too much effort to find out some terms have connotations for some gamers that aren’t universal.

I think that a short text descriptor on the cover takes care of a lot of the things that aren’t easily categorized (“gritty”, “gonzo”, “period piece”, “historical”, “homage”, etc.) and maybe is automatically part of the shelf-bait for marketing the module. That being said, I really love your idea of a slick presentation of information that I’m looking for. To this end, a good descriptor block would, for me, include:

-system(s)
-setting / adventure path / campaign. If the adventure is part of any of these types of things it would be great to call that out. Someone above mentioned it and I think it is a great idea.
-level(s)/party size
-play time
-play emphasis (exploration, social, combat) graphic maybe a triangle with a marker denoting the emphasis)
-encounter type (again, maybe a graphic showing weighting towards: puzzle, trap, combat)
-Module detail, meaning how much is expected for the GM to ‘fill in’. I’m referring to stuff like: room descriptions, background information, NPC details and behavior, maps, and I’m sure many others.
-content warnings or age-appropriateness. I’m not sure of the legal implications of putting suggested ages on the product, but maybe it is another way of looking at the content

Good luck!

Another “all of the above” here. I’ve been playing for over 30 years and still like to hear different approaches to various parts of the gaming experience.

I really like the idea of triangles with either a movable dot or sub-triangles that are partially filled in. Thanks for that suggestion! And of course, it could be a square or hexagon as needed.

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I had a handout once that put combat, social, and exploration as the three points of the adventure triangle. If you have more than 4 parameters, you should probably make it a list instead, as it gets difficult to show many gradients on a two dimensional surface. Example with made up parameters:
Combat 4/5
Exploration 2/5
Social 2/5
Grit 3/5
Silliness 5/5
Setting specific content 1/5

I could see this working nicely, but was also picturing a five-pointed star, e.g., with each point more or less filled in. For now I think I need to focus on the what, and then worry about the how. Thanks for the feedback!

A spider chart would create a good, quick visual for more than 3 parameters.

Brandymanhattan’s list is solid. Only one possible thing to add (but maybe too subjective): Recommended prep time category (or similar). That would definitely vary by each person, but if FGG stayed fairly consistent, someone who gets multiple modules could maybe gauge their prep time, or someone new could at least know if one module is a lot of work versus another.

Cheers!

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A spider chart with a spider in it! Or perhaps a frog with some ripples going out from its lily pad making a spider chart. Great idea! I would like to include prep time in some way, although I agree it’s difficult to normalize.

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Lots of great ideas here, agree with all of them.

Would love to have “expected time of play” and “number of encounters”.

Definitely planning on expected time of play. I feel like number of encounters might generally be too high to be useful—most of these are well beyond a con game. But worth thinking about. We have a graphic artist starting to work on the image for the spider chart. Hopefully I’ll have something to share with you all before too long!