Recently I had what felt like a revelation in one of the games I run. Let me share.
I've been running a 5e Forgotten Realms game for almost 3 years. It's fun and experimental, the players were all new to RPGs when we started so there aren't a lot of sacred cows. I wanted to experiment with running classic modules in a 5e game and circumstances converged such that it would be appropriate to run classic 1e Ravenloft. Very exciting for me! (cont.)
5e is close enough to 1e/2e that conversion is generally straightforward so I wasn't really looking specifically for a 5e *conversion*, but more like some additional clarification and fan-suggested tweaks, etc.
However I did find a 5e conversion of the module from before CoS was published. This isn't that big of a deal by itself, the text was mostly copied from the module, but I could tell this pdf was exported from MS Word (cont.)
As such it was pretty simple to convert it back to a Word document. A bunch of the formatting was off so it took a little while to fix the styles and formatting, but when I was done, I had a 95%-complete, *editable* version of this module.
And let me tell you, it was a revelation. I always make tweaks to modules, my hard-copies have post-its and notes in the margins and pages stuck in; my pdfs have lots of annotations and highlighting. (cont.)
But it was totally game-changing to just... change the text of the module. No longer was there a separation between the "authoritative" text and my annotations, as soon as I saved my changes they were indistinguishable, on equal footing.
As I prepped and ran the module, the document grew in some sections and shrank in others as I added notes, changed encounters, even deleted whole chunks that didn't fit what I was doing.
Dear readers, it was exhilarating. (cont.)
Now I'm not saying that all modules should also release the source text, and I recognize the gray ethics of using this unauthorized reproduction of the module text. But it was striking to me how different this experience felt and I wanted to share.
I acknowledge that there is something to preserving and presenting the authoritative version of a module so that players from different games, even different eras, can have a shared experience.
But there's no denying the thrill I found here. (fin)
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