I like pre-written adventures. Not so much for their plots, but for their maps and NPC stats. Plots I can play around with, but the raw material of all those numbers and spatial relationships is a little less interesting to me.
For example, the Unua Campaign -- the big one I mentioned last time -- could roughly be defined by The Temple of Elemental Evil meets Tales of the Infinite Staircase. The first is a classic module with more potential for politics than Gygax is usually credited for, but still a vast amount of slayage -- so I took the monsters out.
Sort of. How it worked was that the party entered the ToEE from the bottom, completely outclassed by pretty much every monster in the place (they were about 3rd level). They had to get out by pretending they were priests of Zuggtmoy (discovering that such people are not as loved by the other inhabitants as they would have liked), which worked pretty well for them. When they got back to the Temple (about 120 session and 8 levels later), the humans and elves (informed about the Temple's re-population by the party) had managed to get it together enough to invade en masse, and had wiped out most of the cultists. This was all to Zuggtmoy's plan, of course, and was the reason that she let the party walk out in the first place -- she was hoping that in the chaos the vital barrier that was holding her prisoner would be destroyed. Alas for her, the party managed a series of raids on the remaining resistance (and the elemental nodes), which the army couldn't cope with, got around the various factions trying to release her for their own ends, and destroyed both the temple and the goddess.
Anyway, the details are unimportant, but the idea should be clear. There were other modules along the way, some of which required less fiddling with. Harbinger House and The Eternal Boundary (both Planescape) were played more or less straight, with just some motivation changed. They even got through Bruce Cordell's Sahuagin trilogy (though I took the sahuagin out of the middle one, since it was getting a bit much), mixed in with Sahu -- the nasty island from the Complete Necromancer's Handbook. For the final slog to the centre of Unua (the player's 'world'), I used Gates of Firestorm Peak as background detail, but changed dwarves to gnomes.
The Infinite Staircase (also Planescape) had a lot of changes to the background, and one location changed completely. It turned out that the stairway was the original way back to the player's world of Unua, which in itself wasn't supposed to be a world at all, but because of a cataclysm eons ago, the link from the top to the bottom was broken. By going through the adventure, they were able to get enough information about it to work out what to do when they did finally reach the top (via the link through the ToEE).
Clear? Oh well, we had to fill up all those sessions somehow...
Given my time constraints, pre-written modules are looking better than ever for the new game. But are there any decent ones out there? I already have Sean Reynold's Against the Giants, which is nice, but no good for 3e stats, which is half the battle. So I spent a few hours yesterday stuck in front of a whole lot of d20 books, trying to find any that looked promising. What I found was one I already owned seemed the best bet... luverly. And I bought a book about giants which will undoubtedly come in useful as well.
A plan comes together...
(That was also what convinced me to be lenient on character progression, as well as vague disquiet that I was being unfair. They're going to need the levels.)