I would like to be a DM for my weekly group while also playing Adventurers League at my local store. I intend to run the same hardcover adventure for my group that the Adventurers League will be playing through.

How should you deal with playing parts of a scenario that you have already read and run as a DM? Is there any official AL guidance on this situation?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Is there an obligation of sorts to play the same module? Why not pick another? \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Sep 1, 2017 at 8:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ We already run out of all of the hardcovers, so basically When Tomb of Annihilation one would be released I would be running it both at home and at the local store. Local store is following the current season of AL so it would inevitably be Tomb of Annihilation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Antonio
    Sep 1, 2017 at 8:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Will the other players in the AL group know that you have already DMed this module? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jakob
    Sep 1, 2017 at 10:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ how would = opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Dec 1, 2017 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trish not at all. This is perfectly answerable as long as its based on actual experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Dec 1, 2017 at 20:44

6 Answers 6



Let's assume you play an elf (which you are not in real life). And you play a ranger (which you are not in real life). The character can shoot a moving target without fail (which you cannot in real life). And has a bunch of friends that can cast spells and lay on hands (your friends in real life only eat pizza at astonishing speed).

Your character knows things you don't. You know things your character doesn't.

Now there is one new thing where you have to abstract your character from yourself the player. Your character has no knowledge of this adventure (while you do in real life). You already do this abstraction with all of the above, which is why your character is still shooting arrows instead of bullets. Just extend it to the knowledge you gained from DMing. Your character does not have it. He will fall for the trap. He will be surprised.

That's an important aspect that differentiates role play from board games. Your characters will do what is best for them in their situation with the knowledge they have. If it were a board game, there would be no character and no role play and all pieces on the board would move according to your players master plan and with the players knowledge.

So to summarize: let your characters act like they did not have that information. Because they don't.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I worked with a professional theater trupe for 5 years. The actors played the same play for two to six months (depending on public reception) seven times over each weekend. And they managed to have fun playing the same play over and over. When the RPG becomes more RP than G and the need to "win" is a lesser defining factor, you can replay a module anytime you like. The dice will say if your elf ranger do notice the trap. Don't force it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1, 2017 at 13:09
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, for the "Gygaxian deathtrap modules" it is very fun to play them in roguelike style. Re-roll characters and dive into the tomb of horrors to see how far this party can go. Don't fret over your deaths, make a wall of honor. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1, 2017 at 13:10
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Statistically, if he was an elf in real life, there's a good chance he would frequent this site... so let's not go making assumptions! \$\endgroup\$
    – corsiKa
    Sep 1, 2017 at 20:19

This is a genuine concern, since OOC you know a lot about the world, the module, the plotline, etc. Of course you will try to separate OOC and IC knowledge but that can be hard to do, especially since just knowing the answer can encourage you to try certain things.

For example you enter a room, OOC you know there is a secret door in the north wall. If you search for the door was that influenced by your OOC knowledge? It's hard to say.

I would make two suggestions to mitigate the problems here:

  1. Speak to the DM, let them know ahead of time. Suggest that they may want to mix a few things up a bit but say you will try to keep OOC and IC knowledge separate as best you can.

  2. Play a "follower" character. Don't take the lead or make decisions, instead follow the other characters. This doesn't mean you have to be passive or boring - it just means that you have your own objectives.

For example imagine your character is a loyal retainer or soldier following one of the others. You can role-play, you can take actions. In combat you might offer tactical advice, but when someone says "should we turn left or right" you don't care. Your job is to guard your liege and follow his commands.

If you watch Game of Thrones then think of Brienne of Tarth - no-one could claim she is a boring character or would not be a blast to play. But she is a follower, she is sworn to obey certain people and does her best to serve them faithfully.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Agree on all points, but particularly on letting the DM know. It gives them a chance to mix things up, and also forestalls any inclination you might have to go "Are you sure you're reading that description right?" - you're now expecting them to mix things up to surprise you, so deviations from "the script" become delightful surprises rather than grating annoyances. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1, 2017 at 19:19

As Tim B pointed out, discussing with your GM is important. You might be asked simply not to play, if the confidence in your RP isn't high enough. Or you might be told that they don't expect any problem because they have complete faith in you. You might be told they might tweak a few details (and you should probably suggest this if they do not).

But one option that, as a GM, I might go for, would be to invite all the players to metagame the crap out of it.

So all players are welcomed and encouraged to get a copy if the module. Say we're playing "Keep on the Borderlands", for the Nth time. Everyone knows it by heart.

Your characters are now RPG players who were playing Keep on the Borderlands, who find themselves transported to a tavern, as characters eerily similar to the ones they were playing. You now have all your in-character knowledge, and you also have all your OOC knowledge at the point of starting this game. In your packs, you also find copies of the module, so you can refer to it at any time - but this counts as an action. But soon you discover that some things about the world have been strangely changed, as if the GM knew what you know, and has changed some of the details.

They can play genre-savvy! They can use all the insider knowledge they've learned in the past, as if they were guided by prophecy... but they can never know how reliable the prophecy is, because the GM can change things at any time. But some of the changes should still let them extrapolate and use their metagaming facts "Oooh, he's flipped the map of this cave! Check the EAST wall!"

It'd make a pretty lousy campaign, but could be an awesome one-off "holiday" adventure for an experienced group.

As a player, the most important thing you can do, though, is to communicate.

Make sure everyone, not just the GM, knows that you know the module, which explains why you won't involve yourself in some decisions.

You know the punchlines, so while your eyes can twinkle as the setup is given, you shouldn't give it away, nor even hint at it "did that old lady look funny to you?" - you will get to delight in the payoff secondhand, watch as it's delivered by the DM and received by the players.

Where possible, set up "standard behaviors" with the GM; say that you search all rooms for secret doors unless stated, check all doors and chests for traps, always pick locks before forcing, always camp at night, light a fire, and guard in these shifts, always hide your halfling behind the barbarian, etc.

This way, you've no temptation to make an exception to specifically search that one room with the altar... and if you fail a perception roll, you won't have the temptation to say "someone else might want to search that altar too, just in case".

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ going over a breif description of what you remember will help too, That way the DM has a better Idea of what to changes, you can even work together. I once played a blind profit cleric(with a few other disadvantages) for a module I had done before. with the GM giving me occasional hints but with the assumption I would using my previous knowledge as divine prophecy. It was fun trying to RP my memory into vague divine sounding prophecy. "DOOM comes to the house of Iron if the enemy is not defeated before the sun rises, DOOM!!" \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Dec 1, 2017 at 22:24

I've played in two different Hardcover adventures that I'd previously run as a DM. My solution: Play a Barbarian. No one looks to you to make decisions, find secrets, persuade NPCs, etc.

This frees me up to develop my character's personality and style. Both times I had a blast!

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The “I agree with another answer” part was throwing people off (the way to agree with a post here is to upvote, and posts that only say “I agree” are customarily removed). But worse, that bit was obscuring the actual answer contained in this post that makes it a proper answer that doesn't need removing. I've made a small edit to remove the agreement and unpack the first remaining sentence a bit. Thanks for participating! (And if you do agree with Tim B's answer, feel free to toss an upvote its way. :) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2017 at 18:48

As an experienced GM whose players often do things in the company of NPCs whom I roleplay from the NPCs' perspectives of limited knowledge despite my position as GM... I would use those same skills to roleplay someone with only the knowledge my PC has. It's even much easier than roleplaying an NPC, because I only have one character to think about. If I'd run that module, it would be even easier, because I would have already GM'd NPCs in that module, and would have seen the reactions of other players new to that module. Sounds like good practice for those skills, too. I would mention that was what I was doing to the GM first, though, to avoid misunderstandings.


Ask your DM t0 vary the module details

In some playstyles, dungeons are a collaborative challenge for the players to work together to overcome. Thusly, not honestly participating in said challenges on account of your already knowing the answer will detract from your experience of the game, and make you into more of a spectator than an active participant. That's fine, but you don't have to go that route.

Most adventure modules are quite modular, and don't require very much work to change to a form that, while still recognizable as the same exact module, eliminates the knowlege you would have gained from GMing it so that you can fully participate again.

For example:

  • Maps don't tend to have much actual reasoning as to why which room is where, nor any real details for the hallways and tunnels and such that connect them, where present. This means it's often trivial to take a module and reorder the room connections so that the encounters take place in a different order and repeat players can't guess which room the secret passage or treasure cache or trap is in or anything like that.
  • Some traps are really iconic, and will missed if they are changed out of recognizable form (e.g. the sphere of annihilation in the demon mouth in the Tomb of Horrors). Others are tied into an encounter in a room and really need to be with the monsters present there (e.g. the auto-reset inflict wounds floor trap + undead in a 3.5 module I forget the name of). For most traps, though, nothing is really changed by having a spear trap that comes out of the floor, rather than the wall, or a poisoned needle in the latch for a desks false bottom containing a health potion, loose change, and an original manuscript for a famous play instead of a needle in the floor cache of a different room with a different art object. By moving which trap or treasure is where and changing the triggering mechanism and general appearance, you can keep the trapped locations from being obvious. One particularly good trick is to keep the details of rooms the same, but turn stuff that was previously meaningless fluff into hiding places for traps and treasure.
  • Even character motivations aren't usually a huge deal to muck around with. If there's a twist at the end and the tavern owner turns out to have been the werewolf the whole time, it's usually not too much trouble to have it have been the mayor instead, ala Clue. Some non-dungeon-crawl-y adventures can be easily saved this way, while others won't work without too much of a rewrite.

With alterations like this, it's quite possible for players or GMs to run the same module several times, without it being too predictable. It doesn't work for all modules, and you'll always have a leg up after having played or run a module before, but hopefully it can enable you to engage fully in the problem-solving aspect of the adventure rather than having to hang back and spectate.

Obviously, this isn't an option for Adventurer's league, since the modules are supposed to be standardized and you may not have a regular DM, but it should be fine otherwise.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .