I feel like you guys should know what’s going on by now, so I’m just jumping right in.
These days it’s about an 70/30 split between pre-published and the fruit of my own fevered brain. It has been many years since I have run a campaign that was completely my creation. Because I’m running a lot of Pathfinder these days, I tend to avail myself of the vast resource that is the Adventure Path line, with the modules coming in a close second. Between the four groups I either play in or GM, plus Pathfinder Organized Play, I only have so much prep time time available. So if there is pre-published material that will suit me and my group, I will go to that first.
That said, I almost never run pre-published adventures as written. Take Pathfinder for instance; most of the pre-pubs are written for the “ideal” group of four players, composed of Fighter, Cleric, Mage, Rogue. Rarely do I play with just four players (usually five, sometimes six) and I can’t remember the last time I had a group that was the standard FCMR mix. As an example, when I started the Rise of the Runelords adventure path with my group, it was back during 3.5. One of my players chose a Goliath Barbarian as his character. Goliaths were a 3.5 race who were essentially Giant-kin, and one of their racial abilities allowed them to treat themselves as Large when it was beneficial to do so. That meant he started the game with a Large two-handed sword (doing 3d6 damage, plus strength bonuses). Minor spoiler, but the first foe you face in the adventure path are goblins, with a paltry 6 hit points a pop. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that, with making some changes, he was going to own early encounters. So I adapted; made the goblins a little tougher and a little harder to hit, and had more of them show up.
So that would be my advice here, never be afraid to modify pre-published adventures to suit your group. There are no continuity police to come along and give you hell for changing things. It’s your group, your campaign; take the material and make changes as necessary. Don’t like the class of the main NPC? Change it! Encounters don’t seem tough enough for your group? Try maxing out the hit points to keep the monsters in the fight longer, or just add more monsters (that last works best with small fries, like goblins and kobolds). It’s your game, so do what you need to do to keep things fun and exciting for your players. And for you; it is a real downer for a GM when the players cake walk through encounters. Don’t let it happen, modify away!
What do you use the most, home made or pre-pubs? And do you modify? Leave a comment!