All modules are for DMs (or, in Pathfinder, the Game Master aka GM). And there are good, mediocre and bad modules. But even a bad module can have DM friendly features, although modules that have inherent flaws usually have issues with features that make a DM’s life easier.
Here at Griffon Lore Games (I admit it; I just like typing “Griffon Lore Games”), we think about making the DMs life easier all the time. Mainly because we are DMs ourselves. Here are some of the things we do to make the life easier for the DM to run our adventures:
Prioritized Lore: Lore that directly impacts the PCs has priority over descriptive text that has no consequence to the current adventure but may be beneficial to the DM in other ways (such as modifying their own game world). The Dame with a lore-based secret isn’t as interesting as the Dame with a lore-based secret that motivates her to help or hinder the PCs based on what they do and say.
Prioritized Setting: Related, setting the PCs most likely will be interested in will receive priority with description and narrative (and maps!).
Impactful Encounters: All encounters are impactful and have weight. There are no fluffy-bunny fro-fro encounters of attrition shoved into the module either as filler to get the PCs experience points so they can challenge the Big Bad the module writers are over-enamored with to the exclusion of the journey to get to the big bad, make some narrative point rather than the PCs making the narrative points, pad the page count or other dubious reasons not having anything to do with adventures DMs want to run. You won’t find encounters in our product designed to test if in a series of combats, the PCs can monitor their resources in a game of attrition. Most encounters will leave players with a sense of accomplishment and sense of heroic wonder that will linger with them until the next play session. Every combat encounter has the capability of dropping heroes to the ground, and if the players don’t combined arms, death or TPK.
Dynamic Plot and Villains based on PC Actions: The PCs do things, and it impacts the world in “real-time.” They do more on their day-to-day interactions than change the life of a stable-boy tipped 100 GP. PCs can influence, and be influenced by, the story’s movers and shakers because they themselves are movers and shakers. Good plot and good villains in a living, breathing game are dynamic based on motives. Rather than dedicating pages for lore for the sake of world-building, let the PCs build their own world by dedicating pages in anticipating common adventure party directions and actions and let them build the world. If the players wanted static quest givers with explanation points over their heads, they would play a MMO designed in the early 2000’s.
Book Mechanics: PDFs even for people who buy the print version. Quality hardcover book printed in color on thick paper you can write on. Module text dedicated to describing dynamic monsters and NPCs that could change tactics based on their overall motives and PC actions. Good stat blocks that are easy to read. Clear maps that can be used in a Virtual Table Top (VTT) program by having the map key in the module text rather than on the map. Proper developmental editing from an experienced RPG-savvy editor and comprehensive, not token, play-testing.
Cohesive Adventuring in an Adventure Path: An adventure path should take a character from Level 1 to Level 20 (or several levels beyond) with a distinctive end. Doing that without putting PCs (or, just admit it, your players) on rails is no easy task, but it is possible with hard work and play testing. The adventure should provide a foundation for the next in a manner that seems organic and plausible. Modules that come next should anticipate several major possibilities of the prior adventure and dedicate text to help the DM transition her players into the next part of the game world without negating their prior hard-won efforts.
This is what Christophe and I are dedicated to. This is hard fantasy, baby. The DMs are putting it all out there. They need as much support as they can get.