How do you make module-driven games seem less railroaded?

Hi all…

Yes, it seems that nearly every time I post anything these days, it’s asking a question. But before I ask, let me provide some context…

We have a very small group (currently 2 or 3 players depending on the week and a GM) playing a D&D 3.5e adventure set in one of the Paizo Pathfinder adventures (Second Darkness). The GM (Mike) and I have been discussing the fact that, like every other module-driven adventure either of us has played or run, it seems very linear. And, dare I say it, a bit boring for those of us playing who prefer story and emotional depth over combat.

Sure there are a few mysteries left. We only play once a month or so and sometimes not even that, so getting through significant parts of the adventure is iffy at best. And it probably doesn’t help that the two PCs in our group that are supposed to know and like each other are drifting apart (but that’s a tale for another day), so that’s not helping us move forward much either.

But here’s the issue… if the GM lacks the time to spin off his own ideas to make the setting more lively and engaging for the PCs and the PCs can’t stay together, how do we make the game more enjoyable across the board?

I suspect that if Mike as GM can find some nuggets of creativity in the module to build on, that’s one way to do it. And as a player, I can try and invest myself more in the world as well – perhaps going so far as to define NPC “friends” he may have met during spelunking beneath the city, in the wilds, or while avoiding the less natural parts of town (he’s a druid who’s probably swinging from neutral good to true neutral soon after some experiences he’s had in the campaign).

What do you do, as a player or GM, to make campaigns based around pre-written modules seem more lively? Or what do you do to revive fading campaigns when the enthusiasm starts to die?

Mike and I are both curious what others who have faced similar issues have done to help the situation… And not just what worked, but what didn’t… So we don’t unwittingly step in land mines trying something that probably was a bad idea from the get-go.

Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated. I’ll try and sum it up in a separate post so others can benefit from the combined wisdom.

Thanks!
–Fitz

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