Over 20 plus years of gaming I have accumulated a lot of dud games, supplements, and adventure modules. Some I purchased and some were given to me, but all of them did not succeed as commercial ventures.
What can a GM do with a failed RPG product? Do what any scrapyard would do: Scrap the whole thing down to its individual parts.
For instance, I have a lot of adventure modules that just did not have a good flow to them. When I read these adventures I chuckle because they are bad. The encounters might be ludicrous or the plots are childish, but that is because I am criticizing the work as a whole.
When I look at these adventures as a collection of parts my opinion changes. Some of the encounters are interesting and quite challenging. There might be a riddle or puzzle that I can make use of. There are inventive magic items, sci-fi gear, and paranormal oddities that I can easily convert to the game system of my choice.
The same is true of the RPGs and supplements. There might be a rule that I can adapt to use in my current game, or perhaps a chart that I can take advantage of for my next session. I might find a map that I can turn into a handout, or a picture that I can use to show what an NPC looks like.
The best part is that because these products failed my players are unlikely to have a copy. I do not have to worry as much about someone knowing any of the secrets that might be part of the game just because they read the same product that I did. Even if a player should happen to have the same product it is unlikely that they will recognize a single part from that product by itself.
Like a Frankenstein’s monster I can stitch together all of these parts to create a completely new and unique creation. It takes less time than preparing everything from scratch, but it is more fun and often has better results than if I ran a published adventure.
So do not throw away those failed products from your RPG collection! Dust off those lousy adventures and horrible supplements. Take out your imagination’s scalpel and dissect each product for the best parts that are just begging to be used, and then bolt them together with your creativity to make a hybrid masterpiece to wow your players with (while saving you time as well).
Agree? Disagree? Have you done this yourself? Tell us how it worked for you by leaving a comment below.