If you were able to get out for Free Role-Playing Game Day last Saturday, I hope that you managed to pick up James Raggi's offering for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. In its introduction, James talks about wanting adventures that shake up the status quo, and why would you want an adventure that left the world unchanged anyway? I am paraphrasing, of course, but it is a good essay, and definitely worth reading.
It leads me to one of my current projects, the Faerie Tales From Unlit Shores series, by Purple Duck Games. The FT series is a group of linked adventures that take place within the same overarching milieu. Each of the FT modules is targeted at a specific character level, from 0 to 6, with the module number indicating what level it is targeted at. thus, FT 0 is a 0-level funnel, FT 1 is designed for 1st level characters, and so on.
This is sort of like an "Adventure Path", I suppose, except that there is no mandate to stay on the path. Using just the first two adventures in the series, there is an option in FT 0 for the PCs to skedaddle and go live as outlaws in the forest. What does the poor judge do if this happens?
One option is to pick up FT 1, and simply not include the encounters that specifically relate to the ending of FT 0. There are plenty of things happening in the Grimmswood even without following the "path", and, of course, the judge can then devise merchant trains to rob. When FT 2 describes Portsmouth, that is another location that the judge can use in his campaign milieu. There is no reason why the judge cannot use other modules in the series, for that matter.
The idea of the FT series is that they build upon each other. If you play just one, you have fun. Play two or more, and things start to click into place. You get a better understanding of the game milieu, and you get drawn into a larger supernatural conflict. You do not need to take any particular hook, though, the conflict exists whether you pursue it or not, and the option to get involved exists so long as you inhabit the milieu.
The more of the series you play, the richer the experience. Or, at least, that is the plan. But you don't have to worry about reaching a specific end point to use the next module, and you sure as hell don't have to worry about maintaining the status quo.
Go ahead. Shake things up. Upset the apple cart. Sooner or later, you are going to have to anyway. Even if you use all of the FT series modules, you'll want to include more than one adventure per level by the time the PCs hit level 2+, and you won't want any of them to be "fillers"!