View Full Version : Campaigns / Adventures Looking for additional guidance -- more context

09-16-2010, 05:26 AM
Hey folks.

I am the type of gamer who enjoys preparation. I used to try to wing it a lot in the middle of an adventure -- really only putting true emphasis on campaign continuity. Unfortunately, over time I noticed that there were a lot of inconsistencies in my adventures. (Almost like watching Burn Notice.)

So -- I was reading the old adventures you can download on the wizards site -- and pulled some of the categories they use. I want help from other DM/GMs who can offer additional insights as to what to include in adventure preparation and write-ups.

This has become especially important to me as I have changed over to mostly online DMing, where I cannot -- on the fly include new tokens, new monster stats, etc... as it can take more than a few seconds to input that data into our Virtual Table Top (VTT).

So -- here is what I have

What materials and books do you need in order to

run this adventure.

Adventure Background:
History and Context for your adventure.

Adventure Synopsis:
Once over the world explanation of how the PCs get started, the bare-bones of what they must do, and the final encounter.

Adventure Hooks:
How do you convince the PCs to get involved?
Bulletized -- contrived methods (plot hammering), character roleplaying methods (background involvement), and motivational methods (carrot-n -stick approach).

Beginning the Adventure:
What particular "scene" marks the beginning of the adventure?

Title of the First Scene:
Title and description of the first thing(s) that happens to kick off the adventure.
(Include a read out for players + sidebar for what skills players may use to kick start their involvement.)

(or whatever style adventure it is... be it room-based or encounter based)

# of room/encounter.
Description: Text block for Players to read/hear.
Handouts: any handouts to add "life" for players.
DM Only: DM only information, such as traps/answers to riddles.
Skill Checks: What skill checks are available.
Room Contents: Items/Doors within a dungeon + monsters (adjust if encounter based)
EL Level: EL of anything encountered -- traps or monsters or puzzles.
Tactics/Triggers: Tactics of any monsters or triggers for activation of monsters and traps.

Maps for country, dungeon, encounters etc.

Concluding the Adventure:
Define the "win" conditions for the adventure.
Are there partial win conditions? Can the PCs "beat" the adventure but still leave a lingering presence. Do any of the win/partial-win conditions create recurring villains?

Further Adventures:
Anything that specifically WILL occur, or may occur which can become a future adventure hook?

All Special Magic Items introduced
All New Equipment introduced
All New Creatures introduced

09-19-2010, 09:59 PM
I always include fuller stat blocks for major and/or recurring NPCs

09-19-2010, 11:07 PM
ah okay -- *scribbles it into the list*

09-22-2010, 06:44 PM
Probably a flavor section as an aside not as important to run but it will give the game more life. This would include extra history minor activities in the town/city. stuff that liven the adventure. Could also help to answer some questions like why in the world would you build a tomb on a nexus portal to the negative world?

09-22-2010, 10:43 PM
*chuckle*. You know, that's perfect. I have a couple of players who ask those questions all the time.

09-23-2010, 01:59 PM
Note that published adventures must be written for one audience in particular: DMs who have no imagination. Or worse, PCs. Accordingly, published adventures require way more information than a DM actually needs.

Now for the grand revelation: all you need for a good adventure is a good villain. Once you've drawn it up, put yourself in the villain's shoes and let its actions move the plot/story.

The extension of this idea is to create a few moving parts (characters), the adventure's movers and shakers, and let them turn the gears of your adventure. With them doing what they do, especially when the PCs aren't looking, your adventure will write itself.

Reference: 2nd Ed AD&D, The Villains Handbook

09-23-2010, 10:13 PM
hmm... sounds like classic 'winging it' -- I completely like the idea. But, myself and my group of players/friends are also looking to write out our adventures too -- or is that something we should be focusing on the backend?

09-27-2010, 12:25 AM
No no...Villain-driven adventure isn't winging it, because Winging It is making your decisions on-the-fly, while Villain-driving can be done in advance. After all:

-You know how your villain thinks
-You can anticipate several outcomes for the next adventure or encounter
-And therefore you can pre-plan your villain's responses to those outcomes.

Winging it is what happens when you allow the players to create an outcome for which you didn't plan.

Go ahead and write out your adventures - it's a good idea - but just write enough to help you get through the game. Any more than that, and you're either wasting your time, or you should be working for Wizards.

09-27-2010, 11:02 AM
working for wizards?! *gasp* *RUN AWAY!* *raises a white flag*.

09-29-2010, 01:24 AM
Note that published adventures must be written for one audience in particular: DMs who have no imagination. Or worse, PCs. Accordingly, published adventures require way more information than a DM actually needs.

Way more because a what you would write for yourself would be a bare minimum of a stat block. That is way too little for the guy that didn't write the thing to start with. Far bettter to over explain a thing than under explain it.

I started to over write my scenarios One: when I got a computer, Two: when I came back a stat block six months later and had not a clue why I had written it. My campaigns can last years. My memory is not what it use to be, So I write everything as if I was writing for someone else. Explain in full what the concept is. Monster stats? My Stat block:

(Start, what is the encounter.)
Billman Building: A nine floor office building. The offices of Ironshield Incorporated. Ironshield is not the entire building. The lower three floors are taken by shops and other commercial offices. Ironshield: Production facilities are in the Old City.

(WHO is the encounter. Write as many as you need.)
CEO: Novac Krupp -- Human male, finger on the pulse manager. He works with competence and some small imagination. Has a wife and a mistress, in the same house. Krupp is a former army officer. He is tougher than middle age spread and a bland look would suggest.
(Stat block: Do it the same way every time.)
F9, ac 18, pd 24, bab +9/+4, d/a by weapon, +4 Light Armor +2
Stats S 16+3, C 16 +3, D 14 +2, I 12 +1, W 12 +1, Ca 12 +1, Psi 3 +13
Saves F+9, R+5, W+4
(Attacks and abilities if any.)
+4 Heavy Pistol 2d8+4 +15/+10
HP: 82

09-29-2010, 10:12 AM
See -- i tend to do much of the same thing ( I also tend to include a "context statement" at the bottom of all my stat blocks.. I will write up an encounter/villain/whatever -- and then incorporate it two years later because it seems like a neat idea. Also, the adventures I am writing are intended to go into a long-standing book for future use. So, I FEEL that i need thorough notes in order to make sure I don't forget anything of value (especially since I want to play test the same adventure five or six times).

09-29-2010, 12:40 PM
Context is a the top. Frankly I picked a lousy example. It was what I had open at the time. The Seahaven Punk key. In this case it requires the further context of the rest of the key. The book is my hard drive. I steal like a thief from my own stuff If an encopunter is not used in game X it gets reworked for gamy Y.