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Adventure Making Process Part One: Advancing and Tangent

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Usually when I create adventures (which is my prefer way of planning sessions rather than pre-made) I have to start with some ideas based on the campaign. They usually start with two options:

1) Advance the story/Plot
2) Create a tangent

Both are related in my script writing for comics and TV shows I wrote back when I cared about getting into the biz. That's another story....

Advancing the story/plot: The adventure basically utilizes elements of the campaign that furthers the players in their objectives. These can be minor or major story arcs that change the world (or in this case, the city) where the player's actions affect their future encounters with allies and enemies. Enemies and NPC's that survive can come back to help or hinder the party. If PC's destroy an organization or individual, it's repercussions are felt and are part of the epic.

A good example was my Dark City arc, The Emerald Enigma which lead up to the Brooding City. That included the players going into the Outsiders Quarter to discover who was trading the emeralds in the city, visiting a mind-flayers mine, a magic item factory and finally the Overlords Palace. That took about 9 sessions of a 39 session campaign.

I normally use arcs sparingly, preferring a different "episode" on each session to give the campaign more "history". Even my arcs tend to be different adventures strung together. In Dark City I had only two real Arcs: The Church of St. Elisa and The Emerald Enigma which covered several adventures. The rest tended to be one or two session adventures with maybe a teaser for the next adventure.

Tangent: A Tangent can be a filler or a side story that may offer character development or setting description. I like to use them to spotlight certain characters, NPC's, or scenarios. They also are great for introducing new characters or lead-ins to Advancing stories. They serve a practical purpose as well: when I have fewer PC's showing up and don't want major plot elements to advance without certain characters.

An example was the Session 16: Two of a Kind

The adventure was based on Rowen and Milo as filled in when Gar was not available to play. It lead into the Freeport adventure and arc of them lost across the world.

Next: Where do these adventures come from?

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