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Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-04-22, 09:14 PM
I made a list of tips for writing good adventures for any fantasy-themed roleplaying game. I invite you to expand it.

Insperation
Skim Old AD&D Adventures
Although a large portion of the old 1980s AD&D adventures are really cheesy and poorly composed, many of them are surprisingly awesome and almost all have at least a few good concepts and ideas.

Read Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and Eberron Novels
I recommend the War of the Spider Queen saga and the Year of Rogue Dragons trilogy. Nearly every one of these books has great characters, plots, and imagery that you will most certainly use.

Flip Through the Various Monster Manuals
You are almost sure to find something that inspires you, and widening the range of adversaries you pit against your players is always good.

Use Drow
Drow and the monsters that hang out with them are awesome. Use them a couple of times, but not any more than that.

Use Yanu-Ti
Yanu-Ti are also great adversaries. They make great long-term antagonists, or villains of one-shot games.

Adventure Building
Add Complications to Every Encounter
Straight-out fights get tedious fast. Either give the adversaries very interesting abilities or include some kind of special objective or terrain-based challenge.

Don't Over-Use Your Favorite Monsters
If a particular kind of monster shows up too many times, it will lose its punch.

Use Stupid "Brute" Monsters Sparingly
Orks, ogres, bugbears, and their ilk get really boring, so it's best not even to use them much at very low levels.

Dungeon Crawls Are Fun
It's ideal for at least 75% of the adventuring in your campaign to take place in a underground labyrinth or fortress.

What do you think?

Jamin
2011-04-22, 09:56 PM
I made a list of tips for writing good adventures for any fantasy-themed roleplaying game. I invite you to expand it.

Insperation
Skim Old AD&D Adventures
Although a large portion of the old 1980s AD&D adventures are really cheesy and poorly composed, many of them are surprisingly awesome and almost all have at least a few good concepts and ideas.

Read Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and Eberron Novels
I recommend the War of the Spider Queen saga and the Year of Rogue Dragons trilogy. Nearly every one of these books has great characters, plots, and imagery that you will most certainly use.

Flip Through the Various Monster Manuals
You are almost sure to find something that inspires you, and widening the range of adversaries you pit against your players is always good.

Use Drow
Drow and the monsters that hang out with them are awesome. Use them a couple of times, but not any more than that.

Use Yanu-Ti
Yanu-Ti are also great adversaries. They make great long-term antagonists, or villains of one-shot games.

Adventure Building
Add Complications to Every Encounter
Straight-out fights get tedious fast. Either give the adversaries very interesting abilities or include some kind of special objective or terrain-based challenge.

Don't Over-Use Your Favorite Monsters
If a particular kind of monster shows up too many times, it will lose its punch.

Use Stupid "Brute" Monsters Sparingly
Orks, ogres, bugbears, and their ilk get really boring, so it's best not even to use them much at very low levels.

Dungeon Crawls Are Fun
It's ideal for at least 75% of the adventuring in your campaign to take place in a underground labyrinth or fortress.

What do you think?

Many of these are very subjective not everyone wants to have most of the game take place in a dungeon. I can see you do but these are too subjective to be called tips. Some are great like going though ADND books but not everyone has those. IMO for something to be a tip it has to be something everyone can do and works for most if not all games. If these work for you great keep doing them but not everyone has fun the same way so I would not call these "Tips" in my sense of the word.

Acanous
2011-04-22, 10:39 PM
I like to roll a D4 on my encounters, and it goes a lil' something like this:

1: There is a trap in the encounter room. Find one that's appropriate and place it somewhere neutral.

2: The enemies have reinforcements en route. Roll a D4 and add an additional 1/4th of the total number of enemies of the same type in that many rounds. Round to the nearest one. Add XP and loot as appropriate.

3: The enemies have a magic item of some kind. Pick something appropriate. The magic item itself is it's own loot for increasing CR.

4: Nothing. The fight is exactly what it looks like.

Also, my gaming group won't let me use Orcs anymore. They're too scared of my orc tactics.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-04-22, 10:58 PM
Also, my gaming group won't let me use Orcs anymore. They're too scared of my orc tactics.
I would love you to DM me some time.

Sillycomic
2011-04-23, 01:40 AM
Most of these tips involve building monsters? What to do and what not to do. That isn't most of a Gm's job is it, to just build monsters?

And I don't like the ideal for 75 % of the game to take place underground in a labrynth or in a fortress. Seriously? How many labrynth's and fortresses underground are there in your world? Just an abundant supply?

Is there a Home Depot for underground Labrynth and Fortress Do-It-Yourself Kits?

And the rest of your tips seem to involve reading other stories or adventurers and "become" inspired.

Meh.

It's a good tip, but an obvious one. And you don't even take it to its logical extreme.

Read all kinds of books. Not just monster manuals. Read crime drama, read mystery books, read trashy harlequin romance novels, even children stories (epic bard falls for a princess and uses his bardic music to kidnap all the children of a town in order to force her to marry him? The Pc's are the only ones who can help!)

Watch movies. Read Comic Books. Inrspiration comes anywhere and everywhere. Keep your ears open on the bus, random conversations overheard could be the start of a great adventure.

Conners
2011-04-23, 02:18 AM
Also, my gaming group won't let me use Orcs anymore. They're too scared of my orc tactics. What kind of tactics do they use?

Dienekes
2011-04-23, 02:43 AM
Really, my only rule is look at your players character sheets, see what they've focused on in skills and feats and whatnot, and then look at what their backstories say.

This gives you the most direct link into what your players are interested in, use that resource as best you can. Everything else is just window dressing.

Armoury99
2011-04-23, 04:44 AM
My personal guide to adventure writing includes the following:

* Learn what your audience likes. Players have different tastes, experiment with the combat/RP/puzzle/exploration etc until you have the right balance for your group. Also remember: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TALK TO YOUR GROUP ABOUT THIS.

* Leave 'wiggle room' for your players (and the DM if you're writing a published adventure); encounters with multiple possible, resolutions, or at least ways they can come at them. You don't have to plan everything in meticulous detail, but a few notes mean you don't get caught unawares when they try something unexpected.

* Build a combat the way you would an NPC you want to be memorable - unique appearance, special abilities, complications, personality and witty one-liners.

Eldan
2011-04-23, 07:19 AM
I would agree with most of that, except the 75% dungeon thing. For me, it's more 5% dungeon, or less. Dungeons get boring really, really fast.

DabblerWizard
2011-04-23, 07:34 AM
Under your "Inspiration" section, I like your comment about flipping through the monster manuals (assuming they exist within the game).

Otherwise, I prefer to avoid relying on established fantasy sources for ideas. I know that my players would pick up on the tropes and typical scenarios rather easily (many of them are literary buffs, and more knowledgeable than I am). So, to keep them on their toes, and to stretch my own imagination, I create my own stories and motivations from scratch. Of course, I love thinking about intentions and outcomes, so this stuff is a labor of love to me.

Within the "Adventure Building" section, I think you give sound suggestions. I disagree though, that dungeon crawls should predominate. I'm much more about intrigue and roleplay scenarios, than hack-'n'-slash.

Yora
2011-04-23, 07:40 AM
A good adventure should not only have a single predetermining ending. When the only possible outcome is that the Pcs face the BBEG in his throne room and kill him, everything else they did in the adventure before was meaningless.

Comet
2011-04-23, 08:01 AM
I made a list of tips for writing good adventures for any fantasy-themed roleplaying game.


The 'any fantasy themed game' bit is sort of a lie, isn't it? I mean, fantasy is an awfully wide concept and this guide basically covers the D&D-style sword and sorcery adventures of violence and exploration and such.

Just a small complaint on my part, I know I'm being a bit unfair. Other than that, though, this is all good stuff! (the guide is also really subjective, but that's never a bad thing in my opinion)



* Learn what your audience likes. Players have different tastes, experiment with the combat/RP/puzzle/exploration etc until you have the right balance for your group. Also remember: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TALK TO YOUR GROUP ABOUT THIS.

This is relevant for any scenario. So very relevant. A game can only benefit from real people talking about stuff like the real people that they are.

akma
2011-04-23, 08:15 AM
In the inspiration spoiler: The only thing I agree with is flipping through the monster manuals for inspiration. If you`re going to use monsters from there anyways, maybe some could inspire you about their possible use?

The rest is very subjective, especially the drow and yuan ti part - I`m sick of elves becuse of their overuse in general (but I wouldn`t have liked elves even if they weren`t overused), and I don`t have anything against the yuan ti, but I can`t say I like them.

With the adventure building spoiler I agree to everything but the dungeon crawling part, which is also very subjective. It also explains why all the adventure building tips seem to be focused entiraly on combat.

Also, you say it`s tips for every fantasy roleplaying, but it`s obviously leans towards dungeons and dragons.

Since you invited everyone to add to the adventure building part, here are my addition:

Inspiration
If you want to surprise the players, don`t relay on anything the players know very well too much, or everything will be pretty much anticipated.

Adventure building
Know the expectations of the players
If you design the adventure for a specific group, then you tailor it for them - if they like political intrigue, then they shall recieve it. If they will enjoy simple battles without any stratagy, then you don`t need to invest much into battles. Look at their character sheets for their abilities. If you are building it and don`t have a specific group in mind, build whatever you would like to DM.
Plot building
Good plots should be flexible and intresting.
Flexible: The plot should be able to resume if the players do something unexpected. For that, don`t base the adventure completly on specific events - for exemple, basing the entire plot on that that an NPC will tell the PCs something is wrong, becuse they might simply kill him. To add to the flexibility of an adventure, think about the NPCs personality in general, not just how they will react to player actions.
Intresting: Don`t relay on cliches. After you have your non cliche idea for adventure, you could add twists, unexpected events and moral dillemas to make it more intresting.
Motive
Each player should have a resonable motive to go to the adventure. Money is simple and good for all motive, but it`s not a very intresting one. Family being kidnapped is cliche, and I would personally be annoyed if a DM did that to me.

It doesn`t have to be the same motive for every player, and it`s best if the motives fit the players - the wizard could want to go to the evil wizard tower to get arcane knowledge, the cleric could want to go there becuse the wizard serves a rival god, the rogue could want to go there for the treasure and the paladin could want to go there to rid the world of the evil wizard.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-04-23, 09:43 AM
In the inspiration spoiler: The only thing I agree with is flipping through the monster manuals for inspiration. If you`re going to use monsters from there anyways, maybe some could inspire you about their possible use?

The rest is very subjective, especially the drow and yuan ti part - I`m sick of elves becuse of their overuse in general (but I wouldn`t have liked elves even if they weren`t overused), and I don`t have anything against the yuan ti, but I can`t say I like them.

With the adventure building spoiler I agree to everything but the dungeon crawling part, which is also very subjective. It also explains why all the adventure building tips seem to be focused entiraly on combat.

Also, you say it`s tips for every fantasy roleplaying, but it`s obviously leans towards dungeons and dragons.

Since you invited everyone to add to the adventure building part, here are my addition:

Inspiration
If you want to surprise the players, don`t relay on anything the players know very well too much, or everything will be pretty much anticipated.

Adventure building
Know the expectations of the players
If you design the adventure for a specific group, then you tailor it for them - if they like political intrigue, then they shall recieve it. If they will enjoy simple battles without any stratagy, then you don`t need to invest much into battles. Look at their character sheets for their abilities. If you are building it and don`t have a specific group in mind, build whatever you would like to DM.
Plot building
Good plots should be flexible and intresting.
Flexible: The plot should be able to resume if the players do something unexpected. For that, don`t base the adventure completly on specific events - for exemple, basing the entire plot on that that an NPC will tell the PCs something is wrong, becuse they might simply kill him. To add to the flexibility of an adventure, think about the NPCs personality in general, not just how they will react to player actions.
Intresting: Don`t relay on cliches. After you have your non cliche idea for adventure, you could add twists, unexpected events and moral dillemas to make it more intresting.
Motive
Each player should have a resonable motive to go to the adventure. Money is simple and good for all motive, but it`s not a very intresting one. Family being kidnapped is cliche, and I would personally be annoyed if a DM did that to me.

It doesn`t have to be the same motive for every player, and it`s best if the motives fit the players - the wizard could want to go to the evil wizard tower to get arcane knowledge, the cleric could want to go there becuse the wizard serves a rival god, the rogue could want to go there for the treasure and the paladin could want to go there to rid the world of the evil wizard.


I'm glad to see someone is expanding, instead of just telling me my tips are subjective.

Also, you're using a Canadian multi-lingual standard keyboard, right?

Quietus
2011-04-23, 09:52 AM
Really, my only rule is look at your players character sheets, see what they've focused on in skills and feats and whatnot, and then look at what their backstories say.

This gives you the most direct link into what your players are interested in, use that resource as best you can. Everything else is just window dressing.

This, a thousand times, this. Look at what your players have built themselves for, and cater to it - both in the positive and negative. For example, I have a PbP going where the least magical individual is a binder. Everyone else is full-casters. So, parts of the plot focus heavily around exploring the nature of magic, and how it interacts with the world. There will be parts where I'll put some challenge against the players, in the form of things that resist magic in some way - a golem, for instance, or simply something with solid spell resistance - and they'll have to find creative ways to make the abilities they have work in a situation that's working against them.

Beyond all this - steal, steal, steal. As others have noted, the best DMs are ones who absorb massive amounts of media. Books, movies, news, everything you can get your hands on. Hell, schedule a few hours and get lost in TVtropes. Become familiar with the stories that your players know, and learn a few things from ones they don't. Throw a good mix of things they'll recognize in with a few twists - the succubus in the dungeon, for instance. We're all aware of this trope, but how many of us have come across a Sanctified succubus who was locked in the dungeon by her "sisters" - yes, she's going to attack as soon as she can, because despite having turned over a new leaf, she's hungry. But if you drop a few hints, and the players don't straight up kill her...

Delwugor
2011-04-23, 09:52 AM
For what its worth:

Inspiration:
Your players will give the best ideas for continuing an adventure. And often they will be more engaged and contribute even more.
Westerns - many similar themes to fantasy and there is so much material with twists to the traditional themes.
Read others adventures on the internet. Many great adventures and games are out there, use them in whole or in parts.

Adventure Building:
Adventures in cities/towns have consequences beyond the battlefield.
Not all bad guys are EVIL, some think they are doing whatever for the common good, well their view of the common good.
Intelligent monsters can have personalities.
Challenges that promote characters to grow personally.
Not all conflicts and battles need to be to the death.
Variation, variation, variation. Players can get bored if common themes are reused with different names.
Same with intensity of conflicts and battles. If the intensity doesn't change the players apprehension won't change.
Multiple ways to start and multiple ways to finish.

Ezeze
2011-04-23, 10:57 AM
Read all kinds of books. Not just monster manuals. Read crime drama, read mystery books, read trashy harlequin romance novels, even children stories (epic bard falls for a princess and uses his bardic music to kidnap all the children of a town in order to force her to marry him? The Pc's are the only ones who can help!)

Watch movies. Read Comic Books. Inrspiration comes anywhere and everywhere. Keep your ears open on the bus, random conversations overheard could be the start of a great adventure.

One of the best game I ever ran was inspired, I kid you not, by the Old Testament. First and Second Kings have a lot of political intrigue in them. I mashed that up with the story of David's transformation into a warlord while he was running from Saul and got a plot which impressed even my very well-read group.

Eldan
2011-04-23, 04:04 PM
Okay, then. An important one:

Adventure Building:
Never build a situation with only one way out. Examples are investigations: if you have only a single clue and the players miss or misinterpret it, the entire adventure will come to a halt. Have at least three or so clues, and alternative ways to get to the solution. (Informants, other cases, stored information in libarries, etc.)

Lord Raziere
2011-04-23, 05:27 PM
surprise them at some point.

also, you notice a pattern is forming in their actions, make the next quest to question those actions, point out the flaws in what they are doing

don't allow them too many resources, keep said resources at a level just good enough to help solve their current problems.

Solaris
2011-04-23, 06:17 PM
One of the best game I ever ran was inspired, I kid you not, by the Old Testament. First and Second Kings have a lot of political intrigue in them. I mashed that up with the story of David's transformation into a warlord while he was running from Saul and got a plot which impressed even my very well-read group.

Do tell. I might have to crib some of that for my crew.

Mastikator
2011-04-23, 06:28 PM
These are guidelines that I follow that in my experience work well.

Linear plots are bad, they're often de-railed, the players are unlikely to feel involved and you end up wasting a lot of hours making up a story you really like that will never see the light of day.
Instead, make up various factions and NPC's, give them different goals and relationships to each other and reasons to involve the players.
Let the players have a reason to side with or against all sides, let all the players do something useful.
Don't decide where you want to end up, let the consequences of the players actions shape the future.
Don't use the BBEG trope, powerful NPCs are fine but default enemies are boring to a nuanced audience.
Obstacles are opportunities, "if you can't beat them, join them" and vice versa.
Make fights less often, and more brutal, and unless the PC's are sociopaths then let them have psychological consequences for killing people.

Delwugor
2011-04-23, 07:02 PM
Linear plots are bad, they're often de-railed, the players are unlikely to feel involved and you end up wasting a lot of hours making up a story you really like that will never see the light of day.
This is very true!

akma
2011-04-23, 07:07 PM
I'm glad to see someone is expanding, instead of just telling me my tips are subjective.

I generally avoid posting without saying something that wasn`t said before.



Also, you're using a Canadian multi-lingual standard keyboard, right?

I use a hebrew keyboard. Appearently made by Logitech, which according to wikipedia, is a company originating form Switzerland.
What made you realise I use a multi-lingual keyboard? The fact I wrote cliche instead of clic'?

P.S. Would you edit in some of the feedback people (including me) added? You could also do another section of encounter building.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-04-23, 07:12 PM
What made you realise I use a multi-lingual keyboard? The fact I wrote cliche instead of clic'?

Your apostrophes were on the wrong angle. My keyboard is multi-lingual and it does that unless I hold down the control key, tap the shift key, and then type.

Yora
2011-04-24, 04:35 AM
My german keyboard has ` and ' and .

Sillycomic
2011-04-24, 04:41 AM
I'm glad to see someone is expanding, instead of just telling me my tips are subjective.

I read the first post when you said, "What do you think" as you asking us for feedback.

Perhaps I interpreted that wrong.

Eldan
2011-04-24, 06:57 AM
My german keyboard has ` and ' and .

Swiss Keyboards actually have keys for , and just `'^. It's a bit crowded, really. But government regulations says every keyboard has to be compatible with all four national languages.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-04-24, 11:29 AM
I read the first post when you said, "What do you think" as you asking us for feedback.

Perhaps I interpreted that wrong.

What I meant was that I was getting the same feedback over and over again.