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Author Topic: How do you go about creating an adventure?  (Read 2435 times)

Maximum Fu

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« on: March 02, 2006, 11:19:34 AM »
As I noted in another thread, this is one of the things that I am worst at.  Invariably, at the very moment I sit down to try to write an adventure or at least generate the beginnings of an idea, I am unable to come with anything remotely original.  Instead, I wind up with something like "go there, kill that guy, retrieve this thing..."

How do you folks deal with the originality issue?  Is it that important, or do your players not recognize quests that are familiar as long as the specific details are different?

More importantly, tell me about your own process for creating an adventure.  How do you start and what path do you take from the beginning until the point you are able to run it for your players?

Thanks in advance.

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kryyst

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2006, 11:32:41 AM »
My typical process starts out with coming up with a starting point and an ending point.  That's usually the most brain wracking part of it all.   From then I think of how players will react to a situation and just step by step progress the story.  

I'll have some notes on people and places but really I just come up with A and D on the journey.  I then let the players loose in the world and they come up with the B's and C's.  If they get off track I'll either passively get them back on track or I'll just let them go wild and develop things on the fly.

I'm not really a good example at all of how to create a story.  I much prefer to provide them a world that's active and then let them loose in it.  I find that their input and paranoia usually leads to it's own stories.
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Knightcrawler

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2006, 11:34:37 AM »
Hey the basic bones of many a module and home brewed campaign is exactly what you just described as "go here, kill that guy, retrieve this thing."

Fleshing it out has more to do with the why and the where.  What are the motivations of the NPC's and what changes to the world will their interaction with the characters have?  What do the characters have to do to "go here".  You create an environment, populate the environment and then the characters react to that environment.
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Ottomsoh the Elderly

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2006, 11:45:17 AM »
When I manipulate my pawns in order to get them to solve this or that problem, I first think about specific little things -- one may say scenes -- I want them to live, in order to mold their psyche in the way best fitting to my ends.

So I keep notes about different scenes that I think would be interesting to have them go through, and then, based on said scenes, I elaborate a path that'll allow them to go through all of them in a believable fashion, so that they don't feel manipulated. Once I have that, I can see the overall theme of their journey, and it is this theme that gives me the actual arc.

Everything else is plotted from there.
 

Cyclotron

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2006, 02:18:04 PM »
Quote from: Maximum Fu
Is it that important, or do your players not recognize quests that are familiar as long as the specific details are different?

BINGO.

Take a look at movies or novels...  There very, very few original ideas out there.  Many would say that there aren't any at all, that everything's just a variation on a handful of themes.  To a point, they are right.

Most of my basic adventure ideas come from the same dozen or so basic ideas, but it's easy to stay fresh by varying the details, or adding in assorted plot twists.

Quote from: Maximum Fu
More importantly, tell me about your own process for creating an adventure. How do you start and what path do you take from the beginning until the point you are able to run it for your players?

I try to keep it real simple.  I come up with a goal for the players...  "Go there, kill that guy, retrieve this thing..."

Then I stat up the bad guy.  I figure out why he's doing what he's doing, and what resources he has at his disposal.

I may come up with one or two set pieces, if appropriate.

Then I wing the rest of it, based on what the PCs decide to do, and how the bad guy is most likely to react.
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obryn

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2006, 05:51:01 PM »
It depends on what I expect to happen...  For a lot of game sessions, it's enough for me to have an idea of the basic problem at hand, the players' session goals, some possible ways to accomplish them, and the stats for the baddies.

Then I come up with a list of other events that may or may not happen.

In some cases, I work up a complete key for a location-based adventure.  This is somewhat rare.  I'm more likely to stat out a few areas and leave the rest of it for on-the-spot description.

During any game session, about 30% of what I do (non-stat-related) is prepared and 70% is improv.

Sometimes this jumps up to 5% and 95%. :)

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Xavier Lang

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2006, 06:19:19 PM »
Once a campaign is up and running this is what I usually do.

I ask questions..
What interests the players?
Who/what do they like/dislike?
What aspect of the game do I want to reveal more information about?

I then pick something from the above list I want to play with it and push outwards towards a story from there.
 

el-remmen

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2006, 07:30:57 PM »
I am an outline and checklist type of adventure creator.

I will map out a site (if a map is necessary) and stat out some NPCs and then use the outline/timeline and NPC actions to move the adventure along until it bumps heads with the PCs and then there is CONFLICT.  

The conflict then changes the direction of the outline (I guess it is kind of a flowchart) making sure I hit the important clues and scenes to give the PCs the fuel to move the adventure along how they'd like until it bumps heads withe NPCs and then there is CONFLICT.

'Conflict' does not always mean a fight (in fact, in my games it generally doesn't), it usually means a tough choice of some kind or a decision that needs to be made that either results from a fight or can lead to a fight or can lead to a whole new series of consequences and revelations.

I guess, my adventures are very organic.
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Reefer Madness

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2006, 07:52:22 PM »
one of the main things I look at is pacing....i get a rough idea of what I want (sure you may think "i cant think of anything original just the same old schlock") but its the details that make it different... The details help with pacing.

You go there: what about the obstacles of getting there, anyone else going there, do we even know where "There" is, Is it even possible to get "There" witht he means we have.

         I Put Extra pacers here just in case...throw in a couple side things that may or may not go anywhere...I put a burial mound in one adventure that had a rats nest in it and a skeleton...thats all, the players spent half an hour doing things with it...they dug it up rats attacked, they killed the rats, they find a single skeleton with a leather purse around his neck....they argue over who is touching it or not touching it, they open it, and find 2 gold coins...they argue over if they shoudl take them or not and hell one guy kept wondering what magical powers he got, and it didnt help that the players kept egging the guy on saying it was a 6 demon bag....

Kill that guy: can the pc's kill him, hell can they even find him for that matter, has someone else already killed him, does it take special means to kill him, should he be killed, is he the right guy.

           More extras, A doppleganger is something fun to throw in, because the players have to decide what the hell is going on if they were sent to kill a specific person....

Retrive this thing: can they, is is distroyed, the size of a elephant, locked onto something else, alive and moving, is there a certin way it has to be removed...



even the most basic ideas can be changed around and added too, to make it something totally new...
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Vermicious Knid

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2006, 08:08:51 PM »
When I'm building adventures from scratch I like to build them around a memorable villain or encounter. In an ongoing campaign I like most of the sessions to be based on the major NPC players reacting to the events of the last session.

Example: Last session the players killed a major crimelord that was smuggling human slaves into the city. This creates the following situations:

1. The other mob bosses scramble to take over the unclaimed territory.
2. The remaining underlings of the dead boss try to take his place.
3. The humanoid tribe that was providing the slaves is looking for a new market.
4. The mind flayer that was buying the slaves and living on the down-low as a human psion needs a new source of food.

This gives me a small handful of possible hooks. I just need to decide between games how this will directly impact the players and dream up some interesting encounters based on the info. Maybe the players get caught in the crossfire of a gang battle, or perhaps the mind flayer grabs an important NPC.
 

willpax

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How do you go about creating an adventure?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2006, 08:46:17 PM »
I usually start with two concepts"

1. what the players seem interested in doing
2. what the npcs I'm currently focusing on would want to be doing

From there, I might come up with a very rudimentary time line and/or map, which leads me to creating a few additional npcs. I've discovered that taking the time to flesh out even some minor characters can have a big payoff during the game. I also usually try to have at least one twist--a fight in a difficult terrain, one devious plot by the npcs, an innocent caught in the crossfire, and so on--that make whatever fights we have seem more tactically interesting. That's usually all the planning I ever manage.

As others have pointed out, the plot may not be different, but if the scenery has changed it will feel fresh.
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