The topic for the 16 May 2013 #RPGChat was Adventure Design.
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Tonight, we’re going to talk about essentials of adventure design.
To start we asked the chatters what are the hallmarks of good adventure design
@d20Blonde There are few universal cornerstones. But maybe every adventure should have challenge and achievement
@d20Blonde Meaningful character agency
@d20Blonde To make an adventure great, you want to fill it with enjoyable moments that add up to be fun & memorable
@d20Blonde Something to get players going. You can’t just say “hey, here’s a great big world, go do something!”
@Alpharalpha A memorable adventure has an interesting question that needs to be answered. Not a mystery, but a question.
Regarding con games:
@unique_exemplar One of the keys for con-games is to start AFTER the hook. Design as if they already bit.
@symatt Then make sure you have something for each pre-gen to do. If you really don’t know PC, then variety try to hit all tastes
Changing up your design approach based on what you are designing for:
And how does that approach change when you’re doing something like, say, preparing for a dungeon crawl?
@d20Blonde The things that set dungeon crawls apart from other adventure types are clear elements of choice, & constrained setting
@d20Blonde I make sure the problems of the scenario can be resolved in short order. And I cut down on subplots/NPCs.
@d20Blonde Dungeoncrawls don’t have to mean “less story.” It just means that story is of a different type
What about designing for campaigns:
Campaign adventures are easier, you can explore a range of options over time. One-shots need tight goals, big risks, a big payoff. #RPGChat
.@dungeonbastard In a campaign you can build up to a BBEG reveal, you don’t have that luxury in a one-off
@Board_Crossing Exactly. The GM is part storyteller and part improv actor. Plus battles in forests are way more fun than hospitals.
And things to avoid in adventure design:
As a player, what things do you dislike to see in an adventure?
@d20Blonde lack of story. a gauntlet of enemies w/o purpose isn’t fun for me
@d20Blonde Lack of choice. This is especially true when a GM isn’t willing to go off-book in a pre-written adventure
@d20Blonde Constrained solution to a problem. An adventure needs to be flexible
@d20Blonde Adventure pet peeves: things to shut down specific abilities. “You have X-ray vision? It…uh…doesn’t work here.”
@d20Blonde Adventures with a complete lack of focus are my biggest design pet peeve
what kinds of thing do you NOT want to see in an adventure? for me, a pet peeve is cookie cutter NPCs make ’em interesting
@Alpharalpha Every NPC betraying you is a specific instance. Make some (most) NPCs friendly. If only to keep the players guessing.
@Alpharalpha Any element so precious that the DM must block player actions that would ruin it.
Also making the list or things I hate in adventures is the double cross by the NPC who hired the PCs, common in Shadowrun games
@Alpharalpha I hate dungeon crawls where the goal is the macguffin which has no real value for the players.
Let’s talk about railroading. IMO, railroading is fine IF the track goes up and down and twists & curves. I.e, it’s a FUN RIDE
“The volcano is erupting, get to the airship.” COULD be very railroady. Could also be very fun if the challenges are interesting.
When the presented choices don’t make SENSE or your players discover a better idea, that’s when lack of choice is a problem.
I like an economy between me and the GM. Railroad me if you want, but GIVE ME SOMETHING in return.
Using “movie logic” for adventure design
I like my RP logic to be as close to movie logic as possible. There is a Plot that Characters follow, changing along the way.
During adv design I like to manipulate scenes like a movie. Build the set, create surprises, add events and complications
How many encounter locations to use?
how many encounter locations are needed? I usually use three, the intro, the puzzle with the clue to the final encouinter
@Alpharalpha For a single session, I find 5 about right unless the system is really light. I use Johnn Fours 5 room dungeon model
@Alpharalpha 1) Entrance and guardian 2) Puzzle or RP challenge 3) Trick or setback 4) Climax/big battle 5)reward/revalation/twist
@Alpharalpha Here’s the five room model: http://www.roleplayingtips.com/readissue.php?number=156#1 … #rpgchat
And lastly never forget to bring the fun:
Your job is to deliver FUN not necessarily MAP THE WORLD
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