Saturday, October 27, 2012

How To Write An Adventure Module

No, this is more of my journey to writing adventure modules than an actual tutorial.

I am not much for using adventure modules typically.  I personally find that most are presented as hundreds of others, as a dungeon crawl with overladen descriptions. 

I am a storyteller by nature.  I like adventures to be a bit open, random and flexible.  Yes, it means more work on my part as I go through with the players.  That's OK though, I am prepared with plenty of random tables I have found online or I have created myself to keep things interesting.

But, as I have begun writing adventure modules because I think people might enjoy my story centered style of adventure setting.  It allows the players to think outside the box.  It gives the GM the ability to add to or modify the story as it goes along.  I believe my style of adventuring provides more fun for the GM and the players, giving them room to stretch out their characters and imaginations.

I believe that an adventure should last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.  If GM's want to give their players an all night or all day game, that is what sandboxes are for and running an adventure module is not always a part of that. 

So, I have creativity and story based adventures rather than simply described or read aloud and blocked out descriptions of room by room and place by place.

I personally think story based adventures are less linear than the typical and are instead open ended.  Freedom really is what I think this gives to the GM.  The opportunity to take ownership of the adventure.  Build it into their own game world, insert it as part of their own ever growing sandbox.

Something I have always believed in when it comes to adventure modules is balance.  To provide a challenge that can be overcome by the levels of the PC's that engage in it.  Not something too overwhelming or too easy to crush 'neath their hard-booted feet.

I have spent several days recently researching a better way to accomplish this balance than how I had been doing it.  Talking to other, more experienced GM's and players.  Reading articles on writing adventure module creation and trying different methods out.  From mathematical equations to "feeling it out",  I have explored ways to make each challenge one that could be overcome without being impossible or too easily achieved.

Placing the right amount of reward isn't the easiest thing to do either.  This is one of those areas I like to give DM's elbow room.  Some DM's have things worked out in their systems to reward less treasure but more experience points for action.  Some DM's like to give players the biggest apple to put on the stick as they can get and keep it continuously out of reach.

It's not my place as an adventure module writer to force rewards on GM's that doesn't fit their style.  I leave them room to tweak these kinds of thing.

All in all, one could say I write outlines more than full blown, totally mapped out and defined modules.  I don't think that's such a bad thing.

I shoot for giving DM's something they can run their players through even if they haven't had time to write their own adventure up.  These are adventures that with a reading beforehand, they can go through it making it up as they go but having enough structure there that they don't have to make everything up.  They can have fun throwing a curve ball in, extra encounters and different situations.

Ultimatley, the adventure modules I write aren't for "lazy" DM's.  They won't do it all for you.  You have to do more than just read th ewords and do the math at the end.

I incorporate elements from literature and real world settings that may not typically be as obvious in other adventures.  I like to introduce GM's and player to things they might not have heard of before.  I like to make them think.  I want them em to have fun., be mischievous, make it their own, get lost in the game, forget that it's a game for just a little bit.

I aim high,  I only hope that even a fraction of it comes out.

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