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Guide to designing adventures
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Author:  Ugavine [ Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:57 am ]
Post subject:  Guide to designing adventures

Guide to designing adventures

I thought I'd create a thread where we can all post idea's on how we go about creating adventures. Hopefully this will be of help to new RPG GMs and even to experienced ones like me. I know I'm always looking at ways of making my games better.

I know lots of people for make it up as they go along, and most GMs have to do that at lot of the time, but planned adventures are always better IMHO.

So here goes;

Ugavine's Quick Guide to Designing Adventures

Theme
I tend to choose theme for an adventure. Something from the Star Wars universe I want to focus on.
- base the adventure on a specific goal (eg. destroy the Death Star saving the Rebels).
- base it around a character, PC or NPC (eg. ROTS & Anakin's fall to the Dark side).
- base the adventure around a planet.
- base the adventure around a specific alien culture.

Cast of characters
This develops as I plot the adventure, I just keep coming back and adding characters. I then decide on what stats I might need.
Major NPCs - the PCs will have major interaction with these characters. full stats required.
Minor NPCs - some PC interation, general stats needed. You don't normally need to know a Stormtroopers Gambling skill.
Generic NPCs - the general populous, general stats will normally do. Keep a few handy.

Links to a few generic NPC stats (D20 RCRB & some D6) - cheap website plug :D

Knights of the Old Republic http://www.ugavine.com/knights_general.htm
Stormtroopers http://www.ugavine.com/imp6.htm
Rebel troops http://www.ugavine.com/rebel4.htm
Underworld http://www.ugavine.com/thugs.htm


Brainstorming (grr... I don't like that word but can't think of another)
Basically I just write down a list of idea's. Anything that come into my head. Make a list... a long list. Aliens, characters, planets, events, vehicles, descriptions... anything that sounds good. Use RPG sourcebooks for idea's. The Star Wars Galactic Campaign Guide is a great source of idea's.

l end up with more idea's than I need, but that's fine, keep them for a later adventure. By now I'll have some encounters forming in my head.

Whittle the list down to the ones I want to use, and then it's onto linking it all together.

Plotting it all out

Okay, time for the GMs biggest secret - Illusion of Free Will.

As a player you know how frustrating it can be to be led in a straight line from encounter to encounter with the GM not allowing you to stray from the plot. the idea is to let the players think they can go anywhere. I love the example from the WEG 1st Edition - you plan PCs to go to Tatooine and fight Tusken Raiders, they choose to go to Dagobah, fine carry on the story and have the PCs fight Swamp Raiders.

It's important to not get frustrated if PCs don't go where you want them to.

Clues - clues can be fun, but if you're group are not into puzzle solving don't make them too obscure. I've played too many games where the adventure has ground to a halt simply because we missed simple seach check. Don't give everything away, but don't let bits of info stall the adventure either.

The Flow Chart
So it's back to school, the only other time I've ever used flow charts. I tend to set mine out similar to below (simple adventure);

Event One
|
Encounter A- Encounter B - Encounter C - Encounter D
|
Event Two
|
Encounter E or F
|
Event Three

Events are the major plot points of the Story. Meeting the Dark Lord. Fighting the Dark Lord.

Encounters are the bits inbetween. These are the bits that may get missed or where you may have to make up new ones on the spot. Encounters drive the adventure from one event to another.

In my example I Encounters A, B, C or D can occur in any order. I plan out each Encounter and go with the flow, dropping the PCs from once encounter to another depending on their actions, possibly picking up clues before moving them onto the next major Event. Basically the EVENTs always happen, the ENCOUNTERs might happen.

Example 'simple' Adventure

Find the Rebel Agent

Event One
Space Battle. PCs fight off TIE fighters but can't save the Rebel Frigate being destroyed. They get an encrypted message, "Find Shira Antillies. Tatooine."

PCs travel to Tatoonie, and land at Mos Eisley. Hand PCs a map highlighting major places (where you want them to go).

Encounter A
Cantina. A number of patrons could cause trouble or provide information. Gambling games are going on, and maybe a drink picks a fight.

Encounter B
Street Thugs try to Rob PCs.

Encounter C
Lups Store. The Wolflike aliens that run the store are friendly. Stocks are limited (no weapons). Encounter Jabbas thugs demanding protection money. PCs can choose to intervine.

Encounter D
Spaceport hotel. A group of smugglers are trading goods. A Scoundrel PC may be able to get into the deal.

Let the PCs drift from Encounter to Encounter, maybe making up a couple more depending where they go. Then once you think time has been spent you can drop into any Encounter that the Shira Antillies was in town a few weeks back buying supplies for the Dim-U monks.

Event Two
Imperial arrive and a Bounty Hunter spots the Rebels.
Run a combat scene wherever the PCs leanrt this information.
PCs should escape and head for the Dim-U monastry.

Encounter E (if PCs escaped the imperial easily)
Tusken Raiders attack en route to the monastry.

Encounter F (if PCs were badly injured by the Imperials)
Meet Jawa traders who can sell medpacs or even the services of a Medical Droid.

Event Three
Find Shira Antilles, but the Imperials have caught up again. Final fight & escape.


Now this is still a pretty linear adventure. However, the PCs do have a goal. And they have quite a lot of freedom to do what they want in Mos Eisley. You can drop clues and only provide the information they need after they've done what you consider enough work, but before they get bored & frustrated. The Empire turning up is the point the action moves up a gear.


The final Scene
Now this will depend on if you are running things adventure to adventure or part of a campaign. Either way make sure you know how you plan to end things. And importantly, decide what will happen if things go wrong. What if Luke doesn't destroy the Death Star, or what if Boba doesn't escape with Han in Carbonite? you need to be prepared to live with the consequences of the PCs not saving the day!


GamesMasters - what not to do

The ultimate NPC - This is where the GM uses a NPC to solve the problems and save the day. This can really annoy players who will think the GM may as well just run the adventure for himself. Don't do it!

Don't say say "No." - unless players are being silly. If a PC wants to do something let them, and if it was something silly watch them fail.

Don't let one PC cause a TPK - TPK, Total Party Kill. If one PC messes up through his own stupidity that leads to him being killed don't kill the other PCs if you can help it. Get them out of the situation anyway you can. It's not fair on players to have their favourite PC killed because of the stupidity or inexperience of another player.

PC death - it happens. I know of GMs who just let the dice fall. I disagree with this. Make it a mortal wound, but don't kill off a Level 20 PC just because a thug rolled a crit.

Author:  ChonChuuk [ Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:33 am ]
Post subject: 

I have played D&D heavily, but never run a SW campaign. With the release of the Saga edition I thought I would get into it. This is very helpful.

Thanks and looking forward to more ideas from everyone.

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