JP On Gaming

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Writing Good Adventure Writing, Part 5

  1. How is this adventure different than other?
    When thinking about your adventure and its setting, think of what sets it apart from other adventures. Here you want to find out whether your adventure is simply a re-write of an already existing one or something new. If your main plot, main villain, main plot hook and main plot twist is taken from another adventure, you may want to rethink your adventure. A good adventure is not simply a re-write of another one.
    However, this might be what you want to do if you are adapting an adventure from another...
  2. Play-test it!
    Play-test your adventure! Run them yourself or have someone run them for you while you discreetly watch and take notes. I will not go into the theory of finding a good play-test group at this time. Try to play-test with players from a wide variety of backgrounds, playing styles and interests. This will insure feedback that is as varied as possible. Take in that feedback and use it to make your adventure better.
    I know many authors cannot stand any criticism about their work, but it WILL happen. If you do not get that criticism now, be prepared to see your adventure slammed and burned on yahoogroups, web forums and at local and distant events. Better to have people you know and trust criticize your work than total strangers. Gamers as a whole tend to LOVE or HATE things.
    Once the play-test is done, sit down and evaluate the major points of the game.

    1. Were there points where the change was due to a lucky dice rolled? Like rolling a critical perception check at a bad moment, a long series of good or bad rolls?
    2. Was it just a lucky build or item used at the right time? If so, then make sure you ask yourself: how common is it that this situation returns. If a common detect evil spell ruined your whole plot, you may want to look for alternatives or extra plot twists (undetectable alignment, ring of mind shielding, etc.)
    3. Did the players guess your style? Some players who regularly play with a DM or author will guess how the adventure flows.
      I will take for example Chris Chesher, a rather plentiful Living Greyhawk author. Before every adventure I would say. "Okay... this is what will happen: we will be hired to do a mundane task and then we will be presented with a side-quest or side-trek that has nothing to do with why we came and that is where the adventure will happen." I do not believe I've been wrong a single time since I came up with this theory. I got Chris's style pretty good. Now that said, Chris wrote some good and some bad adventures, but his formula remained.

    Another thing I like to go over in more details are the interaction scenes where the players interact with a particularly important NPC. Were there questions the players asked that I have not covered in the text? Frequent question I have a bad habit of forgetting: How much will it pay us? and How long do we have to complete the mission? After play-test I rush to add those information in, always better to cover more questions than too few.
  3. Players can be kept in the dark, but the DM must know where he is going at all times
    There is nothing worse than a confused DM. DM confusion usually leads to a lowered enjoyment of the game and players who start goofing off or laughing at a DM's "load time". That players be confused (at least some time during the adventure) is fine. A DM can be Like a captain in a storm, the DM must always know exactly where he needs to take his ship. Players can EASILY know when their DM is lost or confused.


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