So…. You want to write your own Adventure? (part 1)

So your players are fed up with the Modules you have, nothing new is coming that you like, or maybe you just want to put something out there you created.Either way, one of these days you will want to write your own Adventure… so what do you need to do?

So, you want to write your own Adventure?
 
So your players are fed up with the Modules you have, nothing new is coming that you like, or maybe you just want to put something out there you created.
Either way, one of these days you will want to write your own Adventure… so what do you need to do? 
 
I have been writing Adventures for years, the structure is much the same as writing a Novel, only in a Novel, you have control over the things the Characters Say and Do… In an Adventure you don’t. Remember that and act write accordingly, just because you know there is no reason to go in the Cupboard, they don’t!
 
Next this is something I was something I was taught by my writing Teacher years ago, start at a period of Change, change brings action, action gives involvement, and that will get the PC’s into the game from the outset!
 
So, what do you need?
 
Theme and Setting 
Well first off, you need a Theme and Setting, either a pre-made one or a world of your own, the setting gives you constraints. You know if the game is set in Boston in 1890… Well knights with swords are pretty unlikely, owning a Colt is a possibility.
 
Plot 
The Story or Plot, is the purpose of this Adventure. There are many types of actual Plot (see HERE for some examples) but the simplest form are Event Driven or Site Driven. Having your players wander around killing things is NOT a Plot.
 
Conflict
 Conflict is a struggle, not always against a person or monster, it can be against a way of life, a place, a thing, the list is only limited by your imagination.
The PC’s may struggle against another character, against the forces of nature, against society, or even against something inside himself or herself (feelings, emotions, illness).
 
Character
 Everything should have a character, not just people. Things and places have their own distinct smells, colours and attitude. Walking into the Gates of Waterdeep is far different to stepping inside the Cursed Grove of Palanthas for example. 
 
So, how do I set up the story?
 There are many ways, to do this one way I found recently on the Net is to set the story up like a Hollywood Blockbuster, most action Movies follow the same structure, so why not adapt that for a DnD module for example?
 
These stories have two overall “goals” and 9 “acts”…
 
The Goals 
The first goal is what the protaganist (or players) thinks they needs to do. The second goal is what they are actually supposed to do..
 
So, Consider Star Wars, which is basically an Adventure story in Space.. 
Luke’s goal is to return R2D2 to the Rebel Alliance. However, part way through the movie, his goal changes to destroying the Death Star. 
 
The 9 Acts
The 9 Acts are a simple progression, through the story, with ups and downs along the way, this should build up the tension and excitement as the acts go on.
 
So again, in Star Wars..
Act 0: The Backstory – stuff that happens before the adventure begins (the scrolling text at the beginning of Star Wars).

Act 1: The Beginning – the story, uh…begins. This is usually an establishing shot. (Princess Leia’s ship getting attacked by a Star Destroyer).

Act 2: Something Bad Happens – the conflict is introduced. (Darth Vader captures Leia).

Act 3: Meet the Hero – the protaganists are introduced. (Hello Luke!)

Act 4: The Hero Commits – the protaganists decide what they need to do…either by choice or they’re forced into the choice. (R2 escapes and Luke pursues him).

Act 5: Pursuing the False Goal – the protaganists act on what they believe they need to do to succeed at their original goal. (Ben, Luke and the droids meet up with Han and Chewie and are off to Alderaan…where they get forced to land on the Death Star. They rescue Leia).

Act 6: The Lowest Point – the act begins at the lowest point, but the realization that their original goal isn’t what they need to do arrives. (Ben dies, the Falcon escapes).

Act 7: Pursuing the True Goal – the protaganists decide what they need to truly do, and then do it. (the Rebels plan on destroying the Death Star. The Trench Run. Vader almost kills Luke. Han and Chewie return just in time).

Act 8: The Denouement – loose ends are wrapped up (Leia awards medals).

So, how does this apply to my Adventure?

Well, its simple really, these can be applied to the Adventure like so:

Act Zero: The backstory is usually supplied by a combination of the campaign setting and specific elements about the villain of the adventure. This backstory should be specific to the plot, but may not even be revealed to the PCs.

Act 1 and 2: The beginning and the the Something Bad probably occur off screen as far as the PCs are concerned. The princess is captured. A caravan has gone missing. The gods have gone missing.

Act 3: As the PCs are the heroes, there obviously isn’t much to this act, except of course if a new PC (or perhaps a companion character) is being introduced.

Act 4: Something happens to the PCs to get them involved. Often this is the first encounter of the adventure. They come across the ambushed caravan. Asassins attack them.

Act 5: Pursuing the False Goal. This is probably a series of encounters ideally progressively getting nastier as the PCs enter the dungeon or wilderness in pursuit of their foe or to find the Lost City of Gold.

Act 6: The Twist gets Revealed. Ideally this should be a very exciting or nasty encounter in which the PCs discover that what they’re really after isn’t what they thought. They discover that the Princess is actually a Succubus. The caravan was carrying components to raise an army of undead. The Lost City’s gold cannot be taken from the site and the undead occupants are angry…they have to escape alive.

Act 7: The PCs pursue the new, true goal. The PCs track down and kill the Succubus. They kill the necromancer. They get out of the city with their lives.

Act 8: The Denouement. The PCs get their rewards at the end of the adventure.

I think this works and gives the Adventure Structure, what do you think?

Please feel free to Comment HERE

More on this in Part 2, Next week

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