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Questions tagged [adventure-writing]

For questions about designing and writing adventures, for personal use or publication.

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53 votes
9 answers
5k views

How do I handle when my players overestimate the importance of an encounter/a location?

TL;DR: How can I (and should I) make the players' efforts worth their while when they overestimate the importance of an encounter or a location? I am running a homebrew DnD 5e adventure where the ...
FerventHippo's user avatar
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51 votes
9 answers
6k views

How can I check if a new group is OK with a plotline from an ethical standpoint without spoiling the plot?

TL;DR: I am unsure if the plotline I planned is "too dark" for a new group, and would like to discuss the level of grit with them without spoiling the plotline. How can I do this? I am ...
FerventHippo's user avatar
  • 2,036
44 votes
14 answers
17k views

How do I run a maze scenario without using a map?

Inspired by a question on another site, what's the best way to add a labyrinth to an adventure scenario without making the challenges contingent upon player skill at mapping or navigation? I'd like ...
Jadasc's user avatar
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42 votes
16 answers
5k views

Dungeons that aren't dungeons

I'd like to make a "dungeon" for my party to explore, but it needs to be something other than an old-school "dungeon". Underground hallways and rooms with creatures in them have been overdone for us. ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 17.1k
42 votes
7 answers
6k views

How to guide my players into realizing they have multiple options available for an encounter?

For my next session with my PCs, I'm planning to have them witness an attack on an NPC that's intended to hook them the adventure. The plan is for the party to encounter his daughter, who also has a ...
NeutralTax's user avatar
  • 3,070
39 votes
15 answers
2k views

How do I keep NPCs from just sounding the alarm?

When I design adventures, I often come up with situations where the NPCs could realistically thwart the PCs quickly by sounding an alarm. This is especially common in science fiction settings, where ...
Jakob's user avatar
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38 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is the Five Layer Model of horror scenario design?

I'm designing a horror part of my campaign. I've heard of the Five Layer Model for horror scenario design but I'm not sure what it is. Has anyone heard of it and if so can you either explain it or ...
Skathix's user avatar
  • 2,359
36 votes
10 answers
11k views

True Resurrection ruins plot hooks

The existence of the spell True Resurrection is playing havoc with my plot hooks. A king's daughter (his heir) was a high level adventurer who got TPKed while fighting an excessively powerful monster. ...
BobTheAverage's user avatar
35 votes
16 answers
2k views

How do I get the PCs to visit scary places at night?

Sometimes when I design scenarios, I realize that my mental image of the adventure is only exciting because it takes place at night. When the players actually play through the adventure, they might ...
Jakob's user avatar
  • 4,941
35 votes
9 answers
18k views

What should I consider when creating a time travel adventure?

I'm sure that many would advise against doing so at all, but knowing that I will likely try to do so anyway, what are the factors I should consider when creating a time travel adventure? Specifically,...
Cat's user avatar
  • 3,862
31 votes
8 answers
14k views

Building a good comedy adventure?

I was wondering how to build a comedic adventure for D&D (or at least get some tips on it). The DM guide mentioned the multiple ideas for campaigns and one of them was comedy! I tried to start ...
Jeremiah Page's user avatar
29 votes
6 answers
6k views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 465
28 votes
8 answers
2k views

Overcoming setting complexity paralysis as a GM

The problem What are the best practices to overcome that certain “complexity paralysis” that may strike a GM when trying to learn and immerse himself in a setting that has a lot of intricate ...
OpaCitiZen's user avatar
  • 39.4k
26 votes
9 answers
5k views

Are there any official guidelines for Shadowrun payouts?

I'm trying to figure out how much to pay Shadowrunners for a job, and how to balance the NPCs. I couldn't find anything in SR4A (though I could've missed something). I've only played in a couple of ...
RMorrisey's user avatar
  • 14.8k
24 votes
9 answers
5k views

How can I avoid railroading in a sci-fi campaign?

I run a fantasy campaign and a sci-fi campaign. I always find it much easier to create interesting content in the fantasy world than the sci-fi world. In fantasy, for instance, a dungeon can be many ...
Brian's user avatar
  • 359
24 votes
6 answers
54k views

How do I build interesting dungeons? [closed]

I'm a new GM and I need to undestand how to build enjoyable locations. I don't get how to build interesting dungeons. For example, I need to explore a castle. But a castle is not as complicated as ...
olinarr's user avatar
  • 2,901
24 votes
7 answers
3k views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
Gordon Gustafson's user avatar
23 votes
9 answers
6k views

When designing an adventure, how can I ensure a continuous player experience in a setting that's likely to favor TPKs?

I am planning to design a Adventure which has a strong political flavor and is taking place in the Nine Hells. Its gonna be an evil campaign. I plan to let the heroes start at level 15 and require the ...
Zaibis's user avatar
  • 4,001
23 votes
1 answer
3k views

How can PCs defeat a magical Necrotic Cyst-based surveillance state?

In his excellent answer to this question, Brian Ballsun-Stanton posited a horrifying surveillance state using, at its core, a handful of powerful creatures, the feat Mother Cyst (LM 28), and a ...
Hey I Can Chan's user avatar
23 votes
4 answers
829 views

How do I construct an individual session as part of a larger campaign?

I've been GMing/DMing on and off for years. I prefer playing. Mainly because when I run a game, I'm more a fly by the seat of your pants kind of dm, and it works sort of.. My problem is that, while I ...
Arr MiHardies's user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
3k views

Guidelines for Writing a Convention Scenario

I am in the process of playtesting my RPG system, and I want to put together a scenario for convention play. But almost all my experience as a GM is with long, customized campaigns that are highly ...
gomad's user avatar
  • 33.4k
22 votes
3 answers
1k views

How do I run an adventure with the party in competition with an NPC party in a race for the MacGuffin?

I'm looking at the next leg of our campaign being a "race for the MacGuffin" scenario. The PCs (Rolemaster) have been chasing an evil sorceress for a while now. She is currently on her own but will ...
Ginger McMurray's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
1k views

How can I turn a B*-tree into a puzzle?

My players, being quite terrified of the consequences of injury (less research time), have asked me for a series of magical puzzles for their next adventure. I have decided that, roughly, it will ...
Brian Ballsun-Stanton's user avatar
20 votes
6 answers
6k views

How do I cover a vast area of land with dense vegetation?

I need help to introduce a plot device for the next scenario I intend to GM. I need a way to cover a large area of grassland (a few miles in radius) with high, thick and near impenetrable vegetation. ...
Forseti's user avatar
  • 1,347
20 votes
5 answers
10k views

What do you do when avoiding railroading just gives you stuck players?

I'm seeking some newbie GM advice. I'm an experienced rpg player, but am much less experienced as a GM I was recently running an D&D 5e adventure, where the players would be investigating in a ...
che_kid's user avatar
  • 301
19 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why do my players want to be superman in Dresden Files?

I'm on my third campaign using Dresden Files, and I'm noticing a pattern. There's an incredibly wide range of powers and abilities that a character can have, and an even larger number of ways to fluff ...
IgneusJotunn's user avatar
  • 10.7k
18 votes
6 answers
4k views

Convincing characters to take up epic quests in a (mostly) realistic world

Background I'm the DM of a role playing group. Improvised rule set. I've created a world for my players where I have tried to be as close to 16th century reality as possible, with the additions of ...
firelynx's user avatar
  • 382
18 votes
5 answers
4k views

How do I turn a scenario idea into an adventure?

I'm still struggling with, as a GM, turning a scenario idea or a goal of the PCs' into a proper adventure. A proper adventure has challenging, multiple steps — I'm failing to get the “multiple steps” ...
GaryFurash's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
542 views

Isolation and the unknown in modern horror/investigative scenarios

I am currently planning my next long term game and intend to run a Cthulhu based campaign set in the modern era. I have experience of writing scenarios for the 1920's, but am having issues with some ...
Wibbs's user avatar
  • 17.8k
17 votes
5 answers
1k views

Adding comic relief

As a GM, I would like to add comic relief to my sessions. Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension. ...
user2525's user avatar
  • 1,792
17 votes
3 answers
12k views

Are there any other ways to travel between the layers of the Nine Hells besides the River Styx?

I'm planning on creating an adventure where the party become trapped in Nessus, the 9th layer of the Nine Hells, and must make their way through the layers of the Nine Hells up to Avernus, the 1st ...
NathanS's user avatar
  • 79.1k
16 votes
8 answers
26k views

Designing my own D&D Adventure

Currently, I am part of my first campaign of D&D 4E as a player and, I have been having fun. Sometime in the near future I would like to host my own game of D&D with my own adventure. So far ...
Lost Sorcerer's user avatar
16 votes
7 answers
708 views

How do I write a one-off scenario that could lead into a larger campaign?

Here's the situation: I've got a group of people interested in getting together for a fantasy roleplaying game, with me as their GM. This particular group hasn't all gamed together before, we're ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 17.1k
16 votes
3 answers
3k views

In the final act, how to drop clues without causing players to feel "cheated" they didn't find them sooner?

I'm a bit of an "on the fly" GM: in terms of writing a story, I prefer to sketch out the skeleton, and add flesh as the players move along the limbs. The quest to find the Plot Device, at ...
order's user avatar
  • 4,221
16 votes
3 answers
7k views

Does anyone have any templates for Scrivener? [closed]

I want to start using Scrivener to plan a game and am looking for some templates for characters, locations, encounters, etc.
user avatar
15 votes
7 answers
3k views

How do I make a non-permanent death more impactful?

One of my players is going to be playing the homebrew Felis race for the campaign I'm going to be running. In the race description, it states that they have nine lives, and they typically die once ...
Mushroom_DM's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
286 views

Where can I post quests I've written online for others to use and benefit from? [closed]

I've written a few quests now and documented them fairly thoroughly. Are there any places online where I can share them so that others would be able to review and use them if they needed to? It would ...
Gordon Gustafson's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
2k views

What are the legal/ethical considerations of republishing old adventures for new editions?

I am a lazy GM and I rely a lot on published adventures. Particularly shorter ones: I get a lot of pleasure from tweaking and arranging them into a coherent narrative frame for a campaign. I've been ...
Bob Tway's user avatar
  • 5,264
14 votes
5 answers
1k views

What could replace the fear of dying in a spirit world?

I'm planning an adventure where after death, the PCs go to a kind of shadow world, as spirits. What would replace the fear of dying when you're already dead? What should I do to avoid a horror ...
Rodrigo Gurgel's user avatar
14 votes
14 answers
4k views

Where do I get inspiration for good scenarios? [closed]

What are the best [not only RPG related] sources of ideas for a good scenario? I'm not asking about ready scenarios, but inspiration to create your own. For starters: Shutter Island movie - good ...
13 votes
5 answers
8k views

How can a Lich look like a human without magic?

This question is for 5e; I've posted a similar question for Pathfinder here. I'm designing a character for a campaign whose role is to be a recurring antagonist. When the characters first meet him, ...
Balefire Liege's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
3k views

Adapting literary works into RPG adventures

Beowulf is a classic tale which has been translated many times and has had many film adaptations. Seamus Heaney's new translation and Frederick Rebsame's translation are good starts if you have not ...
Sardathrion - against SE abuse's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why were AD&D modules designed for so many player characters?

Recently I've been looking through AD&D modules for session ideas. Something I've noticed is that many of the modules were designed for more player characters than I've generally seen in one ...
Ceribia's user avatar
  • 13.3k
13 votes
5 answers
2k views

Designing scenarios for infrequent, short sessions

I have GMed for a group of friends for over 10 years, mostly in the World of Darkness and Dresden Files universes. We really enjoy the character play, the storytelling and the occasional outburst of ...
chiborg's user avatar
  • 263
12 votes
12 answers
2k views

How do I design a Christmas-themed horror adventure?

'Tis soon the season and I want to treat my players to a Christmas-themed adventure as part of my ongoing horror campaign. I want to keep the horror element, but I don't mind mixing in a bit of humor ...
Jakob's user avatar
  • 4,941
12 votes
4 answers
4k views

How could a Lich maintain the appearance of being alive without magic?

I'm designing a character for a campaign whose role is to be a recurring antagonist. When the players first meet him, I want him to seem undeniably human. The idea is that the party will "kill" him ...
Balefire Liege's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers
1k views

Has anyone released Castle of the Mad Archmage upper levels?

I'd really like to run COTMA, but for some reason the idea of coming up with the ruins and level 1 kind of intimidate me. I'd like to see some examples that I could either use as written or just use ...
Numenetics's user avatar
  • 5,620
12 votes
3 answers
1k views

How Can I Re-Skin the Hacker in A Medieval Game of Leverage?

I'm designing a Leverage one-shot using Robin Hood's Merry Men, and I've got pretty much everything figured out but the Hacker. I'm trying to define exactly what a Hacker can do in a medieval setting, ...
Tack's user avatar
  • 6,586
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

What adventures lie in Laketown from The Hobbit in The One Ring

Spoiler As I re-read the classic book, I'm struck by the details that offer adventure opportunities. We learn what happens to Laketown, the Master, Bard and many others east of Mirkwood and in the ...
javafueled's user avatar
  • 4,191
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Advice for writing and publishing a setting/extended campaign for an existing system

I have been playing and GMing rpgs for a number of years, and a little while ago I had what I believe to be a really good idea for an original campaign setting for Savage Worlds, my system of choice. ...
Wibbs's user avatar
  • 17.8k