Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
killdeer2

How do you create your own adventure?

Recommended Posts

So want to attempt to create an adventure for my PCs, but I have no idea where to start. What are some good resources for organizing your adventures and putting your words on paper in general?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wholly support making your own adventures. Two places to begin.

1: The GM section in the core books is a great resource for guidelines and tips.

2: Steal ideas from everything you can, but never the execution.

I can't express how much writing a flow chart with branching paths begins to help. It's a great quick way to see how different ideas can play out. The trick is to keep it loose, though, if the goal is to get into the military base, don't get too involved in a plot to use disguises and fake credentials because the group might blast their way in or break in like Splinter Cell.

Go ahead and lift ideas. A brilliant scientist teams with a billionare to bring back an extinct species which never existed with any sapient species now in the galaxy? Cool. Done before, but so what? How do you make it your own? Sure, they could break loose and you have a real Jurassic World and that's fine... But what if someone stole the data, or the embryos, and turned them into domesticated riding animals and shock troops? Or what if they end up being super intelligent and were wiped out only by their own malevolence and now nothing can stop them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best place to start with for ideas is the most obvious.

"If I was in the Star Wars Universe, what would I want to do?"

 

From there you can emulate stories/ideas from the books/movies/cartoons

 

Or you can use the standard "pull from here" list that includes;

Star Trek

Stargate

Firefly

James Bond

Mission: Impossible

 

Basically take something you would find fun, add a healthy dose of Star Wars, shake, serve warm or shot from a blaster pistol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A good format for putting things in writing is as follows:

Synopsis.

Setting

Actors

Agendas.

 

I build my adventures along similar routes.

 

I pick a setting, scale it down to a region the party can viably operate in (town, country, planet, sector, depending on their means and resourcefulness). I as myself a few important questions:

-Where is it?

-When is it?

-What is there?

-What incentive is there to go there/live there in the first place?

 

Then comes the 'who' part. Out of the many possible actors in this setting, I picka  few and flesh them out. These are usually characters the players know or have reason to seek out. Like, if I'm 80% sure my bounty hunter is going to go hunting for weapons, I'll probably put some prep into a gunsmith or arms dealer and possibly toss in some small side quests depending on interaction.

The next bit of the who part is to pick one or more possible antagonists. Who are they? What motivates them? Would nothing they do immediately affect the players? Ok, put it aside, answer the questions for the next then, until I have a dozen or so, or I bump into something that would perk my party's interest. This agenda gets developed properly into a concrete plan, with the caveat that no plan survives confrontation with the PCs.  I then revisit the ones I've already made and see how they fit in. Would they go along with it? Are some actually in opposition and thus potential allies? Or a third or fourth party?

 

In the end I, fairly swiftly, have a scenario and a lot of NPCs I can work with and am familiar enough with to run something. You'll notice I haven't so much as mentioned plot yet. This is for a reason. An overall plot, I find, both confines you as a GM in your approach in ways that players can easily break, as well as provides the temptation to railroad. Both can be easily avoided by having a bunch of characters in one large place instead, and have them act naturally. The world you portray will seem more alive for it, and you'll be more confident in portraying your NPCs, no matter how off the wall your players act or how unexpected their ideas are (and they will be!).

 

With a bit more experience, you can collect and prep for common questions that might pop up. For example, say, what the security level of the city or planet is, what laws there are, what local quirks in culture, etc. Players, when playing a specific kind of character, often repeat the same kinds of questions. In time, you can learn to prep for them specifically. Or, if you're good at improvising, you'll eventually reach a state where you're able to shake it out of your wrist in a second or two.

 

What helps immensely as well is to have "averages" listed somewhere. Average human, average engineer, average whatever. If you need rolls for statlines from your NPCs, and you know they're above, below or at average, having the concrete value directly at your fingertips speeds things up quite a bit, and helps things remain consistent.

 

Last but not least, keep notes. Every action, from the players and from the NPCs, may lead to a reaction or other consequences. Cliff notes to remember important things are important when running a game that is fairly free and where the plot is created naturally, with involvement of the players.

 

Hope this helps! Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Theres several good resources out there, this forum being one, the core book is anther, but also sites like the Angry GM, the Order 66 podcast and so on. Even pulling the old D6 "Gamemaster Companion" is pretty useful or some will even suggest some of the D&D DM guides as GMing isn't really a setting or even system specific thing.

 

Writing an adventure isn't that tough, but it does take some practice, and its something you only get better at by doing.

 

Some personal tips:

 

-Always play "Who is my daddy, and what does he do?" keep your players Character sheets or make a copy for yourself. When making an adventure remember to check the players sheet from time to time. Look at both crunch (skills, abilities, talents, gear) and fluff (motivation, background, obligation).

Here's why:

  • Fluff: At least a couple of your players have picked their fluffy stuff for a reason. Using Obligation or Background helps make it personal, and get them more invested. Why have them rob a shadow depository for themselves when they can rob it in response to Steve's Obligation:Family and he needs the credits to pay for his sisters medical treatments.
  • Crunch: Adventure design is a two part thing, 1)Story (See Fluff), and 2) Encounter design. When designing the encounters you want to keep the players abilities in mind. Most (but not all) encounters should be built to challenge the players while still keeping the game slanted in their favor, if they've got no combat specced characters in the party and are armed with nothing but harsh language, don't throw a tank in their direction. Similarly, You want to keep an eye on what they can do so you can give them the opportunity to actually do it. If there's a heavy gunner with a repeating blaster on the crew, don't hesitate to toss big minion groups at them specifically so he can gun them down. If there's a Pilot on the team, you'd better plan vehicle encounters regularly.

- Start with a sentence and expand. Think like what you see on a TV guide, one sentence that sums up the whole episode without defining too much. "The crew finds an escape pod to a lost passenger ship, and a old rival returns to claim it"

                         Wow that establishes a lot and just lets you fill in the blanks.

 

-Have a goal, and make sure the players ALWAYS have a goal. If the players ever don't know where to go, find a way to tell them. A simple "Plot this way" sign" can make a world of difference. As you polish off the adventure know where the players were supposed to start, where they were supposed to end, and how that plays into a larger campaign. This is important because....

 

-Always make the players think it was their idea. Kick off the adventure with a Catalyst, or McGuffin, or whatever, and let the players navigate the narrative. If they go off you're script, take what they do and improvise it... back to what you had planned. Don't put a locked door in front of them you don't want them to break open. If you give them a choice, always know where both go and how that will get you to the adventures end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another good tip that Ghostofman left out was just look up his posts since they are almost all as comprehensive and awesome as this ^^ one :lol: .

 

Great advice and a great coles notes reminder for people who have GM'd for years.

Edited by BMFS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing I find really informative and handy if you are wanting to go whole hog and put together an epic campaign arc are the old Dungeoncraft Essays by Ray Winger. They were published in Dragon Magazine back in the 90s and the examples are more fantasy RPG/D&D oriented but the concepts still hold for any type of game using any type of system. They can be found with a little bit of Googling.

 

These are very detailed, indepth essays on building out a setting and campaign and the process takes a fair bit of time. It's more for if you want to have a string of adventures following a larger campaign plot, potentially with side stories and the like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Thanks for all the support guys! Really means a lot that you're help a noob like me. :D

 

I have an idea of what I want to make. My group has finished Perlimian Haul, so I want to follow up on that with an attack on an Imperial salvaging base. Based on information gathered from both freighter M226 and Whisper Base, Rebels have identified an Imperial operation that is salvaging a former Separatist base for droids and other equipment. The base is protected by ground turrets and a vindicator-class, but the alliance will have the element of surprise (although the empire know the rebels captured M226, they don't know about Whisper Base) and, of course, the PCs.

 

How does that sound?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really, it sounds like you've got what you need. Potentially a little time organizing it to make it easy to reference information you need at the table but over all, you're well on your way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add to Ghost's Crunch section, I find it handy to flesh out some ideas on how to use several skills in the context, and how extra Advantages/Threats/Triumphs/Despairs can be used with those skills.  Just doing this exercise often leads to ideas that help flesh out the environment more richly, e.g.:  hmmm, what could the players use 3 Advantages on a Computer check for?  Maybe there are heavy loaders on the hanger floor, and one of them has a little used "Turbo" mode...

 

 

So now that I know what I want to put on paper, do you know of any programs to help with putting it on paper?

 

 

I use an app called Notability, has an iPad and Mac version.  I think a similar app for Windows (and Mac) is Evernote.  Very handy for editing the same files from different equipment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I put my raw ideas into Writer (chrome app) and transfer what I like into my campaign on Obsidian Portal.  The good part of Obsidian Portal is the GM Section.  You can reveal items to players through building out the Wiki, but you can add Player Secrets and GM Exclusive notes.  Having things in multiple places is very handy and you can hyperlink it for ease of working through it.  It takes time while you are building it, but at the table works pretty well.  Players can also write their own adventure logs, which can be entertaining for everyone.  There are disadvantages, but overall it is steadily growing on me now that I am using it for a real campaign instead of theorycrafting with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sort of related, but I haven't seen it mentioned...if you are just talking about starting with a single session adventure, I find the most fun sessions are when I imagine some kind of epic scene, and try to tailor the events to drive towards it.  Example:  a ship is shot down over the skies of planet X.  As it speeds through the atmosphere to its fiery doom towards a snowy mountain range, the back hatch opens, and several speeder bikes launch out the back, careening wildly to the mountains below.  They hit the snowy powder and slalom down the slopes.  Behind them the exploding ship shakes the very air.  As the party pulls up to a small rocky outcrop, they become aware of a low rumbling sound growing louder...avalanche!  It's now a race to the tree line below...

 

And all you have to do for a scene like this is make sure there are speeder bikes on their ship, and their ship gets shot down...  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Thanks for all the support guys! Really means a lot that you're help a noob like me. :D

 

I have an idea of what I want to make. My group has finished Perlimian Haul, so I want to follow up on that with an attack on an Imperial salvaging base. Based on information gathered from both freighter M226 and Whisper Base, Rebels have identified an Imperial operation that is salvaging a former Separatist base for droids and other equipment. The base is protected by ground turrets and a vindicator-class, but the alliance will have the element of surprise (although the empire know the rebels captured M226, they don't know about Whisper Base) and, of course, the PCs.

 

How does that sound?

 

 

Sounds like the foundation for a long adventure or a short campaign.

 

So now I'd say break it down into adventures or acts and start outlining. Figure out a plan, or even better a series of smaller plans, for the players to follow and start to work out the action and pacing.

 

Personally, were this a TV show I'd run this as a 2-parter. Episode 1 would see the players infiltrating the Imperial base and setting the stage for a Rebel Assault and ending in some big bad alteration. Episode 2 would be the scramble to come up with a solution in time to prevent disaster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend and I had a long-running "platoon style" campaign going in the old D6 based system, and we used to have fun guessing where we'd lifted the ideas for our adventures from. For a while we sort of had a thing going to see who could pick from the least likely 80's TV show. Miami Vice? Kids' play. Dukes of Hazzard? Who paints a YT-1300 orange anyway...

 

He pulled a story line from an episode of "The Smurfs" for Palpatine's sake. The Smurfs. I crap you not. 

 

After that I went on a 4 day bender and wrote an adventure from the fragments of nightmares and stray thoughts bouncing around my head while sobering up in the morning shower. After 3 sessions that saw the crew follow a weak distress beacon into a nebula to a long abandoned mining operation, forcing an end to a multi-generational war amongst 3 tribes of the miners' descendants, and uniting them against devolved morlock type mutants to retrieve the final pieces needed to fix the 4 remaining ships on planet (each tribe had something necessary but none would cooperate with each other) the other GM and a few players guessed that I had been inspired by a combination of Last Man Standing and The Hills Have Eyes.  I still haven't seen The Hills Have Eyes. Not sure if they believe that. 

 

The last adventure I planned for that group was nearly a direct ripoff of No Man's Land (starring Charlie Sheen as a rich kid car thief) but the campaign fell victim to real life stuff. 

 

In any case I recommend keeping a pen and small notebook handy. Jot down any odd idea you get as it might lead to a neat adventure hook. Don't be bashful about pilfering ideas from books and movies and such, even things that don't seem like a good sci-fi/space opera fit at first (or maybe even 3rd) glance.  Now if you'll excuse me I need to create a Coruscanti (Coruscantian? Corsican? whatever...) shipjacker named Theodophilus Varrick who specializes in stealing and refitting fast Nubian ships...

Edited by Andres Vorstal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I often start with asking myself what tone do I want and what themes do I want to explore.

 

For the tone do I want it to be fun and exciting, tense, dark, contemplative or other. So for example the current adventure I am running is going for a fun Indiana Jones style adventure in an old Sith temple.

 

Next is the themes I want to explore. This will lead on from the tone. So for example if you want it to be exciting then the theme can be as simple as good vs evil or something's are best left forgotten (like the Sith temple adventure). For a dark tone you can look at the slave trade (and how utterly nasty it is/was in real life) or contemplative maybe explore that is authoritarianism better than total anarchy and warlordism?

 

That will then lead onto the meat and bones of the adventure and as others have said don't be afraid of riffing off anything you can find. Movies, books, comics or TV can all be inspiration as can something like TV Tropes or even history. Find something cool from history? Use it. Have the players set up an Operation Mincemeat caper to give misinformation to the Empire.

 

The last thing is that no plot every survives contact with players. Be prepared for your players to go on complete tangents so have a loose structure and not a rigid a to b to c style.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another point is be sure you don't get carried away in prep and get too detailed.

 

Avoid getting fixated on what you want the players to do, because they will almost always come up with a different approach than the one you as the GM think is cool.   This is not a bad thing, but rather the great thing that makes face to face pen and paper RPG's so much fun. 

 

In addition to the encounters that are necessary to the main plot-line, build up a secondary plot-line that can be used if the main plot-line needs to be put on temporary hold (Bob can't play tonight because little Jenny has the flu).

 

I also keep several micro encounters on hot standby.

The Underworld Information Broker

The Underworld Slicer for Hire

The Cagy Arms Dealer

and so on.  

And simple sketch of the shop/bar and the stats for the NPC's all in a folder that I can pull out when the players decide they need something or want to investigate something.

Even if I hand draw the map for the players, having  general idea already in place speeds things up and keeps everyone "in the game" without any significant delays.

Plus the micro encounters are infinitely reusable and if you gaming group stays together long enough, some of them take on a life of their own and become established contacts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Order 66 podcast recently had a good episode on how to buid a campaign - I'd recommend checking it out (Order 66 podcast Episode 56 REDUX).

 

My basic method is to come up with a good villain or villain organization and go from there.  Give the villain a motivation, resources (mooks and ships and gear etc), and a plan.  Craft it so this villains plans impact the players directly.  If you're planning on an episodic adventure level instead of a campaign level then don't worry about the villain impacting every PC (though, over the course of time each PC should have their interests intersected by a villain).

Use your players characters (Motivations, Obligations, Duty, background etc) as a guide.

Make a specific villain.  Not just "The Empire".  But create a particular Moff/Inquisitor/etc that's operating in the same area of space the players are (or an area of space containing something or someone the PCs care about).

 

One setup that can work well - depending on the campaign type - is a "mission giver" template.  If the players are in the Rebellion or part of some organization or have a common boss/employer then this works.  This fits the Star Trek/Stargate template of being sent out to accomplish specific tasks as determined by the organization, blending in PC Motivations, Obligations, Duty, etc as it fits.

A villain is still a good idea in this method but it easily allows for adventures which don't deal with the main villain (e.g., not every adventure needs to address the main villain).

 

The twitter feed for @SWRPGAdventures also throws out a lot of adventure seeds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition to many of the good advice above, I have also found the Pathfinder RPG Gamemaster Guide to be an invaluable reference for all of my RPG games, regardless of setting. It really helps new GMs with the basics and groundwork for making a successful game experience.

 

Some GM Don't Tips: Don't make complicated plans, don't try to railroad players, and don't try to detail everything in advance; this leads to madness and a loss of players.

 

Some GM Do Tips: have fun, don't be afraid to make mistakes, as long as you and your group are having fun (and they keep coming back for more) you are doing it right. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just started a AOTE with my friends this last weekend. Most of whom have never played a tabletop game before.  It's also my first time GMing AND I created my own campaign. It was a little nerve wracking, But this advice seems to be spot on. Especially about stealing or borrowing stories from everywhere. That and know the Core Rulebook very well, I myself still try to brush up on it every night.

My first session put my group starting in a Genanosian prison stripped from their gear and forced to fight as a group in the gladiator ring, In the middle of their second fight an unexpected battle between the rebels and the empire destroy part of the gladiator arena and the PCs have a quick chance to escape. First they must decide whether or not to obtain their gear. (of course they did) This also gave me a good opportunity to introduce several NPCS and of course a tough Nemesis. 

Now I have an interesting set of things for them too do between making some money working for the rebels, Using their freedom to scavenge the planet side, and maybe even siding with some natives who feel their holy land is being invaded by the Empire. I kind of hope to work some sort of treasure hunting quest in there. Maybe a hidden Fuel reserve was left abandoned in the aftermath of the clone wars. Its location has been lost but rumor has it it's somewhere in these mountains, Perhaps in an abandoned CIS factory. In my experience as a player space combat is boring. So I have no intentions in giving my group a ship as quickly as the Core-rule book implies that I should. In fact I am strongly considering forcing them to hire an NPC or earn some SERIOUS dough before buying a ship the honest way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 In my experience as a player space combat is boring. So I have no intentions in giving my group a ship as quickly as the Core-rule book implies that I should. In fact I am strongly considering forcing them to hire an NPC or earn some SERIOUS dough before buying a ship the honest way.

 

I think space combat can be exciting, you just have to put some more thought into it, or make it objective-based instead of a slug fight. One of the most memorable moments from the first campaign I ran (and my players agree!) was the flight away from their last objective. They run into their ship in the hold of a long-lost Star Destroyer, a critically wounded NPC in the doctor's arms, and round the corner to see a Black Sun operative waiting on board. So the pilots run to take off, the doctor has to try to get this girl to stop bleeding out, and everyone else tried to take down the operative. 

They get out into space, where they're trying to outrun two Firesprays, and I had them do an extended navigation test to get to a place where they could activate their hyperdrive. The Black Sun assassin is giving everyone a drubbing in the back, the gunner has to leave the fight to try to fight back against the Firesprays, the ship is rapidly taking some heavy damage, and the doctor is doing his best to keep the NPC alive while the ship is spiraling through the debris field.

They manage to knock the assassin out, toss her body out the airlock, and just before they get the last success they need to jump away, one of the Firesprays gets a lucky shot in and drops them below the hull threshold (completely by luck, that wasn't with my tampering). They roll... and get a systems malfunction. So the mechanic is struggling to get the thing fixed, the doctor has a second patient now (the Black Sun operative was not kind to our combat heavy, who tried to light her on fire... inside a space ship...), and they roll an amazing number of repair successes and get the ship back up before they take any other damage, jumping away with barely any time to spare.

It was sweet, and built a pretty palpable sense of tension. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. That does seem exciting. I will try to think of some clever ways to make space combat fun for my group. I play in a small group so there always something for my character to be moving towards or doing, but the group I GM is a bit larger, so I am afraid half the group will get stuck buckling in their seat-belts while the Pilot flys and the Gunner guns. Of Course the idea of sneaking an NPC on bored is a good one. I just need to think outside the box. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...