Thoughts: Writing Adventures

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Thoughts: Writing Adventures

My initial thoughts on how adventures work aren't far from the mark. There's the premise, a lil' bit of exposition, then comes the tender meatiness that are encounters - after which, there's nothing else short of closure and conclusion. Writing one was surely going to be a slice of pie.

During my tribulations of trying to scrawl what tangible structure and order I could arrange, however, I recognized the difference between writing an adventure and writing a good one. What comprises an amazing adventure does not hinge on the ingenuity of the premise alone nor the stimulating prospects of a thrilling plot twist. Rather, a good deal of what constitutes it is the details to which the elements have been extended. The small seemingly insignificant details, I've found, are what ground the abstraction present in the primordial beginnings of an adventure and whose writing without make the enabling of suspension of disbelief harder than it should be. That being said, tying down concepts of the speculative nature with concrete details also aids in the well-expressed execution of the adventure.

My earliest jaunts into the mystical land of adventure-writing proved no more than short half-assed synopsis's, backgrounds, and the exposition encounters. I tend to never build them the whole way anyway. It wasn't long before I realized my gaffe in the way I approached adventure building. I became aware to the fact that I was writing my adventures much like I would a novel or a short story - from start to finish in a contiguous manner. Well, isn't an adventure pretty much a story? I agree. Except, in a D&D adventure, there are variables. Factors like player actions and die rolls play a significant role in both the general and specific directions the plot can and will take. Although the DM can always put the train back on its rails or 'circle back', there is only a certain degree to which this can be achieved without repercussions to the overall sense of feeling and atmosphere at the game table.

Ultimately, building an adventure varies from writing a linear story in the fact that an adventure is a collection of points and tangents that serve as the groundwork for crafting the story. As the DM, I wasn't there to narrate a multiple-paged epic I skipped breakfasts to write, rather I was there to bring the elements of an adventure - the theme, the setting, the non-player characters and their personalities, motives, and incredulously cheesy accents - and let the players do the rest. I was so caught up in penning the 'adventure of the decade' that I had completely discounted one of the very tenets of being DM: that it's just as much the player's game as it is mine. I also forgot that part of the fun of DMing comes from not knowing where the players will take your story with their kooky shenanigans and being surprised to near hilarity. There's nothing like spending an entire weekend cooking up an awesome NPC with a whole load of exciting encounters tied to him only to have the players pantie raid his house and concoct all sorts of hilarious shenanigans.

As for my adventure, I eventually came to settle with identifying the points of interest in the story summaries I already possessed and started building the encounters around those. I outlined and organized them in an event-triggered or place-triggered flowchart/timeline depending on the kind of adventure I want to run. An obvious necessity to many already well-experienced writers, I'm sure, but I find it a pleasant realization regardless and hope that someone finds it to be equally insightful.

Here's to better adventures ahead! Happy Gaming!

"Knowledge is power, France is Bacon" | Dungeon Notice Administrator - Chocomoo
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