Monday, January 7, 2013

Playing with Adventure Construction, Part 2

Here is the example of what I posted about yesterday.  Write a description of a room or situation and take elements mentioned (bolded) then follow up with more detail.  I like the suggestion of implementing random tables in the details and plan on including them fairly often.  This is what the text section would look like.  I didn't do a map yet, but I think most can imagine it. 

1. Example Room
Torches in wall sconces illuminate this 20' square room.  Hanging in the center are two blacken corpses and a woman, blindfolded and gagged who struggles against her bonds.  Under them is a large circular grate with a lever off to one side.  To the north, arguing can be heard.  To the east is a door.  To the south is a passageway partially blocked by a pull cart with a broken wheel.  
Corpses, the two corpses were adventurers caught outside the entrance.  Gorum (room 3), stripped them of their possessions and died during questioning. 
Woman, Mayla was captured yesterday trying to break into the locked pantry (12).  Gorum questioned her, but he was afraid to touch her fearing he would be seduced.  He had her blindfolded and gagged.  She was trying to poison the food supply.  The vial poison (save vs. death) is hidden between her breasts.  She is working for Veloria (room 48).
Grate, the lever opens the grate in the center.   It drops 100’ into the  ancient sewers below.  There is a 20% chance that a thunderous guttural roar will issue from the pit.  Gorum is afraid it will crawl out of the pit and seek food if he does not feed it.
Arguing, at the end of a short passageway is an open door.  The men are arguing about whether the woman should be cut down for their entertainment. 
Door, locked.  Heavy wooden door.  Simple lock.  Gorum has the key.  
Pull Cart, contents.  Roll twice. (d8)
1. A cracked cask of ale.  A few tankards worth is still at the bottom.
2. Four broken spears and three broken shields.  
3. A coil of 10' rope.
4. Two sacks with several goblets and dinnerware that bare the mark of Blothsum's Froth Tavern. 
5. Extra straw for bedding.
6. The corpse of a large rat.  One of the bandits stashed a small pouch inside the gaping wound.  He found it in the rat's nest and didn't want to share.  There are 21cp in the pouch.
7. Baskets of food not yet put away in the pantry (12).  Potatoes and carrots stolen from local village gardens.
8. A bone scroll case stuck between the slats.  It contains a small picture.  A portrait of a woman.  At the bottom a Y and a T are intersected.  This etching was created by some one practicing their forgery of Yrum Tuttbom, royal artist.  If this were one of his etchings it would be worth 1000sp.

So you can see the room is fairly straight forward then it funnels down into more minute details.  Knowing who Yrum Tuttbom or Blothsum's Froth's tavern might not be important, but it adds details that can lead into other plot points and provides ample opportunity for role-playing. 


  1. I love it. Lots of detail, easily accessible. I'd feel confident running something like this that I wouldn't lose track of any important points, and my players would be in hog heaven with all those interesting details to follow up on.

  2. way too long for me and too much information to keep in my head. sorry. I am more of a fan of c- minimal take here

  3. Interesting. I think there are probably ways to play with presentation to make it less "text blocky" and easier to use, but it's a good start.

  4. Eric Thanks. its a work in progress. I'm not completely happy with it, but there have been some positive responses to it.

    Rob S I like the minimalist style also. I'm just offering an alternative to those who like a little more detail. C- always has great stuff.

    Trey I will be emailing you for possible suggestions. I agree, I'd like it to be a bit more friendly on the eye. I paste and copied it into my blog and it doesn't look great.

  5. Tim, you do have some weird formatting issues on this particular post.

    I can see both sides of conversation on this one. I like the idea of each room being a puzzle (or something to that effect). That justifies more description and would give the players a reason to want to know the info. That being said, I don't think detail for the sake of detail is helpful.

  6. This sort of reminds me of the text adventure genre, where upon entering a new location the player is given a general description.

    The player could then ask to LOOK or EXAMINE the various objects in the location to get further details (if any).

  7. I think the choice of detail really hinges on who you are writing the text for.

    There is definitely a lot of information here, and it sort of reminds me of a published module where a great deal of text accompanies each entry and, in many cases, even what to say to the PCs is suggested.

    For an experienced DM, I can see why less is definitely more. They don't want to be hindered by flavor text (or have to change all of it), they have their own ideas about how the adventure fits into their campaign, and they're probably confident making stuff up on the fly.

    For a beginning DM, or one like myself who is dusting off his DM skills not used for some 20 odd years,and not yet totally confident in their ability to improvise an interesting room description or to tie the details into suitably interesting role-playing opportunities for the PCs, the information can be helpful.

    I'm not suggesting that new DMs take everything as written, but it's helpful to have a starting point.

    The first paragraph of your example, I could read, almost verbatim, to the party.

    The individual breakouts of the details might possibly be made more concise, but they do provide a new DM with a lot of ideas which they can change as they see fit.

  8. I actually like this. I know I said I like description, but the modern stuff (like Paizo) seems to have a lot of extraneous details included for backstory that actually have no use; i.e., there's NO WAY that a PC could ever find out that this backstory exists.