Saturday, May 18, 2013

Adventure Boilerplate

A few days, weeks ago, I can't remember, I purposed a boilerplate to bolt onto an adventure to give a quick summary of the adventure without wasting precious space in the introduction.  How many times do we need to read, this is this level for this many player and it is suggested...and please change anything you wish.  I'm not putting it down, its vital information, but I wanted to make a simple referral box that would provide all that information at a glance.  All I do is bolt that onto the front of the adventure and I can get on with getting on. 

There are plenty more lines you could add, but I don't want it to become a 3.5 stat block.  Just a simple, zip zip look and done.  I'm not sure if it helps or if it will speed things up, but I'm giving it a try in a few of the adventures I'm working on. 

Some quick notes about the stats.  I think the first four are explanatory.  You could have multiple settings.  Like for the adventure in the next Manor there are three settings. 

Difficulty Level: Beginner, Medium, Difficult
I have to give the nod to Dylan over at Digital Orc who wrote a series on determining the difficulty level of an adventure.  I go through and average out the critters and traps and the x factor of difficulty and if it averages within a level above or below I figure its average.  From that I think you can figure out what I would determine as difficult or beginner. 

Size: mini, small, medium, large, mega  and insert size joke here
Mini would be something with 8 or less rooms/encounter areas.  Something that could be completed well within a average gaming session (which I am saying is 3 hours).

Small I am guesstimating has less than 20 encounter areas.  I know the time it takes to deal with an encounter is effected by the system.  Since I am an OSR dude I'm talking about the clones, man.  I play GURPS a bunch and know damn well 20 encounters could be an entire campaign.  It would take up all of the game session.  And again with the many variables with density of population and traps, if you have a 20 room dungeon that is only half full it will probably go by quicker than one 75% full. 

Medium now we are getting into sizes that are arbitrary and just my opinion.  Medium sized adventures will are 20 - 50 adventure encounters.  It may be one level or multiple setting and levels.

Large is 50 to 100 encounters.  Probably a multi-level dungeon or town.  This of course will take multiple adventures and the focus of the campaign.  At least for a while. 

Mega is 100+ encounters for me.  Plus its an easy number to remember.  Mega dungeons are the campaign.  Not just a focus of it.  A campaign begins and ends with this size.

Rating: family, teen, mature
 Family is an adventure that has clearly defined good and evil.  Oriented toward the players being the heroes and defeating some sort of bad guy.  Swearing, none.  Graphic detail very minimal.  Its okay to mention the orc's guts are on the ground cause kids love to hear about guts, but not going into detail.  A gross out factor is okay.  The description of the horrific act, not so much. 

Teen you can get a bit more descriptive.  I would even say up to a rated R sense.  Swearing is fine if just used for color of a character.  Horrific acts can be described, but they should be focused on those who have some sort of power.  No descriptions of killing children and helpless men and women.  Raping is out.  Torture probably to some degree, but again I think in this case it depends on the victim.  It's a careful line you must tread, but don't underestimate or insult a teen-ager's intelligence. 

Mature anything goes.  I put a mature rating on my Faces Without Screams adventure because of the combination of a graphic beginning along with the swearing and then the content that followed.  And really I think I would have only given a teen rating if I had only one or the other, but thought because of both it should be given a mature rating.

People's opinions will vary on this, but this is my thinking and what criteria I'll be using when I bolt on a boilerplate in the front of my adventures.  I know some of the gamers play with their children.  One gamer told me his son did a book report for school on one of my Manors.  Everyone will have to draw their own lines of what they believe is what.

I'm done now. 

Go get to gaming!


  1. Sounds like a plan how about one week from today. I am coming in and bringing my hirst arts castle.

  2. I really like this boilerplate idea. Sometimes when I get an adventure I scan it all over looking for how many and what level it's intended for. And with the spread of expectations of how much grue and sex to put in a scenario, I think giving a sense right up front is great. Good thinking.