Role playing games are an enormous subject that is almost beyond definition, yet without an attempt to define, its complex ideas cannot be communicated. Adventures Unlimited approaches the idea of adventure design as a reached goal from theory to application, methodology to execution for any type of GM. This approach starts by fathoming the depth of adventure design: game dynamics, a system of terms and definitions to communicate fundamental gaming operations, the considerations of story and plot, challenge mechanics for all types of encounters and putting it all together in a guide to run the game. The intention is to establish the basics of interaction to outline the depth of designing adventures and to continue establishing an argot of game terms to equalize perspective and meaning. Once the basic building blocks have been turned into
a foundation, understanding adventure design becomes a question of choices pertinent to GM and troupe to be written up in game terms. The final product is to organize the source material and adventure specific notes into a guide for running and managing the adventure. I.E. Set it up, write it up, and play it.
The test of an adventure is that when you're in the middle of it you say to yourself, "Oh now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home." And the sign that something's wrong with is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.
Thornton Wilder, Novelist
The Tao of Adenture Design
Designing adventures is a process. It is a way to turn ideas into a story and a story into a cooperative experience. Use this Tao, this way, of adventure design as an eclectic collection of possibilities that is a way to achieve your goals, but only one way. One possible way towards generating and conducting unique cooperative experiences. Role playing experiences imbued with enough curious nonsense to stretch expectational boundaries and to satisfy the playtime needs of anybody at any level. As a GM, encourage dramatic depth and mathematical precision and know the space in-between. Do these things and don't wait for a pat on the back celebrating your cleverness. Let intellectual stimulation, social interaction and comforting laughter be reward enough.
A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.
Last Crusades and Lost Recipes
A great adventurer once said that ninety-nine percent of adventuring was research and one percent was field work, and it's true. Improvised adventures are great diversions and fillers, but good adventure design relies on earnest research and diligent preparation. Adventures Unlimited breaks down adventure design into ingredients that can be added and baked as the individual GM sees fit.
The first ingredient is Game Dynamics. Know thyself and the game. Game Dynamics is a familiar term, a sort of "shop talk", used to describe the fundamental relationships of the playing field. Often overlooked and almost subconscious, the intricacies of game dynamics affect every aspect of game play and the consideration of these basics is the beginning of the process. The second ingredient for the mix is Design Criteria. Design Criteria are the chosen standards set by circumstance and objective that will dictate over the design process. The particular circumstances or conditions relevant to any troupe are recognized by understanding their dynamics. The objective is to design and deliver an entertaining adventure. Deliver successful game sessions by recognizing which criteria will best suit your troupe. The third ingredient to think about is the Design Elements. Design Elements represent the games medium: story and plotting, storytelling and challenge mechanics. Once all those elements have been pondered, it needs to be composed into a usable format. Guide to Adventure takes on the challenge of adventure composition as the catalyst that brings all those tasty ingredients together in the form of a game guide. A game guide is the pile of notes, write-ups and such stuff used as a reference to run the game. Beyond adventure design is the ability to repeat good gaming. A few techniques and suggestions have been added for scene construction and adventure generation as design considerations for another day. If the game works out and everybody wants more, check out The Campaign Connection.