CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Adventure in the Making

Thoughts on Writing Modules

So the second weekend of March I will be running some online games for Koboldcon. This time around I am creating my own one shot to run for folks, something I intend on publishing at a later date, so this week on the CRB I wanna talk about creating adventures. This is not just to aid others but to compose my own thoughts and see what other people have to say on the subject.

Although in recent years because of time constraints I have been mainly running premade, colloquially “canned” modules, I have in my day run tons of homebrew campaigns. So as I’ve begun this endeavor it’s important to point out that writing a canned adventure for publication is a much different beast than running a game by the seat of your pants. Laying out plot points isn’t as easy as it seems and writing in ideas for if the players go off the rails also is not so easy.

Since I am writing this as a one shot adventure I’ve also come across the problem of how much content fits into four hours of gaming. When you’re writing a full on module or a campaign like the APs from Paizo time isn’t a factor. You can let the plot take shape however it will and if it takes four session to run it takes four sessions, if it take six it takes six.

In preparation for this I’ve been playing a lot of one shot adventures to see if there’s a common number of encounters for one shots. The problem is that there isn’t. I’ve seen between four and six encounters. One adventure even had seven. The thing is that all the stuff in the middle also takes up time and there is no telling how long. I played in someone’s kinda homebrew module that had six combat encounters but the game took only a little over three hours. I played in a Pathfinder Society game that only had four total combat encounters but between roleplay and exploration the game ended up taking six hours instead of four.

Since I find that lower level combat takes a much shorter amount of time – and I am writing a level one module – I have opted for five encounters in my game. Now I hope that I can make sure there is enough exploration, investigation and social interaction to fill out the rest. Which brings us to my next issues, fleshing out NPCs that a character may only meet for a few minutes to answer questions.

What I’m working on should include quite a bit of investigation—looking for clues to piece things together. When you run a homebrew it’s easy to just throw the clues in depending on what the characters do. When you’re writing an adventure you hope other people will buy and run, you have to lay out clues quite clearly. This person has this bit of information, and that object is settled here must be presented to the GM who is now running your vision.

So I have my plot, I picked a number of combat encounters, and I’ve hopefully written enough social stuff to fill in the other time. But what about characters? In some cases you make the character to fit the game, in my case I made the game to fit the characters. Either way you do it you have to make sure that the characters you have can overcome the obstacles of the game.

If you have tracks to follow in your game make sure you have a character who can follow them. If you’re going to have social encounters, make sure that you include a character with diplomacy. In a module like the one I’m writing with investigation involved, make sure you have characters with the appropriate knowledge skills, linguistics, and sense motive. If at all possible give every character their own niche that isn’t just combat and a chance to use it.

So those are all just some initial thoughts on the subject as I’m taking my first foray into creating my own modules. But I’d like to hear from you. Have you written your own modules to be published or at least with the intention of other people using them? Have you written modules to fit into a time constraint such as one shots at cons? Can you describe your method for laying out your module?

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