It Seems like the most common phrase I hear in regard to adventure design is “I don’t know where to start.” While this problem is not unusual, many people talk themselves out of trying to build an adventure before they even start. If you have ever struggled with coming up with an idea for an adventure, try the following suggestions.
1: Look for Inspiration
Inspiration is everywhere if you look for it. Look at the picture that is part of this post and ask yourself the following questions.
- What does it make you think about?
- Does it invoke a particular feeling?
- Does it remind you of something?
- Who or What lives there?
- How was this place created?
- Why would adventurers need to go here?
As you ask yourself these questions, jot down the answers in a notebook or on a piece of paper. Don’t worry about the “right” answer, just get the thoughts down. As you write the answers down think about how it all fits together. As you go through this process you are likely to find the idea growing and becoming something more substantial. Stick with it and see where it goes.
2: Draw a Map
Look at the picture again and think about what the inside of the tree looks like. Grab a piece of paper and start scribbling down some ideas. After you have an idea of the what the inside looks like think about what the area around the picture looks like. Again, don’t worry about it looking all professional, just worry about getting the idea down.
3: Don’t Worry about “Doing it Right”
Role playing games are about having fun and that is what really matters. There are far to many people that want to tell other people what having fun means, don’t listen to them. Do what works for you and tell the stories you want to tell. If you get to caught up in doing it right you are likely to wind up frustrated and unhappy.
4: Don’t be Afraid to Give up on an Idea.
In my opinion, one of the hardest things to learn is giving up on a bad idea. There are some ideas that don’t come together no matter how hard you try. Rather than bang your head against a wall, switch gears and work on a new idea. Doing this not only reduces frustration, but also gives you a chance to revisit your original idea at a time when your mind is clear.
What designing and adventure really comes down to is not being afraid to start. Find a bit of inspiration, draw a map, and have fun doing it. You do this and the rest of it is easy.
Until next time may all of your rule books remain in excellent condition.