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Author Topic: Writing Adventures  (Read 1927 times)

Offline DMMike

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Writing Adventures
« on: May 27, 2018, 06:04:04 PM »

From Venger Satanis: ‘The adventure designer inspires the GM with awesome ideas.  The GM takes those ideas, interprets them based on his own desires, adds in what seems appropriate at the time, and presents his version... his vision to the players.  The players respond as if they actually were the characters themselves.  The GM reacts to PC actions (or inaction).’

That's it.  That's what's supposed to happen.  Interrupting that sacred pattern with failed novelist backstory, tedious read-aloud text, and predetermined outcomes is ruining D&D!!!”

He's talking about D&D, but IMO it covers most FRPGs.

Discuss. ;)

DM Mike

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Offline sgtslag

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 08:31:30 AM »
Backstory has its place.  It is a delicate balancing act:  background, history, mythology, cultures, role-playing, etc.  I use it all to create a dynamic, life-like experience for me, and my players.  I think what works the best is listening to my players' table talk about what they think is really going on.  I listen to it, massage it a bit, and then play it out:  they "realize" they were mostly correct in their assumptions, but there are subtle differences which make it more believable.

I view it as interactive story-telling.  They play a critical role in helping me to develop my game world, on nearly every level.  I don't dictate to them, for the most part.  I had a player, back in the 90's, tell me she was taking the "Etiquette" Non-Weapon Proficiency...  I was flabbergasted, and disappointed:  "Why that?  What's the point?  Seems like a genuine waste where there are so many other NWP's she could take, which are far more useful..."  I buckled myself down, and read, and re-read, the description.  I thought about her homeland:  a kingdom ruled by a Paladin, with knights, Dukes, and Barons.  It all started to gel together.

With her prompting, I developed a culture, and a kingdom.  It was Lawful Good, which, to me, meant that they had strict cultural rules, and a strict caste system.  I developed ranks, and classes:  Royalty and Nobility, along with peasants, and everyone else.  I came up with Spurred Knights, and Un-Spurred Knights [spurs are earned by defeating a (relative to you) powerful enemy, usually a monster]; Greater and Lesser Royalty, and Greater and Lesser Nobility.

In the end, two players were so annoyed by the strict caste system, they flouted it, to the point of being arrested, with one choosing execution -- she wanted to end the character, and this was her chosen method of 'retiring' the PC.  It was great fun for everyone!

Interactive storytelling means listening, and incorporating, your players' input, into the game.  Back-story, history, culture, etc., can all become a part of the grand story arc, but you need to balance it all, to make the whole, memorable for all.  Cheers!   8)
« Last Edit: May 29, 2018, 08:33:59 AM by sgtslag »
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Offline DocMindwipe

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2018, 01:22:04 PM »
First up, guess who's back. Yup, it's your alltime favourite Norwegian-in-Exile, Doc :D Remember me? No? Fine. Be that way.

Anyroads.

I feel a good adventure should contain a fair bit of backstory, as otherwise, all we would have is one hack&slash fest after the other with very little  to feed the imagination and roleplay. There should be enough in the background story(for theDMs eyesonly, untill further noticeat least) so that I as one of the players gets this sense of wonder and try to figure the whole shenanigan out.

With no real backstory for the DM to plug into, the adventures will then feel like "more of the same" to me.
That is my NOK0.05.

Offline Pladohs Ghost

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 02:07:51 AM »
I reckon it's that backstory that sparks ideas for the GM. Besides placing the adventure as written in context, it can sparks ideas as to how to develop things further.
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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2018, 12:51:03 PM »
Now when you say back story you mean the 3 page kind. I come from a more simplistic point of view. Back story should be short. Like 1 or 2 sentences. Those should cover where the PC is from, & what they did there. Let the back story grow as the pc advances in level.

I agree with what was originally said, because it seems that the lethality of the game is  being phased out of FRPG's by the younger generations.  The focus of the hobby is being shifted from the mind set that "my pc could actually die" to "what a great story where everybody lives." It is like the hobby is following Drizzit stories, or the original Drangon Lance books. The heros never die.

Offline Pladohs Ghost

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2018, 11:24:02 PM »
Well, yeah, in that regard, there are a whole lot of players now who don't want to play to find out if they can manage the odds and rise to the challenges of stepping into the wild unknown and coming back to tell the tale. They want the cinematic escapades of super-heroes in fantasy garb knowing that the movie has a happy ending.

There are times I fear that's become the norm and I have to admit that the munchins won the field; the grognards are in disarray.

As far as backstories go, though, I find that the more complete the backstory, the more I have to work with as GM. It's easier for me to flesh out bits around that skeleton than to create a skeleton, myself--and if I'm using somebody else's adventure, I don't want to be creating the skeleton, myself.
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Offline LordXenophon

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2018, 10:14:06 AM »
It's helpful for a published adventure to have a fair amount of back-story, but if you are running your own original adventures, you can just draw on your world's back-story.
Do not interfere in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Offline Loma

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2019, 09:26:10 PM »
Going back to Mike's original complaint, I see the boxed text as being there for lazy DM's. A good DM will take it as information about the room, but describe to the players what he thinks they would actually notice, in his own words. A lazy DM just reads the text.

I especially have a problem with this when I am expected to just sit there and listen to ten minutes of an NPC talking to us, without getting to interrupt. That's not roleplaying. That's storytelling.
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Offline DMMike

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2019, 05:11:40 PM »
Agreed Loma. I mean, I GUESS I can see how box text can help a newbie DM trying to get their feet wet and learning what should or shouldn't be blurted out to the PCs....but overall not my bag.

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Offline sgtslag

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2019, 12:33:25 PM »
With commercial modules, I tend to go off script (or my players lead me off script with their actions and decisions...), pretty quickly, most times.  I find that reading the boxed text, no matter what, tends to be boring for everyone at the table.  I typically paraphrase it, in my own words.  Of course, once we go off script, it tends to become a free-for-all.  My campaign world is not scripted, so I can't go off-script with that.  Using published modules to fill in blanks, however, can be fun, and rewarding.  By the time I am done running a published module, though, most would not recognize it.  We tend to go way outside the lines, as published.

To me, this is a very good thing, typically.  Running a series of modules, however, can create continuity issues if an original NPC dies, but needs to come back in the sequel adventure.  Still, there are ways of dealing with this "challenge".  This often takes you even further afield of the published script...  And that makes it even more fun, and more personalized for you, your game world, and your players.  Cheers!
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Offline DMMike

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2019, 07:08:16 AM »
Well put, and those darn players seem to live for going off script. ;)

The only time I adhere to adventure modules is when its something "Classic" (ie G1-3 Giants, Tomb of Horrors, Tegel Manor, etc.) where adherence to the writing is part of the appeal. That is, players want the "original" experience. Otherwise yeah, I take a published adventure and tweak it to a greater or lesser extent.

I do find myself using more published stuff than I did BITD. Time crunches I guess...

DM (Good at time management...not.) Mike

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Offline RobJN

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2019, 04:37:19 PM »
"No module ever survives contact with the PCs." :P
Rob
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Offline DMMike

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 11:08:50 AM »
Word! LOL!

Of course, sometimes when players do something unexpected its actually a lot of fun!

DM (Good at being street?) Mike
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Offline Loma

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2019, 09:13:08 AM »
When the players do something unexpcted, that's when the game really begins.
Jesus saves and takes half damage.

Offline DMMike

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Re: Writing Adventures
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2019, 06:13:52 PM »
When the players do something unexpcted, that's when the game really begins.

Quite true, especially when they come up with a way to resolve a monster/trap/etc. that I hadn't thought of. That's when as a DM I start having the most fun. ;)

DM (Good at enjoying losing a battle of wits) Mike
The Save for Half Podcast: Old School RPGs Reviewed
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