Writing adventures for the RPGA is a fun and exciting thing to do. In the months ahead I will be giving you some of my thoughts and insights as an author and editor. My goal is to help you get the great ideas from your head onto paper for the world (or at least your little corner) to enjoy.
The first step to any great story is an idea. It is around this idea that the story will form. By adding a detail here and a character there your story grows from that initial kernel of creative thought. During this time don’t feel as if you have to start writing the story from beginning to end. That just results in a serious case of writers block. Instead, take the ideas as they come and write them down in a journal or notebook. Don’t even try and impose any order on them, just capture them on paper.
Once you feel that you have a good grasp on the story and the world around it you can start to write your adventure. The first step is to form an outline. This is where we take the creative juggernaut that you have created and stuff it in a rather small box called an adventure. Adventures have a structure that contains your story. This structure calls for a four-hour time limit, a certain amount of combat, various levels of play and other various restraints as dictated by the campaign staff. When building your outline, it helps to note where combat occurs, the placement of traps, NPC movements and the overall plot progression. The outline should contain enough detail to allow a third party (i.e. Your friendly neighborhood campaign staff) to follow and understand the basic concepts of your story.
Now that you have a framework in the form of an outline and have the story fleshed out in your head, it comes time to commit it to writing. Looking at the whole project at once can be rather intimidating. I know it is for me each and every time. The key is to break it down into smaller chunks. RPGA adventures have a handy device already built-in; the encounter. By tackling the project one encounter at a time it is much easier to get the entire project done. I find it easiest to work from start to finish. This gives me extra time to consider what parties may or may not do when faced with my story and adjust my tale accordingly.
Of course, this is just one way to write an adventure. There are as many good ways to write as there are people. Writing is a personal expression of an individual’s creativity. Offering my methodology may spark your desire to write your own stories. Just remember the only bad way to write is to not write.
In the months to come I will be digging into various elements of adventure design. Topics like trap construction, what makes for a good introduction, when detail is too detailed, and many more.