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More Adventure Writing Advice

 
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tigerguy786
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Joined: 26 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:03 pm    Post subject: More Adventure Writing Advice Reply with quote

Hello all,

I'm still new to the adventure writing thing, so I have lots of questions. I started another topic with specific questions for the adventure I'm working on, but I have some more general ones too.

1. Is CR (as described in the SWD core book) a good way to balance encounters? Do you use a different system?
If it matters, in the adventure I'm working on, the PCs possess a rather high CR, partially because they are wearing power armor. Comparing their numbers to even an SWD dragon, they are super powered. (Their combined is somewhere around 140 and a single dragon is about 40).

2. How many major events should there be? Basing it off something like "The Eye of Kilquato" Adventure, it seems there should be 2 major events and 3-4 smaller ones. Is that just because it's pulp?

The goal is to write something about that length incidentally.

3. Any general tips?

EDIT:
4. How would you rule a summoned weapon like they do in Elder Scrolls? Just let the spellcaster flavor his weapon as a summoned item with no spell involved? I'm not a fan of that option, but it's the simplest.
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relativistic
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Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Posts: 159

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll give this a shot, I"m sure others will chime in.

First, Is this writing an adventure for yourself, or for others? Just wondering about your choice of verb. When I "write" an adventure, its mostly just a page or two of concise notes and some stats, if that. You don't need to "write" it in the way a published adventure is written.

Quote:
1. Is CR (as described in the SWD core book) a good way to balance encounters? Do you use a different system?
If it matters, in the adventure I'm working on, the PCs possess a rather high CR, partially because they are wearing power armor. Comparing their numbers to even an SWD dragon, they are super powered. (Their combined is somewhere around 140 and a single dragon is about 40).


I've never used CR, but it may work okay. I think its just an approximate rule of thumb, and you have to modify it a bit. A dragon, for example, may have heavy armor, meaning most of the party's weapons won't work. That would make a huge difference to the way the battle would work, probably not covered properly by CR.

Balance is achieved through experience more I find. One thing to keep in mind though is that no encounter will be perfectly balanced. Sometimes your players will breeze through an encounter, sometimes they'll be squashed. Both are fine, although for super-difficult encounters I usually try to have an idea of a way to avoid TPK on a failure.

Finally, balance matters a lot less than it being an interesting and memorable enounter. Both the players kicking ass easily, and struggling to get past a very challenging foe, are fun.

Quote:
2. How many major events should there be? Basing it off something like "The Eye of Kilquato" Adventure, it seems there should be 2 major events and 3-4 smaller ones. Is that just because it's pulp?


If you mean per session, that's not a bad set of numbers as a target, yeah. How many encounters really varies for a full adventure though. A really long adventure may take up to 5 sessions, and may have many more than 2 major events.

I do want to caution you away from overplanning though for having a set number of events per unit time. If the player's are having a lot of fun with a "minor event", feel free to let it breath. Maybe even make it into your major event. One of my biggest mistakes is trying to rush players through to my big set-pieces, and not just letting them "play". Don't feel like you need to get to some set goal number of events in a single session. On that same note, if people seem to be getting bored with something, feel free to drop something from your plans to get moving quicker!

Also, take ideas from your players and drop your planned events if the players' actions head to something more entertaining than you had in mind.


Quote:
4. How would you rule a summoned weapon like they do in Elder Scrolls? Just let the spellcaster flavor his weapon as a summoned item with no spell involved? I'm not a fan of that option, but it's the simplest.


Don't have my book, but I thought there was something like this in SWD. But I guess the question is what is the benefit for having a summoned versus normal weapon? If its essentially identical, yeah, I'd just make it a trapping for the normal weapon. But, if its particularly powerful, or maybe uses an arcane skill to use instead of "Fighting", I might invent a new magic power, with a cost in power points per round to maintain it. The exact balance of this could be a whole post on its own though!

Quote:
3. Any general tips?

*Ignore any advice you don't like. Everyone GM's differently.
*A good book is Robbin's Laws of Good Game Mastering: http://www.sjgames.com/robinslaws/
*Sometimes you can give the players a problem with no pre-conceived solution on your part. They're often very smart at solving tactical challenges.
*But they're very "dumb" at following clues for mysteries. Nothing is as obvious to a player as it is to you. I've seen many games grind to a halt because a GM thinks something is obvious, and players are stuck. Either make sure there are many ways to the solution, they're pretty obvious, or something interesting pushest things along if the players fail to solve something.
*I find things work best when I alternate between "planned events", and sandbox time. So, maybe I'll have the players be invited to a fancy party put on by the king, have them meet a couple important people, and get invested in the story. And then I have someone die at the party and let the players come up with their own strategy to solve the murder, explore the castle, etc.
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tigerguy786
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Joined: 26 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

relativistic wrote:
I'll give this a shot, I"m sure others will chime in.

First, Is this writing an adventure for yourself, or for others? Just wondering about your choice of verb. When I "write" an adventure, its mostly just a page or two of concise notes and some stats, if that. You don't need to "write" it in the way a published adventure is written.


Well, both. I have one on mind that will probably never be run by anyone but me, and another that will be published.

relativistic wrote:
I've never used CR, but it may work okay. I think its just an approximate rule of thumb, and you have to modify it a bit. A dragon, for example, may have heavy armor, meaning most of the party's weapons won't work. That would make a huge difference to the way the battle would work, probably not covered properly by CR.

Balance is achieved through experience more I find. One thing to keep in mind though is that no encounter will be perfectly balanced. Sometimes your players will breeze through an encounter, sometimes they'll be squashed. Both are fine, although for super-difficult encounters I usually try to have an idea of a way to avoid TPK on a failure.

Finally, balance matters a lot less than it being an interesting and memorable enounter. Both the players kicking ass easily, and struggling to get past a very challenging foe, are fun.


Thanks for this. This is good I think. Ill remember the "get out of jail free" angle. It's a good idea.

relativistic wrote:

If you mean per session, that's not a bad set of numbers as a target, yeah. How many encounters really varies for a full adventure though. A really long adventure may take up to 5 sessions, and may have many more than 2 major events.

I do want to caution you away from overplanning though for having a set number of events per unit time. If the player's are having a lot of fun with a "minor event", feel free to let it breath. Maybe even make it into your major event. One of my biggest mistakes is trying to rush players through to my big set-pieces, and not just letting them "play". Don't feel like you need to get to some set goal number of events in a single session. On that same note, if people seem to be getting bored with something, feel free to drop something from your plans to get moving quicker!

Also, take ideas from your players and drop your planned events if the players' actions head to something more entertaining than you had in mind.


Well, the adventures I have in mind are intended for single sessions.
Having done it once, and having read lots of advice and watched my GMs, it seems one of the most important abilities of a GM is the ability to improvise. From what the dice rolls mean to going with the wacky ideas players come up with (like shooting the river with his lightning gun so they can get past the piranhas).

relativistic wrote:

Don't have my book, but I thought there was something like this in SWD. But I guess the question is what is the benefit for having a summoned versus normal weapon? If its essentially identical, yeah, I'd just make it a trapping for the normal weapon. But, if its particularly powerful, or maybe uses an arcane skill to use instead of "Fighting", I might invent a new magic power, with a cost in power points per round to maintain it. The exact balance of this could be a whole post on its own though!


The main benefit would be that it has no weight. A more advanced version might have smite built in, but mainly it would be a weightless weapon.

relativistic wrote:

*Ignore any advice you don't like. Everyone GM's differently.
*A good book is Robbin's Laws of Good Game Mastering: http://www.sjgames.com/robinslaws/
*Sometimes you can give the players a problem with no pre-conceived solution on your part. They're often very smart at solving tactical challenges.
*But they're very "dumb" at following clues for mysteries. Nothing is as obvious to a player as it is to you. I've seen many games grind to a halt because a GM thinks something is obvious, and players are stuck. Either make sure there are many ways to the solution, they're pretty obvious, or something interesting pushest things along if the players fail to solve something.
*I find things work best when I alternate between "planned events", and sandbox time. So, maybe I'll have the players be invited to a fancy party put on by the king, have them meet a couple important people, and get invested in the story. And then I have someone die at the party and let the players come up with their own strategy to solve the murder, explore the castle, etc.


I'll remember the sandbox time part. I think your first advice applies just about anywhere.

Thanks for the tips. I'll keep them in mind.
_________________
"Well, you do know what those who underestimate tigers always say right?"
"What?"
"They scream, 'Oh god help me I'm being mauled to death by a tiger.'"
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