Here are some of the notes @PhillipFallon & I wrote up when discussing How to Write a D&D Adventure! These are by no means the only way to do it, just some of our shared experiences.
The Golden Rule:
- Make sure everyone has fun. That’s the most important thing about playing games!
Writing the Adventure:
- Write for the Players & their Adventurers
- You can tailor the Adventure to the Players.
- Make sure your Players have characters that fit the world you’re playing in & have a fleshed out Backstory.
- Ask them to write down 3 Character Motivations.
- Ask them to write an NPC or two that they have a connection with.
- Use a Framework for your Adventure (eg. Forgotten Realms)
- Your Players might already be familiar with the setting
- Large scale conflicts. Must be easily identified by the Party. The objective to solve the conflict needs to be easily identifiable by the Party.
- Objectives each session need to be clear.
- The reason for them solving the conflict needs to be pressing.
- Party & Character Motivations must be thought of when deciding on the type of conflict.
Creating the World of the Campaign:
- How Characters interact with the World
- Think of Options for the Characters
- Think of: Religion, Governments, Magic & Races.
Write what you need. And then stop.
- Write the beginning.
- Write the end.
- Don’t write the middle.
- This allows for flexibility within the Campaign. When Players go “off track” it won’t throw you so much.
- This gives the Player’s free reign to explore and to determine the outcome of the Adventure and most importantly: how they get there.
- You can write the middle points of campaigns. Think of plot points like a flow chart with multiple branches and options for the Player’s.
NPCs and the Cast of your Adventure:
- What is the purpose of the NPC?
- What is the Motivation of the NPC? Like the Player’s, write 3 options.
- Write “If Then” sentences for potential questions the PCs might ask.
Quest Givers/NPCs they’re “meant” to like:
- Writing the NPCs based on the Characters.
- Common ground/backstory connection
- Good reason for needing help.
- Keep the Character motivations in mind when writing them.
- Play with Age – do they react well to children? Think of Race, even Gender.
Villain(s) of the Campaign:
- Compelling motivations to do what they are doing
- Remember, lots of villains don’t see themselves as evil. At the very least, they feel justified. Perhaps they have an allegiance to a cause?
- The Villain itself can know that it’s evil (Devils, Demons etc) but those who follow the Villain are likely misguided, afraid, do they believe in the cause? Do the ends justify the means for them?
- At the beginning of the Campaign, the Villain should seem very powerful. The tides will turn toward the end of the Campaign.
- Make sure at some point the campaign, the Party can identify the Villain.
The First Session of the Campaign – Confidence:
- You’re gonna be nervous. It’s okay!
- You can write lots for the first session.
- Let the other Players know how you’re feeling.
- Embrace it. Eventually you’re going to have to play and make mistakes as you go. Everyone has been there and it’s perfectly natural!
The First Session – Running the Campaign:
- Allow Players to ask questions about the game, about the world. Let them check their Character Sheets and begin when they are ready.
- Story Driven Encounters can set the tone of the Campaign and also start the Player’s on the Quest or Adventure of the Campaign.
- You want to hook the Player’s into the campaign. You want them to come back next session for more.
- Make sure everyone has fun. That’s the most important thing about playing games.