New to Adventure Creation

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I have decided to make my own 4e adventure in my downtime. It gives me something to do with my creative side since I can't draw at all. I tried reading in the DMG about treasure parcels, but without having done this before, it still confuses me a little. I just need some help to get a grasp on this part, and the world with its story will be a breeze for me. Here's a sample of what I thought of using, but it seems to be messy with the encounters together on the page. (I am doing the actual story part, with the room descriptions, on its own set of pages, so as it reads more as a story to me while I am preparing for the day's worth of game.)

*totally made up encounter and has nothing to do with my actual campaign.*

Encounter 6: 'The Last Day of Light'  (475 xp)

3 Zombies (100 xp each)- 300 xp 
2 Decrepit Skeletons (25 xp each)- 50 xp
1 Zombie Archer (125 xp each)- 125 xp

  1. I am mainly wondering how to write up the specific encounters with the monsters, xp given, treasure given, etc. Is the way I set it up a good way to go about it, or is there a better way to do it?

  2. How do I give out the treasure, and where should I put it? I was thinking in the Parentheses at the top with the Total XP earned. 

  3. How do you decide which battle to make harder than the PC level, besides the Boss battles of course? I think I have my first dungeon with 7 rooms; 4 combat encounters, 1 puzzle encounter, the starting room with nothing, and 1 treasure room. The last room has a large demon boss that keeps them from leaving without killing him.

I take it you're writing this for others. There should be free adventures available on the site that give examples of how to write up encounters. And the DMG has some example encounters in the back.

1. The way you wrote it up looks pretty standard. Treasure tends to be listed toward the end of the area description.

2. There's no standard way you should give out treasure, and some people don't like to "give it out." It's common to incorporate its presences into the encounter or adventure in a plausible way. If they're fighting animals, the treasure might be on the body of a previous victim, or in the form of a bounty put out on those animals. But that's just an example.

3. It's not an exact science. You don't have to make one battle harder, and you don't have to make any of them easier.

The puzzle doesn't have to be separate from combat.

The way things are looking now, if the players fail, then the game suffers a hard stop. In order to continue, they have to make new characters, because the old ones are trapped (presumably dead) with the demon. Can you think of other ways they might be able to fail, without having to lose their characters? For a one-shot game with people you know well, losing characters might be fine. If you want your adventure to be something anyone can slot into your game, you might want to consider non-lethal failure.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Okay, the way I am formatting them will be my standard. I think I will add any gold somewhere in the story part of the encounter, and have it marked in the encounter list so numbers are written down at least twice. I will check out the adventures and see how others have done it before me too. Thanks for the response and if I get the adventure finished, I will post it here on the forums for others to enjoy as well.

I wanted the first dungeon to have minimal chances of dying since the whole campaign is an undead theme where they're trying to gain back their humanity (Dark Souls/Demon Souls) The puzzle was just there for alleviation of the combat drone and to get a key to the boss's door. He holds the key to exit the dungeon, so they have to kill him for that. I am hoping he's not too much trouble since he's a level 1 or 2, with some monsters in there with him. I thought about his giant hammer swing possibly wiping any other enemies if the party is struggling with them.
I free form experience personally, using what's given as guidelines. If players impress me with following character, using the environment and creativity, or just plain surprising me with fantastic planning, I award extra. I also take a portion of experience away or give extra depending on the danger presented to the players. If one hits the ground, I'll award a good bit more. If two drop, the encounter is tense and there's a little bit more. All but one, and there's going to be some serious gain.

For treasure, I say BA-humbug to you and your treasure parcels. Award what feels right, what makes sense to the monsters (why does this orc have a set of halfling size +2 plate with him?!) and most importantly listen to your players. They are sure to have a "wishlisht" and I do my best to reward them for their efforts. Keep everything sane, and keep them wanting just enough to go out and search for the next piece of treasure, without making them hurting for items (often my mistake).
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!

I would suggest adding :

Encounter 6: 'The Last Day of Light' (500 xp - level 2, easy)

3 Zombies (100 xp each)- 300 xp
2 Decrepit Skeletons (25 xp each)- 50 xp
1 Zombie Archer (125 xp each)- 125 xp (+ good cover +25 xp)

I made 2 modifications / additions :

1.  The note in the title. That little note is a god-send when you're leafing through and building other encounters and canibalizing sources. It's also a great idea to jot down how the encounter actually played : 4e is great (well the best so far) at having monsters be what they are said to (by the xp, level, CR, or other "power level tag") but it isn't perfect and some encouters can be much harder or easier than what the paper version would suggest. Having a record of that is very very pleasant.

2.  If you build your encounter in such a way that terrain (or some other feature) greatly improves the efficacy of a creature, make a note of it and give it a bonus xp (I ball park it to ~+25% whith a significant advantage). A classic example would be to place the squeletal archer atop a high dais with a sarcohagus for cover - unless you have ranged auto-hit, that creature is now much more powerful than it otherwise would be. The reverse also holds : bunched-up minions count for a lot less than the same number in a few waves spread over the battlefield. This is the part where you can adjust the encounter value to what it represents to your players - keeping their capabilities in mind will help more closely match the challenges. IMPORTANT NOTE: this is not a freepass to bork-over your players by negating all their capabilities!

Further notes: I do not know if that is actually a "level 2, easy" encounter - it's just a placeholder value. With time you may develop enough system mastery to know how xp budget and encounter difficulty relate intuitively - I know I'm still waiting on that...

Personal option : I use the 1-to-1 encounter building approach : 1 equal level monster per PC, 4 to 6 minions equals one monster (based on powers such as auto-damage, ranged, conditions, etc) and I've found that 2 (level-3) monsters is a fair-ish trade for an equal level monster.

Parcels : The whole of the thing is that they are suggestions as to the ammounts that should be spread out over the expected number of encounters for a given level. Nothing more. The main to take away is that if you want to closely follow the expected power curve, make sure you players have acces to about the same quantities of loot per level. That being said, the game plays fine without bothering to much about it.

Personal option : while there are a great many gnashers of teeth on these boards, the game plays fine if you give out too little or too much treasure; and if you feel adjustments are necessary, they will be very easy to make (even on the fly).

Anyhow, my 2cp - hope it wasn't too garbled or unhelpful.

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