Results for tag: dungeon master
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 16, 2010 at 11:15:36 AM
Now that I have gone over creating episodic adventures in detail, I am going to quickly review the entire idea of creating these adventures. I am a 34 year old father, I create episodic adventures because my friends and I all have kids and careers. Well, we still get together and game.
The episodic adventure allows us to get in an entire adventure in a single session. I take inspiration from the cartoons of my Saturday mornings when I was a kid. Cartoons today are long lasting epic things that seem to give a cliffhanger at every episode and keep going like a rabbit we all know.
So, episodic adventures are created in 4 hour time slots. In my experience with my groups, it takes 20-30 minutes to get through an entire fight with awarding loot. So, I usually only have 4 fights in a session...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 02:11:48 PM
DM Design: Episodic Adventures 6 [Return of the Flowchart]
Well, you are pretty much done. You need to compare your details with your flowchart and make sure everything fits right. This final phase of your adventure and it has probably taken some time to get here. I can finish a single adventure in 1-3 hours using this format. I don't sit down and make maps anymore. I don't draw out dungeons, I try and find pre-made maps. I do everything I can to not spend more than an hour preparing for every 4 hours gaming.
Returning to your flowchart you need to sit and make sure everything fits. Make sure you have paths to failure and what happens if the party fails and what happens along the way to success. Sometimes, heroes fail in episodic adventures. I like to see them fail sometimes because...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 02:09:37 PM
DM Design: Episodic Adventures 5 [Event Details]
I try and keep details to a minimum. Players don't care that a thousand years ago, the henchman was recruited by the big-bad-boss from an interdimensional prison. They don't care much about your story either, they care about their story and they care about the story of other player characters... and they care about the story that is unfolding in front of them. They don't really care about background. Ok. Now with that tidbit aside, details are important especially when it has to do with right now. What will someone do if the players kill the princess? Players don't care about the princess and her past, just what will happen if they kill her. So, what happens?
I flesh out encounters now with exact numbers of enemies. I reconstruct my...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 02:08:14 PM
DM Design: Episodic Adventures 4 [Flowchart Concept]
As we start the flowchart, I usually go back to the 11x17 page I did the brainstorming on and flip it over to use the back. Paper is expensive and because I save all this crap in boxes and can't throw gaming stuff away I need to minimize the paper I use. Oh yeah, it also lets me take a look back at what I was thinking in the beginning to see if I left any good ideas behind... this is where I can use them.
I make three big squares that represent each act. Then I make 3 smaller boxes between each, these are my linear points from the “Starting at the End” phase.
My flowchart is everything. I don't have pages detailing every last thing and what every NPC says. I have my flowchart, all the details I need (like statistics are on...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 01:56:30 PM
DM Design: Episodic Adventures 3 [Starting at the End]
When I design encounters and events I always start with the end. What is the big-bad trying to do? Is he trying to gain access to an ancient vault? Take over a town? Discover a path to lichdom? Whatever the boss-big-bad is trying to do you should incorporate it into your final encounter. After that point, begin to work backwards. How did the characters get into that room? What was protecting the room? Ask yourself questions about the encounter. Do not worry about the flowchart yet, create a linear path from the end of your story to the beginning and hook of the story.
I usually backtrack through three events to reach Act 2 and then three events to reach Act 1. Here is an example from an adventure of mine from older notes:
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 01:44:36 PM
DM Design: Episodic Adventures 2 [brainstorming]
Always, always, always start with a brainstorm for your adventure. I am a designer and photographer by trade and creativity is everything to me, in order to find great opportunity you have to make time for it. You will need three 10-minute sessions to brainstorm. Brainstorming is the framework around our adventure. I like to use an 11x17 piece of paper to brain storm. There is a reason you have time limits and there is a reason that they are short and there are three of them. Our brain works on creative things when we are not doing them, it is always seeking answers. The first session sets your brain up, the second really gets some creativity going and the third is usually your most solid creatively and brings a lot of it together.
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 01:36:03 PM
DM Design: Episodic Adventures 1
Anyone who follows my blog here knows I design episodic adventures. I don't design multiple session adventures that run months. I prefer well made adventures that last between 4-12 hours. I plan everything in 4-hour chunks so they can be played in 6-hour time frames. My groups waste about two hours with every game session. We take a long break in the middle, usually to BBQ something or hang out in the back. Gaming for me is very social, new people always come back.
Ok. The episodic adventure. I grew up with GIJoe, Transformers, Silverhawks, Thundercats, and all the other Saturday morning cartoons. Today, cartoons are – for the most part – not episodic and cross several episodes to an entire season of continuity. I am not saying that episodic adventures...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 15, 2010 at 10:11:04 AM
In a previous post for beginner DM's I mentioned using flow charts. I am going to go into why I use flow charts and how I use them. When it comes to running my own adventures you need to understand that I write episodic adventures now, usually a single adventure is never more than 12 hours long. I do not write long dungeon crawls that end up running 10 game sessions, not that shorter adventures are any less epic. I use a flow chart to make the game more organic and free. The player decisions matter more than ever in my games. My brainstorming is also done flow chart style.
Flow charts start at the very base level of an adventure and instead of writing down what happens if players succeed, which most DM's do... what happens when they fail, or choose a different path. After brainstorming...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 14, 2010 at 08:32:13 AM
I prefer to create episodic adventures much like GIJoe, Transformers, Thundercats and other old school Saturday Morning cartoons. I have had a forum argument about episode vs. ongoing adventures. Ongoing adventures take more planning and last over 5+ adventures and many times never see an end. You can see the "Adventure Path" Scales of War in Dungeon (D&D insider) for more on ongoing adventures.
Why episodic? Well, after years of running ongoing games I find that players like episodic so much more. There is a beginning and an end in episodic adventures. Most of mine last from 1-2 game sessions with the big ones lasting up to around 5. I like to really change the game with each adventure, in one they might be in the bowels of an erupting volcano, in another the frozen wastes of the North...
Posted by: Mindforge on Jan 14, 2010 at 07:54:59 AM
I have been running games for a long time and rarely get to see the player's side of the d20. Usually I get to see the player's side at game stores or if one of my friends wants to run something. I have seen great beginner DM's and some horrible DM's that should never run the game again.
Most DM's are not organized enough, even experienced ones. I no longer create linear adventures and instead create a yes or no flowchart for my adventures. Basically I try and think of three things that can be applied to an encounter with a flowchart. The first answer is yes or no... usually do the characters win the battle... yes or no. I track this on a flowchart of thought so I have a general direction to take things. Do not force your characters onto a linear path, plan for the characters to fail here...
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