Saturday Jul 13, 2024

Craft an Adventure from Scratch in 30 minutes

You want to play something right now, but you don’t know what? Then this guide might be for you!

– The Adventure Crafter
– The Location Crafter (optional)
– Mythic (or any other oracle system of your choice) with Action and Description oracles.
– An RPG (choose one you know by heart)

Step 0: Setup Guidelines

– Try not to spend more than 60 seconds thinking any idea
– If you say “nah” two times in a row to an oracle, it is likely you actually know what you really want.
– Only ask “yes/no” questions if you are ready for both answers. If not, go with the one you know!

Step 1: Setting and Theme

1Medieval FantasyAction
2Victorian SteampunkTension
3Urban FantasyMystery
5Space OperaPersonal
6Roll Two and Mix upRoll Two and Mix up

Change anything you don’t like in this list. Make sure none of the results are something you wouldn’t play.

Example: I’ve got Medieval Fantasy and Personal. First thing that comes to my mind is Dragon Age Inquisition, a fantasy game where the hero is suffering great pain and many things will simply rely on him. Will not do exactly that but, well, it serves for now.

Step 2: Turning Point + First Interpretation

Set the Themes on the TAC table and roll 5 plot points. The FIRST character invoked through TAC will be the PROTAGONIST! (there can be more, though, as you prefer). ASK QUESTIONS.

Example: I will have Personal – Action – Mystery – Social – Tension (I chose this because of the Dragon Age idea, I think that’s that).

I ended up with a Frenetic Activity on the protagonist, a Cautious Servant. His vulnerability exploited (not coincidence, we chose personal theme). There is a Savior, a Strategic Soldier, and finally a mysterious new Person, a Ruler Engineering Small (dang that’s obviously a Dwarf to me :D).

Since in my example I read something like a Dragon Age setting, I will read that the protagonist will be a prisoner, so we’ll begin on some sort of jail. Or perhaps is he being transported to prison? Let’s ask the Oracle! Is this protagonist being transported to prison? ⇾ Yes, with a Random Event (Yes and…) New NPC + Control Goals. This will be an important NPC carrying the protagonist. I will roll on the TAC for his/her identity. Individual, Driver, Common. I decide these are a caravan transport of chariots, led by paid thugs and mercenaries. Added to the characters list.

We have a Savior, so this will be the second protagonist, a Captain soldier of some important faction.

Third, we’ve got a Mysterious New Person. I will ask the Oracle Is this mysterious on protagonist side? ⇾ Yes! So this will be a third mercenary, an obvious Dwarf, constructor. Is he also a prisoner? No! So he will be a friend of the Savior.

The protagonist will be obviously a mage, since we imagined Dragon Age, she is obviously an Apostate Elf Mage. Sounds cool to me! 🙂

I’ll give everyone a name now. Elwyin, Captain Fedrick and Borgh. The thugs will be lead by Vailos Tebell.

For the first plot point, Frenetic Activity, Elwyin is out of control of her magic and she is causing chaos and disruption. Captain Fedrick could be a Templar, since we are in Dragon Age like setting, but for now we can keep it like he’s not, and is actually Borgh who can negate Elwyin’s magic, but the thugs are going to be dealt with anyways!

Step 3: Jeansen’s Game Setup Checklist

This is where I propose something new and hopefully of value. You’ll have to find a balance between too little preparation but slow, vs faster game but fewer surprises. This is the balance for me:

At least one Protagonist in the List
Two non-protagonist actors in the list
At least one “background” antagonist in the list
One big Plotline in the list
Two minor Plotlines in the list
First scene is clearly known

So the idea of the following table is to get just enough to strike a balance between game pace and surprise factor.

At least one Protagonist in the ListElwyin, Fedrick and Borgh
Two non-protagonist actors in the listVailos Tevell the mercenary. And I need one more NPC: Crafter, Rogue, Gentle. Connect to existing Character: I got number 6, which is Elwyn. I don’t know what is going on with this one. But I decide he will be an Elf called Kailos. I won’t think about him now, until he’s invoked in game.
At least one “background” antagonist in the listWe don’t have one! Let’s roll: 13, Organization, Criminal, Rough. These will be an Organized Mage Hunter band. We’ll give them a name and that’s it for now: Hunters of Tadessus. They hired the transporting mercenaries.
One big Plotline in the listOur main plotline will be Elwyin’s control of her magic. This will make her traverse through dangerous paths, people who want it, and evil demons who want her power.
Two minor Plotlines in the listThe first Plotline is Elwyin’s personal story. A second one is “The Hunters of Tadessus want Elwyin”. The third one should be related to our other colleagues, the Captain and the Dwarf. What do they want? Release Suffering. Ok, they seem to be wanting to do good, but why? Inspect Liberty. Alright, Mythic is pushing me towards the freedom of mages, but the Hunters of Tadessus want Elwyin, so it cannot be from them. Let’s add Demons hunting Mages. Since the story is Personal, let’s make it a personal objective that Elwyin needs to close a Demon’s rift and is the lesser evil to sort that out. Let’s add “Elwyins search for the Demons Rift” which will bring trouble as well.
First scene is clearly knownSo we said being transported on a Caravan. In the wilds. Let’s ask a Description Check Very Important. I don’t know what is important, so I am going to ask “Important for what?” action question Carelessness Intrigues. So this is going to happen when arriving to a road checkpoint of the Hunters of Tadessus where the prisoners were going to be handed over to the Spies of Tadessus (added them to the characters list!)

Step 4 (Optional) – A Simple Location’s Crafter

Depending on the kind of game, the location matters. In my case, since this is a kind of fantasy adventure, and we’re being transported, we kind of need to know where and what’s out there.

Region: Cooly Interesting. So there will be snow, peaky mountains, and it is interesting because there are many ruins in this region and, mystical places and some human outposts. “The Cold Peaks of Thenras”

From here, try to fill it in REALLY fast. Don’t stop to think too much, or you will ruin your own surprise rate! This is mostly a guideline for when you are blank about the place or what happens next situation.

Step 5: Build the Characters and Just Play

With this amount of information, you can go ahead and create the main characters. If you picked up a narrative system like FATE, it is very likely that when you shape up some NPCs, more questions and more information for your world will appear. For example, who is Captain Fedrick? Maybe we’ll end up adding a Plotline for him, or maybe new background characters!

My suggestion is, however, do not prepare more than what we’ve done here, there is enough information already! Get started and flesh out the details while playing. With this setup (About 5 Characters, 3 Plotlines and a Turning Point, optionally a Location too), you’ll have plenty to be ready for Oracle’s random events.

If you start with less than this information, in my experience, it can work just fine. But the risk is that you’ll go blank too often, or have to “stop the game” (depending on which parts of game you call game), to figure out motivations, who’s who and what’s what. This is just a guideline!

Enjoy and hope this helps! Feedback and thoughts welcome! Or let me know if you tried something similar. Best regards!


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