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  1. #11
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    Theres a strange beauty in that photo of the index cards. Like you, I do a lot of my planning on tables in a Word document, but when it gets really complex I go to Freemind.

    I wonder if you can give an example of the scope of each of your index cards? In your example, does each card represent a major quest or a potential encounter?

 

  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    I wouldn't recommend writing up complete elements, rather a summary. It's less about being complete, and more as a roadmap so you can plan accordingly. If you are great at improvisation and thinking on the fly with creatures, twists, and turns, it might not work best for you.
    This.

    Using index cards, or loose sheets in a campaign binder, lets you think quicker on your feet. And encounters that aren't used now can be adjusted and used in a later context.

    I loved the idea of the Adventure Flowchart posited in the 3e DMG (and implemented in Speaker In Dreams), comparing a flowchart to a dungeon map where the rooms are events or encounters.

  • #13
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    To some extent, back when I had Microsoft Access, I used it to do something similar. I'm currently running a pretty standard dungeon on rails in XCrawl, but when I move back into a sandbox style game, I think I'm going to take a good hard look at trying this method, which is pretty well system agnostic.

  • #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    I wouldn't recommend writing up complete elements, rather a summary. It's less about being complete, and more as a roadmap so you can plan accordingly. If you are great at improvisation and thinking on the fly with creatures, twists, and turns, it might not work best for you.
    Well, yeah - I think GMing advice should be geared to helping them get better at improvisation again. That's what I meant when I mentioned the Yggsburgh book - it's really notable as something designed to help DMs be better DMs. Way too much from WoTC has been geared to a lowest-common-denominator approach.

    In terms of writing adventures for publication, your 'set matrix of choice' approach is not bad, and vastly superior to the horrible 'linear line of encounters leading to BBEG - make sure the PCs fight Every Single One so they get the right XP!' approach which has been the bane of 4e.

    But GMs at the table can do things that adventure authors writing for strangers cannot do.
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  • #15
    Given the initial setup - the daughter of the king has been kidnapped, just how many possible outcomes can you really have? For those questioning having end points prepared, what else is there? Either you rescue her or not. Granted, there's probably quite a few more "nots" but, there's still really only two outcomes here.

    You might proceed through the 9 events in a large number of orders, more if backtracking is possible, but, at the end of the day, there's still only two reasonable outcomes.
    The rules don't give the DM their authority. The consent of the players does. - Mallus

  • #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Given the initial setup - the daughter of the king has been kidnapped, just how many possible outcomes can you really have? For those questioning having end points prepared, what else is there? Either you rescue her or not. Granted, there's probably quite a few more "nots" but, there's still really only two outcomes here.
    Lots of possibilities lurk between rescued and not rescued in terms of relevant consequences. The how and why she is or is not rescued may matter tremendously.

    (At least, if you're working with a GM and not a guided adventure book.)
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  • #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    I put up a post on D&D's official blog and I wanted to share it. It is applicable to more than just D&D 4e and I hope it helps DMs in developing their next campaign or adventure.

    Whoops! Browser Settings Incompatible

    I wanted to extrapolate more on the process in the blog, but I didn't want to cloud the message too much.
    I know i am going to get flamed for any comments i make, but i like reading the hate. To me all you are creating is a railroad story with a few side rails just in case. A GM can create a base outline of what he might want to create but players are a random chaos factor that are going to destroy any well developed plans you conceive.

    In your example you have got a the precious baby of the king being kidnapped. And an obscure clue on how to find said baby. A pretty strait forward start to an adventure. The problem i see is that you are deciding the end of the adventure with 2 possible outcomes without taking into account that players are individuals who have their own whims and agenda's outside of what the GM tries to create.

    I was going to say a few thing about different outcomes to the adventure but other people have posted similar.

    Most written adventures are either a sandbox, or a railroad. As a GM even if you know the group intimately and have played with them for years. The players are still going to do stuff that you will not be able to foresee or even plan for. And to try and think of all the different possible outcomes for a written adventure is impossible it cant be done.

    To be a good GM IMO is thinking on your feet. Reacting instantly to the players choices. Creating interesting and enjoyable encounters. Using the players ideas and incorporating them into the game. Creating a living breathing environment for the players to adventure in and most of all having lots of fun. Oh and also knowing the rules well enough that during play you don't have to stop to look up some table or skill modifier. And a good dose of imagination goes a long way too.

    I will also add that Roleplaying has no right or wrong way. If the GM and players are having fun thats all that matters.
    Last edited by Ringlerun; Friday, 23rd December, 2011 at 07:20 AM. Reason: my spelling sux

  • #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExploderWizard View Post
    I found the blog post decently written for its topic but I do not agree with its content.

    To begin with, I do not see rpgs (at least all of them) as being about collaborative storytelling. For the sake of my next point though lets pretend that I do.

    So if we accept the premise that rpgs are about telling collaborative stories, how are they that exactly if we construct a predetermined ending? If there are 6 storytellers at the table, why does one particular one get to dictate an ending? That isn't collaboration as I see it.
    I also see collaborative storytelling as a kind of "one true wayism" in the hobby at the moment. Collaboration isn't bad, but its hardly the only means in which to engage in a game with others. For a start there are competitive games and cooperative games too. Competitive is its own thing, but to differentiate between collaborative and cooperative:

    Collaboration is normally a rule of a game or enterprise. If we stop collaborating in a joint storytelling venture, then we're no longer working together. We might each be storytelling individually, but we're no longer bothering to do it with other people. The upside is the collaborative expectation defines the borders of our working together before beginning and trust is built into their transparency. Some downsides are that these definitions limit our understood engagement as well as make expanding it an all or nothing choice. For games, the game is over if we choose to stop collaborating.

    In cooperative enterprises we a joint harmony with other people, but it can change. And, perhaps most importantly, the choice to cooperate or not is the major theme. In cooperative games each player is repeatedly in the position to choose whether or not to cooperate with one or more of the other players. However, if they choose to go alone, the game still continues. Plenty of boardgames are like this, where the objective of the game is set for a group, but the players can choose to work together or not throughout play. If you believe everyone else's plans are going to lead us all off a cliff, then you can act differently without necessarily divorcing one's actions from the group's goals. One could even have a separate, personal goal with each choice then being about how to give and take within the group for the achievement of those individual objectives.
    Playing a game is a study. Storytelling is personal composition.

  • #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by howandwhy99 View Post
    Competitive is its own thing, but to differentiate between collaborative and cooperative:
    I think you draw some hair-fine distinctions between collaboration and cooperation that may not be widely shared.

  • #20
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    I don't view what's being presented here as limiting the players at all. Just because you write up 9 encounters doesn't mean you can't create a 10th on the fly when your players do something unintended, just as writing notes for an adventure doesn't limit you to what you've written down on paper. You're just preparing guidelines for the likeliest course the adventure will take, the same as many DMs do. That by no means implies that PCs are limited to those, and only those, choices. It seems to me as though some people are taking this idea to that rather extreme and unrealistic conclusion.

    It's an interesting organizational scheme, and I can see how it might have advantages. I'll have to give it a shot the next time I'm DMing.

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