Opinions: What makes a good adventure?

Old One

First Post
Rel's Comments...

I think Rel's comments are very pertinent, especially in the context of linked adventures or a campaign. Giving the players reasons to really CARE about the enviornment they are in.

In my Faded Glory campaign, I have tied the PCs intimately to the game world...they, their friends, their family and their enemies all act, interact and react to what is going on. It is tough to do that in a stand alone adventure, but one thing that I would like to see is more suggestions by adventure/module authors on how DMs can plug the offering into an on-going campaign.

Old One

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First Post
Re: Good Adventures

As a player, it's all about the encounters. Whether it's going to sword to sword and spell to spell with the enemy or bowing to your dance partner at the king's masked ball, the characters you meet along the way are what brings the world to life.

In my opinion, this is something that exists totally outside game system. Sure it's easy to make a monster unique by adding templates or odd powers to it, but it's the villainous little man who always lisps or has a manaical cackle that will stand out long after the latest half-fiend vampiric dragon is long dead. (Though I've got to admit that would be a memorable dragon!)

If the world doesn't live and breathe, it's not worth playing in.

Dave G

First Post
As a player... I just want a mixture of elements... I like hack and slash as much as the next person, but I want more opportunities to role play... I like puzzles and problem solving, but most DM's tend to overcompensate with them... just like with the monsters. They need to make sense... why would the Arch Mage have a riddle trap in the sewer beneath his lab? Why is the fire giant staying in this place? Answer these questions in a way that makes sense, and the world will become more real for everyone playing...

On a side note, for those who shy away from published adventures, I really like what Thunderhead Games did in their Interludes product, with ways to scale the encounters for different types of parties... Very cool!


Iron Fist of Pelor
Very interesting thread! Some more thoughts:

-Villain Intelligence. Nothing grates more than being genuinely outsmarted by a villain. When the bad guy in our campaign stole all of our gear by shapeshifting into a party member, and by the way ambushed the impersonated party member and drove him insane, he earned a bunch of frothing enemies. He didn't just hurt us or steal from us: he wounded our pride, made us look like fools.

Contrariwise, I hate it when a putatively intelligent villain acts like a cretin. In one adventure, an enchanter has the ability to enter people's dreams, charm them there, implant suggestions in their minds, etc. What does the adventure designer have this villain do? Enter people's minds and go "booga booga," that's what! Stuff like that annoys me.

-Change of pacing. Like Ziggy said, killing things all day long gets just as boring as talking all day long does. I like adventures that include a mixture.

Otherwise, I agree with most of what's been said.



First Post
I will say that variety and yet continuity are big factors, an intriguing setup or plot, NPC interactivity, situations that make the players think and come up with a plan or else bad things will result. Keep it fresh. But don't hesitate to tie things in from the past which eventually dawn on the players.

Does that make any sense?


First Post
A consistent mood, theme, and style creates an effect that leaves the players with a better experience than simply having a smorgasboard. Also, a healthy mixture of action and drama, an ending that leaves them going "wow," and appropriate buildup of tension to said ending are also very good to have.

Also, I think that a player, not just a character, should take something away from a good adventure- much like some video games, like Metal Gear Solid. Not only did you have fun, but you learned something from it or found something particularly intriguing about it.

Can't forget the piles of dead bad guys (TM).



As a DM:

An adventure is fun if it kept the player's attention and things went roughly as planned: The problems were solvable, but not too easy or too hard. The players all felt like they had a chance to participate and knew roughly what to do(with out being led by the nose...they had to have an opportunity to change the course of things if they wanted).

As a player: It needs to be exciting. Again, not overly complex, but not overly easy either. I don't want to feel like I am following a single path...to follow it means success...to step off means death. There needs to be at least one good fight(more are better) and a feeling that we've discovered something new or solved a problem.

I don't care too much about inconsistant stories and what not...last game, we accidently released a demon...then we killed it without too much difficulty. There were powerful people keeping the demon locked up...obviously if we could destroy it, they could destroy it...I didn't allow that to ruin my fun....It was fun fighting the thing. It was fun negotiating with the people who were keeping it locked up....


Iron Fist of Pelor
Drama Scenes

As a DM, I love getting to my Drama scenes.

Preparing Drama Scenes is the best part of game preparation. I hate making up stats for villains, and so I spend most of my time on the Drama Scenes, relying on tools like PCGen for a lot of the grunt work.

To continue my previous example, in the last session, a magical villain was able to enter the dreams of the players and make magical suggestions to them within their dreams. I spent awhile figuring out first what sort of suggestion he'd make, and then how each nightmare would play out.

Each nightmare "script" (I allowed players to interrupt the script with their own dream-actions) pulled on imagery from that PC's past, trying to creep the PC and player out as much as possible.

Now, there are precautions the PCs could have taken which would have prevented these nightmares from occurring; if they'd taken them, I would've had to suck it up and either modify or discard all my planning.

The fact that they didn't take these precautions meant that I got to play through these Drama Scenes. Which was lots of fun for me.

This is kinda based off of something PirateCat once wrote about adventure design: he starts with an interesting scene and tries to figure out how to get the story to that scene. I don't quite work that way -- I put pretty heavy weight on starting with NPC motivations and schemes, and work forward from there. But I definitely see the advantage of the Drama Scene method, and I try to marry the two approaches to story design as much as I can.



Sage of the Scarred Lands
Well I can think of at least three adventures in print and/or in Electronic format that are out.

White Robes and Black Hearts: The Enigma of the Aracanex by Dark Portal Games. Simply put, you want REALLY challenge your players, this is the module for you, ESPECIALLY if they are looking for a questing type of game.

Interludes: Excursions into Bluffside by Thunderhead Games. It is by far one of the more scalable and hands on type of deals for PCs, plus the fact nothing is ever certain or ending.

Rappen Athuk: 15 levels of pure hell and dungeon crawl madness. Without a doubt, this adventure will give your players some REAL nightmares and see at least more than one character die gruesomely.

Course I'm thinking that Necropolis will be even BETTER but still, that's because it was already done before hand! :)

So there's my picks fellas. Take them for what they are.


Nightfall said:
Well I can think of at least three adventures in print...

So there's my picks fellas. Take them for what they are.

Of course, reading the thread might help you form a post next time, Nighty-Night. :rolleyes: I'm really not looking for recommendations of specific adventures, just opinions of what makes any adventure (in general) better than others.

Nice to see you took your time with the spelling of your screenname this time, though I'll miss that extra "t"... :D

*edit* To clarify, please give us your impressions of what makes a good adventure, Nightfall. I do like your picks, but I am looking for more generalized input. Sorry about the screenname crack but I'll bet that was bugging you a bit, too, eh? C'mon.... Admit it... :) *end edit*
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First Post
As a DM:

The adventure must enhance the campaign plot-line. The PCs must have a good time.

As a player:

An adventure that makes me feel that I am affecting the world or country in a signifigant way. Not simply a "hack-through-the-tulips".


First Post
Giant melted-cheese alligators.

Oh! And, uh... what's it called? Oh, yeah. Fun...

But, seriously... Giant melted-cheese alligators really make the game worth while.



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Sir Hawkeye

First Post
A sense of danger. It's not fun if the PC's don't feel like they're being challenged.

And a backup plan. i.e. What happens if the PC's fail, and where do they go from there?

Plus everything else that's been mentioned.

And zombies.

Holy Bovine

First Post
Good adventures....hmmmm...wish i had the skill to run some of those ;)

Seriously I feel a good adventure has to have a large variety of things for the PC's to do. As others have said just killing stuff or just talking gets old fast. But even beyond that I would suggest players also have options to go 'outside the book' and attempt things not covered by the adventure as written.

I love it when adventure writers give a little sidebar or note saying 'what to do if...' or even better 'further adventure ideas in...' You would be amazed how often those little 'further adventure ideas in..' blurbs have been turned into full blown adventures that superced the main one. Of course this usually results in some 'seat of the pants' DM-ing but that's always been one of my strong suits.

Interesting NPC's and locations always help even if is only something as simple a Weaponsmith with an unusal way to do inventory.

For example in my current campagin the party met a weaponsmith called Crazy Egor (yes stolen for the used games supplier but based off how his Gen Con booth was organized the year I went there). When they asked him if he had any silvered weapons he reached into a large barrel full of swords, daggers and whatnot and pulled out exactly what the PC wanted. Without a scratch on him. Got a few raised eyebrows at the table at the time. He also had a thing about tridents (but I won't go into that here :) )

*whew* long post. Don't know if any of it is helpful but there it is.


First Post
Im such an idea thief... but is it wrong? I'm stealing ideas from all over this forum for my campaign, I hope it is not insulting. I like a lot of the really original ideas.


I run about three great sessions in a row before suddenly it all begins to get repetative all at one time. Then we double back, go the opposite way and repeat.

You probably won't have a perfect campaign, you might have one like mine. I've recently learned to go ahead and plot ahead about twenty sessions to much. You might think it can be a waste of time, but for me at least, I have found that while the PC's become sidetracked doing something it is important for things you plotted to involve the PC's to continue to happen. After about the third turn around you have a nasty web of different things going on at the same time, and the PC's have a nice variety of choices to make that seriously effect the campaign setting.

This refers to a sort of edge of the seat DMing... sort of.

CM, from the perspective of either DM or player, I'd go with interactivity and multiple solutions. This translates into the following obscure principles:

The barkeep is Arran, Son of Horrin, not, uh, "the barkeep."

There should be more than one way to skin the cat.

When the PCs push, the villians and the world at large should push back.

Does any of this make sense?


First Post
Some more (mostly positive this time):


- Explain the motivation of the major NPC's, not just their actions. This will make it much easier to react to player input and unexpected situations.

- Good layout (in a published adventure). The difference between a smooth flowing session and flipping desperately through the book is decided by the layout and structure of the material.

- Surprises. If an adventure doesn't make me think "That's a pretty neat idea" or even better "That's so coool", I won't play it. So, it should include something like a neat magic item, a fun story/background, and interesting NPC (or all of them.... :) )


- Allow creative solutions, don't have "only this thing (found on corpse 34) can solve this puzzle" situations. Don't require specific skills, spells or items in order to complete the adventure

- FUN. It's been said before, but it is the most important thing of any RPG sessions. I'll say it again: FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN (it's that important)...

- Surprises. I like to be surprised as a player as well. Not all the time, but at least scene should have a surprise or hidded twist.



serves Gnome Master
I need "Realism". I have to believe it somehow, or I will become awfully aware that I am sitting in a dining room, which is bad. "Realism" is very important for me becoming immersed in teh story.


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