Choosing My Own Adventure

It might be worth noting that the world of role-playing games is littered with one-liner adventure ideas. I think the Dungeon Master’s Guide even has a list of 100 adventure ideas right inside it. Although that might have been the prior addition. Still, I think there’s an important difference between that sort of list and what I’m trying to accomplish here.

An adventure, or let me say a worthwhile adventure, is more than just a seed of an idea, like “someone kidnapped Farmer Johnson’s prize pig” that’s been expanded upon until it’s 5,000 words long. I mean, that might work, and maybe the average player wouldn’t take umbrage with that as long as the adventure is fun. But, I’d like to think that adventures can be a little more than that. Not only can they mean more, in the sense that there’s a cohesive underlying theme to the adventure, but that it’s possible for an adventure to go beyond what RPG adventures have been doing for the last 35 years or so. To expand a little bit on that idea, this isn’t necessarily a crusade to bring D&D adventures to a new plane of meaning and relevance, this is basically self-interest. It seems to me that with the intensity of competition to write D&D adventures, this is the sort of angle that could bring my adventures out above the crowd. Rather than the theme being little more than, “I think I’ll write something about goblins…” it could be something a little more resonant like “this adventure is going to explore the concept of justification of violence in the context of advancing the cause of goodness, and whether or not that makes goodness a relative concept.” So, that’s not earthshaking, but it could be neat.

Of course, that theme needs to be dressed-up with a lot of D&D and fantasy trappings, so it could very well end up being an adventure about goblins, but hopefully one that has a bit more depth to it than the typical adventure. It makes me wonder if that would go over well in the pitch. The “pitch” is basically a few hundred word synopsis of your proposal to WoTC; so you would typically write a bit about the villain, what the source of the conflict is, that sort of thing. It would be interesting to know how many proposals they’ve received saying things like, “this adventure is intended to create a scenario where the player characters question the difference between justice and revenge, and most choose one over the other.”

Something else I’ve been thinking about is writing adventures specifically for children. I have some younger relatives who I think would have fun playing D&D, so possibly that’s what spurred this line of thought. But I don’t think it’s such a bad idea; in fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a Dungeon adventure written specifically for a younger audience. The one possibility would be to write an adventure from the perspective of it being used by a younger Dungeon Master, but I think that would mostly involve a lot of “helping hand” type of verbiage getting a new DM used to the rules. I’m thinking more of adventures meant to be run by older DMs but played by younger players.  I can think of a few concepts important to this: (a) it would need to be fairly short, as younger people have limited attention spans; (b) it would need to have the violence toned-down; (c) it would need to hit the highlights of any good adventure, but almost in fast-forward: the PCs get to feel powerful, defeat a villain, solve a puzzle, gain a reward, explore a cool location… all of these things in probably 2 hours or less.

I’ll have to keep that one in mind. I might not know enough about children to actually write that, but I think it would be a neat Dungeon article anyway.



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