How to write an adventure path


Advice

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Does anyone have any advice on writing an adventure path? The things that sme as difficult is 1.) Not railroading the players while all at once making sure they get the plot points that lead them to the next months adventure, and 2.) Making sure that they do the things they need to be an appropriate level when they get there.

How do the pros do it? How do you do it? How should I do it?

Dark Archive

I would say start with a overall story arc for the AP. You will have the history, key parts you want to reveal and the end. Once you have that work on ways to connect the parts. Finally the start should be a forshadowing of events to come. Once you have all that you should have at least 3 or more adventures by then, likely more. Then if you need to add another as a bridge when there is a gap.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Step 1: Acquire an infinite number of monkeys.
Step 2: Provide each monkey with its own typewriter.
Step 3: Wait.
Step 4: Profit!

(I'd love to see if anyone at Paizo has thoughts or suggestions on this - I can't think of an specific advice or thoughts. It seems to me like asking how an author writes a story. They can explain the process, but at the end of the day, the process isn't all that relevant to the output, or is so idiosyncratic that it's not generally applicable.)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Sigil wrote:
Does anyone have any advice on writing an adventure path? ...Not railroading the players while all at once making sure they get the plot points that lead them to the next month's adventure...

That doesn't work. Adventure Paths, by their nature, are railroads on some level, even Kingmaker.

Ask yourself: if the party's monk were to have, say, a kidnapped sister he were looking to find, would the campaign accomodate that quest? Or, let's say the ranger's player decided that he was the rightful heir of the kingdom of Gondor and the rest of the PCs decided to go help him rid his lands of evil and claim his throne; would this throw your campaign off the rails? If so, then it has rails.

Adventure Paths are pre-written campaigns. When published, they involve the writers and developers figuring out where everything is going, before the first "4d6-drop-the-lowest" is rolled. They require a high level of "buy in" from the players, juggling on the part of the GM, and insight from the writers and developers as to where most parties are likely to go.


One thing to consider is, who are you creating the AP for? Do you have a consistant group that you want to run through it, or are you planning on running multiple groups through the path over time? Are the characters already made (or at least the concepts for the characters in mind) or will the group be making new characters specifically for the path?

Now, what sort of campaign do you want to run, and what sort of campaign do your players want to be in? Obviously full on railroading is generally frowned on, but I think having a Charlie's Angles type campaign (where the party is sent out on very specific missions, rather than going where they please) could be quite rewarding, assuming everyone is game. From my own experiences, complete sand box style campaigns require a lot of work on both the players and DMs part to function properly...or they wind up with a group of characters with no goals or motives going through nothing but random encounters.

It's incredibly tedious, but the best way to keep the party at the level they need to be is total up possible experience as you write the adventures. Keep in mind the seperation between compulsory encounters (the primary encounters that further your plot), random encounters (either random or planned, but either way they don't pertain directly to the plot), and possible sideline encounters (encounters that will likely enhance the plot, but are not manditory to keeping the characters along the right track).

Another way is (I believe very much along the lines of what Dark_Mistress recomended) to outline the whole path, and break it down into however many adventures, and then write up two or three adventures completely, leaving everything else in outline format. This way you have enough material in final draft form that you won't get caught with your pants down half way through a session, and you don't have the whole thing written in stone, only to come up with a really good curveball for a few adventures ahead. This will also give you the space to react to some of the zany situations that come up due to players being...well, players.

I would say the first option is good if you've got some experience DMing, as well as a good handle on your group. By handle I don't mean the ability to control them, so much as to predict some of their moves. As in you know what type of characters (class and race, as well as alignment and playstyle) they are likely to make, what sort of expectations they have for the campaign, and what makes them enjoy the game. The second option is much better if you're still a little green, either to gaming or to the group.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

11 people marked this as a favorite.

I've been working on writing, editing, developing, designing, and plotting Adventure Paths for close to 8 years, and I'm still learning how to do them. They are, without a doubt, the hardest thing to create that I've been involved with in the RPG industry. They're also very fun and very rewarding to create.

If you're planning on doing an adventure path for your home group and have no intention of publishing it, you can and should take shortcuts. Every campaign I've ever run more or less could have been written up as an Adventure Path, but my shortcut was that I don't write the adventures. Instead, I come up with a central idea for an adventure path (such as "The PCs are all Shoanti tribals whose homeland is invaded by aggressive colonists from a technologically advanced nation run behind the scenes by devils"), then pick out a number of adventures to string together. In the case of that particular one, I wrote the central 7 part adventure out on my own (a process that took several months, and one I started while I was already running my previous campaign), and padded it out before and after with published adventures that I adapted to fit the campaign's needs.

Basically... start writing your next campaign's adventure path at about the point where you start up your previous campaign.

And when you run your FIRST campaign, consider doing the entire thing from published adventures linked together to form an overall arc.

As for the fear of railroading... the first thing you need to do is throw that fear out. If you're creating an adventure path for your characters... you ARE creating a railroad. If railroads are anathema to your way of gaming, you should not write an adventure path. You should instead come up with a general plot and then gather up a large number of published adventures or, ideally, detailed campaign settings or regions, and then do your best to stay one adventure ahead of the players' choices.

The trick with an adventure path is that you're presenting a story-focused campaign to your players, and you have to have players who want to experience that story. If they WANT to play that story, they won't mind the fact that they're being railroaded. And honestly, if you set the adventure up right, the players won't feel like their being railroaded... especially if you take pains to avoid having NPCs tell the PCs what to do beyond the first adventure, and let the PCs come to their own conclusions about where the next step in the story should go.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

3 people marked this as a favorite.

It bears repeating. All Adventure Paths... even ones like Kingmaker which have a lot of sandbox elements in them... are railroads to a certain extent.

A true sandbox game doesn't use adventures. It uses campaign settings, be those settings entire continents or small regions. The Stolen lands from Kingmaker could be seen as a campaign setting—the only way we were really able to pull Kingmaker off as sandboxy as it is was by completely limiting the entire AP to one region and not going outside of that area.

That said... railroads are not bad—they're necessary if you want to run a game with a story that YOU want to tell. Learn to love them if you want to be the story architect! If you want the players to create the story, THAT'S when you use the sandbox method.


James Jacobs wrote:

It bears repeating. All Adventure Paths... even ones like Kingmaker which have a lot of sandbox elements in them... are railroads to a certain extent.

A true sandbox game doesn't use adventures. It uses campaign settings, be those settings entire continents or small regions. The Stolen lands from Kingmaker could be seen as a campaign setting—the only way we were really able to pull Kingmaker off as sandboxy as it is was by completely limiting the entire AP to one region and not going outside of that area.

That said... railroads are not bad—they're necessary if you want to run a game with a story that YOU want to tell. Learn to love them if you want to be the story architect! If you want the players to create the story, THAT'S when you use the sandbox method.

James,

When you design an AP to be published, is there a template or outline or other form you use to keep things straight? What tools do you use if you use tools?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kryzbyn wrote:

James,

When you design an AP to be published, is there a template or outline or other form you use to keep things straight? What tools do you use if you use tools?

There is a template—the previous AP, which was built on the PREVIOUS AP and so on and so on. The tools I use to build an AP are mostly Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and when it comes to creating maps, a pen and pencil and graph paper and a scanner and Photoshop.


James Jacobs wrote:
Instead, I come up with a central idea for an adventure path (such as "The PCs are all Shoanti tribals whose homeland is invaded by aggressive colonists from a technologically advanced nation run behind the scenes by devils")

Now that is one heck of an Adventure Path.

Wait, isn't that already the central concept Golarion is built on?


James Jacobs wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:

James,

When you design an AP to be published, is there a template or outline or other form you use to keep things straight? What tools do you use if you use tools?
There is a template—the previous AP, which was built on the PREVIOUS AP and so on and so on. The tools I use to build an AP are mostly Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and when it comes to creating maps, a pen and pencil and graph paper and a scanner and Photoshop.

So nothing beyond the obvious. Thanks :)


Sigil wrote:
Does anyone have any advice on writing an adventure path?

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to be redundant. The path should NEVER come down to "Make this jump check, or the adventure is over"

One resource that does this VERY well is older Chaosium mods, both Elric and Call of Cthulhu. Key information is help in more than one location, and there are multiple methods of dealing with problems.

Try to anticipate the players. If there's an evil fortress, well what could happen?

-frontal assault
-sneak in with stealth
-lie, cheat, disguise their way inside
-go somewhere else, deal with it later

If you have something for all of those, then you are in good shape.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Sebastian wrote:

Step 1: Acquire an infinite number of monkeys.

Step 2: Provide each monkey with its own typewriter.
Step 3: Wait.
Step 4: Profit!

Actually, you will lose money on this plan.

1) It takes an infinite amout of food to feed an infinite number of monkeys. Disposing of the waste from that many monkeys will also be a non-trivial expense.
(An no you can't "forget to" or "refuse" to feed the monkeys, because then you have an limitless army of angry monkeys looking for you hide.)

2) Providing infinite monkeys with their own typewriter requires an infinite number of typewriters. Infinite paper and ribbons will also be an issue.

3) You don't specify how long one should wait.

4) You will also need a near infinite number of editors to find the gem, from the infinite reams of random typing. Each of those editors will need to be paid.

So no, this approach does not yield a profit.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

James Jacobs wrote:
That said... railroads are not bad—they're necessary if you want to run a game with a story that YOU want to tell. Learn to love them if you want to be the story architect! If you want the players to create the story, THAT'S when you use the sandbox method.

I believe that a lot of the negative fealing about railroads comes from Second Darkness.

The railroad tracks need to follow logical and reasonable actions and motivations for the player heroes - and Second Darkness fails at this. [i.e., When starting the campaign in a Pirate Haven, assuming altruism as a primary motivator tends to fail.] When the path requires actions that are contrary to their motivations and - and are possibly self harming, the players understandably complain about "railroading."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Lord Fyre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That said... railroads are not bad—they're necessary if you want to run a game with a story that YOU want to tell. Learn to love them if you want to be the story architect! If you want the players to create the story, THAT'S when you use the sandbox method.

I believe that a lot of the negative fealing about railroads comes from Second Darkness.

Nah... folks have been complaining about railroads from the start. By which I mean the start of published adventures.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That said... railroads are not bad—they're necessary if you want to run a game with a story that YOU want to tell. Learn to love them if you want to be the story architect! If you want the players to create the story, THAT'S when you use the sandbox method.

I believe that a lot of the negative fealing about railroads comes from Second Darkness.

Nah... folks have been complaining about railroads from the start. By which I mean the start of published adventures.

My favourite quote on the subject, which also sums up my feelings:

Mikhaila Burnett wrote:


No one minds a railroad if there's pretty scenery outside the window and the train tracks lead to awesome-town.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That said... railroads are not bad—they're necessary if you want to run a game with a story that YOU want to tell. Learn to love them if you want to be the story architect! If you want the players to create the story, THAT'S when you use the sandbox method.

I believe that a lot of the negative fealing about railroads comes from Second Darkness.

The railroad tracks need to follow logical and reasonable actions and motivations for the player heroes - and Second Darkness fails at this. [i.e., When starting the campaign in a Pirate Haven, assuming altruism as a primary motivator tends to fail.] When the path requires actions that are contrary to their motivations and - and are possibly self harming, the players understandably complain about "railroading."

I'm actually in the process of completely reworking Second Darkness into Star Wars (RCR of course) because of this very attitude. The players will be far more interested in helping the Elves if the elves are in fact Jedi who will teach them to use the force =p (oh and Drow obviously = Sith)


On some level, I would say it's the same as when you're writing a novel. Sure, you need to expand the possibilities in an adventure, but the "main" or expected story still needs to be adequate. In no particular order, and among other things, this means:

You need a conflict. This is generally best put as a question, and it needs to be put in the very first session or so. When this question is answered, the adventure path ends. For example, it could be "What lead the goblins to attack our village now?"

You need a theme. The feeling evoked by the story. This is generally expected to remain the same throughout the story. If you're building a horror story, you really shouldn't put in "attack of the cute bunnies" into the middle of it. In some situations, it is possible that the theme changes, but that needs serious work to insert seamlessly. Generally, if the campaign is about fighting evil aboleths, stick with the aberrations.

You need an escalation. People expect harsher resistance the further they go, and over time, the threats faced should mount. The level system deals rather naturally with this, but you also need to ramp up the ACTUAL difficulty.

There are many other things you could do, but these are a good start.

Sovereign Court

I like Babylon 5 as a model story arc broken up into separate seasons each providing a problem for the characters to try to resolve.

You need a backdrop which will keep your arc consistent. I'd agree the tone should generally be kept the same.

Before deciding on the arc, get input from your players on what they want to play. That should give you some themes to work with. One you have the campaign background, encourage your players to base their characters in it. The more you enforce this the easier it is to have reasons for the characters to follow the story, however most players like some control and if it's your own Arc you can write in ties as you go along.

I'd definitely look to swipe from published products. THe obvious one is the campaign background which could save you a lot of time at the start provided it supports your Arc. In my case I made it an attraction that the campaign would include both classic and award winning material (suitably edited where needed). THere's a wealth of 3e material that requires only minor modification to use. Check reviews and board comments on possible materials to see how others have used the materials.

I also like to slip in some foreshadowing and wierdness occasionally just to let the players know that things may not be as they appear. My players wanted some mystery in the campaign.

Be prepared to revise the story as you go along rather than railroad something that doesn't fit. I've had a few situations where I was going to run a module or even started running it, and then found the characters were doing something else or it no longer made sense in the arc.

Give the players multiple ways to get to the next encounter/solve the mystery. There's some great advice about this in GURPS Mysteries.
One way to plan plot is to write it as a flow chart and check for issues where there is only one way to progress. You can hide the railroad more easily by giving the players some real choices, especially if they feel they've had to work to get the clues.

I'd echo the advice to up the stakes as the campaign proceeds e.g. save the person, village, town, city, country, world, planes of existence.

Finally, in a campaign look to provide different sorts of encounters to keep it fresh and not just a dungeon grind. Include wilderness, cities etc. At higher levels you can even use different planes of existence.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

12 people marked this as a favorite.
Sissyl wrote:
On some level, I would say it's the same as when you're writing a novel.

That's a good start, but it's important to shed the "like writing a novel" as quickly as possible. The differences between writing fiction and writing an adventure are SIGNIFICANT, and forgetting that and slipping into novel writing mode is one of the BEST ways to make what you're writing into a huge railroad.

A few tips there to avoid that I follow when writing an adventure:

1) Read aloud text should only ever present the situation as a snapshot when the PCs arrive, and should make no assumptions about PC actions or NPC/monster actions. As a result, you should never include monster descriptions or describe what they're up to in your read-aloud text... even if the encounter assumes they're sleeping. You can't predict how the PCs will approach the encounter, and if, say, they make a lot of noise and you decide to have the monsters wake up and make an ambush, you can ruin it by reading the read-aloud text and forgetting to stop/amend the description when it comes to the monsters.

1A) As a side note to the above... NEVER use the word "you" in read-aloud text. Any read-aloud text that assumes player character action, even if it's as basic as "As you open the door," or "When you look into the room." That's pretty much as railroady as you can get.

2) Don't keep secrets. The players might not know everything about the adventure, but the GM needs to. It's always best to over-explain and provide the GM with more information than he needs than to withhold information. This includes waiting until the last page of a murder-mystery adventure to reveal who the murderer is—you should tell the GM that at the START of the adventure.

3) Remember that as cool as the NPCs you come up with are... it's the player characters who are the main characters of the story. This is the GREATEST way an adventure differs from a novel. In a novel, the whole thing is ABOUT the main characters, but in an adventure, the main characters aren't even there—they're missing because the game hasn't started yet.

4) Finally, an adventure path is longer than any single novel. A better model would be a series of books or a TV show with a lot of continuity.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
Lots of Awesome.

Thank you James. I think that is the best advice I ever read on writing an adventure.

Dark Archive

Ask a Shoanti wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Instead, I come up with a central idea for an adventure path (such as "The PCs are all Shoanti tribals whose homeland is invaded by aggressive colonists from a technologically advanced nation run behind the scenes by devils")

Now that is one heck of an Adventure Path.

Wait, isn't that already the central concept Golarion is built on?

That, and one of the things we keep bringing up when we want a good laugh!


James Jacobs wrote:
4) Finally, an adventure path is longer than any single novel. A better model would be a series of books or a TV show with a lot of continuity.

I don't know. I read Song of Ice and Fire :)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

THANK YOU ALL!!!

This was way more than I expected. There are tons of great ideas in here. Thank you so much for your help.

One specific question. When wring an adventure or adventure path is it acceptable for the villian to have used rule breaking powers in the background. ie "100 years ago the wizard cast a spell that made all the trees into an evil sentient army." There is no legitimate way to make this happen via the rules, yet...

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Sigil wrote:


One specific question. When wring an adventure or adventure path is it acceptable for the villian to have used rule breaking powers in the background. ie "100 years ago the wizard cast a spell that made all the trees into an evil sentient army." There is no legitimate way to make this happen via the rules, yet...

Entirely acceptable. Hang the rules. They're more like guidelines anyway...


Sigil wrote:

THANK YOU ALL!!!

This was way more than I expected. There are tons of great ideas in here. Thank you so much for your help.

One specific question. When wring an adventure or adventure path is it acceptable for the villian to have used rule breaking powers in the background. ie "100 years ago the wizard cast a spell that made all the trees into an evil sentient army." There is no legitimate way to make this happen via the rules, yet...

IMO, instead of casting a spell, the Wizard should have made some sort of magical breakthrough and created a new potent magical item that can do this. That's well within the rules for new magic items to be created, and it gives the players a really cool macguffin later to be used.

If at any time you find you need to do something outside of the rules, try to find a way to make it a magical item. Players love new magical items that aren't the well-worn stale bonus items.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
brock wrote:
Sigil wrote:


One specific question. When wring an adventure or adventure path is it acceptable for the villian to have used rule breaking powers in the background. ie "100 years ago the wizard cast a spell that made all the trees into an evil sentient army." There is no legitimate way to make this happen via the rules, yet...
Entirely acceptable. Hang the rules. They're more like guidelines anyway...

You must be a pirate for the pirate's code to apply and you're not. And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Lord Fyre wrote:


Actually, you will lose money on this plan.
1) It takes an infinite amout of food to feed an infinite number of monkeys. Disposing of the waste from that many monkeys will also be a non-trivial expense.
(An no you can't "forget to" or "refuse" to feed the monkeys, because then you have an limitless army of angry monkeys looking for you hide.)

2) Providing infinite monkeys with their own typewriter requires an infinite number of typewriters. Infinite paper and ribbons will also be an issue.

3) You don't specify how long one should wait.

4) You will also need a near infinite number of editors to find the gem, from the infinite reams of random typing. Each of those editors will need to be paid.

So no, this approach does not yield a profit.

Hmmm...maybe we need an infinite number of genetically engineered super-monkeys to keep the lower monkey caste down. A nice side benefit would be that, instaed of typewriter ink, we could use monkey blood.

As for the time period to wait, I suggest 3.42337 epochs.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Sebastian wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:


Actually, you will lose money on this plan.
1) It takes an infinite amout of food to feed an infinite number of monkeys. Disposing of the waste from that many monkeys will also be a non-trivial expense.
(An no you can't "forget to" or "refuse" to feed the monkeys, because then you have an limitless army of angry monkeys looking for you hide.)

2) Providing infinite monkeys with their own typewriter requires an infinite number of typewriters. Infinite paper and ribbons will also be an issue.

3) You don't specify how long one should wait.

4) You will also need a near infinite number of editors to find the gem, from the infinite reams of random typing. Each of those editors will need to be paid.

So no, this approach does not yield a profit.

Hmmm...maybe we need an infinite number of genetically engineered super-monkeys to keep the lower monkey caste down. A nice side benefit would be that, instaed of typewriter ink, we could use monkey blood.

As for the time period to wait, I suggest 3.42337 epochs.

Still does not solve the food, equipment, or editing issues.

Not to mention, that "Genetically engineered super-monkeys might develope their own ideas on what to do with an infinite number of monkeys.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If I might add my own $.02:

A.) Make sure the first module is made for low-level players of levels 1 to 3 or one to five. Make sure the second module is geared specifically for levels 4 to 6, or 5 to 8. "Ladder" the adventure path, and don't just throw a CR +5 boss creature at the end of each module to "challenge" the players. If you want a recurring boss creature, WORK IT INTO THE STORY. Don't make a McGuffin because 90% of the time, you're just making box text for the GM to read.

2.) Level the treasure appropriately. Are you planning on switching from goblins to golems in the 2nd module? Make sure the party knows what a golem is, and I'm talking about the actual characters, not the players at the table. Add the right weapon to take down the creature, if the players found it or heard enough word "on the street" about it to purchase the weapon or craft it themselves. Make an actual economy behind the scenes of your world! Dwarves do more than drink everyone else under the table - they bring mithril, adamantine, and cold-forged weapons and armor to market.

3.) Let the players have a base of operations. Either the innkeeper takes a shine to one of the characters, or a character gets the innkeeper's daughter pregnant, or the old soldier who lost a leg to the boss monster declares the PCs have free drinks at his tavern for life, etc. Your other option is to keep the adventurers on the road for their entire lives, which means retirement is a shallow grave at the fork in the road. Give the players a reason to keep playing.

4.) Make the adventure flexible enough to bring in new characters halfway through, or to have lopsided parties of five rogues and one paladin, or three bards and three rangers, for instance. It's been said enough in this thread - no module or AP should hang on a single ability saving throw.

5.) Stay away from "official" status for the adventurers. These guys are the "A Team", not the U.S. Special Forces. No king or mayor is going to have the cavalry standing by to run to the adventurer's rescue if there's a TPK. In fact, the government may have a vested interest in making sure the adventurers don't live to tell how the boss monster was about to march upon the city and crush it like a bug under his heel. Adventurers stay under the radar until they reach epic levels, at which point another set of adventurers may set out to stop them from creating their own demiplane or attaining immortality by lichdom.

6.) Leave each module open-ended enough to squeeze in other modules as needed. Modules can be broken by the right spell, the right bardic knowledge, heck, even by the right (or wrong) dice roll! Nobody likes the AP railroad that locks in the players from level one to level seventeen. If the players run out of money to upgrade their stuff, give them some time off inbetween monsters. Nobody should be locked into the fifty-level dungeon for three years.

On with the brainstorming!

Grand Lodge

Sigil wrote:

THANK YOU ALL!!!

This was way more than I expected. There are tons of great ideas in here. Thank you so much for your help.

One specific question. When wring an adventure or adventure path is it acceptable for the villian to have used rule breaking powers in the background. ie "100 years ago the wizard cast a spell that made all the trees into an evil sentient army." There is no legitimate way to make this happen via the rules, yet...

Forget spells to do awesome stuff like that, they are too wimpy. What you want is an INCANTATION. A GREAT new source of incantations is Incantations in Theory and Practice by Zombie Sky Press.

These are the earth shattering mega-powerful spells that create great story elements without blowing gaming balance.

The Exchange

Ice Titan wrote:
Sigil wrote:

THANK YOU ALL!!!

This was way more than I expected. There are tons of great ideas in here. Thank you so much for your help.

One specific question. When wring an adventure or adventure path is it acceptable for the villian to have used rule breaking powers in the background. ie "100 years ago the wizard cast a spell that made all the trees into an evil sentient army." There is no legitimate way to make this happen via the rules, yet...

IMO, instead of casting a spell, the Wizard should have made some sort of magical breakthrough and created a new potent magical item that can do this. That's well within the rules for new magic items to be created, and it gives the players a really cool macguffin later to be used.

If at any time you find you need to do something outside of the rules, try to find a way to make it a magical item. Players love new magical items that aren't the well-worn stale bonus items.

They do indeed. If you make it an item, be sure it is one you don't mind your players having, because they will find a way to steal it.

I prefer to make such things spells because it makes it much harder for players to duplicate the feat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

James, this is something I would like you to expound on a bit more. How do you decide on the overall plot? How do you then decide what will be in each adventure, etc.?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Six years later and I’d still like that.


If you own some APs, check out every foreword of each module. They contain many crumbs of knowledge about developing APs...


There are a ton of great suggestions in the RPG Superstar forum. It's worth digging through.


Here's how I do "sandbox" homebrew campaigns:

First, come up with the MAP and the ENVIRONMENT. You need to SEE the area you're dealing with first and foremost, and see all of the natural disasters, trade routes, etc. of this area. "Where's the major trade cities? Right here, because x and y."

Secondly, come up with the major influential NPC's and their cohorts, and more importantly, their motivations. What do they aspire to? What are their goals and dreams? Don't worry about how the PC's will wreck/bolster this, they'll do that in their own style.

Thirdly, have a chaos factor. Have a couple of NPC's that actually might start jacking up the operations of these major NPC's. The PC's can then either choose to aid or thwart their efforts, depending on how they view that situation.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / Advice / How to write an adventure path All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.