Tag Archives: adventure creation

Adventure Creation Handbook now on Kindle

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Just a quick note today letting everyone know that The Adventure Creation Handbook is now available for the Kindle.

Obviously, I wasn’t able to include the worksheets and the whole book is stripped down to the text information. I did list the worksheet and checklist questions at the end of the Kindle version and anyone who purchases a Kindle copy will be able to download a free PDF copy of the “Adventure Creation Worksheet” from the rpgGM.com website.

Just in case the above link doesn’t work, here’s the actual page address:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventure-Creation-Handbook-ebook/dp/B007898QYI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329168270&sr=1-1

 

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Top 11 for 2011

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I can’t believe the end of the year is on us already. It’s been a good year for me and I hope for you, too.

Here’s the eleven most popular posts this year:

  1. Character Questionnaire: Just what the name says–it’s a character questionnaire to help GMs and players alike flesh out important characters. This has been the number one favorite page since Evil Machinations began in 2009.
  2. Where are we again?” Creating Unique Fantasy Cities and Towns: List of on-line resources that can help you create cities and towns for your game world.
  3. February Blog Carnival: Worldbuilding: Check out the comments of this post for great links to blog articles about worldbuilding. This was the introductory post for when I hosted the RPG Bloggers blog carnival in February of this year.
  4. Building Better NPCs III: Character Webs: What are character webs and how can you use them to help bring your NPCs to life. Also a perennial favorite post.
  5. X Marks the Spot: 11 Map Making Tutorials: Another list of on-line resources, this one on making great maps for your game.
  6. And *Then* What Happened?: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas: Ever come across an adventure seed you really wanted to use, but you couldn’t figure out how to turn it into a full adventure? This post is the first in a series that can help.
  7. Creating the Adventure Outline: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 9: Another post in the above series, this one on how to develop you idea into game outline or flowchart to make running that adventure a little easier.
  8. Handling Problem Players: A list of web resources with great ideas on how to handle problem players.
  9. Finding Events: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas,  pt. 8: How to come up with the encounters and challenges that make up an adventure.
  10. Campaign Worksheet: The campaign worksheet I use when creating a new campaign.
  11. Beyond ‘Fred’: Russian Names for Characters: A list of Russian names for PCs and NPCs.

There they are: the top eleven posts for 2011. Thanks to all my readers–you’re the reason I’m still here and looking forward to a great 2012.

18 Adventure Archetypes

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In The Adventure Creation Handbook, I talk about using adventure archetypes as a way to help you develop plot details. Below are 18 adventure archetypes, along with the plot elements each one generally needs to be successful.

Archetype

Needs

Babysitting Someone or something to watch over, someone trying to capture what’s being baby sat, a map of the “sitee’s” location
Escort Thing or person to escort, place to escort them from, place to escort them to, map of route, something or someone trying to prevent them from getting there.
Raid Place to raid, item(s) to obtain in raid, guards, map of location, defensive measures/traps.
Kidnapping Someone to kidnap, guards, traps, and other defensive measures to prevent kidnapping, reason for kidnapping the victim, Location to bring victim to once kidnapped.
Exploration Unknown area to explore, random encounter tables, perhaps reason for exploring
Rescue Someone to rescue, a place to rescue them from, defensive measures to prevent rescue, reason why rescuee was taken
Robbery Place to rob, item to obtain (can be specific item or general type of item, such as “valuable”), defensive measures to prevent theft.
Bounty Hunt Person(s) to hunt, bounty reward, person or organization that wants huntee found
Breakout/Escape Jail, defenses to prevent escape, person to break out (if not the PCs themselves), reason why prisonner(s) is/are being held, locations of other prisoners, location of target in prison.
Assassination Person to assassinate, location of victim, person who wants assassination done, reason for assassination
Hijacking Vehicle(s) to be hijacked, driver(s) and passengers of vehicles, person who wants the hijacking done, reason for hijacking, hijacker’s demands, location to take vehicle(s) to.
Bug Hunt Critter to hunt, reward for successful hunt, location of critter, any defenses critter may have built
Smuggling Item or person to smuggle, authorities looking for same, authority checkpoints and personnel to carry out inspections, vehicle to smuggle with, location to take cargo to.
Salvage Wreck in hard-to-reach location, map where wreck is located, treasure to salvage, possibly rumors of treasure’s existence, possibly other group(s) also trying to salvage treasure.
Scam Marks (people to scam), a plan, possibly assistants
Spying Information to gain, plan to get same, people/location to get it from, people who want the information
Tournament Events to compete, other competitors, location of tournament, reward(s) for winners
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Adventure Creation Handbook Now Available

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Want to write your own adventures?

You can learn to write good adventures and The Adventure Creation Handbook will show you how. Maybe you’re searching for an original idea. Or maybe you’ve just looking for a way to take that exciting climatic battle you see in your head and put it into a form your players will enjoy. Wherever you are in the adventure creation process, this  book will guide you step-by-step through the process of creating an adventure for any genre, any game system.

Overcome creativity blocks and dry spells. The Adventure Creation Handbook describes several methods of coming up with adventure ideas your players and you will enjoy.

Customize plots for your group and your game. By using your players and their wants as a starting point, this method allows you make adventures your players will want to play.

Integrate adventures into your campaign. This method integrates the adventures into your game system and campaign world from the very beginning. No trying to shoe-horn or retrofit ideas that don’t really fit.

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Add to Cart

What’s included:

  • A step-by-step method for creation adventures that covers
    • Generating the original idea
    • Translating that idea into a series of events by asking and answering questions
    • Putting the events in a meaningful order that’s flexible enough to take player whim into account
    • Developing incentives to entice your players to go on the adventure
    • Getting it all down on paper (or in the computer) so you don’t forget anything important
  • Suggestions for running your newly written adventure
  • A worksheet to help you put your ideas in order
  • A checklist so you don’t miss any steps
  • Printer-friendly black & white design. No heavily colored pages to eat toner.

In addition, when you purchase The Adventure Creation Handbook, you receive these free bonuses:

  1. Life time updates. You’ll receive a free copy of this book every time it’s updated or revised. No need to go searching for errata or buying the next version, just to have up-to-date information.
  2. An example of adventure creation using this method, illustrating each step.
  3. A booklet of GMing tips from my blog Evil Machinations.
  4. 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee.  No questions asked.

What’s it cost? $7 for the next 30 days. That’s a special launch price. After August 15, 2011, the price will go up to $10.

Add to Cart

Adventure Creation Handbook Launches July 15th

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This page was the announcement that went out just before the book was actually released. To purchase The Adventure Creation Handbook, please go to

Adventure Creation Handbook

Want to write your own adventures?

You can learn to write good adventures and The Adventure Creation Handbook will show you how. Maybe you’re searching for an original idea. Or maybe you’ve just looking for a way to take that exciting climatic battle you see in your head and put it into a form your players will enjoy. Wherever you are in the adventure creation process, this  book will guide you step-by-step through the process of creating an adventure for any genre, any game system.

Overcome creativity blocks and dry spells. The Adventure Creation Handbook describes several methods of coming up with adventure ideas your players and you will enjoy.

Customize plots for your group and your game. By using your players and their wants as a starting point, this method allows you make adventures your players will want to play.

Integrate adventures into your campaign. This method integrates the adventures into your game system and campaign world from the very beginning. No trying to shoe-horn or retrofit ideas that don’t really fit.

What’s included:

  • A step-by-step method for creation adventures that covers
    • Generating the original idea
    • Translating that idea into a series of events by asking and answering questions
    • Putting the events in a meaningful order that’s flexible enough to take player whim into account
    • Developing incentives to entice your players to go on the adventure
    • Getting it all down on paper (or in the computer) so you don’t forget anything important
  • Suggestions for running your newly written adventure
  • A worksheet to help you put your ideas in order
  • A checklist so you don’t miss any steps
  • Printer-friendly black & white design. No heavily colored pages to eat toner.

In addition, when you purchase The Adventure Creation Handbook, you receive these free bonuses:

  1. Life time updates. You’ll receive a free copy of this book every time it’s updated or revised. No need to go searching for errata or buying the next version, just to have up-to-date information.
  2. An example of adventure creation using this method, illustrating each step.
  3. A booklet of GMing tips from my blog Evil Machinations.
  4. 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee.  No questions asked.

What’s it cost? $7 for the first 30 days. That’s a special launch price. After August 15, 2011, the price will go up to $10.

Poll: What Would You Like To See Next?

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My first commercial RPG product–The Adventure Creation Handbook–launches on July 15th.  You can find excerpts from the it on the main section of this site. Now that it’s done, I’m starting to look ahead to what I want to create next. I’ve got several ideas, but I’d like some feedback from you about what you’d like to see. What product would be the most useful to you? What would you be willing to pay good money for? Please answer the poll below and if there’s something else you’d like that I haven’t included, feel free to leave a comment telling me about it.

And next post really will be the DI suggestions, I promise 😉

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Creating the Adventure Outline: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 9

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flow chart to help dog determine if he should eat something

We’re finally down to the last post of our series on creating full-fledged adventures from adventure seeds. Up to this point, we’ve chosen our idea, asked and answered questions about it to flesh out the necessary details, and determined what events we need to create. Now it’s time to create our adventure outline.

Organize Events

Now that we have our list of events, we need to pull them together into a step-by-step plan. We need to take each of the events we created part 8 and put them together into a single adventure plot line.

For this step, you need to be able to move your events around. Index cards are extremely helpful for this. Write each event on a separate index card. Then lay the cards out on the table or floor (somewhere you have plenty of room to maneuver). What events logically belong together? Which events need to come first? What events are caused by other events? Shuffle events about until you come up with an order of events you like and that makes sense.

Write Flowchart/Outline

Write this order in an outline or flow chart format. To write a flow-chart, place your first event in a box at the top of the page. Draw arrows pointing away from this box, one for each possible action the PCs could take. At the end of each arrow, draw a box and write the event that will result from that action. Repeat for each event you have until you reach your final event.

Sometimes there are multiple actions the PCs could take to arrive at a particular event, or an event farther down the chart could lead back to an event listed earlier. Connect these events with arrows, labeling each arrow with actions the PCs could take.

With a flow chart, if your players miss an event, or skip to one further down the chart, you can jump to that point and see instantly if they’ve missed any crucial events or information You can then improvise a way to lead the PCs back to the events they missed Creating a flow chart can also help you see if there are any “holes” in your adventure. These usually come in two types:

  1. Dead-end events that serve no useful purpose. Throw these out.
  2. “Orphan” events that are important, but nothing leads to them.

You may find you don’t know how to get from one event to another. For now, just put an empty box in the flow chart to represent these missing steps. You’ve got a couple of ways you can fill this box:

  1. Brainstorm until you come up with something to tie the events together, perhaps using a mind map.
  2. Run the adventure and hope your PCs think of a way to get from one event to another.

Which method you use depends on how creative your players are and how comfortable you are with improvising. It often helps to wait until you’ve outlined the rest of the adventure, then come back and fill in these blank spots. Solutions may come to you as you work.

Some GMs can run with just the flow chart, others will need to write out their adventure in detail. No one way is better than the other. If you need to write out the adventure before you run it, by all means, do so. This step comes after you create your flow chart. Even a GM who runs well “off the cuff” will need notes on locations, monsters, and NPCs.

Use this flowchart as a guide. Be aware that your PCs will probably change the order of events. Still, it’s good to have an idea of at least one way through the adventure. This way, you can drop hints and add or subtract events to get players back on track, should they run off on a tangent that takes them completely away from the adventure.

[Flow chart courtesy of hahatango via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0]

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Finding Events: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 8

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Music festival events scheduleWe’re down to the last couple of posts in our series of turning adventure seeds into full-fledged adventures. We’ve asked and finally answered all of our questions and now we’re down to the last three steps:

  • Pull out events from the questions
  • Put the events into a possible order
  • Determine the outcome of success or failure

[Photo courtesy of Michael_Spencer via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0]

Pull Out Events

In this step, briefly review the questions we’ve answered over the last several posts. We’re looking for answers and ideas we can turn into actual events that our PCs can participate in.

When you’re planning events, you want a variety of them. Certainly, you’ll need to include some combat events, but you should also include events that can be solved by roleplaying and using skills. Often, PCs will find (or create!) these on their own, but it’s a good idea to include some planned events of this type, just to make sure.

Go back over the information you wrote on your worksheet and the information you determined the PCs absolutely must know to accomplish the objective. Think about ways you can impart this information actively—that is, what can the PCs do to find out that information?

By this point, you should have identified the central conflict of your adventure. It should have one over-all conflict—a sort of meta-conflict that all the other conflicts are pieces of. Star or highlight this conflict, because this will be your climax, the decisive event of the whole game. Everything else that happens in this adventure should lead the characters to this final, penultimate event.

One of the best places to start looking for events is the “What obstacles might stand in the way of the PCs?” question. Take those obstacles you brainstormed and translate them into real in-game people or items and plan an event around them. You also want to take a special note of the goals of the mission. How would these goals translate into PC and NPC actions

I’ll leave it to you to figure out the majority of the events. Here’s one suggestion:

  • Princess Darya wants to meet Kyrill alone to ask him to get a private note to Roman that her father’s guards won’t be able to read, so she corners one of the PCs and tries talking him/her into arranging a meeting. The PCs could then use this time to try and get Darya away from the compound.
  • Give the compounds guards a chance to become suspicious of the PCs and suspect they’re not really traveling players. They could corner one of the other actors and force him/her to talk about the PCs.

It’s also likely that just by answering the questions, you’ll have already begun to create encounters in your mind. Run with those ideas and flesh them out into possible events, challenges, and encounters. It’s also likely that you may not need to have many planned events. Map out the location, plan the compound’s defenses, then give that information to your players. It’s most likely they’ll come up with plans of their own that you can play off of.

When creating events, you want to make sure you have something for every player, as well as for every character. If everyone in your group enjoys combat more than anything else, make sure you have plenty of threats arrayed against the party, even if you want to present them with more roleplaying challenges. If your players are a mixed group, as is usually the case, you need to make sure there’s something for everyone. Do your players enjoy roleplaying? How about skill challenges or defeating traps? There are many articles on-line about typing players, so I won’t go into that here. The important thing is to pay attention to what your players enjoy and give each of them something that they enjoy best.

Other posts in this series:

Why and How: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 7

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Up to this point, in this series on turning adventure seeds into full-fledged adventures, we’re down to the last of the questions that will give us the background information we need for our adventure. So far, we’ve covered the who questions, describing all the people involved in our adventure, the what questions that tell us what’s going on with the adventure, the where and when questions that tell us about the adventure’s location and time it takes place in. Now we’re down to the very last of the questions: why and how.

[Photo provided by exfordy via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0]

Why Questions

In many ways, these are the most important questions of all, for they give us the reasons that the adventure and its events are happening. They’re also the most often over-looked. Have you ever played through an adventure that doesn’t make sense? That’s usually because the adventure’s creator never fully answered the “why” questions.

Why do the PCs need to be the ones to go on this mission?

This is the question that covers our adventure hooks — the reasons why each of our PCs would go on this adventure. For that reason, we need to know the individual PCs involved in the game. Since we haven’t created a party for this adventure, this is a question you’d want to answer for each of the characters in your game.

Collectively, however, we can posit the reason the prince would hire the PCs as a group, rather than using some of his own men. The reason here is that the PCs are outsiders–which gives Alexei and Fedor plausible deniability. They can always claim that the PCs are acting on their own behalf and have other, ulterior motives on the princess.

Why did the leader hire these entertainers?

The princess wished for these entertainers because they’re the ones performing the most popular play around. Also, the wizard, who arranged for the performance in the first place, was an old adventuring buddy of Kirill, the head of the performing group. We can state that perhaps the wizard isn’t fully convinced about this marriage himself and is hoping that perhaps Kirill can turn the princess’ eye away from himself.

Why is (s)he holding the performance?

Entertainment is a traditional part of a princess’ confinement time. After all, she’s shut away from everyone else for six months. We could make part of the tradition for a princess’ betrothed to supply entertainment for her during her confinement.

Why is the mission taking place?

While we’ve pretty much covered this in earlier questions, it helps to spell it out clearly. The mission is taking place because the Prince Alexei views his sister’s marriage as a threat to his own inheritance of the crown. It would make the king’s favorite adviser a member of the royal family which could, potentially, threaten his inheritance. It would also give the wizard even more of the king’s ear. If he can somehow get the princess to marry his best friend, Fedor, he can put someone else into power who’s more loyal to him than to his father.

Fedor doesn’t want the marriage to take place because he’s been in love with the princess since he was a boy and he doesn’t want to see her married to anyone else, but particularly not an “old man” such as his master.

Do the PCs know?

The PCs are actually being given a false reason to go on the adventure–they’re being told that the princess is being forced to marry against her will. Alexei and Fedor hope that this will give the PCs even more reason to help them, hoping to engage the PCs’ on an emotional level, thereby making them more committed to the mission.

Why should the PCs go?

This goes back to our motive question, but with a slightly different twist. Instead of explaining why Alexei and Fedor would want the PCs, we explain why the PCs themselves would want to take the mission. Again, individual motives would have to be determined by the GM for each individual PC and for each individual group. For the group as a whole, though, one reason would be that Alexei and Fedor will pay very well for a successful completion of the mission. Also, it would place the future king of the country in the PCs debt–never a bad thing, since adventurers have a habit of causing trouble wherever they go.

Why are the entertainers taking this job?

Presumably the payment for the performance would be a huge incentive. But we can also say that the leader of the entertainers, Kirill, sees it as a way to thumb his nose at the king, using it as a way of counting coup against him. Also, perhaps Kirill owes the court wizard (let’s call him Roman) a favor from their adventuring days and this would allow Kirill the chance to repay it.

We’ve also brought up a couple more “whys” while answering the earlier questions:

Why would Fedor want the plan to fail?

Back in our who questions, we posited the idea that maybe Fedor wants the mission to fail. But why would he? Perhaps he’s having second thoughts about. Maybe he’s realizing the princess wants to marry Roman and that he wants her happiness above his own desires. Or perhaps he and Alexei had some kind of falling out and Fedor sees this as a chance to get revenge. The GM would have to determine the circumstances of the falling out.

Why does the princess want to marry Roman?

Perhaps our princess Darya has a crush on Roman–a May to December romance. Maybe her own father was cold and distant and she sees in Roman someone who cares for her and will take care of her.

Just to add another twist, let’s say that Roman doesn’t want to marry our princess. Very likely, he could see her as the daughter he never had. Let’s also say that he knows Fedor is in love with the princess and let’s say he thinks Fedor would make a very good husband for her. So perhaps Roman’s gotten wind of this plot on the part of the Prince Alexei and his apprentice and is actually hoping it will succeed, particularly if he believes that Darya and Fedor would actually be happy together. Maybe they were close friends growing up, which would give Roman a reason to believe that the marriage would be a happy one.

How Questions

Usually in an adventure, how to solve a mission is best left up to the players to figure out. Still, it’s a good idea to have at least one idea as to how to solve it. That way, if the PCs get completely stuck, the GM can drop some hints to get them moving again. We also have a few “how” questions  that need answers:

How are the PCs going to fit in with the entertainers?

Entertainment groups have their own culture and the PCs are likely to stick out like sore thumbs. I’d actually leave it up to the PCs to determine how they’re going to fit in, but they do have a week to prepare, so Kirill can do his best to give them a quick introduction to the life of a traveling player.

How might they prepare for this mission?

Obviously, their week of training would be the major way for them to prepare for the mission. It’s also important for the GM to remain flexible and incorporate the players’ ideas for preparation into the mission.

How might they succeed?

Well, given all of our plot twists, success could very well be in the eyes of the players. If they do manage to get the princess out to marry Fedor, they’ll have succeeded at the parameters of the mission as originally outlined. There are several ways to go about this. One way would be to disguise the princess as one of the entertainers, another could be to smuggle her out in one of the prop trunks.

How might they fail?

The main way the PCs would fail is to be detected and reported to king. That would pretty much ruin every plan they could come up with (now that I’ve said that, some group will come up with that as their actual plan and make it work).

How are the entertainer going to perform?

The confinement compound could have a central courtyard that would provide a space for entertainers to come and perform in. Since our group are traveling players, they’re going to travel pretty light, meaning they actually use few props and scenery. So their performance is going to be an acting one, with the play’s emphasis being on character relationships rather than scenery and special effects.

Now we’ve answered our main questions and we’ve got the beginning of an adventure forming. Using these techniques yourself, you’re most likely to move back and forth between questions as answers to one question lead to more questions that need other answers. Keep working back and forth until you’ve answered enough questions– “enough” being defined as “until the adventure takes shape in your mind.”

Next time we’ll go back over our answers and begin pulling this information into an actual adventure.

Other posts in this series

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Where and When: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 6

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So far, in this series of posts on creating a full adventure from an adventure seed, we’ve written down the adventure seed and asked ourselves questions about it, then answered the who and what questions of our adventure, now onto our “when” and “where” questions. Once we’re done with the questions, we’ll move into creating the actual events of the adventure.

[Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0]

When Questions

When is this performance to take place?

How much time do we want to give our PCs to prepare for their assignment? We want to let them have some preparation time, but we don’t want to slow down the adventure by giving them too much time so that they run off on tangents. Lets give them a week. So, the performance is going to take place one week from the time the PCs get their assignment.

What is the current date?

This is the in-game date. If we’re hooking this adventure into a larger campaign, the current date can be significant. If this is a stand-alone adventure, we don’t really have to set the current date. But it might be useful for us to figure out how much time the princess has spent in seclusion already (two months–so she’s definitely ready to talk to someone from the outside world) and how much more time she has left to go (four months, which seems like an eternity to her at the moment).

How much time do the PCs have to prepare?

We’ve answered this question above, but we’ll restate it here: one week.

How much time do the PCs have to complete the mission?

They basically have as long as the performance lasts to get everything set up. They should plan on actually getting the princess out as soon as possible after the performance.

How long is the performance to last?

Two hours.

Where Questions

What is the nation is the princess from?

If you’re using an already created game world, you’ll want to make her a member of a nation that already exists on that world. But let’s assume that we’re creating this game world from scratch as we go along. So we’ll call the princess’ country “Sunfall”, and place it in the eastern half of our new game world (where the sun seems to set).

Is the PCs’ employer from the same nation, or a different one?

The same nation. He’s her younger brother.

Is it the same nation as the PCs?

For maximum impact, lets make the PCs from a different country and call it “Seavale”, a coastal nation. Seavale borders Sunfall, but relations have been strained between the two countries (yes, I am making this up as I go along 😉 ). Prince Alexei deliberately looked for people from Seavale, so that if something went wrong with the plan, he could claim that Seavale agents were trying to kidnap the princess for their own ends.

Where is the compound located?

Near Sunfall’s royal palace, which is located near the middle of the kingdom. The compound is close by, in case relatives want to visit and so that the king and queen can visit and more easily keep an eye on who comes and goes from the princess’ seclusion location. But let’s say it’s between the palace and the Seavale border, which means that the far side of the compound is going to be well-guarded by people the king can trust.

Where is the performance to take place?

Let’s interpret this to mean “where in the compound the performance will take place”,  since we already know that the performance will take place in the seclusion compound. We’ll schedule to performance to take place in the compound’s inner courtyard.

What is the adventure’s starting location?

The prince will want to meet the PCs somewhere where they can talk freely and he won’t be recognized. The first thing that leaps to mind is the very much overused seedy tavern, just inside the Seavale border. Trite though it is, this location does have a lot of aspects in its favor. For one, if we posit that the crown prince has kept a very low profile in the kingdom, so much so that few people outside of the royal family would recognize him, he should be able to come and go from from such a place without notice or comment (unless someone does recognize him…). People in these types of places are used to minding their own business. Depending on how competent we want our prince to be, he can either dress down to match his surroundings (the prudent course of action) or he can flaunt his wealth, attracting every major pickpocket and cut-purse in the area, which could create some wonderful complications to the adventure.

What is it’s ending location?

That will depend on if the PCs get the princess out or not. If so, the adventure will end at a “safe house” the prince has set up on the border of the kingdom. If not, the adventure is likely to end in the princess’ seclusion compound. Either way, we should have the safe house location prepared.

What other locations might be important?

The castle, the wizard’s tower are all possible locations, but the bulk of the adventure should take place in the princess’ compound, so that’s the location we’ll spend the bulk of our location preparation time on.

What are the languages, customs, and practices of the entertainers? Are they different from the PCs?

We could go hog-wild on this one and set them up with a different language and some really unusual customs, making them originally from a very different culture than the PCs. But I don’t want to spend time on that aspect, so we’ll make all of them–the PCs and the entertainers–from the same basic area, Seavale.

However, theatre people tend to be a superstitious lot, so we can have a little fun with the PCs by giving our troupe of players a few quirks, but not so many that they take over the game session. So, first, we can have the actors begin their day with offerings to whichever god in the campaign world watches over performers and traveling players, followed by a couple of hours of vocal and physical warm-up exercises. So unless you’ve got a party full of bards, that should help push the PCs out of their comfort zone somewhat.

The day would continue with rehearsals of the current performance, as well as some stage combat practice (less deadly, but just as demanding as real combat practice)., finally concluding with some street performances to bring in needed money. The PCs will be expected to take part in these, so that they can learn what they need to know to preserve their cover.

We can also give the troupe a couple of superstitious habits, based on real-world theatre superstitions, the primary one being the practice of never wishing “good luck” to someone going on-stage (hence the real-world practice of saying “Break a leg”). Let’s say that actors in this world say “Crack your head”. Also, having a black cat in the theatre house prior to performance is said to bring good luck and a successful play. Since ours are traveling players, they don’t usually perform in theatres, so let’s say they keep their own pet black cats who travel with them as companions and that it’s a very bad omen if one runs away or gets harmed.

Next time, we’ll finish up the questions with “why” and “how”.

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