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MoonHunter Sayeth 20180801


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Structuring Adventures, the almost MoonHunter Way

When I am designing a plotline for an adventure (defined in my mind as a plotline often tied to a specific area or time that is ideally resolved in one session of play) I tend to capsulize major locations (for the adventure), important protagonists and non protagonists, and any scenes that are cool and should be needed. This gives me "the toys" to play with.

Most of the time if MoonHunter has an "an adventure" it is usually pretty short and just a side adventure for what is really going on. Nothing should be totally random, everything should add to the chronicle... even if it is drop in. MoonHunter uses them as extra bits of action and to provide information to the players/ characters. (Oh, we are in Amar... I could introduce Princess Aya.. there is that kidnapping in the market adventure.) See how I plan a given session here.

Note: keep everything as brief as possible in your notes (to transcribe or even expand later). The 3x5 cards force brevity. I tend to be wordy I start with a few of these, I will make more notes or more cards later.

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Writing the adventure is not that hard. It is following the possible path of things (as explained later).

The hard part is the ideas behind the adventures.....

MoonHunter is all about the cinematic play. MoonHunter is always cribbing notes in a Little Book with cool action show conclusions/ end scenes/ actions sequences. My goal for an adventure is for it to have a cool dramatic ending scene, with two to five cool scenes (which may or may not be action scenes) between the entry point and the conclusions. This is the number of ideas needed to complete the adventure.

Everyone, major and minor, protagonist or antagonists, has motivations. I detailed this here. Fill out the villain's wants, needs, and fears. Make them dramatic. Make them big. (Usually they are beyond their abilities to do). This shows what they are doing and why. (It may show why they aren't doing certain things that make sense... like killing the potential hero first, then going on their plot...)

Ideally, the villain (or organization) - created or pulled from the chronicle's existing pieces - has a want/ need that will bring things to the desired climactic moment (or something equally as good). Note: Sometimes mother earth or father storm are the villain - man vs nature and all that. The antagonist creates the backdrop for the action scenes.

Once the adventure has a primary villain/ antagonist, the adventure designer can figure out some of their end goals (or steps to the end goal). This creates a path of events that will occur if the players do not intervene. (I want this, so I need to do this, this, and that.) Ideally, the adventure designer knows the potential protagonists (usually players' characters). Their capabilities help determine what challenges are possible. Knowing the character's motivations or history/ plotlines determines which entry points to the adventure and possible motivation. The trick is to find some places where they might encounter the path of events or what might need to happen to get the characters involved. These are your potential entry points into the adventure.

Define the cool and dramatic end scene. Keeping the villain's path of events in mind (knowing that it will change once the players/ protagonists get involved). The Designer should work backwards from the ending. Ideally, there will be several ways for people/ players can get there. This will give you adventure bits.... locations, protagonists and non-protagonist, things, and possible events. This segment is just gathering things to be used and thinking about how they might go together. It gives options and things to think through.

Play with these elements until they seem to make sense. Think of it is the initial bricks to make the structure of the adventure.

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So Here we go, a MoonHunter-esk Process.

First, think through the adventure, what will be important and what will be needed. The notes here gives "thinking points". This is the first pass. The second pass is going through the process again, formalizing notes.

* Start with the cool ending (or one of several cool endings), usually a climactic scene. This is the goal. There may be a Denouement or epilogue after that scene.

* Start with all the possible entry points for the adventure (what will give them the motivation or information to get involved). By defining what might need to happen, an interesting scene can be built. Usually, there is only one possible entry point to an adventure. Ideally, there will be other possible ways to get involved, because sometimes the hook does not catch the fish/ players.

* Every scene leads to other pieces of information or events, which leads to new scenes. Follow the path of events from each possible options. Ideally, there will be one logical choice/ path, but players are not always logical and may just go to a related path of thought. This creates a thread of scenes, with possible branches. (Yes, start up the data maps to keep track of the adventure's path of scenes..)

Think through ALL THE SCENES.... realize what a player (you as a player and the players you know), would do with the information provided. This determines what MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE SCENE. Thinking like a player for a while, determine what will come up in the scenes and where the troupe can go with that information. Note: editing what could happen or be revealed in a scene to avoid them going in other ways).
* As an adventure designer, make sure there are some "action scenes" or scenes that are interesting. (Oh so we have a discussion with the thugs... let's have it on the bridge (for the potential of throwing off, falls, climbing.)

* An adventure designer needs to think about transitions: how the characters get from cool scene A to cool scene B. Look for ways to link the various paths of thought, often by geography (as you are passing by on your way to the wizard tower, you see....), character (oh, and Old Man Muller might know something about this... he is on your way.), or timing (well, since you take so long at all these other places, it is time for her to be kidnapped... so you her screams..) This provides more way for the adventure to flow.

* Once there are a number of ways explored, chose the top few as the flow of the adventure to be prepared. Keep the other ones "in your back pocket, just in case the players get a little too creative".

* It is the time for at least a rough map for continuity and inspiration. Sometimes paths will have to be invented or things added in between/ along the way (either because of logic or story needs). These new ideas can give one new options for events. Note: The psuedo map might expose logic issues (oh wait, if they are going from A to B, they are going to encounter the villain going from B to C... unless...)

* It is sometimes helpful to make a relationship map or another data map , just to keep things straight. A data map, relationship map, heck any datamaps can make anything easier to visualize. If the data map has not been created for the various path of scenes for the adventure, especially showing all the branching paths, now is the time to think about orders and such. Either draw the data map or use cards.

* The advantage of the 3x5 card for this process allows one to create a flow chart of possible events. It allows one to easily move things around... try different combinations... easily see options you can delete or potential things you can put in place to ensure it goes well.

* Then we go back and formalize what is needed. Write any other NPC, location, thing, scene cards, that come up in the process. Rough cards can be made into complete cards on the second pass.

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* Go back and find ways to link this adventure to other plotlines (main or character) that are running already. Perhaps these other plotlines can be entry points. Perhaps this adventure can be tweaked to fit into an existing plotline. This helps tighten up the chronicle.

* While gamers have an unlimited budget for effects, settings, and actors, too many things can make it confusing to the players, try to do everything in as few cards/ story elements as possible. I also recycle and reskin existing cards, scenes, and things. After all, it made the cut once, it is worthy.

* MoonHunter likes brevity. That is why the cards are important. It limits how much is noted. (It also keeps me from going on and on.) It is easy to adlib/ improv extra material, but it is hard to edit on the fly.

* When going through, apply a pass of the Seven Cs. Connections must be everywhere. The more you can link togther, the more real something seems. The Continuity of setting elements, opposition, and themes, and such. Bit of chrome are always good. Conflict is always a good C to put into the an adventure. Again, these are just good ideas to apply and think through.

*The three points to write to ( for a thread post/ blog post, are points to address when you do an adventure. You need the exciting author parts. You need things to engage the players. You need the GM to be able to work through the adventure.
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