Behind the scenes – Preparing for Adventures

When I first put fingers to keyboard for the first ‘Behind the Scenes’ blog post, I didn’t realise that I would be writing a second or even a third one of these. However, as soon as I started to have a think I suddenly realised that there was quite a lot I wanted to write about which actually happens behind the scenes. I was trying to do these in some sort of order, although as always, I feel that if I kept waiting to get all the posts together and then order them, it could be sometime next year when I actually get to publish them so I just thought I would go for it. This waffle is about preparing adventures – something which I spent some time doing…

I mentioned in my last post relating to behind the scenes activity, that I was very curious (or nosy for another word!). I think sharing what I actually do when preparing adventures, I am really sharing things with the world in the hope that others share their preparation regimes as well so I can have a good old nosy at them! As I was preparing for this waffle, I had a quick look at twitter – who can start a day without looking at twitter – and saw that Fantasy Grounds had asked people to post images of what they were preparing that day. These were very interesting to see and actually motivated me to write. I’m a great fan of analogies and I think with the creation of adventures I would say that it is as close to gardening as I will ever get.

  • From a single acorn grows a might oak! – Inspiration is probably the hardest stage of adventure preparation for me. I need to have an idea which I can gently nurture into something which resembles a series of encounters and plot line. Without this inspiration I am actually stumped and I can’t really do anything. This is why I tend to use both my own ideas for adventures and published ones. While the players are proceeding through published materials my creative juices tend to flow more freely. Like everyone says, ideas come to me from a variety of sources. Browsing the internet, Youtube, Reddit posts or even watching other people’s games on Twitch, all are a valuable source of material. I don’t tend to think I need an idea let’s watch Youtube videos – it is more I am watching them and suddenly think, that’s a possible idea. I say a possible idea since this is just the beginning of the preparation. As these ideas pop into my mind, I need to capture them and, using strategies from David Allen’s book ‘Getting Things Done’, I immediately log these into Omnifocus in an adventure idea section. It gets the title of the idea and then more clarification points occur within the notes section. Sometimes, when I can’t think of an idea, I do have a quick look at Omnifocus in order to see if there is anything I fancy developing. If I do, or I need to, then I move onto step two…
  • The thinking man- – Even though I have the initial idea the adventure is far from created. If anything the next part is the hardest piece of the process. The idea needs to germinate. Luckily I can walk to work every day and this is a golden opportunity for my to think and germinate ideas. I often walk with my earbuds in (I need to invest in some wireless headphones, but the marketplace is just so complex!) thinking rather than listening. In my mind, I start to cultivate the seed of an idea. I think of it as sending out roots or shoots to see where they get to and whether it is worth developing them further. Some of the shoots/roots hit brick walls and they just shrivel up and stop. Sometimes they sprout off other ideas and plot lines and I have to ensure that I either capture new ideas or focus on the main one. Visually, in my mind, the idea germinates from the seed and becomes a network of shoots and roots. Sometimes I get a bit carried away and these need to be pruned, but with the right amount of fertiliser (usually time and creativeness) the idea develops and I can see the full plant in my mindseye.
  • Things grow better in a greenhouse – Carrying on the analogy of the gardening, this I would say is the final part of the adventure preparation and is definitely something which I need to go into more detail in another waffle. I sometimes stick a piece of paper up on my wall to jot down the ideas at this stage, although I do prefer to keep everything digital for easy access and adaptation. I used to use Google Drive a lot but recently I have moved to using Realm Works. I’m still not sure whether this is a good investment since I keep finding other software which has other various advantages but currently, all my campaigns exist on this program. I actually now need to take my idea and make it reality – an interesting idea for a fantasy game, but it will become apparent what I mean. In order to make it accessible to the players it needs to be ‘rulified’ (don’t you just love making up new verbs!). The idea needs stats and skill rolls applied to it, maps and tokens created and the overall order re-jigged and refined. I can safely say this takes the longest part of the process, but requires the smallest amount of creative thought. If I have done everything correctly, this part just needs me to sit down and do the work. This part needs less inspiration but more perspiration. I tend do develop it a section at a time, mainly since I don’t want to encourage the party to follow a set route. Because I have the overview of the plot, I can actually change things slightly as I go along.
  • As long as I have a good solid seed to start off with and have cultivated it well with fertiliser, then the final preparation of the adventure goes well. Sometimes I try and rush the first two stages and I actually end up getting very frustrated in the final preparation and having to go right back to the start of the process because the idea was not secure enough. I do have a range of digital support along the way and this will definitely be the topic of another ‘Behind the Scenes’ waffle, so if you are interested in finding out more about in the inner workings of my mind, then by all means subscribe to the site and get updates to your email – well I think that how it works!

    So, until next time, remember to be who you are and say what you feel because the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. Have fun and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!

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