I’ve suffered by way of my fair proportion of homebrew disasters. For instance, there was The Session The place Nothing Occurred.

The GM had been bugging me all week, bursting with anticipation of how superior Saturday’s journey could be. The weekend comes round. We roll up characters and began off in an infinite aircraft. We walked and walked, interested by unusual obelisks we saved passing each mile or so.

It seems we have been going nowhere. An invisible, teleporting wall saved returning us to our start line.

And that took three hours of gameplay to determine.

Whereas that is an excessive instance of homebrew gone incorrect (or perhaps extra of an indictment of my low IQ as a participant lol), the GM was truthfully excited for us and his superior infinite aircraft journey.

So this serves as a great reminder that what we expect is likely to be enjoyable may roll flat on the desk.

With that in thoughts, listed here are three errors to keep away from when constructing our personal adventures:

1. Lack of Clear and Enjoyable Objectives

Some want to play vicariously, completely happy to be stunned with what every second brings. Alas, I’m not blessed that approach. I want a objective, a mission, and a problem to noodle on. I have to know if I’m making progress or dropping floor towards….one thing.

When you be tormented by such accursed gamers as I, give your homebrew adventures, together with every act or milestone, a transparent and enjoyable aim:

  • Helps distracted gamers to focus
  • Provides puzzlers one thing to burn their mind on
  • Helps tacticians and planners steer occasion route.

Finest case is every character and participant has an goal they eagerly lean into that may repay this session.

2. Forcing Story Over Gameplay

Within the Eighties, TTRPGs moved away from tournament-style dungeons — the place the thing was to rack up XP — to marketing campaign play…the place the thing was to rack up XP. 🙂

I’ve fond reminiscences of The Night time Beneath and Temple of Elemental Evil campaigns. However then corporations found out they may make some huge cash promoting costly adventures a whole lot of pages lengthy with story hard-coded in.

Whereas enjoyable to learn and loot, this story-first method makes GMing tough. Gamers come to the desk to make decisions, roll cube, and discover out what occurs.

Our GMing turns into a horrible and hectic expertise of herding the cats when adventures:

  • Assume outcomes we should one way or the other make occur
  • Depend upon particular outcomes we battle to orchestrate
  • Require gamers to make particular decisions we can not management

And since we use printed adventures to encourage our designs and duplicate what they do generally, we frequently fall into this poison spike pit entice of needing gamers to observe a plan we concoct.

In my expertise, this causes disasters behind the display.

As a substitute, when homebrewing our adventures we must always:

  • Put together to Improvise so we keep agile but in addition aren’t ever caught off-guard
  • Mine our campaigns to craft irresistible hooks certain to seize – and maintain – our gamers’ centered consideration
  • Plan conditions as a substitute of tales so we run a enjoyable sport as a substitute of dictating to a passive viewers

Typically we don’t even understand we’re hard-coding story into our designs. For instance, chatting with a GM not too long ago about their marketing campaign they stated, “When the gamers get to the tower, climb up the surface wall, and break into the higher ground, then I’ll reveal the villain’s plans.” So let’s keep away from the error of hard-coding story when homebrewing our personal adventures.

3. Do Too A lot at As soon as and Get Nothing Carried out

Whereas homebrewing, we have now nice visions for the way superior our adventures will probably be. We wish to take cool concepts, construct them out till able to hit the desk, and add refined and deft touches to shock and delight our buddies.

When I attempt to do three issues directly, nothing seems properly. And generally every little thing breaks and gameplay simply turns into boring grey sludge.

To repair this, we have to break our homebrewing out into three phases earlier than sport evening:

  1. Skeleton & Sinew: Create an overview first. Get your concepts down and ordered
  2. Muscle tissues & Flesh: Construct issues out in order that they’re prepared for contact with the gamers
  3. Clothes & Equipment: Add twists, surprises, and funky gaming moments

By separating the levels of journey creation into three phases, we will concentrate on one job at a time and thus dramatically enhance the standard of our homebrews.

We first define our journey and its potential encounters to supply the opposite phases with inspiration and steerage. Then we construct our concepts out in order that they’re able to GM and work together with. Then we add cool touches to take issues to 11 out of 10 for our gamers.

After we attempt to define and construct and add the cool issue all on the similar time, we get overwhelmed and pissed off. The completed work feels incomplete, hodgepodge, and tough across the edges. We concern how unhealthy it’ll land on the desk. And we fear we’re lacking essential particulars that would derail every little thing.

Let’s keep away from this error subsequent time we prep and homebrew an journey. Take a deep breath and concentrate on one part at a time.

It’s Your Flip

Whereas common in nature, these three errors have kiboshed many homebrewed adventures for me over time as each GM and participant.

If there aren’t any clear and thrilling objectives related to our gamers and characters, we’ll expertise loads of problem attempting to maintain our plans on monitor. We’ll waste loads of time and vitality coping with surprising participant decisions.

And if we power decisions or take away selection from our adventures as a result of we outline the story and its outcomes forward of time, we’ll actually frustrate our gamers — and ourselves. Why hassle taking part in if the long run is pre-ordained?

Final, after we do an excessive amount of directly, we fail our spot checks after we current boring objectives (or no objectives in any respect). We additionally minimize corners and base designs on our most desired outcomes as a substitute of accounting for gamers making decisions. And we are likely to make boring pasta dishes with only one spicy bit, leaving the remainder of the noodles unflavored and boring.

When homebrewing:

  • We wish clear and enjoyable objectives
  • Arrange superior gameplay as a substitute of pre-written tales
  • Break improvement into manageable chunks that guarantee nice high quality after every step

What wandering monsters do you encounter when homebrewing adventures? Hit reply and let me know.


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