[RPG] Designing the own D&D Adventure


Currently, I am part of my first campaign of D&D 4E as a player and, I have been having fun.

Sometime in the near future I would like to host my own game of D&D with my own adventure. So far I have nothing set up but got a good idea of what I may need. My main issue is coming up with an initial story and quests.

Things I have:

  • Player's Handbooks 1-3
  • 3 sets of Standard Gaming Dice
  • 12 D6
  • Giant Journal to create the adventure in (and record progress)

Things I plan to get/make:

  • Maps of the regions
  • Dry erase board with grid squares (for dungeons
    and such)
  • Dungeon Master's Guide
  • Monster Guide

Sources for ideas:

I plan for my campaign to take place on an island roughly quarter the size of Australia, and divided into 5 regions. The layout is still in the works, but I plan on one region to have a mountain range form a natural boarder. Another region is going to be heavily forested. There may or may not be a desert, but that depends on how much my current DM favors his desert area (populated with monkeys).

My main problem is I know how to create the towns and land for my game, but have no ideas on creating the quests and goals needed. What would be the best advice other than read the Dungeon Master's Guide? (I am currently reading the Player's Guides cover to cover.)

Best Answer

I'd recommend the 5x5 method which discussed on the in detail on the critical-hits.com blog in the context of both adventures and campaigns

The basic idea of this technique, is that you take 5 ideas:

  • Overthrow the evil empire
  • Prevent the sorcerer from ascending to demon-hood
  • and 3 more...

and so on, and then for each idea create 5 milestones that will happen along the way.

e.g. for overthrow the evil empire

  • meet up with the rebel alliance
  • learn the weakness of the death star
  • and 3 more...

and for prevent the sorcerer from ascending to demon-hood

  • steal the orb of power from the temple of evil
  • kidnapped by the sorcerer's lizard man minions
  • and 3 more

Put that on a grid:

Overthrow the evil empire   Prevent the sorcerer from   Thing 3   Thing 4   Thing 5
                            ascending to demon-hood

learn the weakness of the   steal the orb of power      ....      ....      ....
death star                  from the temple of evil

meet up with the rebel      kidnapped by the sorcerer's ....      ....      .... 
alliance                    lizard man minions

....                        ....                        ....      ....      ....

....                        ....                        ....      ....      ....

....                        ....                        ....      ....      ....

And then using that as scaffolding build around them.

One of the nice aspects of this method is that you can give your players control over the paths they take. They can chose to ignore one of the lanes that you have sketched out without derailing you completely. And you can spring natural consequences of their actions on them, that make sense in the context of what has gone before.

critical-hits.com also has a summary of other places on the internet that talk about this idea