Writing up the adventure

I have written many enjoyable adventures in the past, so I'll be happy to pass this knowledge onto you for a great session. This page will outline how to create a simple adventure. I used a word processor to type up all my adventures as it was the easiest way. If you can't be bothered preparing an adventure or find it a bit too much...then take a look at adventures you can buy. There are several steps to follow to create a fun adventure.

1.) Plan!

The most important step!
Plan what will happen during your adventure, make a very brief outline of what will happen. This doesn't have to be extensive or descriptive
but just enough to get an overview of the adventure. The Dungeon Master's guide contains a table which you can roll for adventure ideas. Make sure you lightly describe the locations such as towns and dungeons. How big is the place? What is the majority of the population? Do they like adventurers? Is it based in the trees? Are the houses big? Any important non-playing characters (NPCs) the players encounter?

2.) Create the encounters!

Once you have created your plan you should start creating encounters. Encounters are like scenes in the story, just like scenes in your favourite TV shows important events happen. So you should only create encounters for important events. During encounters players will have to decide what they want to do...do they want to visit some shops? Go to the public house and gather information? Go through the left or right door?
Just see it as dividing your story up into scenes, providing a bit more detail about the encounter. This includes NPCs the players meet or any enemies they have to attack. Make sure the encounters link with the one before and after so the story flows.
When there is combat involved, make sure you include the encounter level isn't too high or too low. The encounter level basically is a guide about how hard the encounter will be. If it is higher then the average party level (Sum of party levels/number of party members), then it is considered a difficult encounter. When the encounter level and the party levels are equal, it is considered challenging. Anything below is easy. Each monster comes with an challenge rating, if there is just an individual monster then the encounter level = challenge rating. For groups of monsters, make sure they have the same challenge rating and consult the dungeon master's guide to figure out the total encounter level.

3.) Incorporate some skill/save rolls!

Yup, this just adds some of the role play element in Dungeons and Dragons. Make sure that each player gets to role at least once or twice during the adventure so it's not too focused on combat. It's good to slip at least one skill roll during encounter maybe. It comes in handy when you know how each skill works, so its easier to apply them to each encounter. Ensure you have details if they succeed or fail the dice roll. Finally, include a unique skill roll per character to make them feel "special" and to feel like they are contributing an important task. For example, Cira the Cleric could have alot of points invested in climb...maybe include a treasure chest on top of a pillar that is quite difficult to climb. Redgar the Ranger has alot of points invested into Jump, maybe he can jump across a difficult chasm to tie a rope on the other side so it's easier for Warik and Cira to get across. Upon failing, Redgar would fall down into the chasm, causing damage to himself and it's up to Cira and Warik to get him out somehow, which will open up a new role play altogether!

4.) Monsters!

Ah yes, one of the fun aspects of writing stories. The monsters have to be relevant to the environment that the players are in...no good having an underwater shark attacking the players in a desert! Details about environment etc will be in the Monster Manual. Make sure the monsters are not too weak or too strong for the players, otherwise it can get pretty boring pretty quickly! Give the monsters some AI...do they pretend to flee and lead the players to a trap? Do they attack as a group? Do they try to flank as best as possible? Bear in mind a zombie with little intelligence is quite unlikely to do this!

5.) Rewards!

Finally, there are rewards to give out...giving out experience points rewards for the monster encounters is pretty easy, just use the tables in the guides. Regards to the role play encounters (the ones without monsters) it depends...if Cira had to roll highly to persuade an NPC, then the party should recieve a good amount of experience points. It's about finding the balance, giving too much or too little can make the game tedious. You can either decide to give it out there and then or give it out at the end (which I generally do).
Treasure (gold, items etc) should be rolled out for all encounters as well, they can be done randomally with the Dungeon Master's Guide. Treasure should be rewarded for even role play encounters, especially if they recieved experience points...but you can place this in a chest somewhere in a dungeon that the players will come across for example because it would be inappropriate for an NPC to give the players information...and then gold!
Its a good idea to roll for all the treasure at once for all encounters and place them as a list on a seperate page. Split the table into seperate columns for the encounter levels. Then, look up how much each encounter level earns and accumulate in the seperate columns. For example, two level 1 encounter levels (600 gold) and two level 2 encounter levels (600 gold) would be in seperate colums. This should be in the dungeon master's guide.
Next, I generally roll on the treasure table (also located in the dungeon master's guide) and keep rolling the treasure for that encounter level until there is nothing more to "spend" (i.e don't go over the total of 600 gold when rolling your treasure). Do this seperately for each column. Then you can distribute it however you like, random chests? Give it to players at the end?


  • Don't worry, it doesn't have to be an epic novel. My adventures are very very rough, this is so I allow role play, spontaneity and expression of myself instead of keeping to a script. It's suppose to be a guide and not followed word for word.
  • If you're writing up your first adventure, keep it simple. Maybe make it a dungeon crawl where you just generate monsters in every room. If you're feeling creative, just add a bit of history about the location and maybe scatter scripts around the dungeon to provide a bit of back drop. You could even reward the players if they find all the script pieces!
  • If you're writing for first time players, provide a hint about what they can do and over time they realise what they can and can't do. For example "You approach a door, what do you want to do? You can either smash it down, search for traps, listen to the door...etc"
  • Do follow on adventures...use the same town for a while or the same location so it can expand out to a world you slowly create. When the players gained the artifact did it open up a portal to another world? What about the consequences of the actions of the players in one adventure? I wrote up adventures for one group of friends, who accidently burnt down a house, and I wrote up another adventure for another group of friends who visited the same town and saw the same burnt building. It was easy to give something NPCs to talk about to the players as it was already done for me.
  • Involve one puzzle per adventure, maybe a riddle (which can easily be googled), pressing buttons in a certain order or playing a certain tune to open a door.
Below is an example of one of the first adventures I wrote up...bear in mind it's for a single player. You're welcome to use it but alot of it may not make sense. It is a very rough script. The text in italics is what I read aloud, or paraphrased.

Once you've written up your adventure, submit it to the forum and see what others think. I have one in the forum called "Annoying Goblins" which you can look at to help you write yours up. (Located in the forums->creative writing->For Dungeon masters).
So the adventure is all written up and ready to be run! Now comes the real fun stuff! Click on Playing the adventure for more information.