Original adventure ideas (Part 3)

29 09 2009

IdeasI already have an idea but…

Sometimes you already have a core idea that you need to work with, but something is holding you back. It doesn’t feel complete enough to be turned into an adventure.

In many ways you’d be right to pause. I shudder to think how many aborted campaigns are out there because a GM had an idea and started writing. After a page or so, they ran out of steam. One idea is rarely enough to keep an adventure going, let alone a campaign.

Consider your favourite adventures. Think about what happens. Although you can possibly sum up the story as one idea, the more you think about it the more you realise there were many ideas that combined to make the story work.

Effectively having two or three stories running concurrently is what keeps the campaign fresh. The PCs may have one thread of the story to deal with (but perhaps more than one). Meanwhile the key NPCs have another and at least one major NPC is following a different plot to begin with. It is how these elements weave together that makes the overall story work.

I would recommend having at least two ideas working alongside your main idea. At some point the ideas have to join, or at least affect each other. The standard ‘myth’ is a prime example.

For those that haven’t read Joseph Campbell’s work, the central idea is actually the Hero’s journey from childhood into adulthood. This is facilitated by the secondary idea – the baddy’s desire to rule the world/destroy the world/steal the treasure etc.

Invariably there are other ideas working alongside or behind these. Consider Star Wars. OK, that’s a bit big. Consider Episode IV, but remember the back-stories that we subsequently learned. Can you be truly sure what the core idea is?

The likelihood is that without any one of these ideas, the overall story wouldn’t work. Is it a love story between two apparent opposites – Han and Leia? Is it an action adventure to blow up the Death Star? Is it about Luke’s journey from childhood into adulthood? Is it about the forces of good and evil needing each other to balance out? Or is it something else?

It is surely all of these things. No one element would hold the story together in quite the same way.

In the next blog I’ll focus on the central idea…




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