Monday, April 10, 2023

How to start adventuring

 Draw a map. Use whatever format inspires you the most. I like the freedom of a blank sheet of printer paper and a nice mechanical pencil, or thick sketchbook paper and micron pens. Let the ideas flow as you go. If you get stuck quit and go do something else.

Once you've got your map pick the place the players will start. Choose 4 nearby locations to be important.

Who lives there? What do they want/need? What are they afraid of? What's something that makes them different from their neighbors?

Write 3 sentences for 3 different settlements. They can be human trade down, elven bastions, evil war-barons, or a city of zombies leftover from the demon wars who are just trying their best to mimic their old way of life. 

Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to be good, to write something others would enjoy, or to make something that would bring you accolades. If you catch yourself thinking at any point "that's not good enough, so-and-so on that blog said ideas like this are stupid" or "if I bought this product on drivethru would I be disappointed?" just stop and go do something else. Take a shower, drink some water, go for a walk.

Throw a d6, make that many adventure locations. Every location needs:

- a physical thing marking the location

- something valuable

- something dangerous

- a trick

- a living or non-living being to befriend

- a connection to something else on the map

Draw a map if you feel inspired, or make a diarama out of clay, or make a playlist on Spotify.

At this point put everything down and go watch a movie like Secret of Nimh, the Bakshi LoTR movies, or Castle in the Sky. Go for a walk in the woods, or sit at the subway and people watch.

Come back, doodle more. Eventually work your way toward a dungeon. For inspiration go play NES Zelda, Castlevania, Metroid, or Dragon Warrior.

Make a dungeon of 20 rooms. It should have:

- 8 empty rooms

- 5 rooms with monsters

- 4 traps

- 8000 gp worth of treasure, broken up into chunks and scattered randomly (2000, 1000, 1000, 500, 500, 500, 500, 250, 250, 250, 250, and the last 1000 in small change tucked in little places or in the form of cutlery)

- 3 things that aren't traps that are obstacles and only potentially dangerous (if you can't imagine what that looks like go for a walk by the train tracks, sewers, river, docks, or junk yard)

Play some D&D. Start the players at the dungeon. Run them on it. Let them decide what they want to do. If they seem stuck give them two options. Don't be afraid to wait. Take notes.

Afterwards start making connections between everything seen, said, done, talked to, heard about. Go forth and prosper.


  1. I am tempted to do this by the book, even sitting in the metro watching at people. Everything sounds like a perfect day

  2. Me too, this is great advice. Go for a walk!