Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Looking For Tools to Teach the Novice DM "Adventure Design"

Sometimes my blog topics take off on tangents, whether in the comments section, a side conversation on G+ or spawned threads on forums. Recently, the whole idea of using published adventures has generated a side conversation of "why not create your own?"

The answer to that, for me at least, is time. Writing a usable adventure takes time I do not have. So I buy and use and modify published adventures.

It does raise a question for me - is there a good resource for the novice DM to refer to when it comes to designing adventures?

It might not even be an OSR / D&D resource - good adventure design is pretty much independent of rules.

So, cough up your secrets. Dig the dusty tomes off your bookshelf. Lets find our "Adventure Design for Dummies" books ;)


  1. Tome of Adventure Design is flippin great and being a novice DM, I found it very easy to use.

  2. Tome of Adventure Design is probably the best such resource out there.

    -C's PDF's and Kellri's Encounters Reference are also recommended. The Old School Primer also has some good advice.

  3. Adventure Creator's Handbook. Don't know the ToAD, but this is solid gold.

  4. Back in the early 2000s, I did enjoy Part III of the real "Dungeon Master for Dummies".
    Seems like it's even a "collectable item" now given the used price:

  5. For me it's a matter of "considerations." They are guidelines that set parameters but are flexible in their application.

  6. I seem to remember there being a great product that not only helped you design dungeon environments that where logical but also fill out there histories..

    I believe it was called Central Casting: Dungeons -


    As I recall it was also pretty much systemless, if not completely systemless.

  7. @Tom G - easily found on Scribd apparently...

  8. Excellent! I'm lead to believe that it's a tough cookie to find in print. Well worth a go as I remember. :0).

  9. How would something like B1 In Search of the Unknown fit into this?

  10. @BeZurKur - B1 can serve as an excellent old school example of micro setting and sandbox - but not sure how it works as a toll to teach newbies "Adventure Design"

  11. The Dungeon Alphabet is a great resource, the 1st edition DMG is pretty darned good.
    the best answer is look into many sources, don't stick with just one.

  12. The Tome of Adventure Design is a great resource when building ideas, but -- at the risk of accusations of pimping myself -- I think the techniques I describe at my site work better.

    I'm not sure about it being introductory material. It could probably be made so, it likely can be considered so by those with a background in mathematics or computer science (if only so you recognize what a graph is).

    Y'know, this megadungeon thing I'm working on.

  13. Adventure design may be too big a subject to tackle. There are so many different ways to approach it. When I think of how I learned it, it was always through different styles of supplements/adventures.

  14. Say, Erik, do you think it might be worth my time and effort to bundle up my scenario design stuff, polish it a bit, and try pushing it as an adventure design guide?


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