Adventure Paths

Adventure Paths seem to keep crossing my path (pun intended) a lot recently.

I know that Brian has a 25 step adventure path in planning. I think that is going to be one of a few that we want to create as a follow on from the 50in50 that we did in 2017/2018. That project is just waiting for Brian to get ahead of RL.

I started talking about what I am now thinking of a The Demon War.

Hurin posted on the forums about how msto people play D&D up to about 10th level. That makes sense to me. If you want to play more than one PC then the speed my group goes even 10th level would take several human years.

My last RM related post was about experience points and each of the starting adventures I have been describing have come in at about 10k EXP per adventure. That is enough to level people up. In RMu there is no step change in EXP at 6th, 11th 16th levels like there is in RMxx.

If you played each of the planned adventures back to back, 12 adventures over 12 months then you would be 12th to 15th level come the end of the year.

Now to add in another element I say this post on a discord server…

“Mike MylerToday at 05:38

I am releasing a 340 page adventure path soon It’s a bigass hardcover book. Kill people with it kinda big. I also have the 6 adventures it largely revolves around prepared as softcover books approved for print.”

Mike’s AP is not for RM so don’t get excited. The point is that has an introduction, six adventures and then a finale plus he says 130 pages of supporting material to tie it all into a single adventure path.

So if we were looking at eight specific steps, each of which yielded 10k experience then characters would finish it at about 9th to 11th level depending on your starting level, maybe has high as 12th or 13th depending on experience from personal experience goals.

I am not that keen on the idea of linear adventures.

I am determined to make good use of City of Forgotten Heroes. I am thinking that it could make a good penultimate step in an adventure path. The thing is that with that I created the scalable encounters with different creatures for different power levels.

If I were to build in scalable encounters for these adventures so the monsters changed depending on level of the party and I used the H system for the numbers of creatures encountered these adventures would scale by level and for the party size.

This means that whether you start parties at 1st level, like I do, or 5th level like Spectre does or want to start people at 10th level to have a truly epic game these adventures should still work.

With some clever adventure design and more importantly clever story telling these adventures should be able to be played in any order. One could even make it a true sandbox where the adventures exist in their own right and the bad guy’s plans progress up until they hit the characters who inevitably ruin the bad guy’s day. Each adventure would provide some additional clues or benefit to assist the characters in defeating the ultimate bad guy.

I think I could write an eight part adventure path. It is less of a mammoth task than some of the APs I have been looking at. I originally thought that they were designed to take characters to 20th level. Obviously 10th level is a lot easier to write for than 20th.

Any thoughts or opinions?

6 Replies to “Adventure Paths”

  1. Adventure paths – at least the Paizo kind which are the only ones I am familiar with – are pretty linear, as published. Probably at least partly due to space constraints.

    Now, if Paizo didn’t include things like Golarion information, bestiaries and fiction, there would be a lot more space to play with. An adventure path does not have to be purely linear.

    Legendary Games publish various adventure path add-ons for the Paizo adventure paths. These add more in the way of side adventures and plots, as well as other material, to existing adventure paths. Building such side plots into the adventure path to start with can make it a lot more sandbox.

    The Slumbering Tsar Saga from Frog God Games is technically not an adventure path, but it pretty much qualifies in my opinion. It’s also a lot more sandbox. Characters can pretty much go anywhere they choose. Of course, if the choose to try to head into the Temple-City of Orcus first rather than explore the surrounding Desolation the players will likely need to roll up new characters in a hurry. Fortunately the supplement comes with several pages of Obituaries.

  2. Yes, I’ve been using ‘Adventure Path’ rather loosely for a long adventure, usually pretty linear. Even the 5e DnD modules I’ve played, like Out of the Abyss and Princes of the Apocalypse, would thus qualify. I see even the RM ‘Grand Campaign’ as kind of an adventure path too.

    But one thing I would note is that with a little work, you could make them non-linear, and the tool you need for that is the one you’re already using Peter: the one where you scale the encounters to party size/level. The reason the DnD 5e adventures are not very linear is that they don’t scale them. This was a problem I had with both Out of the Abyss and Princes of the Apocalypse. These modules try to present themselves as non-linear, saying that the PCs can go to various places in whatever order they like. However, the enemies they encounter in these places are all level locked. In fact, Princes of the Apocalypse makes it explicit: this tower is designed for level 3 PCs, this keep is for level 4, this monastery is for level 5. So basically, unless you want a TPK, you have to follow a set sequence. They really are very linear, then, in the end.

    But if you are able to scale the enemies in the different areas, you could make a completely non-linear adventure path (maybe you’d need to rename it just ‘adventure’, or maybe we say the ‘path’ part refers to characters advancing in levels rather than going from one stop on the railroad to the next). In any case, I like your idea of doing a level 1-10 adventure thingy — and with your system of encounter scaling, you have the tool to do one thing that neither Pathfinder nor DnD seem to do very well: make a true sandbox adventure.

  3. Hurin: I completely agree. Stating that the adventure is “open” but level-locking significant pieces of that adventure is the worst kind of manners.

    Personally I like loosely coupled Adventure Paths, and am leary of any that are too tightly bound together. Case in point: 5E’s ‘Curse of Strahd’. I was begged/ambushed into running a game (after a long roleplaying absence) and it was the longest, rail-road’east adventure I’d ever seen. Love the setting, and the background, but geez what a grind! And just like the ones you mentioned, level based scenarios abounded. Soured me on official 5E modules for quite some time.

    1. Yes, I have been surprised at some of the problems 5e modules have had. Horde of the Dragon Queen was very railroady, and even had massive balance issues on top of it. In the wave of uncritical nostalgia that greeted 5e, many people just didn’t want to hear about these problems I guess. Until they ran into a TPK.

      That’s why I was so enthusiastic about the mechanics Peter and others were mentioning for scaling adventures. It would have solved most of the problems I had with those modules.

  4. Adaptability isn’t that the watchword of every GM? Adjust the events in actual play because the players turn left instead of right or suddenly drop dead. Adjust the long-term goals and story because of all of the cumulative effects of the former statement.

    What is occupying my thoughts at this time is: – should levelling up be the aim of the adventure? If it isn’t then a denoument of a campaign (adventure path) can be at any level. Which then leads to a follow-up question. How do players feel rewarded for skillful play?

  5. I don’t do adventure “paths” as I do adventure “bubbles.” Imagine your favorite carbonated beverage. Each big bubble is one of the main plot points that will eventually make it to the surface. The smaller bubbles are little plots and adventures the players may hop on to and ride to the top. In the meanwhile… some of those larger bubbles move a little closer to the top.

    D&D is very much ‘railroady’ as Hurin states. I always have to bite my tongue when I’m with my D&D friends because they are VERY pro D&D and I’m still trying to win them over towards RM.

    Aspire2Hope you are correct. Adaptability is the key to any RM GM. The very first session I ran as a GM was a total mess. At the end of the session, one of the best GMs I know said “We didn’t do what you thought we would do” and he had a little laugh. Then he gave me some great pointers.

    – The players are never going to do what you think they will do. Don’t have a path that you think they will follow because they won’t. Make a few points you’d like them to get to and let them get there.

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