The Adventure Creation Handbook by Cherie Arbuckle is a generic role playing game supplement that isn't aimed at any specific game system, setting or genre and is published by rpgGM(dot)com. The supplement covers adventure creation, which is a task many GameMasters (GMs) find difficult to do, but which can be a necessary tasks as commercially available material may not be suitable for the campaign they are running and may not even exist. Adventures are an, if not the, integral part of any role playing game campaign, but many GMs are stuck with using only published material, and then trying to make them work in their campaign. Even with thousands of adventures available, this may still be a problem.
The supplement is available as a PDF from RPGNow. It is 58 pages in length, with the last 20 pages being worksheets for creating adventures using the process described in the book. The Adventure Creation Handbook is in black and white, with a black and white cover and some black and white illustrations inside the book. The book is comprised of an introduction and five chapters, as well as several appendices which include the aforementioned worksheets at the end of the book.
Credit: NJ Huff/rppgGM.comThe Introduction discusses how the author came to start writing adventures, and the reasons why you may need to as well, and the creation process, which is then covered in the book's chapters.
Chapter 1, Develop Your Idea, covers coming up with the idea for an adventure in the first place. There are three methods of idea generation discussed; asking your players, using an idea map and limiting your choices. Asking players gets the players involved in the creation process by finding out what they want to play. An idea map, or mind map, is a freeform method of coming up with elements and then linking them, not rejecting anything to start with. The third option relates to stopping overload from having too many ideas. Also covered in this chapter are making an adventure that the players want to play, and different player "types" and what they are getting out of a game.
The second chapter, Ask and Answer Questions, gives a series of questions that need answering to further develop the idea, and how to use the relevant worksheets. This will enable the adventure to be further fleshed out, incorporating things such as time frame, non player characters, locations and maps, and also has a number of plot archetypes outlined.
The next chapter, Build Adventure Events, details the creation of the various events that comprise the adventure, and where to get or how to create the ideas for these events, as well as then arranging these events into an outline of the adventure, discarding any that don't fit.
Write the Adventure covers, as expected, writing the adventure, developing the outline that has already been created into a full adventure, with a logical procession to it, and how to conclude it. It also details checking the finished product over to make sure it works.
The final chapter is Running the Adventure, which is what the previous ones have been leading up to. Adventures tend not to survive meeting players, and this chapter covers dealing with this.
The first appendix is Menu Adventures, which uses a simple 3 column table to generate an idea from three elements randomly wither by rolling 3d20, or by choosing the elements manually. The second appendix covers the use of adventure seeds, something that can be found in many different supplements, especially d20 System ones, that provide an idea but need fleshing out. These could be called by different names, but they are ideas that need developing into full ones. Having a seed is a help if you are having problems coming up with an idea in the first place. The final appendix before the worksheets is promotional material about rpgGM(dot)com.
The Adventure Creation Handbook also comes with some extras, although these aren't downloaded from RPGNow. Instead, these are downloaded from links that are sent by email after purchasing the book, although this email is not dispatched immediately.
The two bonuses are Adventure Creation Example and GM Morsels. Each PDF is in black and white; the example has an illustrated cover and some diagrams inside it.
The Adventure Creation Example is a 17 page PDF which, as the name suggests, is an example of creating an adventure, Manhunt, using the process outlined in the handbook. This provides a practical example of how to go about creating an adventure, rather than just the theory described in the handbook. The example provided is one with a steampunk theme, showing that the process is not limited to one genre of game.
GM Morsels is a 7 page PDF that relates to being a GM in general, rather than covering the area of adventure creation. In it are six former blog posts that have been revised and expanded for inclusion in this bonus PDF.
The Adventure Creation Handbook in Review
The main index to the book is useful and comprehensive, and there are also built in bookmarks in the PDF, so navigation is comparatively easy. There are internal links to other parts of the book, and there are also links to many other resources on the web that can be useful when creating adventures, and these are not solely to RPG resources either, as they include other things related to mind mapping and storytelling for example. The process as described is logical and easy to understand and should, with a bit of practice, be useful, whether designing an adventure for a regular group of players or for a new one, such as for a convention game.
Even if adventure creation is a struggle, as it apparently was for the author, this book provides a step by step process that can be followed to create them. There is no guarantee that readers of The Adventure Creation Handbook will be able to create their own adventures, but it does make it more likely that this will be accomplished.