What Makes An Adventure 11/10?

What Makes An Adventure 11/10?

In my Master of the 5 Room Dungeon Workshop, I advocate that you can “amp up your adventures to 11.” In other words, we want engaging, challenging, and thrilling adventures our players will love. A workshop member asked me today, “What makes an 11/10 adventure for you?” Great question! Here’s my answer:

A Great Plot

  • Simplicity: The plot is straightforward and approachable, ensuring it’s easy for players to discover, understand, and engage with.
  • Builds Excitement: The plot should steadily build drama, anticipation, and excitement, culminating in a climactic finale.
  • Unexpected Twists: Surprises cast the adventure in a new light, triggering satisfying “Aha!” moments.
  • Meaningful Outcomes: The adventure should have potential outcomes that matter to everyone involved, making it feel consequential and immersive.

Killer Encounters

  • Purposeful Goals: Encounters should largely serve a player or character-driven goal.
  • Engaging Choices: Encounters should offer a variety of action paths and dilemmas, such as combat, diplomacy, or problem-solving.
  • Intriguing Conflict: Barriers to goals should poke and excite, leading to interesting choices and stimulating challenges.
  • Player Engagement: Each encounter should provide every player or character a chance to contribute.
  • Mini Stories: Each encounter should contain its own compelling story that aligns with or enhances the plot, even if it’s just through theme and tone.

Creating Foes & Conflicts

  • Variety: An interesting mix of foes, obstacles, and challenges keep things fresh and exciting.
  • Dynamic Characters: Foes should be played to their full potential, imbued with personality and individual motives. They can be cunning or foolish, but always engaging.
  • Intellectual Challenge: Most conflicts should require strategic thinking and good character choices to resolve.

Incorporating Treasure

  • World Impact: The adventure should influence the campaign and setting in intriguing ways.
  • Longevity: Each adventure should hint at or set up future escapades, keeping the campaign vibrant and continuous.
  • Character Development: Most adventures should trigger some form of character growth or complication, adding depth and richness to the game.

While not an exhaustive list, the devil is in the details. Things might look good on paper, but gameplay disappoints. So my criteria above tend to revolve around great gameplay and maximizing choice, uncertainty, and conflict.