5 More Adventure Feature Types For Your Adventure Design

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0937

Recently we talked about how to create a Feature for your 5 Room Dungeon as a first step. Use your Feature to tie your adventure together and give you design ideas for the rooms and other elements.

I gave an example of one type, a Creature Feature.

Pick a foe from your favourite monster book and build your adventure around that. Perhaps its lair, hunting grounds, or prison.

Here are other Feature types to build your core adventure concepts around to keep players guessing:

Location Feature

Inspiring for site-based adventures. Pick an interesting site and your encounters automatically inherit interesting locations.

For example, what encounter locations come to mind for a Feature Location being a cloud?

A solid dungeon hidden in the middle. Perhaps the cloud has a shape and each room is in one part of the shape — leg, arm, chest, head, heart. Bridges to other clouds. A misty tendril like a plank. Platforms.

Item Feature

Pick a rare, mysterious, or magic item. An artifact. A special clock. A spellbook.

The item has needs and that informs your adventure design.

The item might need discovering or rescuing, protecting or guarding, repair, investigation or research.

A classic Feature Item is one the PCs quest for as a grand reward. The legendary Harp of Unity or the Skull of Zorgon.

Build out and modify your adventure so it’s affected by the presence of the item. For example, special traps and guardians, the corpses of tomb robbers, clues and warnings to scare curiosity seekers away.

Plot Feature

An event, situation, or milestone. Often involving the villain’s schemes.

For example, a parade. The villain plans an attack as a diversion. Your adventure’s “rooms” are part timeline and part situations.

The five room adventure revolves around the parade. The people in it, the locations it passes through, and the attempted attack upon it.

NPC Feature

Your adventure hinges on a key non-player character. I love this kind of Feature.

“NPC” is pretty vague, so you need to give this Feature a goal. Do the players need to find or save this NPC? Turn them into an ally? Cure their madness? Find out what they know?

Each room is a step towards (or away from) the players achieving their goal.

Trap Feature

You build your adventure out from a serious Danger.

The rooms build up to the danger, provide clues to overcoming the danger, and test the PCs before the Danger pounces.

For example, an NPC steps on a pressure plate priming a bomb. Can the PCs reach the NPC, disable the bomb, and save the NPC?

Features Tie Your Rooms Together

Do you see how starting off your adventure design with a strong central element helps you build out an integrated and immersive gameplay experience?

We have our lizard. It’s made a dungeon by eating the rock. We can build signs and clues into room location descriptions that hint about this.

The lizard has poisonous blood. A great trap.

Lizards lay eggs. Perhaps they’re treasure or new Dangers.

By keeping our adventure design wound tight around the lizard theme our design has more pop.

This affects our players and gameplay much more than a hodgepodge assortment of ideas would.

Random cloud dungeon + magic skull + parade + kidnapped NPC + bomb might sound great on paper. But if just mashed together they’d just leave your players confused like throwing paint on a canvas and calling it art would.

Tie things together with a strong Feature. This gives you a compelling adventure with meaningful connections between rooms to figure out, explore, risk, and overcome for great gameplay rewards.