How to Build an Epic Adventure With Johnn Four - Roleplaying Tips

Have You Ever Wanted to Build Wondrous Adventures that Amaze Your Players?

My Epic Adventure Building Game Plan Shows You How to Have Fun Being Creative by Building Wonderful Adventures Your Players Will Love While Enjoying the Freedom to Tell the Stories You Want

Any adventure type

For Any Adventure Type
(Wilderness, Civilization, Dungeon, Intrigue, Crawl, Comedy, Espionage, Horror, Mystery, and more)

For any encounter type

For Any Play Style
(Roleplay, Puzzle & Trap,
Action & Combat)

For any game system

For Any Game System
(D&D, Pathfinder, Fate, Savage Worlds, OSR, Dungeon World, Gumshoe, Genesys, and more)

For an

For Any Genre
(Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Modern, Mythical, Superhero, Historical)

Hola Roleplaying Tips Game Master!

A homebrew adventure is more than just a series of encounters.

It's a flexible Game Plan you design for maximum challenge and fun, tuned exactly for the three key audiences you need to please in your campaign: your players, their characters, and you!

From increasing your creativity, to crafting wicked plots, to optimizing encounters so they challenge and delight everyone at your table.

I invite you to build an adventure alongside me using my step-by-step Game Plan to become a Wizard of Adventure Design.

Tell the Stories Bursting Inside of You the Way You Want

The last time I ran an official D&D adventure it was a disaster.

Princes of the Apocalypse cost me $65 in Canadian maple syrup dollars. And the wheels fell off during the very first session.

I love, love, love having gorgeous books on my shelf brimming with cool art. They are great to read and steal ideas from.

But man, having to slog through a 255 page script feels like studying for an exam.

And it goes sideways anyways every time because I end up missing a detail or the players do something that throws the static adventure off the rails.

For months as we gamed through Princes, I felt two steps behind.

Always trying to get the party back on track.

Always worried about missing an encounter or screwing up the plot.

And always studying for the next session that I never felt confident about or prepared for.

In the end, despite my hard work and hours (and hours!) of prep, it was only a meh experience.

That's because the adventure wasn't tailored to my players. It wasn't geared to their specific characters, either.

Published stuff must appeal to the widest audience possible so it sells the most copies. Which makes it pretty generic.

So we shoehorned everything into a generic product and tried to make the most of it.

I should've just homebrewed my own.

Lesson learned.

Building cool adventures is half the fun of being the GM anyway.

We've got stories bursting inside us dying to be told.

Why would we want to skip that?

Thus, my Epic Adventure Building Game Plan was born.

I'm going to show you step-by-step to build wondrous adventures based on the stories you want to tell, that your players will love.

A Simple Blueprint for Building Wondrous Adventures

Creating adventures is tough.

Where do you start? How do you plot a great story? How do you create cool and challenging encounters? And how do you build up to that epic finale encounter with Demogorgon?

In addition to attempting to run 255 page official D&D products and heavily scripted Pathfinder Adventure Paths — which never work well for me because my players go off script no matter how much I study and prep — I tried to go the improv route.

That failed terribly. My plots were full of holes my players would point out, embarrassing me greatly. And my stories never gelled. They devolved into series of boring encounters. Plus the stress before sessions wasn't worth it.

I also tried sandbox and West Marches campaigns. Those just frontloaded me with a ton of work that rarely paid off. Players missed half the stuff and, Murphy's Law, always gravitated towards what I was least ready for.

And again, the stories coming out of gameplay were weak, undramatic, and felt like a series of loose encounters.

However, I've learned that if we approach adventure building a certain way, the process takes half the time, solves all those problems, and makes prep a ton of fun.

That's what my Epic Adventure Building Game Plan shows you.

It's a complete system that will take you from no ideas to fantastic adventure ready to run and dazzle.

Here's How it Works

  • We start by getting total clarity on an Epic Plot Arc.
  • We use an Adventure Plot Mad Lib I've created to get our creative juices flowing. We simply fill in the blanks to get our brains going and brainstorm adventure seeds until we get one we love.
  • Then we use the awesome 5 Room Dungeons model to break our plot up into highly playable yet flexible Adventure Milestones. And while making 5 Room Dungeons is quick, don't let the name fool you. They're based on the blockbuster work of Joseph Campbell, Christopher Vogler, and Robert McKee we'll use to make any kind of adventure for any game system and genre for your campaigns.
  • We'll then follow my 7-part Wizard of Adventure Story Path Formula, that guides you in detail so you are guaranteed to tell an amazing story.
  • This gets you a wonderful plot tailored specifically for your player kicks and character development arcs, which I'll also help you figure out using my Player Types Grid System.
  • We then uncover any killer plot holes before they bite you using my RPG Plot Hole Checklist that you'll get to download in Module 5: Resources & Templates.
  • We follow-up with a specific sequence of polishing steps I call the Adventure Design Waterfall until our adventure is bright, clever, and ready to run.

What we get after following this complete blueprint is a wondrous adventure and awesome game our players will remember and talk about for ages.

Get Your Master's Degree in Building Cunning Adventures

Homebrewing your own adventures has a ton of benefits. This is why it's worth investing a bit of time to master this craft.

For starters, there's the immense satisfaction, pride, and confidence you get from running your own stuff.

My neighbour bought a new chair the other day. Nice chair. He explained the price to me. I nodded and smiled.

Then my father-in-law showed me wood furniture he made while my wife was Skyping with him. Very cool design. The simple and smooth wood. I could almost smell the fresh sawdust. And he was beaming. He got the wood, measured it up, followed the blueprint, cut the wood, and glued it all together. And now's he's got this amazing, high-quality thing he built with his own hands.

That's what crafting your own adventures feels like every session.

Your confidence and enjoyment goes way up.

Imagine not stressing before a session.

Instead, you can't wait to GM again and continue your dangerous dungeon crawl, wild wilderness story, and pulse-pounding intrigue plot.

Having your GM mojo back feels awesome.

But here's the biggest boon I did not expect to get from building my own adventures again after years of whacking away with published products and improvised hacks.

I enjoy prep again.

I had totally forgotten how excited I felt when first running the game <cough> years ago. How it captured my imagination. How I loved the challenge. How I would play with ideas and fearlessly put them on the table for my friends to wrestle.

Building my own adventures revved up my passion for the hobby after years of struggling with campaigns. After years of showing up to sessions anxious about running a bad game, stressing about how unprepared I was, and worried I'd embarrass myself and let my friends down.

When you build your own adventures, you know your story through and through because you made it. You don't have to force yourself to study or memorize anything.

As a builder, you make better decisions in-the-moment. You improvise better.

When players go sideways after the first encounter (classic!) you don't panic. Because you know the whole adventure, what it needs, and how you can change it — because you built it.

I still love to read pretty adventures (and raid them for parts!).

I still improvise during sessions.

And my players still do the craziest stuff.

But I love prep now. I love thinking about my adventures and playing with ideas again. And I love the immense satisfaction of being a homebrew GM.

It's my hope, that by building an adventure alongside me, following my blueprint, you'll get a ton of confidence, pleasure, and satisfaction that will carry over into your GMing.

Your players will notice, that's for sure.

If We Haven't Met Yet...

My name is Johnn Four and I am the founder of RoleplayingTips.com. I have been publishing award-winning books, courses, and a newsletter for game masters for 20 years.

I founded the 5 Room Dungeon method in 2003 after studying Joseph Campbell's universal Monomyth theory and his epic 12-step Hero's Journey story structure.

I've authored work for TSR, Wizards of the Coast, and several other game companies. I was a contributor to the D&D 4E Dungeon Master's Guide II. My best-selling game master books and courses have won awards and been rated 5 stars at DriveThroughRPG.com.

I believe becoming a great game master helps us become better people. It challenges us and there's always something new to learn and some way to improve. We make the world a better place by helping players — and ourselves — de-stress and have more fun at every game.

Join a private community with Johnn

Introducing My Epic Adventure Building Game Plan:
Here's What You Get

With this Game Plan, you will build an adventure alongside me, following my step-by-step guided system that gives a you wondrous adventure ready to GM.

It uses the Teach => Show => Do framework so you will actually get a wondrous adventure built that is ready to run at your table.

teach you something.

Then I show you how to do it.

Then you do it, asking questions in the forum or Discord along the way if you need help.

And with the Epic Adventure Building Game Plan, you will get:

  • My guided 5 Part Adventure Creation System
  •      1. Fleshing Out Your 5 Room Dungeons
  •      2. Creating Cunning Encounters
  •      3. Building Adventures with Fronts, Plot Factories, and Tetris
  •      4. Adventure Building Resources
  •      5. My guided 5 Part Adventure Creation System
  • Special encounter worksheets to help you ideate and create great encounters
  • 5 Room Dungeon Canvas template to make plotting and building the meat of your adventure fun and easy
  • Checklists for each technique and strategy you'll learn for easy reference and faster building
  • 2 live Q&A Sessions with me, plus the recordings of them for permanent viewing
  • Private forum and Discord channel where you can get ideas, ask questions, and get help if ever stuck
  • Downloads for every video in the course for lifetime reference and offline viewing
  • MP3 audio download for every video so you can listen to lessons on your favorite device
  • Text transcripts of all audio and video files so you can read all the lessons at your leisure
  • mind map of the entire course with lesson links for quick and guided visual reference
  • Lifetime access so you can revisit any part of blueprint at any time
  • A complete adventure I create alongside you so you have living examples of each step in my effective adventure-building system

Please note: My Game Plan will work for your game. It works for any game system, any genre, and any play style.

It also works for any kind of adventures.

I use my 5 Room Dungeon framework, but I'll show you how to build wilderness, intrigue, dungeon, comedy, horror, and other types of adventures with it. I'll also show you how to expand on the framework so it's not always 5 rooms, to keep your players guessing.

And it works for any size of group. My Game Plan flexes whether you have a big group or you are GMing a single player.

I'll use Dungeons & Dragons in some examples to demonstrate specific actions. But the entire adventure building system will definitely help you produce a wondrous adventure for your specific game.

Bonus Loot For You

I've spoken with hundreds of game masters now specifically about this course and how to craft wondrous adventures.

Their feedback directly went into tweaking my Game Plan.

However, three interesting themes came out of the feedback, as well.

Theme #1: Many Game Masters feel uncreative. They get stuck for ideas.

Theme #2: GMs who run campaigns want tight story integration. They want adventures that feel like integral parts of epic campaign arcs. They want the full adventure path or mega-adventure experience.

Theme #3: Tables! Templates! People are tired of vague videos and blog posts that do not tell them each step to do and how to do each step.

So I've updated my Game Plan to include Bonus Loot to address these exact problems GMs face: 

Bonus Loot #1: Adventure Sparks Book

"What if I don't have any good adventure ideas?" was a common piece of valuable feedback. Thank you!

So I'm creating a book of ideas for you. Open the book, roll 1d100, and get an instant "spark" to tweak or use right away.

Adventure Sparks gives you:

  • 50 Wondrous Adventure Sparks
  • 50 Character Mission Sparks
  • 50 Campaign Starter Sparks
  • 50 Clever Encounter Sparks

You will never get stuck for an adventure idea again!

Bonus Loot #2: Extra Module on Campaign Creation

We want the full Lord of the Rings experience, not just The Hobbit. We want epic campaigns for our wondrous adventures to fit into.

This makes sense. Most of us don't GM one-shots. We want months or even years of fantastic gaming that's part of an incredible storyline.

But even better, we want one adventure to feed into the new that feeds into the next so that our adventures feel organic, part of a greater whole, and threads of an amazing fabric.

You don't get this effect by creating standalone adventures.

So you will also receive a guide on how to create and plot out whole campaigns.

You will find out how to create a flexible plot line from the first session to climactic campaign grand finale.

This guide will show you my method for peeling off adventures from Fronts and Dangers so your adventures feel organic and come from player actions.

This way, your campaigns don't become straitjacket railroad catastrophes.

Your campaigns also won't waste your time, hopes, and dreams by making you build a ton of stuff up front.

Instead, we wait until your players show us what they want to do.

And then we use my Adventure Building Game Plan to spin your next great adventure up within the context of your Campaign Arc.

That's powerful storytelling.

Bonus Loot #3: Create Your Own Adventure Cookbook

We want tables for ideas, direction, and inspiration.

Bring on the tables!

Modeled after the amazing, out-of-print 1988 TSR Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Kit, the CYA Cookbook will help you build cool adventures even faster.

It will also get you unstuck if you need specific ideas for villains, hazards, traps, NPCs, treasure, and more.

Use this fantastic tables, templates, and worksheets in the CYA Cookbook to make your adventures even better and to cut down on design time.

Bonus Loot #4: The Original Adventure Building Workshop

The original Adventure Building Course is 12 hours of videos, MP3, and transcriptions that do a ton of teaching.

It delves into linear adventures, sandbox campaigns, and hexcrawls.

And it doesn't overlap with this course.

It gives you fantastic additional information and ideas you can watch, listen to, or read on adventure building.

And you get that with my Epic Adventure Building Game Plan as well!

How Much Does It Cost?

The entire Epic Adventure Building Game Plan — all the strategies, techniques, lessons, checklists, templates, workbook, and the whole system — is divided into five modules (plus a sixth on campaign building) to ensure you don't get overwhelmed and can easily and fairly quickly build adventures for your games.

I'll be building an adventure alongside you, so you get guided examples of each step of the process, with a private community to ask me questions, get ideas and help, and get clarifications.

And it included three bonuses to help you built truly wondrous adventures for your players.

The complete program today is:

$197

$97 Beta Access

One-Time Payment Only

Free Updates & Add-Ons

Lifetime Access

Follow at Your Own Pace

90 Day Critical Fumble Guarantee

My Critical Fumble Guarantee

As with all my products, I fully stand behind my work.

So if I roll a 1 for you, and you don't get any value out of my Game Plan, email me anytime within 90 days and request a refund.

I won't put you in a hard spot and ask why you want your money back, that's always uncomfortable and weird. So I'll just refund you with no questions asked and we'll stay friends. Cool?

There's no risk to you now. Get the Epic Adventure Building Game Plan knowing if you aren't satisfied you always have the option of a full refund.

Michael Anderson

Los Angeles

I’ve following Johnn Four since the early 2000s and have regularly incorporated his ideas and tips into my games. I have been a platinum supporter of his Patreon Campaign for years. I have contributed to other Patreon Campaigns, but Johnn's is the only one I’ve consistently supported, even when I was unemployed for a time.


So when he introduced his Adventure Building Workshop, I was one of the first to sign-up.

Prior to taking John’s workshop, I did a lot of on-the-fly work that resulted in fun but not very well executed games.


I was often getting my players in trouble, sometimes to the point of having to do some pretty serious ret-conning. Other times, I would come up with an idea (like a prophecy) but have no idea how to execute it in game.


As a result, the players would often hear about a prophecy just before it came true, instead of it being foreshadowed to the players for long enough that they were able to see the elements themselves instead of me telling them the prophecy was revealing itself.


Johnn’s course helped me to plan around my adventure in broad strokes. I learned how to better define NPCs that the characters truly cared about. NPCs whose problems organically inspired adventure hooks instead of needing to display the giant META exclamation point above the quest-giver's head.

I was able to stitch together multiple adventure and GMing ideas, fluttering around inside my head, into a cohesive and synergistic philosophy of GMing that makes all of my sessions better than before.

For example: I was trying to create a puzzle the PCs needed to solve in order to open a gate. Opening that gate represented a huge milestone in the story, so I wanted it to feel like a big achievement. I won’t go into what John helped me come up with, but suffice it to say, when I shared the idea with a fellow Game Master, they gave me the full-on Keanu Woah!

I can’t wait for my players to encounter that puzzle.

I would whole-heartedly recommend Johnn Four’s Adventure Building Workshop. I plan to take it again as I am sure there will be new content since the last time.

I recently overheard my players talking behind my back about how enjoyable and compelling they found the game.


I’d love to take credit for that, but the truth is, all of their favorite parts were elements I took away from Johnn’s Adventure Building Workshop.

Why stop improving as a GM? Take this course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be an experienced GM to understand this course?

You can be any level of game master to benefit from this course.

New GMs will be guided through a complete system that generates their first homebrewed adventures.

Experienced GMs will get a clever system they'll soon master to create 5 Room Dungeons, full adventures, complete campaigns, and fantastic encounters in short order for one-shots, campaigns, and gaming conventions.

What's the difference between this course and your 300 page 5 Room Dungeon book?

My blueprint shows you how to make full adventures that are 10, 25, or even 100 encounters long.

Some game masters just need the simple 5RD framework and they can start building complete adevntures right away. The book is enough for them because it gives a brief description of each room type, some tips, and examples created by the community.

If you're like I am when learning new things, though, you need more guidance, to be able to ask an expert questions when you get stuck, and an example walkthrough of each step.

The blueprint also goes much deeper and answers questions the book doesn't, such as how to develop fantastic ideas using Plot Factories, how to actually develop your plot and discover plot holes before they bite you, how to hook the rooms and have players transition smoothly between encounters without forcing gameplay, how to address encounter difficulty levels, and many other aspects of adventure design.

In addition, I go deeply into Encounter Design, and then tie everything together so you learn how to build great campaigns.

Is it Just About Dungeon Adventures?

No, definitely not. It's for all kinds of adventures.

I'll show you how to plot, polish, and prep wilderness adventures, civilization adventures, roleplay adventures, mysteries, intrigue plots, espionage plots, and more.

While the name of the method is 5 Room Dungeons, you will get learn how to build any type of adventure.

Does your course work for D&D, Pathfinder, FATE, Savage Worlds, Genesys, and other game systems?
Yes! My adventure creation system is based on what makes the best stories in human history successful. This system works with any game mechanics.

I'll use Dungeons & Dragons in some places for examples, as I demonstrate an adventure I create alongside you. But just for examples.

My techniques for encounter planning and tweaking difficulty on-the-fly are universal, as well. Anybody can change a foe's health or defenses. My approach works on a deeper level than that. It works with the fiction of your game, and that's not based on any specific rules.

What if I Like to Improv My Adventures?

If you're mostly an improv GM, then firstly, hats off to you. I wish I had your talent. 🙂

My system will show you how to quickly create plots, find your plot holes, outline key encounters and your cast of characters, and then skeleton together as much or as little as you want. The rest you can leave to your amazing skills.

I'll also be teaching you quick mental models perfect for use while designing, but also while at the game table. If you get stuck during a session, grab a strategy and put it into action like it's a checklist and idea generator.

What if I can't attend the live Q&A sessions?

No problem! Sessions will be recorded and you'll have access to them afterwards. Also, you can send me your questions in advance and I'll answer them for you during the Q&A that you can listen to later from the recording.

Will I get course updates for free?

Yes! Based on your feedback, I'll continue improving the course. And you'll get free access to all future updates, add-ons, and new content.

Can I afford this right now?

Good question. At the end of the adventure day, that's a question for you to answer.

I know I have great difficulty running published adventures these days.

And they are expensive.

My players go off the rails fairly quickly, so I'm always scrambling to change the adventure to get the party back on track. And I don't need those hassles.

Other people's adventures are also never customized to my campaigns, so I have to do a lot of prep work anyway.

And they feel a lot like studying for an exam.

When a friend asked me how adventures cost, I said official D&D adventures were about $65, slim Pathfinder adventure path books were $30 Canada bucks each and you need 6 to complete an adventure, and stuff produced by publishers of other game systems ranged from $10 to $100.

I realized that I was spending hundreds of dollars and having to memorize and repair adventures others have written, while not getting anywhere near the same satisfaction, immense joy, confidence, and pride I do get from creating my own adventures that are tailored to my campaigns, player preferences, and character types.

With my blueprint, you'll have the skills to make awesome adventures for life, saving potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars you can spend on other things instead.

How much time will this take?

This program is structured so you build a complete adventure that you can GM right away as you go through the steps.

You'll learn a fast system for building fantastic 5 Room Dungeons.

Then you can delve into the advanced stuff later, when ready, for that extra level of detail, clever design, and polish for full adventures, deeper encounters, and complete campaigns.

Learn at your own pace, trying out each system and method, gaining adventure creation mastery with practice and review.

Chris Kentlea

Ennead Games

Adventure building is the lifeblood of a GM. Some people are adept at creating on the fly, bringing to life their vision in their head as easily as they speak. For others, like myself, it can be a challenge at times. This is where I found the Adventure Building Workshop a great help.

It's NOT a quick or magic fix where you can click your fingers and it's all dumped into your mind, but, if you have the time and are willing to put in the time, the ABW is a great start to adventure building.


What I liked the most was that it was broken down into easily identifiable chapters.


If you already know how to deal with a certain aspect of adventure writing - great!


But I do advise to go through it all to help build a foundation - then you can build off of it or go in your own direction with a solid set of ideas and tools under your belt. 

Get Access to Johnn's Four's Epic Adventure Building Game Plan

  • My guided 5 Part Adventure Creation System:
  •      1. Fleshing Out Your 5 Room Dungeons
  •      2. Creating Cunning Encounters
  •      3. Building Adventures with Fronts, Plot Factories, and Tetris
  •      4. Adventure Building Resources
  •      5. My guided 5 Part Adventure Creation System
  • Special encounter worksheets to help you ideate and create great encounters
  • 5 Room Dungeon template to make plotting and building the meat of your adventure fun and easy
  • Checklists for each technique and strategy you'll learn for easy reference and faster building
  • 2 live Q&A Sessions with me, plus the recordings of them for permanent viewing
  • Private forum and Discord channel where you can get ideas, ask questions, and get help if ever stuck
  • Downloads for every video in the course for lifetime reference and offline viewing
  • MP3 audio download for every video so you can listen to lessons on your favorite device
  • Text transcripts of all audio and video files so you can read all the lessons at your leisure
  • mind map of the entire course with lesson links for quick and guided visual reference
  • Lifetime access so you can revisit any part of blueprint at any time
  • A complete adventure I create alongside you so you have living examples of each step in my effective adventure-building system
  • Bonus Loot #1: Adventure Sparks Book
  • Bonus Loot #2: Extra Module on Campaign Creation
  • Bonus Loot #3: Create Your Own Adventure Cookbook
  • Bonus Loot #4: The Original Adventure Building Workshop

$97

One-Time Payment Only

Free Updates & Add-Ons

Lifetime Access

Follow at Your Own Pace

90 Day Critical Fumble Guarantee

Image Credits: The fantastic art on this page was supplied by Forge Studios and Game-Icons.net.