Building An Adventure Article

The Star Wars Roleplaving Game categorizes adventures as short, medium, or long. This describes the average number of encounters in the adventure and the number of typical 3-4 hour playing sessions required to run the adventure.

A short adventure usually has a simple, straightforward mission goal, such as traveling from Otoh Gunga to Theed through the planet core of Naboo. A short adventure generally has three to five encounters, each with its own goal: For instance, a trip from Mos Espa to Mos Eisley might require the heroes to steal a landspeeder, evade pursuers, and survive a Tusken Raider attack. One or two of these encounter goals should be simple, with a similar number of challenging encounter goals. No more than one encounter goal in a short adventure should be extreme, and it's not necessary to have an extreme encounter at all. A typical short adventure shouldn't allow significant resting periods: if it does, consider replacing one of the challenging encounter goals with an extreme one. Short missions are ideal for a single 3-4 hour playing session.

Medium-length adventures represent significant missions for the heroes but generally don't encompass large-scale events. An example of a medium adventure would be the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. Medium adventures typically have six to ten encounter goals. Half of the encounter goals should be challenging, with the remainder distributed evenly between simple and extreme encounter goals. A medium adventure should last two or three playing sessions.

Long adventures usually involve significant, even epic storylines. The destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi constitutes a long adventure. Long adventures have twelve to fifteen encounter goals. Sometimes a long adventure might actually be a collection of short adventures or "chapters" that build tension through two or three extreme (climactic) encounters. As with a medium adventure, half of the encounter goals should be challenging. Depending on the heroes' ability to recuperate between encounters, the remaining encounter goals might be evenly distributed between simple and extreme, or slanted toward one or the other. A long adventure will usually last four or more playing sessions.

These are only guidelines, and the adventures of your campaign might not fit neatly into these categories. Still, it's important to have clear starting and ending points within the larger storyline of the campaign, because these provide clear markers for the heroes' progress and accomplishments.

What Makes an Adventure Exciting?
Creating a memorable adventure requires more than just an interesting plot or a grand finish. Remember that in most cases, the heroes won't be able to see the behind-the- scenes machinations of the villain or the clever plot twists that occur on the bridge of the Imperial starship. While you want your adventures to feel like they could come from a movie, you can't always rely on the same techniques that the movie makers use. Here are a few tricks to help you keep your adventures memorable and exciting.

Intriguing Interactions
Too often, players (and Gamemasters) see an adventure as little more than a string of firefights separated by "talking." This short changes one of the most compelling parts of a roleplaying game: playing a role. In addition to creating interesting characters, the GM must treat these characters as more than just cardboard props to be interacted with and then discarded.

In general, run a GM character just as a player would run a hero—take whatever actions the character would take, assuming the action is possible. That's why it's important to determine a GM character's general outlook and characteristics ahead of time if possible, so you know how to play the character properly. When a GM character interacts with heroes, the GM determines the characters' attitude (hostile, unfriendly, indifferent, friendly, helpful). A hero might try to influence this attitude with a Diplomacy check (or a Charisma check if the hero doesn't have any ranks of Diplomacy). Refer to the Diplomacy skill description for the skill check DC.

The GM should choose the attitude of GM characters based on circumstances. A Wookiee encountering the heroes for the first time will probably be indifferent or at worst, unfriendly. However, calling him a "walking carpel" might shift the Wookiee's demeanor to hostile. It doesn't take a roll, just the right words and deeds, to turn someone more hostile. Note also that a poor roll can make a GM character less favorably minded toward the hero. In general, a hero cannot repeat attempts to influence someone.

A GM character can use Diplomacy to influence another GM character. Heroes, however, can never influence the attitudes of other heroes-the players always decide those.

Worthy Adversaries
While it's all well and good for the heroes to mow through a few ranks of battle droids or stormtroopers during an adventure, this type of encounter grows tiresome quickly. Be sure to include competent adversaries for the heroes to encounter, whether as common enemies, archvillains, or even occasional foils. An easy mistake is making an adversary too powerful, believing that the heroes will have it "too easy" unless their opponent is another Darth Vader. Not every opponnent has to be a Dark Lord of the Sith. An intelligently played enemy can often seem much more powerful than he appears on paper.

In the same vein, nothing is more disappointing than a climactic battle with a villain who turns out to have a glass jaw. If you know that your villain will face the heroes in combat, make sure he can stand up to them (or has plenty of assistance from underlings).

Exciting Combats
One reason that the lightsaber duels in the Star Wars Movies are so exciting is that they tend to take place in Interesting locations. From a pitched battle on a narrow ledge above a Cloud City airshaft to a death duel interupted by leaps between platforms and opening and closing Haergy fields, these elements add twists to traditional combat scenes.

While any combat can be exciting, you should occasionally have the heroes face opponents in a nontraditional setting. Sometimes mounted combat (or aerial mounted combat) can provide a change of pace. Underwater settings can be interesting as well. For more ideas, look to the Star Wars Movies, novels, and comics, as well as to The Environment section.

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