I’ve been working on Adventure Path design recently, in conjunction with my work on my RPG Maker VX project. A couple months back I worked out a basic format for “filling in the blanks” of an adventure path, and more recently I figured it best to test my method on an existing game narrative — Guild Wars Prophesies.

Adventure Path Math (Feb 7, 2013)

I think the mission-based structure of Guild Wars suits the Adventure Path format really well, actually — moving the heroes from one location to another across Tyria, upping the ante through a steady stream of antagonists and plot revelations.

Here’s the campaign outline I wrote up:
Download: Guild Wars Prophesies Campaign Outline

I noticed while working out which enemies to make the focus of combat encounters, how quickly I ran out of room for monsters that didn’t tie into the plot.

One of the main differences between a tabletop roleplaying game and a computer roleplaying game is definitely the frequency and density of combat. It takes longer to roll dice and tick off hit points at the table — but a PC runs numbers really well.

When you’re playing a computer game, you can chew through a lot of monster fights really quickly — at the table you have to try and make each one count.

That gave me an idea to integrate the “lesser” baddies of Prophesies into the non-combat skill challenges. Fighting these creatures individually doesn’t garner much experience for the players, be they Skale or Devourer or Grawl or Giant Spider.

No, instead the players want to outmaneuver the Grawl, sneak past the Skale, steal eggs from the Devourers, or escape the webs of the Spiders. Simply fighting these creatures just doesn’t provide enough of a challenge for an adventuring party.

Skill-Based Encounters (Feb 14, 2013)

Now that my outline is finished, I think I’ll work backwards a bit in developing the adventures. Starting from the endgame and hashing out the final challenges, I’ll work on creating some monster themes and let those “trickle down” to lower-level threats.

My thinking is that if I can make this work for Guild Wars, I can make it work for other games too. And once I have the hang of the process, I can use it to develop wholly original adventure paths. To infinity, and beyond!