Saturday, August 13, 2011

Adventure Building Seminar 2011

This year I ran my third adventure building seminar. It was very different from the first two. In 2009 and 2010, the kids came eager to learn. They brought notepads and pencils and eagerly gobbled my advices on monster and villain design, economical stat blocks, logical dungeon ecologies, classic narrative elements and plot twists, the difference between location and event based adventures, history of RPG settings in general and whatnot. Everyone had his two cents, some even had a few bucks, but their desire to learn was greater than their desire to speak out.

This year most kids were mortally opposed to learning anything. In truth, they would have been quite content if I just sat in the corner and let them DM for each other.

Ha! As if this is ever gonna happen...

A typical adventure building seminar

Instead of boring them with a one-sided seminar, however, I presented them with a series of DMing challenges.

Day 1:
A non-combat adventure
Day 2: A non-fantasy adventure
Day 3: An event-based adventure
Day 4: A non-linear sandbox adventure
Day 5: A real-world, non-magical adventure

Each game lasted for about an hour and a half. There were 15 kids and three groups so everyone got to DM at least once. I walked from table to table and tried to make myself as annoying a player as humanly possible. Otherwise, how will they learn and how will I have fun? (plus I had to pay them back for the whole year!).

How my job feels like

On the first day I'd noticed a curious thing. When left to their own devices, the motivation provided by almost all DMs was, "you're hungry. That bastard over there has/is your food. Go get him!" If anyone has any idea what this means, please tell me... I'm a little scared honestly...

After each game there was a class discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each adventure concluded with my notes and impressions. Surprisingly, the kids were anything but cruel with their critiques. In fact, the only way to get any comments out of them save, "it was fun" was to ask them, "was this the best adventure you'd ever played in your life? no? why not?"

All in all, I quite enjoyed it. It was very different from playing with my peers; bolder and more dynamic on the one hand, but often arbitrary and often railroady on the other (but more on that later.)

So, old folks running for kids, encourage them to DM once in a while. It’s quite the Saturnalian experience!

About the art: these pictures are the work of the insanely talented and talentedly insane Jared von Hindman. His page has many more pics and other cool stuff. Go there. RIGHT NOW!


  1. Looks like fun. I should do something like that for the children in the area. I do run games for a lot of them at times.

  2. Awesome man, glad you liked it.