Something Creates – An Adventure! (Overview Outline)

Introduction

In this installment of Something Creates, I will begin the process of writing five linked adventures, with each adventure able to be played in about an hour of game play. For those familiar with Starfinder Society, I am going to be putting together a quest pack! The goal will be to have the middle adventures played in almost any order. The first & last adventures will likely need to be played in their respective positions to allow for a clear beginning and end. This will likely be a pretty hefty endeavor for me. Word on the street is that a typical Society scenario is around 10,000 words, with each quest being roughly 2,500 words. For this series, my plan is to start off with an overview of what I’m really hoping the entire adventure will look like. After that, I will break down each quest into two parts: the outline and then the adventure itself. Each post will have my typical breakdown of my thought process as I’m writing as well. With all of that said, let’s jump into it!

Resources

I would be remiss if I did not bring up the fact that a lot of the basic things that I will be doing throughout this process will include using advice from some of my fellow Know Direction contributors; both Vanessa Hoskins with her Craft(Adventure) articles and Ron Lundeen’s RPG writing tips from his Run Amok Games blog posts. If I’m working on a particular section of my adventure writing and one of their specific blogs (or anybody’s really) happens to provide particular insight into the work I’m doing, I will be sure to include a link to that post as well. 

Adventure Requirements

As a software developer, one of the first things they try and teach students is that you should never start typing actual code until you’ve got a plan, and the first place to start that plan is typically in the requirements needed for your program. From everything that I’ve read and heard about freelance adventure writing, the process is similar. The publisher will assign you the requirements and possibly even an overarching outline of what they need from you in the ways of certain story points that are covered, or even certain NPCs or monsters are encountered. Since I do not have a publisher I’m working with, determining many of those requirements will be me! In Vanessa’s Craft(Adventure): OP vs. AP, she points out some of my most basic requirements, such as word count and the number of encounters I’m ultimately shooting for in this endeavor. Not only that though, in her conclusions she mentions need a good outline to really help layout your writing. Lets go ahead and being looking at some of the requirements that I’ll need:

  • 5 Quests
  • Model the structure of the quests after previous Starfinder Society Scenarios (such as SFS 2-03 Withering World
    • A starship combat
    • A social encounter of some sort
    • A quest that can be solved by either combat or skills
    • A quest with a small skill challenge that might result in a fairly quick combat encounter
    • A confrontation with the antagonist (or agent of the antagonist), almost guaranteed to result in combat
  • Keep Society guidelines and rules in mind when designing encounters, as to what options PCs might have access to. 
  • Ensure that the adventure can be played in both a Tier 1-2 table and a Tier 3-4 table
  • Have at least 1 encounter that is of a different creature type than the ‘normal type’

With those requirements in mind, I feel comfortable working on the outline for the route the entire adventure is going to take. 

Outline

You might be wondering why I put that chicken scratch looking image in this blog post, well that is actually where I started this process before typing anything out in a nice format for this article. The top third of it is most me figuring out what my quest requirements were and from there branching out from the quest requirements. Ron has a great post that has me motivated to make a great outline for this adventure, but off-hand it feels overwhelming to dive deep into an outline for all 10000 words, instead I have decided to first focus on an outline that I will base smaller more detailed outlines off of in the future for each quest. Essentially as its own contained adventure (which it is when it is part of a Quest Pack!). In the future, I can see myself outlining an entire scenario’s worth of adventure at once, but now is not that time. With that said, if you catch me ‘punting’ anything down the road, I plan on only punting it to that section’s more detailed outline. We’ll see together how things evolve from today’s outline and the final product at the end. Here is the overview outline:

  • Primary Antagonist: A Dandasuka Rakshasa has taken control of a local gang, by posing as the now deceased gang leader.
    • Meta: Works for a Rakshasa run corporation that is looking to weaken the local authorities enough to force them to the table for a crippling series of loans.
    • Has a Raktavarna Rakshasa traveling with it. 
  • PCs are sent to a small city (something bigger than a starting colony, but not a metropolis yet) to parely with the local leadership for rights and charters to access recently uncovered ruins and artifacts 
    • the PCs mission is not to explore these places, but to simply secure the rights to explore them 
  • Quest #1: This will be primarily a social encounter where the PCs will land their ship and go directly to meet with local leaders in an opportunity to earn their favor. 
    • Meeting interrupted by a group of gang members that have come to ‘shake down’ the council. 
      • intimidating and cajoling the gang members will scare them away
      • Encouraging and increasing the confidence of the council to resist
      • Fight the gang members
    • Local leaders explain a grim situation about almost being forced to take loans from a company known for its predatory loan practices (Culture check for PCs to know this)
      • Ask the PCs for help in resolving the gang situation, as they’ve gotten more aggressive in the past 8 months 
  • Quest #2: The local leaders do not personally know much about where the gang is or where their hideouts are. PCs must track down the hideout 
    • Form this search similar to a search done in SFS1-16: Dreaming of the Future?
    • Does not find primary location, but a safe house used
      • It is trapped and possibly occupied by some vermin that snuck in from underground or something?
      • Has information about where the primary hideout is. 
  • Quest #3:The primary hideout is in an abandoned fuel production campus that had many different buildings and sections. 
    • If played before Quest #2: After some research and investigation the ‘Organization’ has found where the hideout is
    • Use skill checks to get around wandering guards, and through toxic & caustic environments
    • Have a pair of guards and the Raktavarna to delay PCswhile the Damdasuka espaces. 
  • Quest #4: The Dandasuka has escaped the planet on a starship with its crew
    • Attempt to have one interesting facet of this encounter that will make it an interesting starship encounter
    • Ensure there is a way it cannot be accidentally destroyed by enthusiastic PCs
  • Quest #5: Council leaders would like confirmation that the Dandasuka is dead, PCs must board starship recently-ish disabled
    • Come up with reason that starship was not repaired if #4 was not the immediately preceding quest. 
      • Off-hand the ship’s Engineer died, and there is not body else there that can do basic repairs to get the ship back planet side (and the Dandasuka refuses to call for help)
    • Early in the fight, the Dandasuka will reveal itself as a Rakshasa

Conclusion

So there we have it, my fairly broad outline that will overview some of my basic goals for each quest, along with my primary antagonist identified. The next big challenge that I see for myself is ensuring that this is playable in multiple tiers of play. This will be especially true of the Dandasuka, as a CR 5 creature. In the tier 1-2 range, it will likely need to be rebuilt as a variant weaker version to ensure that it does not overwhelm a party in that level range. I think I have a plan, but we will go more into that once we’ve reach Quest #5 about 10 weeks from now! I hope you all join me again in two weeks as we do a more in depth outline of Quest #1!

Banner Art Credit: Mykola Holyutyak/Shutterfly

Andrew Sturtevant

I have two bachelor degrees, one in Psychology, the other in Computer Science. I've been playing some version of D&D, Pathfinder or Starfinder since about 2000 when my Dad started teaching me. I've been GMing for most of that time as well. I am active in the Organized Play Foundation as a volunteer and organizer, along with volunteering to help my fellow military spouses as a Key Spouse.

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