The following is a set of ideas to help any Game Master design fast, fun and functional adventures. Following through with these concepts will give you a flexible and fundamentally sound module. At the end of this article you will find a list of resources to help you create your own awesome adventures.
Your players want an interactive world that they can enjoy. If you’re busy railroading your players through a tightly planned adventure with no side path, they will know it. When your players want to wander off and follow up on some red herring, let them go for it. They found that red herring more interesting and you should give your players what they are interested in.
Your players want to go into the sewers and you hadn’t done any work on them yet? You can’t give it to them unless you are able to hold ideas lightly and take cues from your players. Don’t shoot down their ideas, follow through on them. That can be difficult though if your modules aren’t flexible and fast.
Simple means you can customize it later. You can toss in ideas that flutter into your brain or details that fit your campaign. Sticking to the basics for your adventure means that you end up with a small, light weight document. Small means you can throw it in whenever you want because you can play it in a single session. Sticking to the fundamentals also means that you end up with an adventure that is perfect for one-offs or classic style campaigns.
Clean design means that you can quickly find the information you need. Don’t clutter up the page with a myriad of details. Make the most important information take center stage by leaving out the unnecessary stuff. You need the basics, the skeleton of the adventure planned out to run a smooth game.
Flexible means that it takes almost no work to adjust the adventure. You don’t have extra garbage to get rid of, so you don’t need to sort through to get to the diamond in the middle of the rock. You get the most bang for your buck with a modular adventure because you can reuse it so easily. Modular Design
Don’t make too much work for yourself! You should have a fun time too, this isn’t a homework assignment. Use the resources that make adventure creation a breeze. Keep these tools handy! You can make insanely swift, impromptu adventures with a few tools.
The Big List of RPG Plots – Get your adventure off to a running start with a quick plot.
Creative Conclave’s The Lazy GM Products – Fully stated variations on many monsters and creatures for d20 D&D style games.
D20 Random Dungeon Generator – I’ve run a few impromptu adventures using these.
Dungeon Crawl Classics #29: The Adventure Begins– A fantastic collection of level 1 D&D 3.5 adventures.
Instant GM Bag of Tricks – Plot Seeds, Stock Characters, Props
Instant GM 2: On Your Mark, Get Set, GM – Adventure Hooks, Stock Characters, Props, Tips
The One Page Codex Deluxe – Generic Adventures that fit into any Game System! An entire adventure on a single page. FREE to download!
Play Unsafe: How Improvisation Can Change The Way You Roleplay – Learn to GM on the FLY and have FUN!
Random Tavern Generator – Always Handy
Story Telling Adventure System – A lightweight, modular system for creating encounters and adventures that work in any White Wolf game. This sytem can easily be adapted for other games
What I Want from Published Adventures – Fantastic article on creating modular adventures that are flexible and reusable.