We just don't have time for amazingly complex rules in our roleplaying games anymore. I'm not talking about we, as in society. I mean we, as in AnSR Games. We want to play, not fiddle with the parts to play the game. To that end, we've been working on how to streamline how to make adventures for RPGs so we can get to the story faster. A few variations on this will appear in our upcoming RPG releases, but for now, we wanted to let you in on our thoughts. If you use it, let us know.
Parts of an Adventure
All RPG adventures are stories. All stories have the same parts.
Concentrate on the What, Not the How
At the core of great stories are the characters. At the core of really fun games are player choices having an impact on the game. If you add these together, then the core of a good, fun role-playing game is a game where the player's characters make choices that matter. So, what can the characters impact in a story? Well, they cannot make the status quo or inciting incident. It is not as much fun if they know the ending of the story. It becomes bland if they determine all the challenges that must be overcome. So, what is left is the "how". How a character overcomes the challenges that lead to the probable ending in the story is where you, the Game Master, must relinquish control and allow the players to do.
For example, there is a story where the PCs must find a magic sword to save the day. They have found out that the sword is in a cave. Inside the cave is a monster that guards the sword. The PCs found the cave, and see the sword and the monster. The very next question a GM should ask is: "what do you do?" From there, the PCs describe how they overcome the monster. Maybe they fight it. Maybe they barter with it. Maybe they sneak past it. How they do this should be up to them. If they fail their attempts, the GM describes the reactions. If they succeed, they get the sword. The GM set up the what, the PCs figured out the how. That's key.
Making the Adventure... Quickly
Getting back to the creation part, you now have everything you need. Now, you just need to write it down. Here's the things to write down for your adventure in a simple manner that you can use for any adventure you want to run.
Example RPG Adventure
Below is an example of a fantasy adventure made using this process. Feel free to try and run it and use it as a template for your own adventures.
Start the adventure with the PCs at the festival and let them guide you to how they get the Helm back and returned to the village. Enjoy the adventure, and look for some more codified adventure creation rules in upcoming RPGs.