While it may seem intimidating, building an adventure is a fun and creative endeavor in its own right. To make an adventure for Mythmaker, all you you need to do is answer a few questions.
In Mythmaker, the core of an adventure is the plot of the antagonist and the clues revealing that plot to the characters.
The foundation of any good plot lies in the answers to the following questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?
The "Who" of a plot dictates whoever or whatever is driving the plot. The classic example takes the form of a scheming neerdowell using whatever devices necessary to accomplish the task.
The three most common Whos are villains, subordinates, and minions. Villains are stand-alone antagonists who operate according to their own goals and may have a subordinate or a group of minions they command. Subordinates are villains who simply answer to a greater mastermind or call; they may answer to a higher power or someone who commands authority over them. Minions are thugs and low-level creatures who either have a unified goal or answer to a villain or higher subordinate.
Alternatively, the plot may be driven be a natural event such as an erupting volcano or a looming storm. Or perhaps a supernatural creature even.
The "Why" of a plot is the motivation or reason for why the "Who" is doing what they are doing. If the "Who" is a subordinate, then the obvious reason is that they are serving their leader. But for stand-alone villains or groups of minions, they have have devised their own answers. Consider one of the possible examples below as a possible reason for your antagonist's conniptions towards villainy.
Effective antagonists not only represent a physical obstacle for the party but also a moral one. Even if their intentions may seem good to themselves, the consequences of their actions yield terrible results for everyone around them.
|Revenge/Ruin A Hero|
|To Distinguish Oneself|
|To Fit In/Gain Acceptance|
|Desire To Better Oneself|
|Power To Achieve A Goal|
|Grief And Loss|
|Spread Hate And Fear|
|Leave Me Alone|
|Recover What Was Lost|
|Serve A Master|
|Rule Part Of The World|
|Rule All Of The World|
The "What" of a plot is how the driving force intends to implement their goal as indicated in the "Why" part above. Consider some of the following examples below for how the antagonist plans to reach their goal.
|A Supernatural Army|
|A Supernatural Creature|
|A Supernatural Deal|
|A Supernatural Disaster|
|A Supernatural Effect|
|A Natural Disaster|
The "When" of a plot indicates when the antagonist will succeed with their goal without the interference of the players. Reworded in a different way: if the players didn't exist, when would the villain's plan succeed?
Determining the answer to this should take the "What" of the plot into account and should also be answered with respect to how time works in Mythmaker.
|Downtime Action||1 Day to 1 Week|
|World Action||4 hours|
|Local Action||15-60 minutes|
Take heed of this advice: the closer the "When" is to when the players uncover the first clue of the plot, the more pressure they will feel. A plot that's happening too quickly may make the players feel like taking control of the situation is beyond their grasp.
The "Where" encompasses multiple questions regarding the plot. Namely:
With this question, you will want to brainstorm a list of possible locations. Think about the "When" of the plot and the scene surrounding the antagonist's victory. Perhaps their goal is to dump the king of the country into the heart of a blisteringly hot volcano. Let your imagination run wild with ideas and pick the ones that stand out to you the most.
The "How" of the plot is perhaps the most important element of an adventure's plot. While the other questions detail the context of a plot, the "How" determines the steps a villain and their followers will take to employ the "What" of the plot. You can think of this as the Tests an antagonist would need to overcome in order to achieve their objectives.
A reasonable plot has anywhere from 3-6 steps. Any less and the plot may appear to simple. Any more though and the players may begin to feel frustrated with the length of the adventure.
|Steps||The antagonist must...|
|Step 4 (Optional)|
|Step 5 (Optional)|
|Step 6 (Optional)|
To demonstrate how everything fits together, lets construct an example adventure.
Who: The antagonist is a Duke who commands a squad of thugs and also a group of goblins that live in his forest.
Why: Conspiracy! The Duke wants to be next in line for the throne over the king's petulant son. The king is aging and their days are numbered so the Duke must act fast.
What: Assassination! The Duke wants to stage an assassination against their own kin , the Prince, who is next in line.
When: In 3 days during daylight! 3 Downtime Actions and 2 World actions from now, the Duke's brother will be assassinated.
Where: On the King's road leading up to the castle! The brother's carriage will be assaulted on the main road.
How: The Duke cannot be present when their kin is being assassinated so they are sending their thugs and a group of goblins to do the job.
Steps The antagonist and their subordinates must... Step 1 Track down the Prince's carriage Step 2 Defeat or distract the Prince's guards Step 3 Slay the Prince Step 4 (Optional) -- Step 5 (Optional) -- Step 6 (Optional) --
Now that you have a general outline of the adventure, the next thing to figure out is how the party gets involved in the adventure. And the main way that happens is through clues.
Clues within Mythmaker are hooks or pieces of information that reveal details of a plot to the players. A clue has five elements:
The source of a clue can be a number of places.
|An Event||An event is a situation which is still ongoing by the time the characters arrive. It can even be full of active participants who may be bearers of clues themselves||A tavern brawl, a chase, a great fire...|
|Crime Scene||A crime scene is essentially the aftermath of an event where things have played out without the involvement of the players||The remains of an exploded laboratory, the ruins of a castle, a murder scene...|
|Subordinate||An underling of the adventure's antagonist||A vampire's thrall, a pirate captain's first mate, the lieutenant of a corrupt general...|
|Minion||The grunt force of the antagonist. They either report to a subordinate or directly to the antagonist themselves||A thug who reports to a crime lord, a bandit who answers to a bandit king, an enclave of goblins who serve a leader...|
|Locked Container||A locked or restricted box or location which requires a specific key or skill usage in order to unlock its contents||A lockbox, a vault, the restricted section of a castle, a doorway locked with a supernatural enchantment...|
|Involved Location||A location that is involved or is a part of the antagonist's plot.||The foundry of a blacksmith who is forging a weapon for the antagonist, the meeting place between the antagonist and their subordinates, the location of a hidden treasure...|
|Supporting Character||An ally, a bystander, or a character apart from the antagonists who knows or has some relation to the plot at hand||A witness to the murder committed by the subordinate, a relative of a player character, a deserter from the antagonist's encampment...|
|Knowledge||Anything which might fall under a character's knowledge towards a given subject||Local, Occult, Nature, Lore, Profession, or any of their Esoterics|
The form of a clue is the actual object or embodiment of the clue. It is something that can be detected or observed using ordinary senses such as sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
|None||If a clue comes from a source of knowledge, then it doesn't have a specific form||Local, Occult, Nature, Lore, Profession, or Esoteric knowledge|
|Physical Object||A physical object is either an object used by the antagonist or their subordinates or one that reveals a piece of the plot||A knife tossed into a nearby barrel, an empty vial of poison, the ashes of a burnt note...|
|Supernatural Object||A supernatural object is an object that bears some kind of supernatural power. It can be activated to produce a certain effect||A crystal ball which grants clairvoyance upon a location, the handle of a sword which summons a blade of flame, a mystic's curio...|
|Forensic Object||A forensic object is a piece of biological matter stemming from either the antagonist's forces or from a creature or character relating to the plot||A lock of hair, a trail of blood, muddy footprints, ashes from a particular brand of cigar...|
|Dialogue||A report or description given from a source capable of producing dialogue. The dialogue can be truthful or obscuring, but either indicates some connection to the plot||A bystander's alibi, the observation of a known expert, a lie made by someone connected to the antagonist...|
|Writing||A written letter, a document, or even scribbling upon a surface. Something that can be read and interpreted||A letter from the antagonist to a subordinate, a deed or will declaring someone the rightful heir to a property, a list of mysterious items...|
|Observation||A detail that could only be obtained from careful notice.||A character's nervous twitch whenever they make a lie, the smell of sulfur at a crime scene, or the sounds of howling nearby...|
The challenge of a clue is a situation the players must overcome in order to learn the information the clue is withholding. This may relate to the origin of the clue or require a particular kind of knowledge to glean something less obvious about the clue.
|None||No challenge is attached to learning about the clue||A letter left out in the open upon a desk, an object found in plain view at a crime scene, or a notable smell in the air...|
|Haggling/Wealth||Bribing someone or something to give the information, trading one item or piece of information for another...||Bribing a guard to look the other way, negotiating the sale of a key item from a shrewd merchant, selling a false piece of information to an eager informant...|
|Engagement||Defeating the opposition to gain information||Doing battle with members of the antagonist's opposing forces|
|Chase||Getting to a clue before another party, chasing down a fleeing source of information...||Chasing a fleeing suspect, running away from the authorities, grabbing a piece of evidence before the antagonist's forces can destroy it...|
|Blocks||Blocks are challenges that passively resist forward progress||A locked door, a large boulder blocking the entrance of a ruin, A character who is unwilling to provide information...|
|Snares||Snares are challenges that passively resist movement||A crowded marketplace, the remains of a landslide, a loud rainstorm which makes speaking clearly difficult...|
|Contests||Contests are obstacles that are made between two active entities. With contests, one side is exerting pressure while another side provides resistance||Stealth, drinking contests, gambling, debating another person...|
|Perils||Perils are challenges that passively resist forward progress but also bear consequences for failing to overcome them||Jumping across a chasm, opening a chest with a trap, resisting a supernatural effect...|
|Checks||A check is a challenge where only one success is required to pass||Overcoming a Trouble, Ignoring a Virtue, Concentrating|
|Open||Open challenges do not have a strict challenge rating assigned to them.||Researching information, understanding complex language, using one's senses to notice something in a room|
The information revealed by a clue, once the party has surpassed the requirements and Tests preventing immediate access, should either indicate or hint at a characteristic of the antagonist's plot.
|Who||A piece of information regarding the antagonist's identity, a subordinate's identity, or the identity of a group of minions||A cuff link left at a crime scene reveals someone with a royal connection|
|Why||Information regarding the antagonist's intentions||A rumor that the king isn't well and that the prince is traveling by carriage|
|What||Information regarding the antagonist's plan to act upon their intentions||A letter from the antagonist to their minions indicating a spot to meet a subordinate|
|When||Information regarding when the antagonist's plan will take place||Overhearing a group of goblins talking about how it will take the prince two days before they pass through the town|
|Where||Information indicating where the antagonist's plan will take place||A letter containing a map with a circle drawn around a particular landmark|
|How||Information describing the steps the antagonist and their henchmen must take to achieve their goal||Groups of hired goblins and thugs snooping and lurking around the king's road|
|Links||Information that links the antagonist to their target, an antagonist to their subordinates, one subordinate to another subordinate, or information explaining how a group of minions are in service to the antagonist||A sack of coins a group of thugs received in payment for tracking down the prince's whereabouts|
|Red Herring||Information that is unintentionally misleading||A villager remarking on how they've been having to deal with some creature rummaging through their crops|
|False Clue||Information that is intentionally misleading or information that is lacking where it would usually be expected||An interrogated goblin reporting they are simply bird-watching|
Optionally, the clue can possess additional details indicating the whereabouts of another clue or something more about the 'Who' of a given plot. Additional details can reveal any of the given types of information a clue can have plus certain details like the ones below:
|Traits||A detail that exposes a particular character trait belonging to a subordinate, minion, or even the antagonist themselves||The eloquent handwriting of a note might reveal the writer's noble background. Or the fact a locked chest was ripped apart may reveal a character's powerful strength|
|Virtues||A detail that reveals an antagonist's, subordinates, or minion's underlying beliefs or code||A report stating the commitment of a subordinate despite receiving a terrible wound to show their resolution to a task. Or the particular quality of a blade to show a minion's inclination towards tidiness|
|Troubles||A detail indicating a moral or mental struggle the antagonist's forces may have||All of the money in a house being stolen to indicate a subordinate's greed, or how certain members of a murder were spared after a dog appeared to indicate a subordinate's fear of dogs|
Some examples might include:
A given plot should have around three to six Clues for the players to come across. But perhaps the most important kind of clue the characters need to receive is a hook.
A hook is the first clue you should place before the players. It needs to be something that draws them in and creates enough mystery for them to start following the trail of clues you've set up for this adventure.
A good plot hook does two things: It grabs the attention of the players and it allows the characters of the story to use their abilities to solve a problem or make a choice.
There are two kinds of hooks an adventure can have: active hooks and passive hooks. Active hooks are events that call upon the players to act. Such examples include:
Passive hooks are events that happen around the characters. They invite casual intrigue and exploration that leave the players finding more questions than answers. Examples include:
If this isn't the characters' first adventure, consider recycling an element left unattended or forgotten about from a previous adventure. If they've encountered any particular supporting characters or antagonists. Use these lingering elements as inspiration for creating the next adventure hook. Your world will feel richer for it and let the players feel as though their actions have impact.
Drawing further wisdom active hooks, hooks will engage more if they hone in on a personal element of a character's backstory or desires. As the Storyteller you possess insight into the characters whether its the virtues they follow, the allies they cherish, or the things they covet. Provide them with a clue that implicates one of these notions having importance in your adventure and the players will follow.