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Running Adventures – Mashups and the Undefined

by Mike on 22 April 2024

Over the past couple of months I've written articles defining adventure types – how we prep them, how we run them, what pitfalls we might run into, and how to mitigate those pitfalls. These articles include:

Robin Laws's book Adventure Crucible – Building Stronger Scenarios for any RPG inspired my thoughts on this topic.

Know the Rules then Break the Rules

Now that we've defined adventure types, it's time to throw them away.

You see, these adventure types often don't line up with the actual adventures we run at our table. Our adventures might span across multiple types, or they might not be defined by any adventure type at all.

Our romp through Ironfang Keep might feel like a dungeon crawl, a heist, or an investigation. Our traversal across the ghoul city of Vandekhul might feel like travel or intrigue. Our battle against Camazotz might start as a major combat session but turn into roleplaying.

Adventures just don't fit cleanly into any given adventure type.

So why did you bother to read all those articles? Why did I bother to write them?

Because understanding adventure types can still help us run awesome games.

Actual adventures and sessions might not fit perfectly into one specific adventure type, but when we break down the elements of these adventure types, they give us a possible framework to build off of. They help us identify pitfalls and mitigation strategies for the elements of our game that do fit.

Which Adventure Type Best Fits?

When preparing or running our game, try to identify which adventure type or types best fit our game and use the preparation, execution framework, and tips for pitfall mitigations that make sense for the adventure you're running. Dungeon crawls, heists, defense, roleplaying, and combat situations can all come up during our campaigns or even in the middle of a session. The type tell us how we might switch modes and run that style of game.

If we're not sure what we need when prepping our game, we can ask ourselves which adventure type best fits what we're looking at and aim our prep around that type. Sometimes finding a suitable adventure type means taking a fuzzy concept and defining it within the bounds of the adventure type. "This situation at the castle feels like both defense and intrigue – let me look at those adventure types."

Absorb Adventure Types, Then Let Them Go

The more proficient we are running adventures, the more we can absorb the concepts for these adventure types and then set them aside when we're running adventures outside the bounds of any one adventure type.

Adventure types help identify different modes of play in our fantasy tabletop roleplaying games. Like many generalities, they often break down when you apply them to the actual games we run at our table.

Yet we don't have to throw away the underlying adventure type concepts in how we prep, how we run, the pitfalls we might face, and how to mitigate those pitfalls. Those concepts hold up even if the defined shapes of an adventure type doesn't perfectly fit the adventure we run.

Build Your Own Frameworks

These articles offer one perspective on adventure types. Through your own experiences you might find other adventure types or choose to redefine them yourself. Your own steps for preparing, running, identifying pitfalls, and mitigating pitfalls might be far more useful to you than the advice in this series of articles. That's fine. That's awesome. Define your own adventure types. Ask yourself what you need to prep, what you need to run them, what pitfalls you often run into, and how you can mitigate those pitfalls.

Find the adventure types that best fit your actual adventures and use the tools within to run awesome games.

More Sly Flourish Stuff

Last week I posted a couple of YouTube videos on Using the 8 Lazy DM Steps at the Table and Swamp King Fronk – Lazy RPG Prep.

Last Week's Lazy RPG Talk Show Topics

Each week I record an episode of the Lazy RPG Talk Show (also available as a podcast) in which I talk about all things in tabletop RPGs. Here are last week's topics with time stamped links to the YouTube video:

Patreon Questions and Answers

Also on the Talk Show, I answer questions from Sly Flourish Patrons. Here are last week's questions and answers:

RPG Tips

Each week I think about what I learned in my last RPG session and write them up as RPG tips. Here are this week's tips:

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