Designer Diary: Short Form Adventures

I didn’t mention this in the video, but last night I was talking to a friend, Marcus (the M in the original PPM), and one of Marcus’s concerns was about creating adventures that won’t sell. I get that concern, no one wants to invest a whole load of time and effort in creating something that no one buys. Marcus’s adventures are typically 36-57 pages, they are not short by any standard.

One of the nice things about writing very short adventures is that you can use them to test the waters. Rather than guessing and hoping, you can gain some real hard data.

There is really no guarantee that any one thing will sell. There are too many variables. But, if your first thing sells, it will at least start your mailing list on DTRPG or follower count on Itch, or your own mailing list. The first thing you had to launch cold, the second will have the help of even a few emails out to tell people about it.

I did a quick scan of my shortest adventures and the winner was just 938 words! That adventure was very simple, it put the characters inside a remote fort and then ran through a version of the trojan horse, but without the horse. Not the most original plot, but it was a great one-shot for Christmas. (Seriously!)

For me 938 words is my lower limit, my 5e adventures seem to come in at 2,405 – 3,600 words. I can keep the count down by just telling the DM what the monster is, not repeating the entire stat block. When I am writing, I typically create 2000-3000 words per day. If I have a neat idea for the adventure, with a monster in mind, and a good map, there are so few barriers to stop me from writing that I can flow through the adventure in an afternoon. I think this is what people call ‘getting your ducks all in a row’ but that tends to end badly for the ducks.

Finally, this video is worth checking out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCqFPkFIdSA

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