Since I tend to run a kind of “seat of my pants” game when I GM, I’ve decided to embrace that. For Sword Noir games, I’m running them using “one-pagers.” The adventure fills one page. It’s an outline, not an adventure, but I tend to be able to create on the fly, letting the PCs dictate much of the game.
If you aren’t comfortable improvising an adventure, the one-pager process really isn’t for you. You need to be able to let your players run with it. Because so little is specified, so much is open to chance and change. In the last one-pager I ran, the players threw me a loop deciding that they wanted their gang to be working out of a high class neighbourhood. However, since being open to player desires is one benefit of a one-pager, I just went with it.
For my one-pagers, I begin with a paragraph that outlines the adventure—what’s the challenge or conflict. Then I outline two or three plot points, beats that will be hit in the expected trajectory of the game. Then I include some special locations—places that would be cool or interesting. Finally there are the narrative characters, maybe four or five heroes and regulars that are linked to the plot. Minions are so easy to cook up on the fly, there is no incentive to stat them out.
And there you have your adventure. Now, when I do this, I usually have other material handy—for Sword Noir, I’ve compiled all the information on Everthorn into a single document that does a very good job of backing me up. It’s helpful, but not necessary, as creating places on the fly doesn’t intimidate me.
But names do. Names of characters, names of areas, names of streets, names of taverns, just names. I suck at coming up with good names on the fly. I usually have a page or two of name ideas, for characters, neighbourhoods, businesses etc. I can continue to use this resource by crossing off names I’ve used and adding more during downtimes.
So that’s my one-pager adventure concept. I’m going to throw one or two one-pagers up at SEP over the next few days. Head over there if this seems of interest to you.
You can find the SEP page here.