Wondering About Adventure Presentation Format

I like the presentation format of late 3E and 4E D&D adventures; One encounter per two page spread. The information for that encounter is self-contained.

What I did not like was that all of these 2 page encounters that I read and saw were for a combat set piece. There were

  • Large monster blocks (three monster types would chew up a large section of a page),
  • A half-page map of a single location with unique terrain
  • A traps section
  • Blah blah blah not very memorable

But the format worked for the medium. Two pages is the limit without page flipping (or printing fold out pages). I have all of the basic information I need to run that encounter.

However I have no sense of how that encounter relates with other encounters and pieces of the adventure. The camera is always zoomed in on the action sequence and fails to pull back for a scenic panoramic image of where everything is happening.

Does anyone have an example for how this might be done zoomed out one level. A region of the adventure with the 2 pages conveying connectedness of the parts of that region; ie relationship graphs, maps, stat blocks, descriptions, etc. Then that format repeated a few times in the same adventure?

I consider myself to have a solid memory and ability to juggle numerous concepts but having run a handful of adventures “by the book” I find it frustrating.

Most adventures, as written, seem to require reading through the entire adventure. Then holding that in memory as I reference the adventure at the table during play. It is that reference during play that I’m looking to optimize.

Hyperlinks are helpful but distracting in the moment; Clicking and jumping to another section means that I must parse the new information. I want a quick scannable 2 pages.

Zzarchov Kowolski‘s Scenic Dunnsmouth helps mitigate these challenges by encoding adventure preparation with procedures for generating the village. I can see this exercise helping me remember more about the adventure so I can focus on running it without distraction.

The One Page Dungeon contest is an exemplar in conveying information as well. I would appreciate references to specific adventures submitted to various One Page Dungeon.

2 thoughts on “Wondering About Adventure Presentation Format

  1. You might get something useful out of the example early-1980 TSR module format I broke down in an example file. It’s “The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu”, and is in the Google Docs folder below. It and the other files there are for other publishers, so feel free to take whatever you find useful. You can turn on the “Commentary” layer of the module to see some of the rationales behind various layout choices.


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