Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review Of The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator And Solo GM Guidebook

I love writing adventures (although I often refer to them often as "modules"). I've released many of my scenarios here at The Savage AfterWorld for many systems: Mutant Future, Timemaster, Cryptworld, Ghostbusters, and Thundarr, to name a few. (Heck, I've even released a Mutant Future supplement that's nothing BUT adventures!) But I'll admit that sometimes it sucks waiting for inspiration to strike. (And when it does, there's never a piece of paper around to jot down that inspirational nugget of a concept.

That's why I'm THRILLED with The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook. This amazing guide basically inspires you with adventure concepts you may not have otherwise considered as well as walks you through designing and writing an entire three-act scenario, each broken into multiple scenes to challenge your PCs. There have been other "GM workbooks" released before, but this particular product has really struck a chord with me, and I'm getting a ton of use out of it in the short time I've had it. (The book can also be used as a "solo GM" supplement, much like the Mythic GM Emulator, but for purposes of this review, I'm just going to focus on the Adventure Creator side of the book.)

The Guidebook uses that old standby -- the series of random tables -- to generate inspirational "prompts" to guide you as you create. Using the sheets provided, you roll on a series of "Story Charts", fill in the blanks, then use your imagination to connect the dots and see where the plot leads you. The sheer number of results that could come up are astounding, as most of the tables use a d1000. (There aren't actually 1000 entries, but there are literally hundreds and hundreds of plot twists, places, things, and actions that could arise.) Frank Lee, the book's author and creator, has provided tables for fantasy adventure creation, sci fi adventure creation, and horror adventure creation. According to the Kickstarter page that launched this book, a superhero set of tables is in the works.

Frank encourages the adventure designer to work in a three-act format, guiding you through this process. After initially fleshing out the overarching theme and behind-the-scenes machinations of your Big Bad, as well as the series of events that bring the PCs into the scenario, you begin to work on the three acts of your adventure. In Act 1, the PCs begin poking around, meeting NPCs and generally determining the course of the adventure. In Act 2, challenges begin to surface and the PCs begin to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. In Act 3, the PCs reach the goal of the adventure and solve the mystery, fight the good fight, or otherwise reach the end of the game. (I'm super-simplifying the system for purposes of the review, but it really does work well.) If you don't want to create an adventure in three acts, the Guidebook explains how to create a One or Two Act adventure (for convention games or one-nighters), a Modular Act adventure (one part of a bigger multi-scenario picture, i.e., an adventure path), and a TV adventure (four scenes, one after the next, leading the PCs down the path, and everything's wrapped up nice and neat at the end -- or as I call it, "the railroad".).

I'm so enthralled with the product and what it can generate, I'm going to conduct an experiment over the coming weeks. Here at The Savage AfterWorld, I'll use The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook to create an adventure from scratch. You'll see the rolls, you'll see the worksheets, and you'll watch as a scenario takes shape into a fully formed adventure that will be available for download upon completion. And since I'm on a bit of a Cryptworld kick right now -- and since the Guidebook has a section specifically geared toward horror scenario creation -- I'll be generating a new Cryptworld scenario before your eyes.

And if you'd like to check out this fantastic product for yourself before we begin, it's only $10 at Drive Through RPG. Sniderman says it's money well spent for GMs in need of a creative spark or those who want to think outside of their usual cliched tropes!


  1. This seems snazzy. Can't wait to see what happens!

  2. Cool! Wonder if they will do a print version?

    1. The Kickstarter backers got a print version, so I assume one's in the chute for general release. (It looks like the backers are just now receiving their copies...)

  3. Thanks for the heads up! I'll check it out.