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How to Play

Every game of Adventure follows a three-part structure:

  1. A problem arises that needs the help of a group of adventurers.
  2. The group has a series of encounters as they try to solve the problem.
  3. Once resolved, a conclusion ties off all the loose ends, and the adventurers are given a reward or find a prize for their efforts.

The Game Master

Each game needs a Game Master (or GM) to run the game.

This person is generally not a player themselves. They introduce the problem, guide players through encounters, and introduce challenges in response to player actions.

As the Game Master, its your job to keep the pacing, action, and suspense at the right level for the skills and age-level of your players.

Picking a Character

Each player picks a character to represent them on their adventures (this is what makes Adventure an RPG, or role-playing game).

I’ve created about a dozen premade characters to choose from. Players can also create their own using the templates included with the character list.

Players may want to use a toy, figurine, or paper cut-out to represent their character while they play.

Skills & Abilities

Each character has a problem-solving ability that impact how they solve problems and battle foes.

  • Strength
  • Speed/Dexterity
  • Wisdom
  • Charisma

Players can also add additional open-ended skills of their choosing. This can include things like tracking, hand-to-hand combat, or acrobatics. It can also be silly things that give the character more depth, like yodeling.

If a player creates their own character, they should pick just one problem-solving ability

Pets

For added fun, each character can have a pet that accompanies them on their adventures and helps them along the way. This isn’t required, but can add a fun dimension to the game.

Pets can be small and sensible (a cat, dog, or woodland creature) or large and absurd (a dinosaur, dragon, or elephant).

Starting the Game

The first time you play, the Game Master should introduce the world to the players.

You can create any type of fantasy world you want, but I’ve put together an imaginary land, Farfaria, that you can use with my premade adventures. An intro is included with each adventure.

Introducing the Situation

At the start of each game, a problem arises that needs the help of a group of adventurers. The Game Master reads the game introduction to the players.

Feel free to use toys, props, sketches/drawings, and fun voices to add to the excitement and mystery.

Here’s an example from Lacey the Luck Dragon:

Lacey the Luck Dragon protects the forest from invaders. While out looking for food, her five baby dragons wandered off, and she can’t find them. She’s worried sick, and wants your help in locating them.

Can you help her?

Once your adventurer’s answer “yes,” you can provide more details.

The babies just learned to fly, and aren’t very good at it. For protection, baby luck dragons can turn themselves invisible, making them hard to find. Baby dragons screech, scratch stuff with their claws, accidentally burn things, and smell like wet dog.

Lacey gives you a satchel of gold coins to help you on your journey.

The Starting Encounter

Each adventure has a starting encounter that sends your adventurers on their quest. In Lacey the Luck Dragon, players need to locate the first baby dragon.

Lacey has provided some basic information about her babies and how they behave. You also have various skills and items at your disposal.

How will you locate the first baby dragon?

Actions and Deciding Outcomes

The outcome of every action that a player takes is decided with a roll of the dice.

  • Start with a base die.
  • Add one die for each relevant skill, tool, spell, or item the player wants to use.

The highest number rolled determines the outcome. For every 6 rolled, add 1 to your total.

Roll Result What it means
1 Critical Failure “No, and…”
2 Failure “No”
3 Partial Success “Yes, but…”
4/5 Success “Yes”
6+ Critical Success “Yes, and…”

The Game Master determines what side effects happen from Critical Failures, Partial Successes, and Critical Successes.

Adventure uses basic six-sided dice, often called D6’s in the RPG community.

Example die rolls

Let’s revisit our example with Lacey the Luck Dragon. The group needs to figure out where to go looking for the first baby dragon.

Example 1: Tracking Skills

One player decides to try tracking the baby dragons in the forest by looking for burn marks and scratches on the tree, and listening for screeches.

The player is a Druid with Knowledge as their problem-solving ability. They also gave themselves a tracking skill. They get one base die, plus two bonus die, for a total of three.

Their highest roll is a 4 - Success, so they find a dragon.

Example 2: Charisma

Another player decides to ask a local they found near Lacey’s cave if they saw anything.

The player is a pirate with a Charismatic problem-solving ability. They get one base die plus one bonus die, for a total of two.

Their highest roll is a 1 - Critical Failure. Not only does the local not tell the player anything, but he turns out to be a thief who steals something from the player.

Example 3: Using Pets

One player has a pet owl that they’re going to use to look for baby dragons.

They’re a viking with a Strength problem-solving ability, and also play to climb a tree and look with the owl. They get one base die, plus a base die for Strength and another for using the owl. They roll three dice.

Their highest roll is a 6 - Critical Success. They find a baby dragon, and notice a stash of supplies they can use on their adventure.

Encounters & Modifiers

Every game or adventure is made up of a series of encounters.

In some adventures, those encounters are linear and need to follow a specific path, with one encounter leading to the next. In others, they’re non-linear, and players can explore more openly as long as they complete all of their tasks.

Lacey the Luck Dragon is a non-linear adventure. The encounters include things like:

  • Rescuing a baby dragon from a cave with a sleeping ogre
  • Saving a dragon from the edge of a mountain side cliff
  • Convincing a shopkeep to free a baby dragon they have trapped in a cage

Difficulty Modifiers

Just like in real life, some encounters are easier than others. To account for this, encounters have a Difficulty Modifier that’s added to or subtracted from the highest die roll.

For example, convincing a shopkeep to free the dragon might have a Difficulty of -2. You would subtract two from the highest die roll before determining your success.

If the player’s highest roll was a 5, their final number would be 3.

Positive difficulty modifiers are added to the total instead. For simple, low difficulty actions, the Game Master can choose to skip a die roll and just continue the story.

Open-Ended Problem Solving

Encounters do not typically have a single prescribed solution.

Players are encouraged to come up with creative solutions and ideas based on the tools they have available and the objects in their environment. Team work is also encouraged.

The Game Master decides if the proposed actions are logical and work within the context of the encounter, and then decide how many dice the player taking the action can roll.

Individual vs. Group Encounters

For many encounters, only one person in the group needs to succeed. For example, if one player successfully unlocks a cage, the dragon trapped inside is free.

For other encounters, each player needs to roll individually and succeed.

For example, if you hear a band of thieves approaching and want to hide, each player should roll. Any player who wins the die roll hides successfully, while any player who doesn’t is caught.

Ability Checks

There may be information that the Game Master want to reveal to players selectively.

For example, when approaching the area where the thieves are going to attack, the Game Master can ask the players to roll an ability check. Any players who have a successful roll (3 or higher) “hear the thieves approaching” and have a chance to take action before the attack.

The Game Master can also call for ability checks if the players ask for information about their environment that in real would depend on their own awareness of their surroundings. For example, “Do I see anything out of the ordinary?”

Battles

While much of Adventure is focused on exploring and problem solving, you can introduce battles as a way to keep things interesting.

Villains

The Game Master controls the villains. Each villain has three numbers:

  • Attack. How strong their attacks are.
  • Defend. How good they are at defending attacks against them.
  • Health Points (HP). How much damage they can take.

Starting the Battle

When a battle starts, the players and the Game Master each roll one die.

  • The players and villains each take turns attacking, starting with the highest number and working down to the lowest.
  • If two players roll the same number, their attacks happen at the same time.
  • If a player and villain roll the same number, the player goes first.

Players can be creative with how they attack, using their skills, tools, and items in the environment.

Battle Actions

Players are allowed one action per turn. During their turn, a player can do one of the following:

  • Attack a villain (physically or with magic)
  • Heal damage to themself (or someone else if they have magic or a healing potion)
  • Flee the battle

Players also get one free action at the start of a battle that can be used for anything that's not a direct attack. A player might use this action to:

  • Cast a non-damage spell (for example, turning their skin into rock)
  • Use a tool or ability (for example, draping themself in an invisibility cloak or grabbing a weapon from their arsenal)

Players can do these things in-combat, too, but they use their action for that turn.

Only one piece of equipment can be worn at a time. Each spell can only be cast once per battle.

Attacks and Calculating Damage

Like all other actions in Adventure, attacks are determined by rolling dice.

  • Start with one base die.
  • Add one die for each relevant skill, tool, spell, or item the player uses in the attack.

If the attack was a success, the defender has a chance to block or dodge the attack.

  • Start with one base die.
  • Add one die for each relevant skill, tool, or item the player wants to use to block the attack.

Villains roll a number of dice equal to their attack and defend numbers instead of the guidelines above.

Use this table to determine how much damage the defender takes.

Attack Defend Damage
6+ Any 3 HP
4+ 6+ 0 HP
4+ 4+ 1 HP
4+ 3- 2 HP
3 4+ 0 HP
3 3- 1 HP

Determining who wins a battle

When a villain has no health points left, they’re knocked out of the game.

If a player loses all of their health points, they’re knocked out until one of the other players can help them. More on that in the Health and Healing section below.

The battle is over when all of the villains have been defeated or the players retreat.

Fleeing a battle

Each battle encounter also has an overall difficulty level.

If players decide to flee instead of fight, they each roll to flee the battle. Normal die roll rules apply (their highest role must meet or exceed the difficulty level). Players who fail the die roll don’t get away, and must fight or get captured.

Players can choose to flee a battle at any time, including in the middle of one.

Multiple Attack Targets (Multi-Attack)

Some creatures (like hydra and kraken) have the ability to attack multiple targets at once. This is called Multi-Attack.

Split their dice by the number of targets they’re going to attack. Their Attack number (the number of attack dice they roll) is the maximum number of targets they can attack at once.

For example, the hydra has an Attack level of 3. If it were to attack two targets, it would roll two dice for one of them, and one die for the other. It could attack at the most three targets at once.

All of the targets should be in close physical proximity to each other on the battlefield. It’s up the the Game Master to make a decision about what logically makes sense in the context of the game.

Players and Multi-Attack

If a player rolls a 6 - Critical Success, the Game Master may choose to have their character accidentally hit multiple targets near each other.

As you swing your sword, it strikes with such force that it throws the goblin into the the one standing next to him, knocking them both out.

The Game Master can remove 3 health points from all targets, or split them among the villains.

Health and Healing

Every player starts with five health points.

Losing Health Points

Players can lose health points in combat, and from Critical Failure die rolls when taking actions.

For example, if a player tries to scale a cliff and they roll a 1 - Critical Failure, the Game Master might say:

You lose your footing and tumble backwards down the side of the cliff, striking a rock.

The Game Master would then subtract one health point.

Getting Knocked Out

If a player loses all of their health points, they’re knocked out until someone in their group heals them or the next encounter starts.

Knocked out players cannot solve challenges or participate in battles.

Healing Damage

There are a few ways players can heal damage:

  1. They can use their turn during a battle or encounter to heal themselves or another player with a healing potion or spell. If they do, they cannot attempt to solve the challenge or attack a villain until their next turn.
  2. They can use their turn to heal naturally, restoring one health point.
  3. If the player is a Healer, they can restore two health points to themself or another player. This also uses their turn.
  4. Waiting it out. Moving from one encounter to another restores health points. Roll one die, and regain half the result in health points, rounded down. Healers (and characters with healing magic) can add two to the final number. That number of health points are healed.

Healing potions make great items for players to find after defeating creatures and solving problems.

The Game Master can reward them (or restrict them) as needed to keep the tension and pacing of the game well balanced.

Total Group Knock Out

If every member of a group loses all of their health points, that’s a total group knock out (or TGKO).

A TGKO can happen if the difficulty of a particular challenge isn’t properly balanced for the skills of your group. It can also happen if luck just doesn’t work in the players’ favor (a series of low die rolls, for example).

Since a TGKO would otherwise stop the adventure in its tracks, the Game Master can use their creativity to save players from this situation.

Some examples:

  • A pet belonging to one of the players runs off and returns with healing potion, or a non-player character that can help.
  • Players awaken some unknown time later. The creature is gone, along with what they were looking for and a bunch of their gear and items.
  • Players awaken to find themselves trapped in a locked room, unsure of where they are or how they got there. They must use their skills and items they can find in there surroundings to escape.

This can add a really fun new aspect to the game, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

Equipment, Spells & Items

You can download premade equpiment, spells, and items, as well as templates to create your own.

Equipment

Equipment can take many forms. Be creative!

  • Simple weapons like a sword or axe may add an additional die to a player’s roll.
  • Advanced equipment, like a giant cross-bow, might be considered powerful but unwieldy. For a combat die roll, you might subtract 1 from the success total, but add 2 to the damage total to reflect that (hard to aim, dangerous when it connects).

Only one piece of equipment can be worn at a time.

Spells

Spells are more interesting when they're nuanced add a limitation or penalty to the player in addition to a benefit.

  • An invisibility spell might let you roll an extra die on an attack, but roll one less die when defending.
  • A spell that lets you do extra damage during combat might be so exhausting to cast that you’re forced to skip the next turn.

Each spell can only be used once per an encounter. A die roll determines if it’s successfully cast or not.

Items

Items can be single use, or things that can used over and over.

  • Reusable items include things like rope, a net, a map, or a torch.
  • Single-use items include things like healing potion or food.

Character Progression

A player’s character carries over from one came to the next. They bring with them any skills and items they acquired on previous adventures.

To keep Adventure exciting, you can reward players with new skills and items that they can use in future adventure.

Reward ideas:

  • Equipment like weapons and armor
  • Spells
  • Extra health points
  • An additional problem-solving ability
  • New skills relevant to the adventure they just completed

Be careful not to give characters too much power all at once or it will throw off the balance of the game.

A Few Extra Details

Exploration vs. the Main Story

Two things are true about Adventure:

  1. Every adventure has critical encounters that are required to drive the story to it’s natural conclusion.
  2. Players are free to explore the world and deviate from the main storyline.

It’s the Game Master’s job to encourage exploration when appropriate for the players’ ages and skill levels, and help steer players back towards the critical encounters if they drift too far.

Creating Worlds

You can play Adventure entirely as a word-based RPG, and let your players use their imaginations.

However, depending on the age and interests of your players, it might be more fun and interesting if you added a physical element to the game. You can create sets for each of your encounters by sketching simple maps in a notebook, building them with Lego blocks, or using toys that you already have.

Every premade adventure comes with printable maps that are labeled and annotated to help the Game Master run the adventure. They also include unlabeled versions so that players don’t know where key actions are going to happen.

It can be a lot of fun to use action figures or paper cutouts for each of the characters, and let them move through physical environments as you play.

Duration and Complexity

Games of Adventure can take as little as 30 minutes, or can last several hours.

As the Game Master, you have a lot of control over the length and complexity of each game. You can add more villains and optional encounters, adjust difficulty levels for encounters up or down, and save the day with non-player characters you introduce to the game.

You can also spread an adventure over several sessions, stopping after an encounter, and picking things back up another time.

Non-Player Characters

Depending on the skills of the players and the difficulty of the challenges they’re facing, it can be interesting to add non-player characters into the game.

These are characters that the Game Master creates and controls. They can be friends, foes, or somewhere in-between.

Non-player characters can provide critical information that players aren’t picking up on, give them misinformation to send them on a bonus encounter, jump in to provide extra fire power for an epic battle, or thwart their efforts if they’re finding an adventure too easy.

They could be shopkeepers who can sell useful items to the players in exchange for favors or gold. Or they might be inn keepers who provide a place to rest before a big campaign.

Use non-player characters as much or as little as needed to keep the game fun and interesting.

Exploring Farfaria

A big part of what makes RPGs so fun is how open-ended they are.

As players get more experienced playing Adventure, they may start to explore areas of Farfaria that aren’t part of the current adventure’s storyline. They might want to explore the mountains, search for a unicorn, or try to bypass a fearsome creature by using an underground cave system.

The Game Master should encourage this!

Eventually, players may want to leave Farfaria itself. They may attempt to cross the mountains, go beyond the edges of the Dark Forest, or sail off in a ship. The same game mechanics apply. Go create new worlds!

Game Master Tips

The Game Master has a big impact on how much fun Adventure is to play. This video on Dungeons & Dragons GM Matt Mercer is chock full of tips on how to be an awesome Game Master (warning, some R-rated content in this video).

The key takeaway from the video: good Game Mastering is about vivid, animated storytellings.

Ending the Game

Once all of the critical encounters have been completed and the problem has been solved, you can bring the adventure to a close.

For example, in Lacey the Luck Dragon, you might end the game by saying:

You return to the village with all five of Lacey the Luck Dragon’s babies.

She emerges from the shadows, lowers her head to the ground, and looks each of you in the eye. “Thank you, truly, for returning my babies. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done.”

As a token of her appreciation, she gives you a pair of magic gloves that protect you from anything you touch.

And with that, your game of Adventure draws to a close.