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Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

The three-act adventure

Jerry Stratton, January 30, 2007

By way of Treasure Tables, Don Mappin on Abulia Savant writes about a three-act adventure creation process in Anatomy of a Time Loop.

Consider in a television show each twenty minute block consisting of one act. In the first act, what I refer to as the “setup” the characters are introduced and the groundwork laid for the story. I’ll often do a pre-title sequence teaser, just like the show; a quick five minutes of role-playing with a mini-cliffhanger leading to the main title credits. In act one we get the mission, are introducing NPCs, visiting a strange world, etc. Typically nothing bad happens in the first act but it closes on an important plot point.

The second act, the “conflict,” is where the rubber hits the road. This is where Something Bad Happens ™ and the player characters are tasked with solving the problem. Most of the interesting stuff happens in the second act. The end of the second act also has something of a mini-cliffhanger that ties back to the first act and leads us to the final act.

That act, act three, is the “resolution” or the “denouement.” This is the final battle against the Big Bad ™ that resolves the story and brings us full circle. Typically lots of shooting happens here, group hugs at the end, etc.

Don then goes on to describe how he used this process to create his Time Loop adventure, which definitely looks interesting and fun.

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