Adventure Layouts

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by Larry Moore

The following article provides a layout for building adventure modules. My goal is to provide a standard for adventure writing. This is useful for the Online Gaming project we are attempting to get started. Additionally if we have several Referees’ running the same adventure, with a standard layout they can easily pick up where the other left off. Of course standards help write the adventure themselves. A good start to adventure writing has been provided by Brian Conway in his article tilted Creative Refereeing, (#7-p13).

NOTE: The following section entitled Cover is optional. I included it to make the module complete from cover to cover. With my own writing sometimes I get bogged down finding just-the-right cover image to spending too much time writing the teaser text. The most important part is the adventure itself which begins at Referee Briefing Report.



This is the cover page of the adventure. It contains the following information including an image picturing an scene form the adventure.

Adventure Number

I use the following conventions; SFAD-Cxx or SFKH-Cxx. Refer to the following table.

Acronym Description
SF Star Frontiers
AD Alpha Dawn
KH Knight Hawks
C Contributed
xx Module number

Example; SFAD-C03 would be the third contributed module using the Alpha Dawn rules.

If a module uses both AD and KH rules simple use the SFKH acronym and state in the introduction; “This module uses the Alpha Dawn Expanded Game Rules in addition to the Knight Hawks Campaign Book Expansion Rules.”

Gaming system name

Once you have the adventure nu mber simply type out the game system that will be used.

  • “Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn Adventure”
  • “Star Frontiers Knight Hawks Adventure”

Name of the adventure

The adventure name should be succinct, something catchy and relative to the story line.

Table of Contents

A table of contents (TOC) will be listed along with credits to the author, editor and artists.

Referee Briefing Report

This is the Referee's introduction to the adventure. It contains topics such as;

  • How to use this module
  • Number of players and skills required
  • Adventure overview and plot synopsis
  • Campaign Adjustment (optional)

Campaign Adjustments - If this is a continuing adventure module from an existing campaign this section covers details if the PC's have taken part in previous adventures or they are starting the campaign from this point.

Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon Sections

These sections start with an introduction to the players and begin the encounters they will face. Each section is designed to provide a single-nights gaming session, about 3-4 hours of playtime and has the following layout. (In the example below I will use Alpha)

  1. Session Introduction - This is always section 1 of the session, for easy identification by Referee's. This section is a recap of the previous session and an introduction to the current session.
     » Alpha 1.0 Introduction

  2. Encounters - This is always section 2 of the session, for easy identification by Referees. Sessions can have many events/encounters designed to eventually lead to session's main event. Each event/encounter is numbered as a subsection of section 2. For example: Alpha 2.1, Alpha 2.2, etc. Events normally lack mapped encounter areas, but may have images, sections to read aloud, or handouts.
    They are often of one of the following event types: encounter, role-playing, problem solving, or skill challenge.
    » Alpha 2.0 Encounter
    » Alpha 2.1 Encounter
    » Alpha 2.2 Encounter
    (and so on)

  3. Main Event - Always section 3 for easy identification. This is either a keyed map area location or simply a main encounter/event of the sessions. Each keyed map area is found as subsections of section 3. For example, a corridor on a map for Gamma session might be labeled with a "6" to be described in Gamma 3.6.
    » Alpha 3.0 Main event

  4. Session Wrap-up - Always section 4 for easy identification. This is usually a final role-playing event or sometimes just a moment to rest the characters. Sometimes it is just a boxed section of text to read aloud. It always includes experience awards, along with any other things awarded to the character for their efforts.
    » Alpha 4.0 Session wrap-up

Next I use Beta since the Alpha section is complete, then Gamma, Epsilon and so on until the module is complete. Example:

 » Beta 1.0 Introduction
 » Beta 2.0 Encounter
 » Beta 2.1 Encounter
 » Beta 2.2 Encounter
 » Beta 2.3 Encounter
 » Beta 2.4 Encounter
 » Beta 3.0 Main event
 » Beta 4.0 Session wrap-up

Referee's Background Material

This section is dedicated to the Referee and may contain one or more of the following topics:

  • Abbreviations
  • Season and movement
  • Maps
  • Player character equipment *
  • NPC stats and tables
  • Random encounter tables
  • System brief *
  • Alien creature update report *
  • New rules
  • Depending on the adventure these items may appear

in the Player's Background Report.

Player's Background Report

This section is dedicated to the Players and may contain one or more of the following topics;

  • Handouts
  • Briefing Reports (Background information)
  • Maps (Only maps that characters would have before the adventure starts)
  • Pregenerated Player Characters
  • New Equipment

Future Adventures

This section gives ideas for plot hooks and future adventures the Player’s may encounter down the road.

Back Cover

Teaser text and Image

The teaser text should appear on the last page of the book, something to draw in the reader but does not give too much detail away. It should also have a picture representing a scene in the adventure. Sometimes the back cover is a crop of the front page image zoomed in.

Tips on Writing Modules

I use a piece of graph paper or blank sheet and write a simple introduction. Under the text I draw a box and fill in the first main event (Alpha 3.0). The next box is the second main event (Beta 3.0); the following box is the third main event (Gamma 3.0) and so on. I connect the boxes with lines, off to the side I write down encounter ideas that lead to the main event. Sometimes I use a random encounter.