3 Keys to Reskinning an Adventure

As I mentioned, my “office” game is Tales of the Yawning Portal. Previously, I talked about reasons to use published adventures and how to turn published modules into a campaign. Today I want to talk about keys to taking a published adventure and turning it into what you need for your campaign. This process is called reskinning and it is pretty easy.

1) Figure Out What to Keep

The single biggest reason to use a published adventure at all is to save time. So if you are not using a published adventure as written, you have to ask yourself why you’re not simply using a different adventure. Some reasons include you like the map, or the story, or perhaps some unique monster. These are the things about the original adventure you will want to keep in your reskinned final version of the adventure.

This will also tell you what about this adventure you need to change. If you simply do not like the map, then all you need to do is draw a different map and perhaps change the read aloud text to describe the vicinity. If the level of the adventure does not work for you, figure out if can you just increase or decrease some of the numbers in the monsters/difficulties to make it work? This works best if the level of adventure is only 3 or less levels away the character’s level. Any wider a gap and the designers probably did not anticipate the capabilities of the characters (whether in their favor or not) to be able to complete the adventure. If some of the monsters simply do not grab you, then it is time to use those creative skills you have in you and craft a new one. Alternatively, you could just a monster book and switch out the offending monster with a new one.

2) Add New Reasons to Go In

Changing the premise of the adventure is the easiest thing to do. If the adventure is at the right level, features enemies you want to pit against the characters, and has a map you like but the reasons the module has for going on the adventure don’t work for your campaign, change it to something that does work for you.

When you do that, make sure to add multiple reasons for the characters to go on the adventure. Players and their characters are not monolithic. Seeking out a treasure horde does not always excite them. Similarly, serving the good deity if goodness is not always proper motivation. Having a handful of reasons means that everyone can find something. These reasons should be a mix of long term campaign reasons and some reasons specific to this adventure.

3) Just Use the Encounters

If you want to be dramatic and essentially throw out the adventure, there are still parts of you you can keep. Namely, the monsters and their proportions (aka the encounters). By using the encounters, you know the battles are already balanced; the math is already worked out. All you have to do from there is focus on the map, the descriptions, the reasons to go in, and maybe make a monster more or less difficult. Translation: do everything above.

This works great when you have an adventure that takes place that doesn’t work for your campaign—such as a volcano like in Deadly Delves: The Chaosfire Incursion—and you want it to take place elsewhere, like in a magical glacier. Well you will need new maps and will need to rewrite all the flavor text. However, you can keep all the encounters, simply renaming the monsters and changing fire damage to cold and the …. well that is a spoiler for the adventure.

The real advantage of doing this is you save time on crafting your own adventure, but you save some by using whatever parts of the existing adventure work for you. Plus you have a template for how the story should flow, giving you a basis for your own version of the adventure.

Download all of Jon Brazer Enterprises’ adventures for 13th Age, Fifth Edition, and Pathfinder at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

Pathfinder Playtest: My 4 Predictions

A few hours ago, the public playtest of Pathfinder Second Edition was announced. My guess was always the Gen Con 4 years after the launch of Pathfinder Unchained, which looks to be spot on (2 years to gather feedback from that book, 2 years to incorporate). My second clue that I was on the right track was when the point person on several of the RPG books was given to James Jacobs, a gentlemen more closely associated with the setting development instead of system development. This told me the RPG team had other priorities. The most likely guess to me was Pathfinder Second Edition.

With the core engine of the game nearly 20 years old, it is time for an overhaul, in the way that Wizards did with 4th and 5th editions in that time span. So what kind of changes should we expect to see in the new edition and what should stay the same. These are my predictions as to what we will see in the Pathfinder Playtest. Mind you: I have absolutely no more insider information than you; this is just the mad ramblings of someone else on the internet, except that I do have the perspective of being a publisher and I know how that affects certain decisions. So without further ado, here are my thoughts.

1. The Game Will Feel Familiar

A decent amount of the game will be something that you know already. Dwarven fighters wielding axes will join forced with half-orc barbarians and elven wizards to save the day. You will still have levels for characters and spells and of course they will not be the same thing. Your hat of disguise will still be your halfling rogue’s favorite accessory, and gnomes will still only be taken by gnome fans. You will all break down doors, kill monsters, and take their stuff all while rolling a d20 as the core die for the game. I do not see any need to fear here.

2. Some Classes Will Get an Overhaul

The cleric is a great class, really. However, its design is really showing its age. Both the oracle and warpriests are exceptional healers and have many more class options that the cleric lacks. Then there are secondary healers like the bard, druid, shaman, and witch which can heal as well but do so with considerably more versatility than just healing. For the cleric to be anything but an undead killer and healing wand, it needs much more in the way of class options.

Then there’s the rogue. The alchemist has trapfinding, and the ninja has sneak attack. Both of these have considerably more versatility than the rogue, and there are other classes do something similar to the rogue. It lacks abilities that it can call its own. Expect the rogue to be more distinct.

Other classes like the fighter and maybe even the wizard are could be considerably enhanced.

3. Borrowing Ideas from Starfinder/D&D 5e

I do not believe it a stretch to say that Pathfinder took the idea of alternate class options and ran with it more than any other before. They did such a good job with it, that design idea is evident in D&D 5e with their subclasses, hard-coding it into each class instead of bolting it on at a later date. Starfinder refined it even further by having the sub-classes/archetypes at the same levels, allowing a fighter or a wizard to take the same subclass. This idea, I expect to see in Pathfinder as well, if not exactly as in Starfinder, then the next evolution in the idea—whatever that may be.

In both Starfinder and 5e there are far less types of bonus to be applied to skills and consolidated skill lists; it seems only natural to see that in PF2e as well.

The last idea taken straight from Starfinder (originally from Pathfinder Unchained) is the monster creation system. As someone that built many monsters, I can say that the Unchained/Starfinder rules are the way to go.

4. Pathfinder Setting is Inseparable from the System

This is where my concern starts to show. As a compatible publisher, books that mix setting and system make it more difficult to separate one from the other. While I not have any doubt that I can accomplish this without any real issue, I do see this as a reoccurring issue for new publishers. Even still, it will be harder for me. I may be allowed to refer to a new spell called ray of light, but if it is listed in the spell section under D because the spell refers to a certain goddess that flowers at dawn, then it will only make my books that much harder to use. While I doubt this will be much of a problem for the core book, I do this as an issue for future expansion books down the road.

Like I said above, these are only guesses. It will be interesting to see come August how close those guesses are.

Visit JonBrazer.com for monsters, races, and other ideas you can use during the playtest (if we are allowed).

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