Simplified d20 Adventure Generator
Written by M. A. Packer
While the scale of this document is, well, scaled back a bit from the d100 adventure generator I created ages ago, this one incorporates the more interesting elements from that list. What is more, here I intend to expound upon each element so as to provide more useful ideas to prospective GMs fortunate enough to find this. Some things to consider while rolling up adventures:
If similar troubles and conditions come up, for example, if the area is demonic and the problem is that some silly people are trying to summon a demon, then you could assume that the problem has reached a peak, meaning it will be harder for the players to deal with. However, you can also, and this is the most important thing, THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! Using the above example, if the bad guys are in a demonic area, summoning a demonic being, this could be because they have entered a rival demon’s domain and are trying to summon their demon in its place.
As a special bonus, with each element description I will also include themes from multiple genres for whatever setting you’re using!
Now let’s dive right in!
Where things happen! These locations need not be cut and dry, rigid stages, but instead imagine specifically what kind of place it is (after you have generated the other elements of the adventure). For example, the town could be a coastal town, a mountain village, a swampy thorp, etc. Just look at your map and think about where you would like this to be!
1- Some kind of vessel or several vessels, be the stout oaken galleys, fast starships or sand barges.
2- A settlement, be it a village, a thorp, a small colony or a tiny space station where folks live.
3- Stronghold, castle or other fortifications. Could be a military base or an orbital attack platform.
4- The local capital, such as a palace, a manor house, an embassy or maybe a court of law.
5- Thy dungeon or labyrinth. For sci fi, it could be an ancient alien ruin or a pre-war building.
6- Caves and tunnels, both natural and manmade, which run underground or maybe underwater.
7- Some kind of tower or high lookout. Could be an old-world water tower or radio transmitter.
8- The wilderness, which varies depending on climate, but could be woods, hills, planes, etc.
9- Main road or a bridge spanning a river or divide in the mountains.
10- A ledge, a high cliff or a hole that drops steeply into the ground.
11- Trade camp, freighter caravan or a campsite used by pilgrims and refugees.
12- Battle arena, like the Roman Coliseum or an underground tourney where fights are held.
13- Cellar, storage basement or perhaps even an underground bunker. Maybe it was forgotten?
14- Library, data archives or a massive broadcast station that spreads information.
15- An armory, warehouses or some other major storage center that is protected or left abandoned.
16- The lair of some sort of monstrous creature, maybe even a hive of many creatures.
17- A monument or place of importance for spiritual gathering, technological development, or both.
18- Crater, crash site or place where a nasty bit of destruction occurred at one point.
19- Crypt, graveyard, cesspool, or maybe a garbage dump filled with endless mounds of trash.
20- Deep in a sprawl, like a city, massive orbital colony, or any other habitat with multiple levels.
Now we’re in for it. This section helps you determine why the adventurers are going out of their way in the first place. Again, these are rather generic and may be expounded upon to produce a dozen unique ideas each.
1- Escort persons to another place, to safety, or deliver items to someone who requires it.
2- Locate a person, possibly a missing person, or seek after particular items and materials.
3- Prevent (or cause) an assassination against an important person. This could include blackmail.
4- Recover your own or somebody else’s stolen property from a thief or animal.
5- Explore a new or abandoned place, or make it safe for other people to access and travel through.
6- Prevent some kind of dark ritual or the deployment of a dangerous device.
7- Deal with saboteurs, a vicious mutiny or some other form of uprising against local authority.
8- Enter into some kind of contest, like a tourney, a race, or public debate.
9- Help people fight against a plague or other form of infestation that threatens peoples’ lives.
10- Rescue people from a calamity that has already happened, like a quake, flood, draught, etc.
11- Help local authorities solve a strange mystery like a murder, disappearance, or kidnapping.
12- Do something about an impending invasion, such as reporting it or helping defend against it.
13- Look into scams and other forms of trickery being perpetrated against the common folk.
14- Look into illegal trade, such as toxins, slaves and weapon smuggling.
15- Broker a deal, either with trade, boundaries, disputes between NPCs or other uses of diplomacy.
16- Prevent a disaster, either ecological, economical or emotional!
17- Deal with or simply survive some kind of civil unrest that is causing panic or angry mobs.
18- Placate an angry deity, planar entity or powerful alien/multi-dimensional being.
19- Look into a conspiracy or engage in espionage against an enemy organization or country.
20- Search for famous treasure or a powerful ancient artifact.
Now what’s wrong with this picture? Here we examine what state the area is in, which should give you an idea on how the party should tread when entering. These could be conditions caused by the enemies lingering about or they could simply be the product of the environment. In any case, be wary.
1- The location exists in another plane, timeline or alternate reality.
2- The location exists far away, either on a mountain, in a distant land or another star system.
3- A storm of some kind is afflicting the area, either heavy snow, rain or a meteor shower.
4- Poor visibility caused by fog, smoke or pitch blackness.
5- The place is burning, crumbling or otherwise falling apart all around the party.
6- The area is in ruins or abandoned, leaving little of value to be claimed.
7- Webs choke the place or plants have overgrown it, making passage through it difficult.
8- Something bad is about to happen, be it a bomb or the inevitable arrival of enemy forces.
9- The party must go deep underground or underwater to reach the location.
10- Magical or psychic energies are hindered here, or technology isn’t functioning properly.
11- The area is sealed off, requiring the party to access it through a single point of entry.
12- It is under siege or some kind of melee is in progress, requiring the party to be very cautious.
13- Weapons are made useless, either by magic or a present authority requires them to be given up.
14- Evil magic permeates the area or vile symbols and arrangements make it an eerie place to enter.
15- Traps and hazards pepper the location, making it extremely dangerous to simply walk through.
16- Enemy creatures or personnel wait in ambush for the party.
17- Much of the area is flooded or caved in, or security measures are placed to restrict passage.
18- People in the area are terrified, petrified, frozen or otherwise incapacitated everywhere.
19- Illusions, holograms or other forms of misleading visages are set up.
20- Loud machinery, rumbling earth, running water, or other sources make the area very loud.
Someone turns the key and the machine roars to life! McGuffins are special items or circumstances that add a little more meaning to a plot, and for your adventures they are those extra elements that can help make it more memorable to the players.
1- Old keys, special seal, or pass cards are needed to maneuver through the area.
2- Secret pass phrases, entry codes or a certain language must be spoken at some point.
3- An individual must be convinced of something before the party can accomplish their goals.
4- Passport, signet ring, a letter from the king or some other form of identification is needed.
5- The party has to return and redo the task, either due to a mistake or changed circumstances.
6- Some kind of machine or a device, like a gentry and pulley must be used.
7- A secret entrance or passage may need to be found in order to accomplish the deed.
8- Important text, a book or other form of information is needed to help finish the job.
9- The party must wait for a triggering event, like the sunrise or the arrival of a certain person.
10- An obstacle of some kind must be broken through, like a cave-in or a barricade.
11- A taken object must be replaced or an exchange of some kind made.
12- A specific person must be brought in to identify something or to confirm certain information.
13- Permission must be given by the king, the president or some other key authority figure.
14- While completing the task the party realizes they have been tricked into doing something harmful.
15- When all is said and done, something happens that requires the party to make a daring escape.
16- The old switcheroo is pulled, either by the party or by the enemy with an object or person.
17- The party encounters something totally unexpected, possibly even changing the entire quest.
18- Mysterious strangers arrive, either to help the party or to suddenly hinder them in their goals.
19- The party must do something before others come, either for the same reason or to stop them.
20- The party must come by a map, directions or a guide to reach their goal.