Friday, April 10, 2009

The Isle of the Frog

Last fall, I kicked off a short campaign with an adventure loosely (and I do mean loosely) inspired by Dave Arneson's "Temple of the Frog." When Amityville Mike posted his "Fane of St. Toad," I was inspired to do something similar. Rather than writing up an adventure in detail, though, I thought I'd post all my game notes from the adventure we played last fall. I'll follow up by describing some of what happened in the session. 

I'll start with the game notes. I'm always curious about what other people's notes actually look like, and I can't be the only one. So here is a complete set of all my pre- and post-game notes for "The Isle of the Frog" (which bills itself as "The Emerald Isle" to new visitors). I ran the game with these notes, a couple rule books, and some dice. We used the Moldvay Basic book as our rules set. I originally had drawn the dungeon map to match some Dungeon Tiles that I had, but when we played the game we actually didn't use any tiles or minis. And NPCs and location names that were needed in play were either just made up by one of us or rolled up using tables from The Risus Companion ("That Last #@!% Cliche" and "The Megaversal Omnigroovy Background Machine"). I rolled random encounter results from The Monster and Treasure Assortment. Expert gaming archaeologists may find all sorts of clues about where I was stealing from with careful study of the notes. 

The maps are at the top of this post (here's another link to the pdf). 

My pre-session notes

My in-game notes (passage of time in game turns, etc) and my post-session notes and planning for the next session. 

Some NPCs -- the crew of the players' ship. 

Next time, I'll talk about how the adventure actually went down in play. 


  1. That's similar to my own style. It always amazes me how some scribbled notes unpack so voluminously into hours of gaming. It's all in the mind I suppose.

    You are a 9th Magic-User right there for putting pdfs in your post. Did you edit the html yourself?

  2. It's interesting to hear that your notes are similar. I like the idea of comparing and seeing how different people approach prep -- I bet there are some great tricks other people are using that have never occurred to me. I'd love to see more sharing of these kinds of notes.

    As far as the pdfs in the posts go, thanks! I do care about presentation. It's actually mostly a sleight of hand trick (as so many magician's tricks are), though I do have to edit the html a little bit to pull off the trick. What I did was put the pdfs on a "google sites" page, and I also put thumbnail images (jpg) of each pdf on the same site. Then I actually embed the jpg image in the blog post and make it a link to the pdf.

  3. Similar in comparison to a TSR module style, or similar in superficial way because of the striking sparsity. I have scattered bursts of prose description and sometimes I go to town detailing NPCs but I should wait and see more of your stuff.

    Thanks for the pdf tip, it looks great.

  4. I see what you mean in the comparison with official modules. Interestingly, even though I don't really keep them sparse on purpose, I tend to have more success running from sparse notes (whether or not I wrote them myself, I think). I tend to be more hit-or-miss when I run fully written up modules.

  5. I'm more of a Call of Cthulhu GM and for years, I would agonise over writing my own adventures out into lengthy prose, just like the published scenarios. I recently started running the game again, and I started with a very cut down bit of writing, then the next scenario was typed notes on two sides of paper, the third was that down to one side, and last week's was run from a flowchart and some npc stats. The scenarios seem to get progressively more fun and easier to run the less detail I put into prep. Odd.

  6. I've been there too. I also used to do some pretty heavy prep, but now that I've found out I can get results that are just as good or better with just a little prep, there's no turning back.