Teaching an RPG writing class, looking for example adventures


Hey Everyone,

I'm going to be teaching an 8 week online continuing education class about writing adventure modules for ttrpgs at SVA, The School of Visual Arts in New York.

I've had adventure modules published, successfully crowdfunding the comic book/module combo CHAOTIC NEUTRAL and Meanderings of the Mine Mind for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, with more in the works. I'm also a successful comics creator for nearly two decades, and have been teaching writing to grad students at SVA for over 10 years.

I'm not going to lie, I feel a bit of imposter syndrome. I know there are better RPG writers out there, but there was a demand for this kind of class and I thought that what I lack in an RPG resume I hope to make up for in my years of teaching experience, and what I've learned from how different RPG writing is from other kinds of narrative. My students have had real success over the years, which I take more pride in thatn credit for, and I hope to foster a community among them so they can give each other feedback, playetest and otherwise support each other.

I also am guessing many of these students will wind up coming from 5E, and I want to expose them to old school design principles.

If you're suspicious of the idea of paying for an academic class for RPG writing I don't blame you. Working in comics, film and TV I know just as many DIY successes as there are people who had prestigious and expensive film school education. But, if classes like this are going to be offered than I'd rather it be from someone like me who can be honest about the realities of a writing career. I haven't seen many of these classes offered, but those I have seem to be paint by numbers, without offering much in the way of direct feedback or interaction.

Despite this overly long pre-amble I'm not here to advertise (although if you want to check the class out, here's the link: https://sva.edu/academics/continuin...tabletop-role-playing-games-24-cs-vnc-2416-ol).

While the focus will be more on writing than than analysis, what I'm hoping for is some recommendations for adventure modules that you think are strong examples of design.

I plan on devoting a large section of the class to dungeon/location based design, but also hex and point crawls, raids and heists and mysteries. I'd love some thoughts on what adventures you think would be good examples of those categories, or let me know if you think I'm missing any categories.

I have some in mind, including Tomb of The Serpent King (not perfect design but I think a helpful teaching dungeon) and Kidnap the Archpope (which I think is a great model for a heist). Going back further G1 seems like a good example for a raid, although I'd like a mix of recent stuff. I'd also love non-D&D examples...for mysteries I'm thinking there will be a Call of Cthulhu adventure but something like Masks of Nyarlathotep will be too much to go over.

And just generally, if you think there are things you'd love (or hate) to see in a RPG writing class I'm very open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance,



Hi Mark—

My list of favorites at https://grodog.blogspot.com/2018/05/these-are-few-of-my-favorite-things.html skews toward D&D, but I do include my favorites across RPGs like MERP, CoC, Paranoia, etc. too. (I have an OSR favorites post in draft, am working to complete it by month-end; I also have a favorite mega-dungeons post at https://grodog.blogspot.com/2020/06/grodog-favorite-mega-dungeons.html too).

For some other opinions, see Bryce, Gabor, and Prince’s blogs, and perhaps the top 30 D&D adventures list from Paizo at http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2015/03/the-30-greatest-d-adventures-of-all-time.html (which is Timothy’s commentary on Paizo’s list).

It sounds like an interesting class. I’ll ponder some more categories/examples, too.



My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
"Deep Carbon Observatory" is pretty loosey goosey, but the imagination, innovation, and shear virtuosity of the writing is real and undeniable if you want to show design moving forward.

I guess "B2 Keep on the Borderlands" or "T1 Village of Hommlet" are your textbook examples, though.


So ... slow work day? Every day?
Hyqueous Vaults is a highly acclaimed old school dungeon