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So you've played through all or part of the single player campaigns. You've gone online and played in multiplayer games and maybe some persistent worlds. Now you want to create your own module. But where do you start?

When you first fire up the Aurora Toolset, you are offered the option to load an existing module or to create a new module using the module wizard. During the course of completing the module wizard, you will have been taken once through the area wizard. Once you have completed the module wizard you should have a shiny new (and empty) module with a single area in it.

Your newly minted area will contain a single object, the starting point. This is the first place player characters (PCs) will be taken upon starting the module for the first time. This initial area will usually be the place where the backstory is connected to the action and where the PC is "hooked" into the game. In persistent worlds (PWs), the starting point is often a starting area where the rules and information relevant to that specific PW are available. Often in PWs, this starting area will also include an OOC "lounge" where PCs can wait for friends, meet, chat, and so forth.

At this point, you should have given some thought as to what the primary plot thread is to be for your story. While you may not want your module to be strictly linear, since most players find that quite boring, you still need some sort of direction for your story to take (unless your module is a persistent world, in which case you will be mostly concerned with geography and population). You might want to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Why are the PCs here?
  • What are the PCs supposed to be doing?
  • Where do the PCs need to go?
  • When do they have to get there?
  • Who will they encounter along the way?

-- I recommend you make a fully commented script or .txt file just containing references for your plot etc. Use /* at the beginning of the script to comment it all. ed boar

That's a very simplistic approach but it is a good way to get the creative "juices" moving. A few good resources to use or read are:

  • Freemind - a very useful, cross-platform brainstorming software that displays your information in a tree structure. One of the most useful tools I have ever found. Find it at freemind.sourceforge.net.
  • The Rivan Codex by David and Leigh Eddings. This book presents a lot of the background information and backstory behind the world in which the Belgariad and Malloreon book series are set. In addition, Mr. Eddings gives some very useful advice regarding the nuts and bolts of creating fantasy worlds, including how to use archetypal plot hooks and the processes involved in dreaming up all the little seemingly-insignificant details that give truly great fantasy worlds a life of their own. The book should be available in any good bookstore or on Amazon.com.

At this point, you should know the following before you continue:

  1. What has occurred to bring the story up to the beginning (backstory)
  2. Where the PC is going to start out (and probably why also)
  3. Which way to head first

Ok now we can start actually designing the story.

In order to capture the player's interest early, you probably want them to find or meet whatever person, object, or creature you've chosen to get the ball rolling right away. If they have to wander around for more than a couple of minutes before they find something to tell them why they are here, chances are they will have already gone. Make sure when you create this NPC or object, that you set the plot flag, which prevents the PC from accidentally killing or destroying them/it before the information necessary to set the story in motion is obtained.