Documenting Obstacles

So, because I don’t have my book yet, I’m just toying around with writing up little adventures sites. While doing so, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know how best to document the obstacles in the game to be overcome.

Big statue that needs exploring. What’s the Obstacle (difficulty number)?

“Ascending a vertical pitch” is Ob3 for one person. But what if the whole party wants up there? What if they don’t even bother to climb it, and just knock it over with Health (or maybe Laborer)? What if they just float up there with magic?

Should I even bother with the Obstacle numbers in the game notes, or just say, “20’ tall statue, listing to the left and missing one if its arms, which lies broken on the ground at its feet” and let the GM go from there?

I’d say list the obvious things: Scout obstacles to find traps or treasure, triggered trap Health obstacles, Pathfinder obstacles to find the place, Criminal obstacles to pick a lock, etc. If there’s a lot of room for creativity you don’t need to try to list every possibility, or if there’s more than 2 obvious ways to deal with a situation I wouldn’t list anything either because you don’t want long lists of possible obstacles. Listing obstacles is just to help the GM out so that they don’t have to look it up.

On the other hand, you don’t want to lead the GM or players too much by always saying how you think the problem could be solved by listing an obstacle. That’s why I say stick the the really obvious stuff.

Hmmm … sounds like a Good Idea to me (as Storapan recently said in similar circumstances).

Thanks. I’m going to try a slightly different format and see how it goes. I’ll share it when I’m done.

This is my preferred approach.

In the Under the House of the Three Squires adventure (and in The Dread Crypt of Skogenby) I list obstacles, but they’re intended to be examples to show the GM how to set obstacles based on what the players describe. Ideally, you don’t bother with the obstacles when creating an adventure for your own game. Just write out what they see from a casual inspection and what else there might be to learn. Problems, not obstacles.

Determine obs in play based on the actions they describe.

I really like that about TB. An adventure could read like a fantasy novel and the game wouldn’t be hurt by it, whereas good ol’ d&d (particularly 3+) you always have the obstacles listed because it’s not about solving problems it’s about flexing stats.