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From strangers to co-creators: Crafting a D&D adventure with social media friends

  • July 31 2023
  • Courtland Goldengate

When it comes to table top roleplaying games (TTRPGs) it's all about community. Whether at the table (physical or otherwise), at a con, or on social media, it's all about gathering round and creating something together. I found that TTRPG creators online are like my friends I see in person: they want to show you the awesome thing they came up with, or cheer you on when you put yourself out there to show the world what you built. It's a community that is collaborative by nature because you can't play a TTRPG without collaborating. So I thought to myself... can a group of total strangers that share a love for this hobby get together online and create a D&D adventure? I gave it a try -- read on to see what I found.

Sharing the idea

Being new to the indie TTRPG social media scene, I was blown away by the creativity I saw. So, I took a leap of faith and shared a post asking for collaborators on a new homebrew one shot D&D adventure:



Given back then I only had maybe 50 followers, it actually had a very positive reception. Two different composers, an encounter designer, and a map maker all jumped on board to co-create the adventure. Everyone on the thread was a total stranger, but folks were down to just jump in to create and play together.

Writing the adventure

I took a concept from my friend Wynand about having a gang of bullywug drug dealers as the antagonists of a D&D adventure, and used ChatGPT to brainstorm an outline. Most of ChatGPT's ideas were awful, but I kept some of the NPC names it generated and pinched a couple other ideas. ChatGPT works great for brainstorming and showing you ideas you don't like so you have something to react to and can them come up with your own ideas. Once I reworked the outline, I finished a draft of the adventure: Pimp queen Mogra and the golden frog.

With the draft written, I knew how I wanted the adventure to flow and the sort of art assets I would need. For the dungeon map I would need a marsh hollow for the bullywug lair. The artist who I collaborated with, @dungeonmapstash, has a Patreon account, so I became a patron. One of his hand drawn maps was perfect, but too low res to use... but when I talked to the guy, he recreated the map in color and made it higher res:


I was blown away that he went through the trouble of recreating one of his old drawings just so it could get used for the adventure I was running. This is the sort of thing you don't get when you work with companies... it's the sort of experience you have when you collaborate with people.

Working with the composers, @thetxble and @dungeonglitch, was equally awesome. I explained the tone of the adventure, the locations that the players would travel through, and the scenes I imagined would take place. One of the composers, @dungeonglitch, recommended specific tracks that would fit the scenes and the mood, and the other composer, @thetxble, decided he wanted to join in as a player!


For the encounters, @devops_and_dragons jumped into my gdoc and reviewed the entire draft, offered some great feedback, and designed the encounter with the BBEG. With the writing, music, and map all squared away I went about creating the remaining art assets. I needed art for 16 NPCs & adversaries. While I would commission an artist to create art for a character I would play, I wasn't about to drop thousands of dollars on artwork for a one shot. So instead of searching online for images that would suit the adventure, I used Midjourney to create them. Here are a few:


Running the game

I loaded up everything in Roll20 and felt pretty awesome about actually having the permission of 4 creators to use their music, art, and ideas. It took me longer than I thought to get it all written, set up, and play tested... easily two full days of work. Of course, during the playtest I used Tall Tavern to record and transcribe the adventure, so it was nice to test the software on a live adventure.

The play testers, Tom and Stephen, had a blast. Stephen's "Bastion" and Tom's "Gadreel", made for an Abbott and Costello like duo, and all 3 of us spent half the game busting up laughing. The co-creators contributions were all very well received. And the players, totally unprompted, commented on how much they liked the music (see 1:02:45 in the video below).

Here's the recording of the playtest playthrough.



For me, it was so gratifying to share the awesome work of other creators and to have built something fun together in a totally impromptu way. I had so much fun that I think I'll package up the adventure and share with anyone else who might want to run it. In the meantime, here is a link to the written adventure:

Pimp-queen Mogra and the golden frog

This whole experience got me very excited about future collaborations with friends and strangers alike in the TTRPG community, and I'm looking forward to doing much more of this sort of thing in the future.

Whether you're a fellow TTRPG creator or a player eager for a new adventure, I'd love to hear from you. Find me on Threads at https://www.threads.net/@talltavern if you want to collaborate or just connect and say hi!

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