I'm working on an adventure to be published, and one of the things I keep waffling about is making it all neat and tidy.
Let me explain.
There are two plots, and the opening incident ties into one of them. I could make it tie into both of them. Part of me likes that parsimonious approach. Everything that is, should count.
On the other hand, this isn't a short story. One of the side effects of any adventure is that it provides things to use in later adventures. Because I was thinking about them recently, here are the things you get out of a few of the ICONS adventures:
- The Skeletron Key: An organization to steal from, and a villain.
- The Mastermind Affair: A villain group, three masterminds, and a villain besides.
- Danger in Dunsmouth: The existence of Lovecraftian horrors and a mechanism for them to appear.
- Jailbreak!: A super prison and a set of supervillains.
- Sins of the Past: Supervillains and a partial history.
As currently designed, the opening scene accomplishes a few things:
- It provides a set of villains to beat up and for the GM to re-use; as currently set up, they are explicitly the kind of villains that exist to be an intro to something rather than a main event. Some villains are world-shakers, and others exist so that you can beat them up and feel like you've accomplished something even if the rest of the adventure is frustrating.
- It introduces one of the two plots, which is no small potatoes.
- It provides a low-stress way for newcomers to practice the system.
- It can be cut in case of time constraints, which is not essential but it's worth thinking about. What if someone wanted to play this in a tournament?
However, if you make everything neat and tidy, that tidiness is also a sign to the players. The more genre-savvy ones recognize that everything is tied together, so given a set of pieces, they try fitting them together and sometimes beat you to the punch. You can't avoid that entirely, but you can provide elements for re-use that are red herrings.
I will probably make it neat and tidy, but at least you know that I'm thinking about it.