My good friend Del, years ago, would hand out bonus rewards in-game (action points, hero points, possibilities, or whatever) for what he called a "trailer moment": when one of his players would do a stunt so awesome or produce a quip so funny that it would be in the trailer for the game, if it were made into a movie.

As an adventure writer, you'll want to think about how your adventure would look if it were made, beat for beat, into a movie. More importantly, you want to think about what the trailer for that movie would look like. No, you can't be responsible for everything that goes into the trailer for your adventure, but you can be responsible for:

* Awesome scenery. You're responsible for the setting, and you should be sure to emphasize the most dramatic or amazing set pieces. When the PCs step onto an underground ledge and see a huge cavern stretching before them with massive, rusted clockwork gears turning in a complex pattern of crushing gears, that's the kind of shot that would make it into the trailer. Spend some time honing your "Clockwork Labyrinth" to make it descriptively awesome.

* Terrfying villains. You should absolutely ensure you have a dramatic central villain (as I've mentioned in previous blogs and will undoubtedly mention in several more), but think about the look of that villain. In a trailer, it's not the villain's backstory or plans that people see, but his (or her, or their) visual look. If the Slag King has a spiked iron helm but he turns to show that half of his face is seared black with veins of bright red lava behind it, that's the kind of shot to make the trailer. Similarly, a gibbering horde of mutated goblins with grasping tendrils sprouting from their bodies can surge down a passageway--that could make the trailer, too.

But keep in mind you're only responsible for half of the trailer. The components you can't control--and shouldn't control--are:

* Exciting heroes. The players are going to bring their own characters, and the fewer assumptions you make about those, the better. Pregenerated PCs are sometimes fine, but you can ruin a player's fun by commandeering player choice or player agency. Even if you think you're doing it for the good of the story, it can kill the fun. Avoid building in adventure assumptions about the players.

* Funny quips. Part of the fun around the gaming table is that the players don't take it too seriously, and deliver lines that make the table laugh. My friend Owen devotes several Facebook messages to relaying these during each of his games. Adventures aren't always gloomy, serious business, but humor should be something the players inject, not something the adventure writer introduces. Sometimes it works--I was delighted when our group finally found the sacred book of the god of merchants and taxes and it was revealed to be the Economicon--but it's something you should usually leave to the players.

Watch a few trailers, and you'll see the difference between setting/villain presentation and hero/quip presentation. Lean into the former for your games, and your adventures will seem more cinematic as a result!

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