A coworker of mine recently lamented that she was nearly finished with an adventure she was writing, but it was still under her target word count by a large margin. Although over-writing seems more common than under-writing, it’s important to know a few techniques to get those last several words you need down on paper. My friend Luis and I took turns coming up with Very Bad Ideas and Very Good Ideas about what do in that situation. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader which side I was on. The results were:

Ten Very Good Ideas

1) Turn a monster you use from the Bestiary (or Alien Archive, or what have you) into a variant that requires you provide its full statistics. An entire stat block eat lots of space.

2) Take a minor NPC and give them a deeper backstory and ability to interact more deeply with the heroes.

3) Go through your encounters and add more ways to interact with the environment in each one. Have tapestries that can be pulled down, conveyor belts that move, magnetic fields that can be turned on and off, magical lights that can be shifted through a variety of colors and effects with the right arcane checks.

4) Provide more read-aloud detail about something. If you describe a room with a desk and expect them to go look at the desk, include some read-aloud text describing the desk that gives some clue about what to do.

5) Consider exploration actions. Saying what happens in location X if the heroes are Searching is easy. What if they're Investigating, what might their Recall Knowledge checks reveal? How might Detecting Magic specifically reveal something?

6) Add magic! Make something enchanted, and explain to the GM what it is and how the heroes can find out things about it. That becomes a kind of mystery that the heroes can work out, but it must have some discernable solution or you risk frustrating players.

7) Add a room. Even if your XP and treasure budgets don't allow you to add more of either, put in something interesting or amusing there. Or sad or gruesome, based on the tone of your adventure. (Note that if you haven't met your XP or treasure budgets yet, you aren't done with your adventure anyway!) If your map is already set, turn a hallway into a room! By which I mean, take something you didn't normally stat up as a room and make it a room with its own encounter number, and read-aloud description, and interesting features.

8) Add some history. Make it a key point that, for example, some other adventurer came into this dungeon before; maybe they didn't make it out. You can then add a short section to each room about what that past adventurer did there, what clues they left for the heroes to find, and so on. Double bonus: success at this might give the heroes some useful information for upcoming rooms (like obviously turning back from a room that contains a danger), which makes them feel smart for finding it. Making the players feel smart is important to game satisfaction! The history need not be a prior adventurer; it might be a ghost, or animal, or anything that went through a few of the rooms and left some kind of clues the heroes can find.

9) Add connections. Do your monsters and NPCs all know each other? Have opinions about one another? Fear running into the others? Add in what they think about their neighbors into their text. Even better, if there’s a way to let the heroes learn about it, that will make them Feel Smart(tm) too. These connections are something you could add to every creature in your adventure, so it can add a lot of words!

10) Make your treasure more interesting. 15 gp? Heck no, that's a tattered flag that depicts a vanished island nation, consisting of a saber crossed with a kraken tentacle. A successful check of some kind reveals some information about how the nation was destroyed, became part of another nation, or maybe never even existed. This flag is of interest to collectors of nautical history, who will eagerly pay 15 gp for it.

Ten Very Bad Ideas

1) Introduce a new subsystem.

2) Repeat things you’ve already said, liberally, without modifying your language much.

3) Include Victory Points in somewhere. Any adventure benefits from requiring Victory Points.

4) Add a mandatory escort NPC that resolves 1 or 2 of the mysteries for the heroes.

5) Add something that shuts down all magical divinations and force everyone to roll Perception checks. Because it's a mystery.

6) Add something that can only be resolved via magic so the all fighter group will have to skip it.

7) There are lots of famous mysteries. Drop in some easter eggs to famous mystery stories to fill out your word count. Include a hound named Baskerville!

8) Add a letter, book, or other object that includes lots of read aloud text that has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

9) Make obscure references to other adventures, especially adventures the reader isn’t likely to have.

10) Include the full page citations for every piece of treasure, including mundane treasure.