GMI E39 The Obsidian Monolith 01 - Preparing for an Adventure!

The Obsidian Monolith is a supplemental podcast to GM Intrusions in which I will build a Numenera campaign from scratch. Today’s topic is preparing for an adventure! I’ll share with you the things I think about when it’s time to create a new campaign.

The Obsidian Monolith continues in the Game Master's Journey podcast.

OM 01 - Preparing for an Adventure
OM 02 - Laying the Foundation for your Campaign
OM 03 - Location, Location, Location
OM 04 - Prepping and Running a Numenera Session
OM 05 - The Town of Bonespir
OM 06 - The Windmill in the Woods
OM 07 - Connecting Adventures Together
OM 08 - The Village of the Culovas
OM 09 - The Machine of the Emols
OM 10 - The Conclusion of the Campaign

Actual Play (Audio)

Session 01 Part 1 - The Town of Bonespir
Session 01 Part 2 - The Windmill in the Woods
Session 01 Part 3 - Inside the Windmill
Session 02 Part 1 - The Swarm from Hell
Session 02 Part 2 - Numenera Hunters
Session 03 Part 1 - The Order of Tianma
Session 03 Part 2 - Bugbusters
Session 04 Part 1 - The Man They Called Zain
Session 04 Part 2 - Madame Saydle's Wondrous Soup

Actual Play (Video)

The YouTube playlist includes the first session and sessions 8-12.

Introduction to the Show


Weird ideas

Location ideas

NPC ideas

Creature ideas

Anything! It’s brainstorming.

These lists of ideas will be very helpful as you build your campaign.


Here are some questions I ask myself when preparing for an adventure.

Who are my players?

What kind of adventures do they like?

What kind of characters do they like to play?

Maybe even have them make characters and then tailor the adventure to them.

Is there anything off-limits?

Because of age?

Because of sensitivities?

What kind of story do I want to tell?

Are there any themes I want to explore?

Are there any parts of the world I want to explore and develop?

Any aspects of history I want to bring to light?

What types of game play do I want to feature?

Lots of combat?

Lots of social interactions?




Are the PCs working for someone, or are they independent?

Sandbox vs. plot-driven?

Personally, I usually try to go for a balance of all these things, so there’s lots of variety and everyone gets what they want, even if I have a diverse group of players.

The answers to these questions guide me in the next step of the process, beginning to lay the foundation of the campaign.


Where will the story take place?

Will the story be told in one area, or will it go from place to place?

If it goes from place to place, what places would I like to visit?


What types of characters will work well in this story?

Are there certain types of characters I’d like to encourage, discourage or even not allow? (this is less relevant in Numenera, but still something to consider)


What is the story that I want to tell? What is the arc(s)?

I always want subplots, as many as possible without things getting too confused (though this may not be a concern with Numenera). Any ideas for subplots?

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