Guidelines for Adventures (Modules and Addons)

As discussed in Marketplace Item Types and Categories article, Adventures are categorized on the Marketplace as Modules and Game Addons.

  • Modules are self-contained and are used to create new Games. They are constructed with everything needed to play the content without anything else required.
  • Addons are supplemental elements that can be added to any existing Roll20 campaign. 

This article will walk you through best practices for creating Adventures, which are categorized on the Marketplace as: 

  • One-Shots: Can be completed in one 4-hour session
  • Short Campaigns: Intended for two to eight 4-hour sessions
  • Long Campaigns: Intended for nine or more 4-hour sessions

Adventures_Example.png

(credit to Creators: Dragonshorn StudiosLinouMajorZeroPossum Punks)

Adventure Contents

Adventures have the ability to showcase nearly all features of the VTT, including:

The following are VTT elements that don’t copy over to the Marketplace Item:

  • Jukebox audio tracks from your personal Sound Library
  • Chat Log content
  • API Scripting
  • Custom Character Sheet scripting
  • Anything set on the My Settings tab of the Sidebar

Licensing & Copyright

Many game systems have Open Game Licenses that grant permission to creators to modify, copy, and redistribute some of the content designed for the games, notably game mechanics. In some cases, you will be required to request a license or other specific permission to use game-related content in a module you sell for profit. Research and awareness of what is covered in any game’s OGL, or additional legal requirements, is the responsibility of the Creator.

Be sure to review Roll20's policies around Commercially Licensed Assets and IP Rights.

Building Modules and Addons

If you’re new to Roll20, the best way to learn about available features is through our tutorial.

When you are ready to create a Module or Addon, simply create a new Game in Roll20 and assemble the Adventure as if you were preparing it as a GM.

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When you’re ready to submit the Adventure to the Marketplace, the Game you have created will be referenced as the Base Campaign in your Item Properties (See Step 7 of the tutorial below). Once your item is approved by Roll20, the final contents of your Base Campaign will become your Marketplace Item; a master copy of the game is made and kept on our servers and will be used to generate any Addon or Module for Marketplace Purchasers moving forward.

IMPORTANT: Updates made to your Base Campaign will not be reflected in your Marketplace Item. Any changes to your product itself (Pages/Maps, Handouts, etc.) will necessitate a patch. Patching Addons can be a difficult process. It is critical that all Addons are double-checked once Approved prior to Activation to ensure they are ready to publish. Patch requests may take a week or longer to complete and may require re-building your product in full. For more information, visit How to Request an Update to Existing Marketplace Items.

Note: If you are adding battle maps that would require Dynamic Lighting in your Adventure, you will need the Creator of the Roll20 Game being used as the Adventure template to have a paid subscription to receive access to the Dynamic Lighting tools. Additional GMs added to the Game to help in its construction do not need to be paid subscribers to use those features.

Do I Build an Addon or a Campaign Module?

A Content Creator can create an Adventure as either a Game Addon or a Campaign Module. There’s nothing programmatically different with the Roll20 Game you create as your Base Campaign - the choice will become relevant as you create your Marketplace Item for submission.

The fundamental difference between Modules and Addons is how they are added to the Purchasers' Games. Modules can only be added to New Games and must therefore include everything needed to play - they are best suited for longer campaigns. In contrast, Addons can be added to any existing campaign and allow players to experience one-shots or shorter campaign offshoots within their current games. 

During the "Item Categorization" step of Item Creation, the Adventure Category can be applied to Modules or Addons.

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Addon Specific Guidelines

If your adventure or product is to be sold as an Addon, you must ensure the following.

  • Create a new game for your Base Campaign. Do not copy a previous game, particularly if it was used as a Marketplace product Base Campaign. This will create gameID conflicts which can not be resolved if the original and copy are combined into a customer's game.
  • Do not transmogrify handouts or other elements from past products that were submitted to the Roll20 Marketplace. This will create handoutID conflicts which can not be resolved if the original handout and transmogrified handout are combined into a customer's game.
  • Create a folder in the game Journal named after the title of your product. In this folder place all of your instruction handouts, and use it as a top-level folder for any other content. Remember, as an Addon, your content is added into an ongoing game. If the content is not in this top-level folder it will be sorted among all of the GM's other handouts and may not be noticed.
  • IMPORTANT: Do nothing at all with the initial start page of a game -- you can delete it, if you like -- if you intend to use that game as a Base Campaign for a Marketplace Item. Create a new page to place content on, and do not name your starting page "Start". Any page named "Start" will be overwritten by the default Start page that is created with each new game, and will be ignored when your game's content is added to a player's campaign. Instead, consider using "Title Page" or similar.

Adventure Example

To see an example of what sort of content can go into a Marketplace Adventure, navigate to The Festival of Emerelda, a free 5th Edition One-Shot Adventure on the Roll20 Marketplace. Click on the Create Game with Game Addon button. This will bring you to the Game Creation Page where you will need to create a name for the Game you’re making. Under the Optional: Choose a Character Sheet section of this page, choose the “D&D 5E by Roll20” character sheet. Once named and a character sheet is selected, click on the I’m ready, Create Game! Button.

Contents of The Festival of Emerelda Adventure

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The Festival of Emerelda comes with a landing page graphic (this is commonly decorated by the cover art of the Adventure) and a Page that contains the map art of the village festival the one-shot takes place on. The Journal Tab has nested Handouts that explain how to run the Adventure and what Roll20 specific features have been included.

Festival_of_Emerelda_NPC_Character_Entries_Screenshot.png

At the bottom of the list of Handouts is a folder that contains three NPC Character entries. Each Character entry has their NPC 5E Character Sheet filled out and Token art has been attached to them.

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Under the Collections Tab are custom-made Macros that roll for specific events that happen in the adventure and…

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A Rollable Table with 75 items has been added so that the Players can find out what sort of prizes they win at competing in the festival games.

Purchaser Expectations

Character Sheet

A Character Sheet of the intended RPG system should be loaded for use in the game's settings. Every NPC and PC character in your adventure should have its own dedicated character journal which has a sheet with pre-loaded stats. They should all also have a linked token to their sheet.

Page Elements

  1. Every World and Battle Map that is featured in the Adventure should be set up on their respective Pages
  2. When a grid is used on the Map, the map art should be aligned to the Page’s grid. If the artwork contains the grid in it, lower the opacity of the VTT’s gridlines on that Page’s Settings so that only the artwork’s grid is visible.
  3. Dynamic Lighting, when applicable, should be set up on the Pages when required. This also means that light sources are placed and walls and doors are drawn on the Dynamic Lighting Layer.
  4. NPC and Monster Tokens should also be put in their respective locations on the Page, these Tokens should link to their respective Character entries in the Journal tab.
  5. GM info such as Room Labels and Trap locations placed on the GM Info Overlay Layer.

Journal Tab Elements

  1. Every Monster and NPC should have their own Character entry and their Character Sheet should be filled out. Assigned Token art should also be given to these entries if you expect them to be interacted with on a Page.

    A Note About Using Roll20 Compendiums: Refer to your Rule System's license on what you can and can't use when dragging and dropping to create Character and Handout entries for the Journal tab. Content such as token art, Character or Handout Text and Art will likely be protected by Copyright.
  2. Your Adventure text should be recreated in Handout form. This includes the instructions on how to play the Adventure, details for every scripted encounter, dungeon guides (ideally including a dungeon room key graphic), flavor text, and anything else that would be read from a traditional Brick and Mortar adventure module. 
    1. You should nest the Journal entries by chapters, locations, or however the Adventure is organized. Subfolders on the Journal tab can nest three levels deep.
    2. You should include credit information as its own Handout entry and a means of contact if users find errors or issues with your Adventure that might require patching.
    3. Linking Between Journal Entries is a huge time saver for a GM. For instance, the GM could be reading a Handout that is a dungeon guide and notes that, “...two wolves are located in a cellar.” The word “wolves” in the Handout has been linked to the “Wolf” Character entry, so the GM can open to that Sheet by simply clicking on the hyperlink in the Handout instead of having to dig through the Journal tab (or run a search) for it.
  3. Special Inventory Items, Monster or Event Images should be added as their own Handout entries so the GM can share them with the party by using the Show to Players option.

Collections Tab Elements

Collections Tab elements aren’t required for an Adventure Marketplace Item, but they’re there if you want to use them. You can utilize Macros, Card Decks, and Rollable Tables in your Adventure and they will be carried over to the Marketplace Item. If you add any to your Adventure, we recommend that you also include a Journal Handout that explains what the Collections item does, when to use it, and how to use it.

Macros

If there’s a special mechanic included in your Adventure that would be easier handled via a custom Macro, this is where you would build it. 

Card Decks

Every game comes with the standard deck of Playing Cards as well as a Safety Deck. If your adventure would include a custom Card Deck, this is where you would build it.

Rollable Tables

Rollable Tables are very versatile and you may use this feature in several different fashions:

  • A random list of items, monsters, events, etc (ex. Random Encounter Roll Table)
  • A Rollable Table Token for an NPC or Monster that uses disguises or shapeshifts
  • A Rollable Table Token for areas of a map that can change shape or its landmarks
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