The Adventurer's Guide
to Adventure Organizing and Planning
Hidden T. Thoom
About the author
Hidden T. Thoom was born in the year 520 of the Ascendancy and is still not dead. Since he arrived in Puddleby in 538, he has led many expeditions to places far away and not-so far away. He is charming, confident, intelligent, thoomy, and above all humble. In his spare time he enjoys exploring, cracking wise, and generally making a nuisance of himself.
My thanks to Yor and Kiriel for their help and input. Couldn't have done it without you! Thanks also to Delta Tao for making (possibly unintentionally) such a deep and involving strategy game.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why the heck am I reading this?
You're either bored or want to learn how to lead a successful hunt or exploration. Either way I plan to teach you, so grab a drink and listen up. This guide covers the process of planning a strategy, gathering a group, and leading them to a goal or through an area effectively, efficiently, and safely. Of course, since there are so many variables, not every situation is covered, and that's where your natural talent kicks in.
Don't you need 10,000 ranks and a taintless belt to lead groups?
Absolutely not! The only reason you see so many groups led by folks who some dirt might bow in reverence to is that they've had the need and the will to do it for longer than you have. Back when the colony of Puddleby was founded, there weren't experienced exiles around to lead hunts and bark orders, so the original exiles had to teach themselves. Almost anyone can learn to lead, it just takes time, effort, willpower, and above all practice.
Alright, Mr. Smarty-Thoom. If it's so easy, then how do I do it?
Patience, grasshopper, patience...
12 Easy Steps to a Successful Adventure
(or: how I learned to stop worrying and enjoy repairing my sunstone.)
"Only one out a hundred men is a leader. The other ninety-nine follow women." -Groucho Marx
- Decide where you're going.
- This may seem obvious, but a lot of people have no idea where they're going when they decide they want to have some fun. Not many people are going to follow a leader pacing around in circles and thinking, so it's a good idea to know exactly what you want before you contact anyone else.
- Don't go anywhere too far above your level if you haven't been there before as a follower a few times before. If you have to be hiding in the back of the group, you at least need to know what's out in front.
- Check if it's available.
- Some more popular hunting spots may already be taken, so it's a good idea to ask around the people that usually go there if there's a hunt already in progress. This matters more for some areas than others, since two groups can easily share larger hunting grounds.
- Know the area.
- Unless you're an experienced Adventure Organizer (AO from here on), you should probably know the general layout of the area and have a good idea of how to take it. Get a good idea of how much strength it's going to take and how long it'll be before you have the option of coming home.
- Decide what resources you need.
- You'll definitely need some healers and fighters, and depending on where you're going and what you want to do, a Mystic or two might not be a bad idea either.
- Remember that any given exile can only share 5 people, so don't plan on too many healers and mystics unless you really need them (for a trip to the Foothills, for example).
- Pick a gathering point.
- Make it somewhere out of the way that isn't trafficked much. Town Square is a poor place to gather a hunt. Centaur Island is the typical spot for off-island hunts, the Meadow for Orga Territory, and the Mushroom in Brambles for the Sasquatch Valley.
- Recruit, recruit, recruit!
- Always use direct sunstone messages to invite people, and NEVER broadcast where you're going until you're there and to a point where people can't just join you on a whim. Having J. Random Snert coming to tag along and annoy your companions is not a pleasant experience, since they won't leave if asked to.
- Furthermore, general sunstone messages beget general silence. If you specifically target a person, they feel more pressure to respond.
- If you're going somewhere that requires pathfinders, don't forget to invite a few.
- Keep in mind any personality conflicts that might arise. Inviting two people who are just as likely to slice their swords into each other as the monsters isn't going to help anyone, even if it does provide an amusing show.
- Inform people when asking them to join you of the expected length of the trip and the likelihood of a depart, since some people have time constraints.
- Set off!
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -Confuscius
"Now get out there and knock some heads!" -Your High-School Football Coach
- Lead the party.
- Don't assume your followers can read your mind -- call out directions, instructions on retreating, and suggest tactics during fights. After a successful retreat, it's your job to make a plan to continue on, as well.
- Recover from disasters.
- On any trip of any significance, statistics guarantee you'll have at least one major collapse in which more than half of the party is felled and the other half has to mount a rescue. Stay calm and think logically about the situation and you just might escape returning home via purgatory. (Unless you're a healer, that is)
- Always carry a chain or two with you unless you're absolutely sure you have a dedicated chainer in your party. Even so it's best to be self-sufficient.
- Return home on time.
- A tardy trip annoys people and doesn't look good on your credibility records. Nobody is going to hold it against you if extenuating circumstances are present, but try to get home at the advertised time anyway.
- Express your gratitude.
- Thank your party members for their participation -- you couldn't have done it without them. This provides warm-fuzzies. Warm-fuzzies lead to loyalty, riches, and return trips.
- Lather, rinse, and repeat.
- You're not going to build up a reputation as the greatest AO Puddleby has ever known overnight. Keep at it, and eventually things will get easier. People will be more willing to join your parties, and you'll have a better idea of who can do exactly what, so you can build tighter and more efficient groups.
"The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it." -Elaine Agather
Know Thy Party
Get to know the skills, strengths, and capabilities of everyone in your party. Don't hesitate to ask for vital stats of anyone you haven't hunted with before. Because knowing is half the battle.
Speak loudly since you don't have a stick.
Do whatever it takes to keep your followers in line if they aren't listening to you. Unattentive party members cause accidents. At the same time, don't be outright mean. If you make any threats, be sure to make them general and not directed at a specific person until it's clear that person is going to be a problem. (i.e. if Hidden is constantly going AFK, then say "I'm going to rip the head off the next person who goes AFK without a damn good reason," not "Dammit Hidden, if you're not going to participate, just /depart.") Not only does this sate the other party members who may be annoyed at the person, it isn't cruel enough to make them want to continue their bad behavior.
If it becomes necessary to confront someone, do it privately. Public humiliation breeds mutiny and dramatics, which aren't very conducive to problem solving.
Be clear and concise.
Wordy descriptions take as long to read as they do to write, and in the heat of battle that's longer than you can afford. Say what you need to say in the fewest words possible so long as it's unambiguous. Shouting "north" on Kizmia's Island is a good example of ambiguity (for those not 'in the know', almost every snell on Kizmia's Island has 2 exits on the north and south borders, and the snells are layed out in somewhat of a hexagonal grid of rectangles. Look on a map if you're really curious), as is calling for a retreat in the Snagglewood or Orga Outback without specifying what direction.
On the other hand, you can describe what you mean too much. "Go in a northerly direction avoiding trees until you hit a border, which you should then bump, then run around killing things until you receive further orders" is a much less effective order than "North!"
Use click-toggles movement.
As someone who is going to be doing a whole lot of talking during the hunt, it's handy to be able to take your hand off the mouse to type, and unless voice recognition software has improved roughly %6,000,000 since this guide was written, you're not going to be able to communicate at a reasonable rate with only one hand. It takes some practice, but once learned it's a wonderful convenience you won't want to go without.
Before your hunt, be sure to establish some things like the fact that you're the leader, whether the group should hold things for tags or kill as quickly as possible, and the roles of any individuals who have a specific job (like a brick or a rod). If there is anyone in your group new to the area, it's also a good idea to go over the basics of what to expect.
Terms every good leader should know.
"The art of giving orders is not to try to rectify the minor blunders and not to be swayed by petty doubts." -Sun Tzu
Or any other directional yell, really. It should be obvious that this is how to tell your group what direction to go. When travelling multiple snells at once, you should use the short, single letter form, and unless there are diagonals, just clump the letters together (SNE SENW) in blocks of three or four. Otherwise, separate them with comman (S, NE, S, E, NW).
This instructs your group to gather in the center of the snell edge in a specific direction for futther instructions; useful on large snells for grouping up before sending a scout or proceeding.
"Scouting" or "[Name], scout."
Informs your group that either you or someone else will be checking out the next snell before the whole group enters. The scout will return with information on critters and density.
"Luring", or "[Name], lure."
The object of this order is to get a small number of critters from the next snell returned to your current position for easy killing.
These are a pair of semi-directional orders used for places like caves. It isn't particularly clear which one means which in any given case, just use one first, and then define the other as its opposite (if you say "in" to the safe cave, say "out" when you want everyone to exit into the field again.
Instructs a group following you to hold their position while you go out ahead, or send someone else ahead.
Tells the group to sweep around the snell and clear out any remaining monsters; use this when the density of things gets low enough that they aren't just coming to you.
Some Useful Practices
In mid-sized groups, the best way to keep track of everyone is to do a head count at the beginning of the hunt, and whenever the group gathers quietly tally the number of people to see if anyone is missing.
The Buddy System
In larger groups it may become cumbersome to keep track of every single individual. Sadly, chucking half of your party into the firey pits of the Abyss is not usually an acceptable solution. This is where the Buddy System comes in. Have your followers pair off into buddies who promise to keep track of each other. If one lags behind, the other can sunstone you to make sure the group waits up or comes back for them, as appropriate.
Division of Labor
In truly huge groups, it may be best to appoint some sub-leaders to interpret your orders and keep track of smaller parts of the group. For example, in Dread Passage groups, there are always two rods, and so the point of each of those groups leads that half of the healers, while two appointed fighter captains lead a group of fighters along with each rod.
On longer trips with multi-snell jumps, it's a good idea to appoint one or two people as "Sweepers", who are given the responsibility of chaining anyone they see fall, or waiting if someone appears to start to lag.
When a valuble item is found like an Albino Maha Pelt or an Uli Flower, the fairest way to give it out is with a roll of the dice. Have all the eligible receivers (at your discretion. For example, Uli rolls are usually 100% healer, and people who have used a potion on the hunt get priority) form a straight horizontal or vertical line. Give them each a number and roll a die to see who wins.