Sometimes a gamemaster will have a great idea for an adventure; they know exactly what they want to do and how they want to do it. Other times, however, they may find themselves in a situation where they have to create an adventure and have no idea where to start. This is a Bad Thing, particularly when a game session is scheduled for just a few days away and they don't have a lot of spare time to develop a story from scratch. For those gamemasters with writer’s block and for those who are relatively new to the process of creating their own adventures, the following discussion of a story development technique known as plot slicing has been prepared.
To perform the plot slicing technique, an adventure writer will begin by determining their initial idea. They will then need to select one or more descriptive verbs, which will need to describe what the main goals of the adventure will be. Examples of appropriate verbs for adventures in the Wing Commander Universe include Capture, Defeat, Defend, Discover, Destroy, Escort, Escape, Find, Intercept, Negotiate, Obtain, Patrol, Rescue, and Survive. The more verbs an adventure has associated with it, the longer it is likely to last. Selecting verbs is the first step in the slicing process, so it's a necessary step even if the initial idea is based on a specific set of events.
With the verbs selected, the writer should expand upon them in establish specific goals for the adventure. For example, if the verb Defend was selected, it could be expanded to Defend the disabled transport; if Rescue was selected, an expansion might be Rescue the captured scientist. Once specific goals have been determined, the writer should put them in the order in which the characters will need to complete them. The sequence of goal complete will help set up the adventure’s plot structure.
With each specific goal in mind, the writer should begin asking themselves questions about each of them in turn. The six Ws of journalism (Who, What, When, Where, Why and hoW) form the basis of all questions that should be asked (or "sliced") about each of the goals. For example, one of the goals of an adventure may be Rescue the captured scientist. Some questions the writer may ask about that goal are "Where is the scientist being held?", "Why is it important to rescue the scientist?", "Who has the scientist?", and "What will happen if the scientist is not rescued?". A writer may (and should) ask as many questions to themselves about the goals as they can formulate. For every question they ask, the writer must come up with an answer. This is necessary, because if the writer can think of a question, a player can come up with the same question in the middle of a gaming session. If no answer is available, the writer (who is likely to also be the session's GM) is going to have to come up with an answer on the fly, and if they don't keep track of what their solutions in a given situation there's going to be meta-game problems. One of the advantages of the plot slicing process is that it helps to minimize the amount of improvisation that is necessary during an adventure.
Once the writer has answers to specific questions about their goals, those answers should also be sliced. Ask the six questions again, this time about each of the answers. For example, let’s say the answer to the question "Where is the scientist being held" is "At a secret compound on Alcor V." Some additional questions that may be asked about this topic are "Who runs the compound?", "Why is the scientist being held there?", "How long will the scientist be there?", "When will the scientist be moved?", "What kind of compound is it?", and "What is the layout of the compound?". The process of finding answers to questions, and then slicing those answers further can be carried out to as much of an extreme as the writer desires. Each slice fills in more and more details until the story is as detailed as the writer wants. For Fast Action adventures, a writer may only need to go through a single round of slicing, while for Deep Immersion adventures, a writer will need to go through many levels. When the writer has reached the desired level of detail, they should be able to write down for themselves a specific plot-line of the adventure, one which outlines the goals and specific details about each goal. This plot-line is known as an adventure hook in RPG parlance.
Once an adventure hook complete, a few more details may be added. The first of these is a title, the purpose of which is to distinguish the story from other stories. The next is the setting, which is particularly important considering that an adventure may take place anywhere in the Wing Commander Universe. The adventure's pacing may also be selected. Finally, the plot should be formalized with an introduction (how the character group will get involved in the adventure), a middle rising to a climax (the adventure itself) and a resolution (what happens to the characters when the adventure is complete and what can happen to them should they not complete it successfully). At this point, development of the adventure breaks down into the individual scenes, sites, events, encounters, and so forth. Once those details are complete, the adventure is ready for play.
Should a writer want to create a full-fledged campaign, they may go through this process several times - once for each individual adventure, each of which should be considered "episodes" (like they are part of a television series). A writer may also create a series of "linked" adventures through this process even if they are not preparing a campaign.