Industrial Adventures

I am into manufacturing, and production, and I wanted for some time to make a post on the fun and interesting adventures to have within an industry setting. This is meant as a GM tool to organize an adventure that isn't a destruction fest. I want GMs to be curious about how a brewery works or a porcelain factory operates and present that to the players in a interactive way. Have the players research, do reconnaissance and plan how to approach the task in the factory. I am sure that this can be applied to other settings, but here I am going to focus on manufacturing and production.

Before I go any further I want to have an explicit "don'ts" talk. This isn't meant for you to:

  • Provide your players with a lecture on a manufacturing technology.

  • It isn't a space for you to be obtuse and expect players to know everything you do.

I want you to provide the players with active choices to make.

  • Do the easy thing, break inventory and hope to destroy the operations.

  • Do the hard thing, such as destroying the equipment or eliminating key people and be sure to close the operations.

With that out of the way here are the rules we will be working under when making a facility.

  1. Each room is a process.

  2. Each process has a predecessor and successor process. Unless it is the start process and end process.

  3. Each process is an interactive object.

  4. Critical Points are interactable. Critical Points can be individuals.

What is a process?

When I say process I mean something that helps making the products in the facility your players are going to have an adventure in. This can be a machine, a tool used for a specific application or a set of instructions the personnel uses to complete a task.

What is a Critical Point?

It is something that if damaged, eliminated, stolen or otherwise harmed, may have irreparable effects on the operations of the facility.

This can be a person or special equipment that is cutting edge. This will largely depend on the game setting you are GMing in and how established the industry is at the time.

In medieval, and even in the industrial period, people were critical points, so much so that nations would have special forces trying to infiltrate and kidnap or kill specific scientists, alchemists and more, to get a hold on the knowledge they had. While in a Sci-fi setting you have such an transmission of knowledge that people become less important and specialized equipment is more of a focus.

The Procedure

Here is a little procedure to make an interesting and slightly different type of adventure based on the above.

  1. Decide what type of adventure you want your players to have. Protection of a facility or critical point, infiltration, sabotage or maybe a kidnapping of a person of interest?

  2. Research the industry you want to base an adventure in. It will take some time, but it is worth it. Videos, books or graphics, there isn't anything unholy here. Find a book on the history of the industry to get ideas for characters, I can tell you that a lot of these industry history books are better then a lot of dramatic fiction out there.

  3. See what rooms you can create out of the processes. Find some flow charts and see step by step how many rooms you can make the facility have. Now the amount of rooms you want will depend on how big an adventure you plan to make it, don't feel pressured to make as many as possible.

  4. Note which processes or people involved are critical points.

  5. Make a layout.

An Example:

A resume of the ingame set up, this is just for context and isn't necessary to write out.

My PCs have arrived to the industrial town of Stentoej where they have acquired a mutual beneficial relationship with Ytring "Lady Chalk" Askndottir, a highly influential ceramist in Stentoej. She has a competitor in a neighboring town, Jorn "Fine Finger", who has gotten a new alchemist and they are making a new type of leaf thin plate. She knows Jorn has the alchemist locked up on his estate next to the workshop. Sadly the neighboring town is still within the bounds of Stentoej and under its protection. However, she isn't interested in destroying Jorn's workshop, she wants the alchemist.

Now I can follow my procedure to make a little adventure.

  1. Adventure Type: Kidnapping and/or Infiltration

  2. Industry/Flow: This will be set in a porcelain like facility using a production flow based on the image below and this video.
  3. Rooms: (Note that we already key our little dungeon this way)

    1. Storage area, earthy scent, dusty air, plenty of clay piles, a new mule driven pressing machine

    2. Forming Workshop, lots of turning tables to work the clay, tools for premade forms, door to sideroom.

    3. Master Painter's Chamber, here sleeps the master painter, next to the Forming Workshop.

    4. Furnace Room, dry, ashen, filled with stone and earthware, and a new unknown kiln.

    5. Glazing Room, artists studio with tables and paints, door to a sideroom.

    6. Mixing Chamber, large vats and jars labelled with various spices and ingredients, next to the Glazing Room.

    7. Jorn's Estate, Large gilded house flanked with barracks on each side housing personnel, large stone tower where the alchemist resides.

  4. Critical Points: The mule driven machine, master painter, the alchemist and the new kiln.

  5. Layout:

That is all for today, below I added some optional reading on the example, especially point 3 and 4.


Point 3: The rooms I decided on would fill a session or two depending on my tables approach on to the adventure. If you look at the flowchart I attached under the industry/flow point you will notice I covered everything there but I also added some extra chambers. These were added due to something I read called The Arcanum by Janet Gleeson, a really good book. It was common in the mid 1700's for authorities to lock people of interest up so they could work on your monopolies, that was were the idea for having the alchemist and master painter locked up at the facility came from.

Point 4: I decided on those four things as the critical points because of two factors they are investments and/or people with specialist knowledge. Note that I wrote that there was a new kiln and a new mule driven machine. When something is new, it hurts to lose that investment. As for the Master Painter and Alchemist, this was again taken The Arcanum where a specialist flees one factory to join up with a spy from Austria to start a rivaling factory up. The specialist gets cold feet and as a condition to get back to his homeland he agrees to destroy everything he has written on porcelain production and the brand new kiln he help design.

This article was updated on 15/05/2020

A 'Fungi & Weirdness' enthusiast. I enjoy writing about everybodies most disliked dice, my game ideas, and GM tools and tips.