User Scenarios & Adventuring

Aug 22, 2019D&D, UX

Call to Adventure – In story writing, a hero needs a challenge, obstacle or problem they need to overcome.

D&D players don’t start off in a dungeon already in the midst of battling monsters. Similarly, people don’t wake up in the morning already using your product or service. There first is a problem or obstacle that people need to overcome. There is a Call to Adventure. These calls to adventure were defined in the previous article User Stories & Plot Hooks.

User Scenarios and Adventuring explain the larger story which encompasses the ‘Call to Adventure’ through to completion & achievement of goals.

User Scenarios in UX

User Scenarios frame the user’s engagement with a product or service in terms of motivations, processes and achievement of goals. There are multiple pieces to a User Scenario including Actors, Goals, and various Conditions. The Actor and their conditions of achieving a Goal are the primary focus of a User Scenario.

Actors can be defined by User Personas, and their Goals can be defined by their User Story.

A Starting Condition explains what environment an Actor starts in. Where is the Actor / User? What are they doing? What is their current knowledge relating to a product or service?

A Trigger Condition explains what (you guessed it) triggers the user to need our product or service. Did something happen that motivates the user to solve a problem? What specific action or event calls the Action to adventure?

An Ending Condition explains what happens when the Call to Adventure is over. How was the problem or challenge overcome? What conditions are present when the User Scenario ends? Did the actor / user achieve their goals?

User Scenario Example:

Actor – Joe, UX Designer & Dungeon Master
Goal – Quickly take down notes for a UX article during a D&D game
Starting Condition – Joe is running a D&D game for 5 players, which he is currently 75 minutes into.
Trigger Condition – A player says something, which sparks an idea for a UX article in Joe’s head.
Ending Condition – Joe has quickly taken down notes for the article without disrupting the flow of the D&D game.

Adventuring in D&D

Following similar principles used in User Scenario design, Adventuring in D&D is composed of Actors, Goals and Conditions. Our Actors are our players. Their goals are defined by plot hooks. The conditions we then create for this adventure should not be overly complex.

Adventuring Example:

Actor – Gronk, the Half-Orc Barbarian
Goal – Help the town resume their eastern mining operations
Starting Conditions – Gronk is staying in the town of Phandalin where he has been talking to a few locals about events in the area.
Trigger Condition – The local mining operator tells Gronk that the eastern mining operations are halted due to an undead threat. There might be a reward if anyone helps them…
Ending Conditions – Gronk proves the eastern mining operations are now safe and receives his reward.

Unlike User Scenarios, this is 100% fiction. We’re making all this up. The only challenge is leaving the Ending Condition vague enough as not to ‘railroad’ the players into having only one course of action. We didn’t say the players have to kill undead… the players might be able to drive them away, make a deal with them or… there might not be any undead at all!

Providing Context

User Scenarios and Adventuring provide context for our users & players. What environment do they exist in? What conditions set up the Call to Adventure? What goals do the users & players hope to achieve, and how are those goals met?

User Scenarios take our Personas & User Stories, placing them in more tangible situations.

Adventuring takes our Characters & Plot Hooks, setting them up in the story & world we are creating.