How to write a T&T Solitaire Adventure

(or other Choose Your Own Adventure type of work)

This is a summary of how to create a PDF file that has internal links. Perfect if, say, you’re creating a solitaire adventure for Tunnels & Trolls (think “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of thing).

Want useful advice on how to write (rather than format) the adventure itself? Try some of these (suggested by the wonderful trolls at Trollhalla and appearing in no particular order):

These steps are how to write your document in Microsoft Word and then export into a slick PDF. There are three ways you can do this:

  1. Link to Headings - Use the Headings styles and then create cross-references (or hyperlinks, those are two different things in Word but either will work here). This method has a lot of advantages (it's fast and takes advantage of styles you should be using anyways), but the major disadvantage is that Word only registers that something can be linked to as a Heading if that Heading is on its own line. In this case, that means each of your paragraph numbers has to be on its own line.
  2. Link to Numbers - Use numbered lists and then create cross-references. If you like using Words built in numbered lists you can point a cross-reference to the numbers themselves very easily. This method works great, it's as fast as the first and actually does dynamic updates fairly well which is a huge advantage if you suddenly need to add a new numbered paragraph in the middle of the document and re-order all the subsequent ones. However, it only really works if your paragraphs are in one numbered list. Unfortunately, that's extremely easy to mess up and you end up with what looks like one numbered list but is really different lists. Word handles this very poorly.
  3. Link to Bookmarks - This is the most manually intensive method but it's also the one with the most flexibility. You have to manually set a bookmark at the each paragraph label, and then add a the correct hyperlinks (not cross-references). This shares the same problem as the Link to Headings option which is that, if you want to add a paragraph in the middle of your document you'll need to manually re-number all the following paragraphs. Also, your links will still work, but the underlying codes won't make any sense (they'll be off by one halfway through the document). Those don't tend to be visible to people, so not a big deal, but it makes any subsequent link additions difficult.

If you haven't figured it out yet, adding links to your document is a step you want to take as late in the game as possible. Changing them, depending on the method, can be A Big Deal, so get your document finished, edited and playtested before you start adding links. For this tutorial, I created a silly example from the first part of Edgar Rice Burrough’s A Princess of Mars. You’ll see images from that throughout this document.

  1. Create your initial adventure. In this case we’re going to call each section a paragraph, even though a section could be multiple paragraphs, include a picture, etc. Typically you’re going to have something like:

    Paragraph 3
    You see a scary monster. If you run away, go to Paragraph 4. If you stay and fight it, go to Paragraph 5.

    However, when you first start writing don’t say “Paragraph X” but instead put zzz1, zzz2, zzz3, etc. You want a string of characters that ends in a number so later you can say, “search and replace all of zzz4 with text ‘Paragraph 4′”. If you just write “1″, “2″, “3″ then your search and replace is going to go nuts and replace too much. If you're using Option #1: Links to Headings your label has to be on its own line (like the example, below)! The other methods can be inline (so " zzz3 You see a scary..." is good enough, although you can do a new line if you prefer). So, for now, write:

    You see a scary monster. If you run away, go to zzz4. If you stay and fight it, go to zzz5.

    I hear all you Option #2: Links to Numbers fans asking whether you should be using the numbered lists function already. I actually recommend you don't do that until after you've scrambled the paragraphs (much later). My main reason is simply that, when you do cut and paste the paragraphs into a new order, you're almost certainly going to break the integrity of the list (and end up with multiple numbered lists, at least under the covers). They're just too finnicky in Word to handle that kind of mass re-arranging. In addition, it's too easy to add a paragraph in the middle, change the ordering of your paragraphs, and forget that zzz6 now needs to be zzz7. In theory, you could use a numbered list now, add the cross-references now, and it all might hang together and save you tremendous time and effort. Just be aware you risk having to go manually figure out all your links again later if anything goes wrong.

  2. Keep writing this adventure. Don’t worry that the paragraphs are in chronological order, we’ll scramble them later. But you do want to start thinking about Styles. Styles in Microsoft Word are a way to tag your content and give it a classification, for example Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. You can easily modify the font size, color and pretty much any other look-and-feel option for all the text of a same style in one shot. This is extremly helpful for easily getting a consistent appearance to your document.

    There are lots of styles by default, but the Headings ones are special. If you're familiar with HTML, think of them as the <H1>, <H2>, etc. tags. Headings are hierarchical. So Heading 1 should be your biggest and most important (typically the title of the document). Heading 2 is some kind of sub-heading, I use it for sections (“Introduction”, “Appendixes”, etc.). You just select the text you want to use as a heading and then select the appropriate heading from Styles box. Note that it will only show Heading 1 and Heading 2 by default. The easiest way around this is to select the text you want to be Heading 3 for example, and click “Heading 2″. This exposes the next level down (“Heading 3″). Repeat until you get to the level you want. Once you have some text in a lower Heading level that level will stay in your styles box. Note: if that isn't working, open the Styles window (<CTRL>-<ALT>-<Shift>-<S>), click "Options..." and check "Show next heading when previous level is used".

    Unless you are using Option #2, give each label at the front of a paragraph (zzz2, etc.) the same Style and make sure it’s a Heading . I went nuts and was using Heading 5 in this example (you want to save some higher level headings for titles, sections, etc.), but Heading 3 is probably just fine). Don’t worry if you don’t like the look that this style causes, we can fix it later. Also use the appropriate headings for the document title (typically Heading 1) and any section titles, etc. Option #2 will have Word automatically create the paragraph labels later, so there is no use making them a heading now.
    Screenshot of the heading style:
    Choose Headings from the Styles box
    Note that you’re only putting Heading 3 on the initial paragraph label. Do not apply it to the choices at the end of a paragraph ("if you choose X go to Y"). We’ll get those later.

  3. Add in apendixes, graphics, etc. You probably want to play test at this step as much as possible; it’s a lot easier to edit and fix things before you jumble it all up. Here is my example document with headings and indexes, but not yet scrambled: Princess of Mars – early example.
  4. Let’s jumble! You’re going to want to create a table with your original numbers on the left, and the new numbers on the right. Often the first paragraph stays as #1, but the rest should be randomly distributed. If you have enough, you want to try and keep similar numbers away from each other, preferably far enough to go into a new page. Because your original numbers are somewhat chronological, you can easily spot if the right-hand column ends up with #3 near #5, for example. Here’s my grid for the sample adventure:
    Two columns with original numbers on the left and new ones on the right.
  5. Now you want to run a whole bunch of “Search and Replace All” functions in Word to replace, for example, zzz2 with “Paragraph 12″ (using my chart from above). This is where you want to decide what to call your sections. A lot of people just use the number (“12″), I added the word Paragraph in front for this example. It will typically say that it replaced 2 occurrences; the label and the paragraph that pointed to that label. However, if you have some paragraphs that lots of other paragraphs point to, it should replace lots of instances. Keep an eye on what it tells if, if it says “0 found” then you have a typo. Probably that same if it says “1 replaced”. Screenshot of a search and replace:
    Search and Replace All
  6. Now cut an paste the paragraphs to line them back up into their new order. Remember that, in Word, triple-clicking will select the entire paragraph. When you’re done you should be back to having Paragraph 1, then Paragraph 2, then Paragraph 3, etc.
  7. It’s time to insert the references. This varies depending on which method you're using. No matter which one you're doing, make a couple of links and then test them before going through and linking every single paragraph. Before we get started, it's worth noting the difference between a cross-reference and a hyperlink in Word. A cross-reference is a link where the link text is automatically taken from the target. This is convenient but also limiting. A hyperlink is a link where you can define whatever text you want (it also has a couple of Styles applied to it). Hyperlinks are more work, and more flexible. They're also more limited in what they can link to.

    1. If you're using the Link to Headings method:
      This is where the heading magic starts to come into play. Get to the “References” tab in Word. Now highlight the first “go to” link (it probably says something like “go to Paragraph 12″ so highlight the ‘Paragraph 12′ part of that phrase – not the Paragraph 12 heading label!) and click “Cross-reference”. This will bring up a dialog box, make sure the “Reference Type” is “Heading”, choose the appropriate Heading (“Paragraph 12″) and click “Insert”. You’ve now created a cross-reference! Note that your text is replaced by the target Heading's text. So if your paragraph labels all say, "Paragraph X" you can't have direction text that says, "if you succeed go to [paragraph X], if you fail go to [Y]." (I'm using [brackets] to indicate the link text). You will instead end up with "if you succeed go to [Paragraph X], if you fail go to [Paragraph Y]." So choose your paragraph headers carefully. If you ever have to change some of your paragraph names (perhaps you want it to say, “Paragraph 12A”) you’ll need to find all the references to that paragraph, right-click on them and say “update reference”. Optionally you can select all the text on the page and click <F9> which will refresh all content refrences. Be a little wary with that since sometimes refreshing seems to lose some link text. You really want to do these steps after writing, proofing, editing, etc. Double clicking selects an entire word, which is handy here. Screenshot of adding a content-reference:
      Adding a Cross Reference in MS Word

      One final note, you can use hyperlinks instead of cross-references if you prefer (see Option #3 for details, below).

    2. If you're using the Link to Numbers method:
      Ok, now you need to convert your document to a numbered list using Word's built in numbered list functionality. I would do this first, and then go delete your (now duplicate) paragraph labels. That way you can make sure that #5 is attached to paragraph #5. I'll leave the details of this excercise in frustration up to you.

      Are you sorry you used this method, yet? After you've turned them all into a list, you basically want to follow the same steps as up Option #1 did, above, but instead of making a reference to a header, you want the "Reference Type" to be "Numbered item". You'll see a list of the numbered paragraphs along with a handy preview of the first line. The same rules about Content-References apply; it will display the text of the target, in this case probably "2.", "3.", etc. So you'll end up with "if you succeed go to paragraph [X], if you fail go to [Y]." I sometimes like the link text to be longer than the target, which is why I use hyperlinks, but just linking the numbers does make a very consistent look. You can not use hyperlinks to numbered lists, so they only work for Option #1 or Option #3.

    3. If you're using the Link to Bookmarks method:
      This is a two step process: first add the bookmarks and second link to them. Adding the bookmarks is straightforward: put your cursor at the front of the paragraph you want to link to, go to the Insert tab and click Bookmark (or hit <Ctrl>-<Shift>-<F5>). That will open the bookmark box, and you just want to type in a name. I tend to use "paraXX"; so "para01", "para02", etc. If you have over 100 paragraph labels, use three digits ("para001") that way they stay in a nice order when you have to reference them later.

      Bookmarks are invisible by default, but if you forget what the last one you added is either open up the Bookmark window again or hit <Ctrl>-G (for "Go To"), change the "Go to what:" to be "Bookmark" and see what's in the list. This is also a good way to test that your bookmarks are in the right spot.

      Ok, now that you've added a million bookmarks, you need to loop back through and add hyperlinks to them. Figure out what text you want to hyperlink from, highlight it, and click on "Hyperlink" in the "Insert" tab (shortcut: <Ctrl>-K). Change "Link to" to be "Place in This Document" and you'll see your bookmarks (or headers if you're using those) listed. Choose the appropriate one. Note that, unlike cross references, your text will not be replaced by the target text, which gives you a lot of flexibility. Hyperlinks look exactly like links on the web, so by default they'll look blue and underlined (until you visit them, in which case they go purple).

      Once you've gotten all the links created, you may want to change the look and feel. Leaving them looking like web links is nice because everyone will know they're links, but those same link styles look kind of ugly when printed. If you want to change them, you need to override two styles. Open the Styles window and click the icon for "Manage Styles" (the third one at the end). You want to find and "Modify..." two styles and changing the "Sort order" at the top to "Alphabetical" will help you find them quickly. Modify "Hyperlink" and "FollowedHyperlink". I tend to set the color to "Automatic", uncheck "Underline" and check "Bold".

  8. Test the bejeezus out of this links. If you hover over a link, you’ll see that the whole link (“Paragraph 12″) highlights in gray. Hold the control key and click to follow the link; the screen should move down (or up) to so that the label for the correct paragraph is at the top of the screen. You probably want to test every single link, which will take a while.
  9. Optional fun with headers bonus trick: Adding a Table of Contents! This probably isn’t useful unless you’re making a really long adventure, and even then it’s somewhat questionable. Still, I tend to add a Table of Contents at the very end like a giant index. If someone is using a mobile reader or e-reader this is the kind of thing that can be helpful. Word can create tables of contents dynamically based off of headings, so if you used those appropriately this is trivial. Figure out where you want the Table of Contents, put your cursor there, click the “References” tab and then Table of Contents -> Insert Table of Contents… You may want to play with your options here. For example, I often find that I don’t really want Heading 1 since that’s just the title of my document. But I may want more than the 3 levels it defaults in, so I set Heading 2 to be TOC level 1, Heading 3 to be TOC 2, etc. You can see from the screenshot below that I still get the Heading 1 displayed (it just doesn’t indent everything below it), so I just highlight and delete that row from the Table of Contents.
    Screenshot of starting the process:
    Table of Contents
    Screenshot of editing the Options button:
    Editing how the heading levels are displayed in the Table of Contents via the Options button
    Screenshot of completed Table of Contents:
    Table of Contents
  10. We’re almost there! Now, let’s look at the final power of using Styles: easy ability to change the look and feel of your document. If you want all your initial Paragraph 5 headings to be bold and underlined, you can do that. On the “Home” tab, right-click the style you want (“Heading 3″) and select “Modify…”. From here you can change anything about the Style and it will change every instance of the Style on your page. Screenshot:
    Edit your Styles to make quick changes to the entire document
  11. One more very optional style hint: you might want to edit your headers and footers. Typically I like to only touch the headers and footers on every page but the first, which you can do by editing them on any page that’s not the first page. Just double click into the top or bottom of a page and you’ll be editing the header or footer. In my example I’ve changed the header to include the title of the solo adventure, so it will show up at the top of every page. When you’re editing a header or footer, check the “Different First Page” box up top and the first page won’t get updated. You can also insert page numbers, which I often do in the footer and a variety of other symbols (you can do things like “Page 2 of 16″, for example).

    Editing Headers and Footers in Word
    Here’s my Word file using Option #1: Link to Headings after all the editing has been done: Princess of Mars Solitaire

  12. Can we make a PDF already? Yes we can! Click the Office Button or whatever that thing is in the upper-left, choose “Save As” and then “PDF or XPS”. I “Optimize for” Standard and click “Options” and do “Create bookmarks using:” “Headings” (or “Word bookmarks” if you used those; no love for Option #2 users here). Clicking Publish will create a copy of the PDF in the same folder as you saved the document, by default. You’re done – you have your very own super snazzy, internally linked PDF! Here’s the final product I put together: Princess of Mars – Solitaire (PDF)

Congratulations - you've read a vast amount of my rambling and hopefully have a document you're proud of and which your readers will enjoy both in printed and electronic forms.

Tunnels and Trolls and T&T are trademarks of Flying Buffalo. Rules, solitaire adventures and more for Tunnels & Trolls can be found at Flying Buffalo's website. Looking to actually play your T&T solo adventures? Try my character generator and editor; it has tools to let you create T&T characters and then calculate combat, track damage, make savings throws, earn and spend AP, etc. Check it all out at Ardenstone Adventures. Questions or comments? Contact me at