Thursday, December 01, 2005

Adventure Writing for the Masses

Since I started DMing full time back in the early 1990's, I've written over 130 adventures for my home group. Each is crafted lovingly from scratch, written out long hand using the same mechanical pencil I used in high school. Do I shortcut sometimes? Sure, especially in the stat-happy 3rd edition I've been forced to use NPCs and especially maps (I hate making maps) from published products. And why not? That's why they're there. From brainstorming to the finished product, I take about a week to fashion a module for my group (yeah, OK, sometimes I don't get quite finished writing it). What I'm getting at is that I have a system for my modules--and it works.

Now, when you're writing for adventures for people you don't know, it's a whole different ballgame. Instead of a tight week of work, I take approximately a month. "Why," you ask? I think it has to do with needing to tweak my work to the widest possible audience. There's also a healthy helping of second guessing myself. I know what my group would likely do in a given situation but I have no clue how other groups will react. I find myself listing the options but, in the end, you can't guess every possible scenario for a given situation.

For example, in brainstorming for Invasion: Freeport, I'm looking to make one area extremely spooky. How do you write that for the masses? What's scary for some isn't or others. If I write something really disgusting, I risk alienating people from buying future stuff I write (assuming they check authors before they buy). So instead of pegging down an exact description, I'm leaning towards giving examples of what the DM can do in his gaming environment (lights, smells, sounds, props) to make the section more creepy. There will be gross-out "read aloud" text to be sure, but perhaps it's what you're not read that matters most. RPGs, after all, are exercises in imagination.

I guess my advice for today's blog is that if you do find yourself writing adventures for publication...don't sweat it. Write whatever comes naturally, drawing from your own game experiences. In the end, a group will make the module it's own anyway.


Blogger Axel said...

Sadly, I have never written an adventure, whenever I DM for the group, I just play it by ear, "winging it", I'd much rather write small hooks for the DM than actual fully detailed adventures, but I do enjoy reading adventures, especially Freeport adventures

6:23 AM  

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