Monday, March 25, 2013

Adventure Writing Unexpected Turns

I've been working on the 4th issue of The Manor for the past month.  In a later post I'll let you know about the great mini monster manual inside, the art done by +Jason Sholtis .  It's fantastic.

The first part of the next Manor was going to be a straight forward adventure that featured displacer beasts.  I didn't realize they were in the group of ultra protected monsters of WotC.  Product identity monsters.

Turn one.

Since I already have the art and idea I changed the name of the monster to Shadow Manus.  Manus means hand or paw in Latin and I believe it means cat in Hungarian.  If ever I need a exotic sounding name I go to the English/Hungarian translation dictionary and find a word that sounds cool and alter it so I can pronounce it.  In addition to changing the name, its powers changed (it no longer displaces, but shadow travels).  I got the idea of shadow traveling from a Google+ game with +Zzarchov Kowolski where my mage had that ability.  I thought it was a great idea and it fit.  So while the Shadow Manus has its roots in the displacer beast, it is now its own thing.

Back to the adventure writing.  I reread my adventure.  Boring.  Snooze fest.  I dare say it sucked.

Turn two.

Adventures should not be boring.  There should be something in them that makes the players get excited, or baffles them, or sends them to their knees in awe!  Actually I just go for "Oh, that's cool." and I consider it a success.

So I decide to rewrite the adventure from a different perspective.  This perspective is much more interesting.  And it will put the adventurers into some precarious situations.  I like that.  One of the things I added was a bit more of a description of the village instead of hand waving it in the introduction.  It was all going great until the ultimate judge said no.  Space.

Turn three.

I don't have the space to do that.  I've already increased the zine by 8-pages.  I've already knocked the weight into the next bracket so my shipping charges are going to increase.  So now I have about 10 pages, kinda, to  get the adventure to fit in.  I read back through the adventure and the first thing that will get axed is the introduction.  I wrote it in a narrative over a page and a half.  The village is 4 geographical locations and 20 residences and then 10 areas in the cave.  While you might think 10 pages is a lot it gets eaten up quickly.

I'll probably write out the adventure and village the way I want and not worry about space.  Once its done then I pare it down and see if I can get it to fit.  I have some great art pieces I need to fit in also.  I'm looking forward to the challenge and something tells me I haven't hit my last turn in this adventure.  It's a puzzle.  Not just writing an adventure, but getting it to fill up the space you have.  Whether its too much or too little. 


  1. Tim, I was having a similar conundrum the other day. Publishing in print format is a whole different beast than just PDF. It actually can affect the content, as you pointed out.

    How about splittin it into two volumes of the Manor? Keep your intro, add more information, and publish it as a "cross over" 4-5?

  2. I've had a similar issue regarding WotC's protected identity monsters. Luckily, the physical descriptions of most of the D&D monsters came from things that pre-date the development of the game, and seem to arguably be PD (like the plastic figure the rust monster is based on, or the comic that inspired the displacer beast). I think it would be great if the OSR community could come together on an "open content" version of these monsters - something that we could all use "in place of" protected content, but in a name/stat combination that we could agree on, but subverts the protection - e.g., in the d30 DM companion, I have stats for coeurl (DB), the corroder (RM), and the carrion climber. S&W uses "carrion creeper".

  3. I like the introduction. Tim read it to me last night.

    This whole protected thing is silly to me.

  4. Looking forward to seeing what comes of this. Cutting one's own work to pieces is often the hardest part of written creation, I think.

  5. Oh yes, page counts in any writing endeavor can start to overflow very, very quickly.

  6. OSRIC has the Coeurl upon which the displacer beast was based. I believe it's available under the OSRIC Open License.

  7. Have you ever done a post about putting these 'zines together? I am very interested in your methods.

  8. Moving from PDF distro to print is a completely unique trip for sure. Looking forward to this one!

  9. I am looking forward to seeing it.