Thursday, February 22, 2024

Adventure Writing

One thing about cutting out the booze and long as I don't overeat and get to bed at a decent hour, I tend not to sleep all that long. 

Today I awoke a bit before 5am, which is less than six hours of sleep, but part of that is stress. I've got a lot I've got to get done today...a LOT. None of it should be terribly hard, just mentally taxing as I have to deal with a number of different people with a number of different emotional needs and pitfalls to navigate. That bit's a challenge but...whatever. I said I'd do it, so I've got to do it.

Also, it's our last volleyball practice before our first game. Oh, man. Things are looking better than they were, but there is a LOT we haven't covered, especially regarding on-court procedures. And tonight's practice is going to be a short one; communicating info to the players while still working skills is going to be tight. I'm hoping we have a full roster today. I'm hoping the jerseys come this morning (they're supposed to) and that they fit. I'm hoping we're competitive this weekend. 

And the taxes still need finishing.  *sigh*

SO...adventure writing. A nice distraction from the stress and humdrum of daily life. I think I've done more adventure writing in the last 7-8 months than I've done in the last 7-8 years. Okay, that's probably an exaggeration. But I've certainly been writing more standalone, site-based adventures recently than any period I can remember in the past.  Contests and conventions have been largely the reason for this writing "explosion," but its also enjoyable work: a creative exercise, a stretching of the mental muscles. Adventure writing is one part of the DM's "craft," and it's fun to indulge in this aspect of the work. It's a chance to strut a show others what I'm capable of, to exhibit my own particular style and knowledge base.

And it's good practice. The strictures and limitations imposed by contests or the needs of a con game (time blocks, etc.) forces restraint, requires me to be "tighter" in my writing...expressing the needed information in the most efficient, practical means possible, for maximum clarity and playability. It's good, challenging work...and I enjoy good, challenging work...the same way one enjoys a good session of physical training (in the gym or on the field for example). It feels good to be constructive.

It's also nice to get feedback on one's writing. Most all the things I've published lately have received reviews from one source or another. Here (for the interested) are some of the latest:

This is all good stuff. Not just because positive feedback is encouraging, but because critique shows me ways I can improve...things I'm not doing well enough, areas I need to improve, exposition that needs more clarity. I've written before that reviews of game adventures are largely unfruitful without having played (and, thus, experienced) the adventure...however, for the author of  the adventure, reviews are helpful: they show whether our ideas are "landing" and whether or not they make sense for the person doing the reading. 

If we can't communicate the ideas properly, how is there even a chance that the adventure can be run in a fun and engaging manner?

These are the thoughts I'm having this morning. That and the question of whether or not, going forward, I should try monetizing such works. To date, all the adventures I've published have been freebies, downloadable from my mediafire files. Each adventure has garnered several hundred downloads. If I had polished them and sold them as PDFs on DriveThruRPG for a buck apiece, I could have netted...well, you get the math. Not a lot of money...but not insignificant, either. ANY money exchanged for one's creative endeavors is "significant;" it tangibly affirms the artist's decision to create.


Just my thoughts as I down my (decaf) coffee and prepare for the morning ritual to begin.'s time to go. I'll yak at y'all later.
: )


  1. I hadn't seen Dragonwrack before.

    Sweet to see my home town "Colfen" made the hex map. I will 100% have to do a deep dive on this.

    I have nothing to add to you post other than thoughts on my homeland. I'm way to excited about this for a grown adult.

    If you ever revise the map. I would add Steptoe Butte. It is the perfect lookout to survey the Palouse. The snake river actually goes south at "Looton" into Hells canyon ( a fun map addition) and the Clearwater is the eastern river. I also accept that after the fall of civilization folks might think the snake is the other river and the name gets changed. 100% fine answer.

    Also I better see a Cougar on the wandering monster table near the ruins of Pulmas

    "This cougar used to be part of pack of 12 before it disolved, attacks dawgs on site"

    1. Dude. You actually made me guffaw.

      The ruins of "Pulmas" actually had nothing to do with the PAC12...prominent college towns in my setting tend to be enclaves of wizards and sages (hence, the Pulman magi seeking revenge on the wandering monsters table). I just couldn't have a thriving city set-up across the street from Devil Town, only made sense that it would be the first place Tiamat's forces would sack.

      Don't worry...if the the heroes are successful, the town will be rebuild.

      (I think a mountain lion would be a fine sigil for the city's coat-of-arms)

      ; )

    2. I might have to pick up Dragonwrack and save the Palouse from Tiamat! But am I to understand that my beloved Moso(w) is the locus of the dragon cult?

      Steptoe would definitely make a good Weathertop type landmark.

      The map reminds me of a game I played in in high school, where the referee used Idaho places as adventure sites, including a whole thing with elementals out at INL

    3. Yes. Moscow is the heart of her evil empire. In my campaign world, Idaho is not a particularly nice or habitable region (it's referred to as the "Idaho Deathlands"), so Moscow makes a good location from which to draw brigands, humanoids, and ornery mercs.

      You should see what I've done with the southern part of the state: that's my location for my re-skinned Desert of Desolation series (most of the plains east of Boise are pretty barren and inhospitable, without the benefits of modern irrigation technology and with a much reduced Snake River). Still deciding whether or not to add an active volcano or two to the Craters of the Moon (that would make it a good location for the hidden city of Sudderham from A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords).
      ; )

  2. Picking up on your mention of coffee, I'm often happy to buy an interesting adventure for the price of a coffee - £3 in my money $3.75 in yours. At that sort of level the purchase on a whim isn't going to cause me too much pain if it turns out to be duff. It needn't be anything fancy just something that looks well written and has some decent maps.

    1. Oh, boy...anything adventures I publish are probably going to be very far from "fancy."
      ; )

  3. Adventure writing has been cathartic exercise to expel the stress shit inside. It does help. Plus, I find a happiness creating. Some things are not good. Some are. In the past I've written my adventures and threw them in a drawer never to be seen or played. Today I offer them for free if they are interested or if they like them they throw a few bucks into my jar.

    I'm glad you're finding it helpful. And its good to offer your adventures for free, but its also great to earn money. Those other gaming books, those Kickstarters, and other tertiary products cost money. I often use the money I earn from adventures to buy other gaming things. I may have a problem.

    1. Oh, I don't think that's a problem. Most of the money I make from my published game books go back into the hobby (i.e. buying other people's stuff and paying for game-related printing my own books). I'm still in a pseudo-barter system here, with the virtual dollars facilitating the exchange of goods and services in its own micro-economy. Sounds to me like you're doing the same.

      There probably comes a point when some feel their TIME, however, is worth something more than nothing. If you're really throwing your back into it, sweating over the creation of an adventure, pouring hours of your life into editing and rewriting, then I can see wanting to recoup something for the effort...after all, it's effort you could have spent working extra hours at a coffee shop or as a grocery clerk or something. Figuring somewhere in the vicinity of 80-90 hours for Dragonwrack (a VERY low/conservative estimate) at $20 an hour (minimum wage in Seattle is $19.97/hour), I'd probably expect to receive something like $1700 just to break even on "time spent." On average, I get 300 downloads from my free adventures, so I'd probably want to charge $5-6 for something the size of DW...and probably more like $6-7 because of fees associated with using DriveThruRPG.

      Is the price of a beer too much for folks to buy a serviceable adventure? Maybe.

    2. Wow, your local minimum wage is greater than our UK one is:

      £10.42 is $13.23!

      We have a suggested living wage of £12.50 which is about $16 I think. About $5 is reasonable for an adventure that lasts 1-2 sessions. It need not be more than a dozen pages I think, including maps and monster roster. With good ideas it seems easier to sell 3 or 4 12-page adventures at $3 each than one 48-page adventure at $10.

  4. How do we access mediafire? I'd also pay for your work without hesitation.

    1. Appreciate that.

      When I offer something for free, I usually post a link in the blog post describing what it is. Yes, I could (and probably SHOULD) have a list of all my downloadable content, easily accessed...but the free stuff isn't what I'd call "polished," and without the context of the post describing it, it might not make all that much sense.

      Hmm...maybe I should just post a list. Give me a little time.