Thursday, May 25, 2023

Writing Adventures

I got back into Seattle on Tuesday. My grandmother passed away yesterday (Wednesday); I got the call at the same time I was placing flowers on my mother's gravestone, one week after her burial.

Life goes on.


In addition to all the "real world" stuff I've got on my plate at the moment, I'm currently engaged in a crap-ton of adventure writing. I mean, a LOT.

The re-write/re-purposing of the I3-I5 Desert of Desolation series has been temporarily suspended. Not because it's not a great idea (I mean...I love it), that it's really not suitable (even as an open region of my campaign world) for exploration by characters under 3rd level or so.  And all my players are about to start over (Friday afternoon) with brand-spanking new 1st level characters.

TPKs have a way of resetting things.

SO, I need some low-level stuff to get them up to snuff. Because I've been busy, and because I needed a breath of fresh air, I took the time to comb through the racks and a game shop near my grandmother's house in Missoula. Shout out to Retrofit Games, which had an absolutely beautiful store and friendly/helpful staff, who were able to get me something sufficient for my needs (as well as great recommendation for a cheeseburger in town: Frugal's. Get "the Classic Fix"). 

What I got, was a 20 page DCC Lankhmar adventure module written by Michael Curtis called Grave Matters. I am on record as a "non-fan" of the DCC system (which I've played before, multiple times), but it's close enough to B/X...which is close enough to AD&D...that I can make it function with minimal work.

And I mean minimal. Curtis knows his stuff ("Duh," says all the people who own Stonehell Dungeon, etc. However, this is my first product of his so far as I know). For a measly $10, I got a book with TWO adventures (Grave Matters and Madhouse Meet), neither of which suck, and perfectly suitable for PCs of 1st and 2nd level. The treasure counts are even (well, almost) correct, which is the usual thing you find lacking in OSR games.

SO...yeah, Lankhmar-esque adventure is perfectly fine for my Bandit Kingdom Boise. And with a little x.p. under their belts, it should be a simple matter of slipping the group a treasure map to get them out into the desert...probably a nice way to leave behind past shenanigans.

But campaign stuff isn't the only thing for which I'm writing. Turns out I'm going to a game convention this first since the pandemic...and even though it's not till October, I plan to be well-prepped for the three game slots I'm slated for. The con is called Cauldron, "the OSR EuroCon" and it's supposed to be a celebration of 1st edition AD&D that will play out over three days in Hessen, Germany. Fortunately, it is an international affair and so games will be run in English (the international language of tourists). 

Room and board...and beer...appears to all be included in the ticket price, but you have to bring your own books and dice, and I'm cognizant of my responsibility to represent the USA well (currently, I'm the only Ugly American on the docket). Because I am old and lazy, and because it is one of my most beloved adventure modules, I am re-writing I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City into something suitable for a three-part, con-style adventure series't suck(?) too much (??). 

Con games are tricky: you have a few hours to get down to business, and (hopefully) provide a fair amount of game play, with a satisfying (or conclusive) end. Cauldron also has the additional challenge of being run with ADDKON rules (Germany's version of the FLAILSNAILS conventions)...which for me means that I'm not running these as one-offs but as adventures that will impact the PCs even after I've left their schönes Land (und bier) behind. No apocalyptic party-nuking scenarios, just good clean AD&D.

ANYway. It should be great, but I want to play-test those, too. And ideally, that will mean getting my current group up to 5th & 6th level by the end of the summer. Doable...but a tall order nevertheless.

Especially considering Prince of Nothing just announced his (third) annual NoArt-Punk contest. And, of course, I want to enter (again). And, of course, I want to put forth a good showing and build on what I learned in the last two NAP events. And THIS year, the theme is "high level" D&D, something that holds a special place in my heart. My last two entries (one of which was a finalist and got a place in the book) were both written for parties of 10th-14th level. I'm thinking this year's will be more in the 9th-12th level range, but I already have an idea for it and it's a little on the ambitious side: something on the scale of 60-some encounters instead of my normal 30ish. Which (to give you some perspective) would be around 50% larger than all three scenarios I'm writing for Cauldron combined. No small feat, especially considering I need to draw the maps and I suck at maps.

But NAP III isn't due till November 30th. Prince suggested I write it on the long flight back from Germany to Seattle. We'll see.

Yeah: a lot of adventure cobbling going on at the moment, some of it fairly ambitious. But working with monsters and traps and treasures and fantasy scenarios is a welcome respite from dealing with all the other "stuff" that's going on in my life at the moment. And these respites help keep Not sure the word I'm looking for ("grounded" ain't it). D&D helps let the pressure off; it's the valve that keeps the steam from blowing the kettle. I'm not sure if my life would function better (or differently) without it, but for right now I'm glad to have it.

Later, Gators.


  1. Wow. USA to Germany for a few days gaming. On your own or taking the family?

    1. Yeah, VENGER CON is a lot closer... and sooner! ;)

    2. @ Jacob:

      On my own...and I feel like a shit-heel going to Europe without them (have I not written about this before? I guess I still have a lot of drafts not yet posted to Ye Old Blog).

      @ Venger:

      Hope it's a great one for you and the attendees, but I probably won't make it.