Monday, October 28, 2013

Writing an Adventure

The following is my 9 Step System of adventure writing...

Step 1:  Come up with an idea you like.  Example:  Orcs with bright purple mohawks.

Step 2:  Refine it.  Basically, add another layer or two of detail.  Example:  These are punk rock Orcs with mirror shades from a parallel universe; they wear black leather motorcycle jackets, carry knives and guns, etc.  They want to wreak havoc, tear down the establishment, etc.

Step 3:  Come up with a couple more ideas and refine those.  Example:  Elves with 80's hair cuts, bright blue, pink, and silver makeup wearing matching colored spandex who also want anarchy.  While the fashion is New Wave based, there's also high technology like cyberspace, electro-knives, laser pistols, etc.

Step 4:  Create a connection - how can these three ideas be used in conjunction with each other?  Example:  A future-tech mirror allows access between this parallel universe of nihilism and oppression and the D&Desque realm the players are familiar with.

Step 5:  Find the major conflict.  Example:  The Orcs are anarchists while the Elves want order - both are trying to create change, but the Orcs don't care who gets hurt or how violent their revolution becomes.  Elves temper their desires with diplomacy, empathy, compromise, etc... a slower means of change.  The PCs should help the Elves capture the Orcs and get both sides back to their own universe after spilling out in this one.  This dynamic reflects the greater conflict - the people versus an oppressive corporation.

Step 6:  Revise your ideas to fit the connection you've come up with according to the major conflict you've decided upon.  Example:  The PCs find a magic mirror in the dungeon they're exploring which links to the future-tech mirror in that other universe.  The weird, New Wave Orcs and Elves want to explore the fantasy world that opened because PCs tampered with the magic mirror.  Orcs start destroying everything while the Elves attempt to understand this new world and want to help the PCs, work within the system, etc.

Step 7:  Think of an exciting set-piece.  Each session should have a really cool encounter - a place, monster, NPC, item, etc. which sets off the adventure.  If your session was a film, what would the poster show, what would be in the trailer?  You need something awesome to showcase.  Example:  Cyberspace is full of information clusters, sentient numbers, letters, and giant Star Worms roaming through the blackness like multi-hued circuit boards, at the center of which floats a pulsating jewel powering the entire network and guarded by thirteen cybernetic demons.

Step 8:  Consider options - have a place for the adventure to go.  The GM should have a plan... what happens next?  Example:  The New Wave Elves see all the magical weaponry in this realm and decide to borrow some of it in order to challenge their oppressor: an all-powerful mega-corporation.  Towards the adventure's end, the PCs might go to that other world and fight against the mega-corporation's zombie soldiers.

Step 9:  Run the adventure, prepare to improvise.  Example:  After introducing both sides, the PCs decide to let the Orcs destroy the realm because of a bitter dispute with the King.  In this hypothetical scenario, the PCs also decide to capture the Elves for information and to keep them from hindering the Orcs' destruction.  How does a GM handle something like this?  Think about the different options available, but try not to force the adventure to go in a direction that doesn't work.

In summation, adventure writing takes awhile, so it's best to tackle things a little bit at a time.  Don't try to do everything at once, and don't let too many days or weeks go by without going over your notes with an eye for refining, adding layers of detail, fixing inconsistencies, making new connections, and smoothing edges.  I hope the 9 Step System makes your adventure writing easier.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols

I'm happy to announce issue #5 of the old school fantasy roleplaying zine Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols is available and includes an encounter by yours truly.  WMLP is a cool little homemade, DIY, punk rock kind of gaming aid for all those D&Desque GMs looking for something kind of weird.

In this particular issue, Alex Fotinakes continues his vast dungeon with "Part 5a: The Emerald Halls".  Each issue goes deeper and deeper beneath the ruins of Kihago.  Such a cool idea - a bi-monthly or quarterly dungeon that just keeps going.  I ran the first three parts for my group after they finished with LotDS, and everyone loved it.  "Beneath the Ruins" definitely kept the weird going!

Anyways, my piece was inspired by the cover of issue #3 (pictured at right).  It was so bizarre and silly that I immediately started to sketch an idea down on paper.  Get #3, #5, and all of them here!



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Game Knight Reviews tackles LotDS

Brian Fitzpatrick from Game Knight Reviews agreed to review Liberation of the Demon Slayer here.  I'm grateful and honored by such high praise.  All the positive feedback I've received this month has inspired me to start working on module #2.

Thanks, everyone!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

LotDS Errata

"Errata" means minor fuck-ups, right?

An observant soul brought a few inconsistencies to my attention.  While I knew there would be some mistakes, I'm surprised these got through.  But I'm sure every publisher says that.  Anyways, let's dive in...

Concerning O6, the description doesn't jive with the map.  Originally, I intended the open central area of Level 5 to be on the 6th level.

Why AA6 isn't on the map is also a mystery.  There are extra rooms on Level 6, so I advise GMs to put AA6 on the lower right corner of the map.

The letter "H" was skipped in the map's H5, and then a few more letters than necessary were added on the 5th Level map.  Again, I attribute this to switching the 5th and 6th levels around last minute.  While LotDS was playtested and shown to curious individuals beforehand, some of the the latter content was added or heavily revised afterwards.  Definitely a bad move on my part and one that I've learned from.

Well, there it is.  Even though the dungeon below Clear Meadows is a shrine for chaos and the gods who revel in such things, I apologize for the inconsistencies.  Let me assure you that all modules going forward will be triple checked - not only by me, but a few vigilant gamers who volunteer to preview and playtest the manuscript before the printing process.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shame On DCC

This is an open letter to Goodman Games policies and/or personnel, and not the DCC RPG community for which I still have much respect.

I was a fan of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.  Started reading about it a year ago, bought the book, ran the game using a home-made campaign which became Liberation of the Demon Slayer, joined the forum/google community, talked with people, traded gaming-related opinions, etc.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before I encountered some resistance.  A mysterious force which made me feel like even more of an outsider than I normally do.  My posts were taken down, someone came out of the woodwork to hate on me and my religion (the Cult of Cthulhu) while admins/mods turned a blind eye, it took  me longer and longer to get my posts approved before they showed up, I started getting the cold shoulder from my fellow DCC fans.

Partly because of those experiences and partly because of game's nature, I began to gravitate towards Swords & Wizardry.  Definitely a friendlier bunch.

Now that I've self-published my own OSR module, Liberation of the Demon Slayer, I tried posting again.  Nothing.  Just silence from the admins.  My posts weren't getting through.  Finally, an acquaintance posted an announcement for me.  His post and several replies were deleted within 24 hours.  Similarly, a friend who posted the same thing on the DCC RPG google community had his post taken down and was given a warning not to do it again.

I have to wonder WTF is going on over at DCC central?!?  Is there a conspiracy against me?  I freely admit that back around 2006, I was a bit of a jerk sometimes on discussion boards.  I've got a big personality and don't always get along with people.  If someone attacks me, I reciprocated in kind.  Fortunately, over the years I've mellowed a bit.  I've become more diplomatic... cautious.

If the admins of DCC believe my posts and LotDS are anathema to them, then I wish they would email me directly instead of deleting announcements and warning those who dare speak of my old school module.  I still like the Dungeon Crawl Classics game (although, not as much as I used to); however the way I've been treated is downright shameful.  This hobby of ours doesn't need censorship, nor alienation.  A small part of me still hopes that there's been some terrible misunderstanding and all this can be forgiven and forgotten.  However, that small hope dwindles.

What say you, Lords of DCC?


Monday, October 14, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

LotDS on Amazon!

Liberation of the Demon Slayer is now available on!  Sweet.  That's pretty much all this blog post is about.  Just wanted to announce the Amazon release.  :)

I hope some of you are getting ready to read, play, run, blog about, or even review my old school, Lovecraftian, science-fantasy adventure and campaign guide because I would love to know your experiences... Just the thought of warriors, sorcerers, clerics, Elves, and thieves crawling through the dungeons I created (and Dyson Logos rendered) is a tantalizing thrill.

LotDS was spawned (according to the hellish and depraved sacraments of the K'tulu priesthood) so that like-minded gamers could have an incredibly dark and wild ride, reminiscent of the classic modules we all remember.  Yes, it's meant for D&Desque RPGs of zero - 3rd level PCs, but I think LotDS is adaptable to a wide variety of systems and levels.

By His loathsome tentacles,


Sunday, October 6, 2013

LotDS Success!

Some news... a fellow OSR gamer blogged about Liberation of the Demon Slayer's apparent success:  Johua De Santo's blog

Knowing that my work resonated with all kinds of fantasy RPGers is extremely gratifying.  Print versions should be available in two or three days.  Thanks for your patience.


p.s.  If you've read through it and liked what you saw, then please feel free to post a short review on either DriveThruRPG or RPGNow.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

LotDS on DriveThru & Amazon

A gonzo, Lovecraftian, science fantasy quest through the devil-haunted Nether Realms!  Or you could just go back to farming your stinking land...

This has been a long time coming.  My old school fantasy RPG adventure and campaign guide is up on DriveThruRPG as a PDF for a special introductory price of $7:

The print version should be available in a week.  At that time, the PDF alone will go back up to its regular price of $9... but will be $7 for the PDF + print version of $19.

The print (and I believe a PDF) version will also be available on Amazon in about a week as well.

I'll make another announcement when those go live.