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Thinking Out Loud

Friday, July 15, 2005

Exhausted - a "crash" course in D&D module writing

Well, my pre-GenCon world is suddenly even busier than before. Just as Joseph and I were looking to scrap all plans to run any events for one particular Dungeon Crawl Classic (or "DCC" for short) module that had been put on the "back burner" for GenCon and push the deadline for the publication back to October or November, we found out the sponsor tie in is going to have a very strong presence at GenCon, and wanted to know last Friday if the module could be printed and ready for distribution by mid-August.


As such, I now have been pressed into writing the first of three chapters for this massive DCC module as a standalone "serial" module for release at GenCon. Given the printing schedule and deadlines, I now have until next Friday to complete the module! Considering I hadn't even looked at the project for several weeks, that was a bit of a surprise.

Thankfully, insomnia has some side benefits. After 2 sleepless nights and 2 busy days, I completed my 15,000 word first draft, complete with maps and handout references. Not bad, all things considered. My reliable "playtest posse" pulled through again, and on short notice (as in, less than 24 hours notice) they created a great mix of 5th level PCs and met at my place to put the module through its paces.

These folks are great -- Jeff, Erin, Dave, Toni, Steph and Haden have helped me playtest some of my other work, like Crypt of the Devil Lich, Dungeon Interludes and Vault of the Dragon Kings (the official 2005 DCC Tournament module). We had a great time, and I got a lot of good ideas on balancing the module and revising some of the encounters. Despite being rough in a few spots, I'm very pleased with how the module turned out.

The highlight of our gaming session, which won't make any sense out of context (but I can't help but reprint it here) had to be the untimely death of the halfling rogue.

The halfling rogue was somehow "forgotten" while the rest of the group pursued a goblin rogue running away with an artifact they were looking for. The rest of the group, and the goblin, were all hasted, so the poor halfling fell far behind the others. In the group's rush to track down the rogue, the halfling had to pick his way to the cave entrance, and was promptly ambushed by the goblins that fled an earlier battle -- including their leader, a nasty goblin matriarch. He was promptly dazed, then slowly poked to death by their meager little daggers.

When the group returned to find out what was taking so long, they found the halfling face down, stripped naked, his head and eyebrows shaved -- and "I Love Grupthump" tattooed on his chest (a minor gobin hero noted in the module). The female bard actually had a spare set of clothes, but it was formal nobility clothing, so we decided it was a fancy dress. So for the rest of the adventure, the male halfling had to wander around, bald, dressed in a Medium-sized formal dress with the sleeves and hem hitched up. It was hilarious.


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