Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Q: What system should I use?

A: You can write your adventure for pretty much any system you want. WoAdWriMo is about you and your adventure and what we can do to help you, not about us and our needs or desires. Writing a systemless adventure is also a perfectly acceptable option.

Perhaps you are having trouble selecting a system to use. There are many approaches that will help you narrow your choices down. You could pick a popular system in hopes that more GMs will use your adventure. To that end expect a future WoAdWriMo blog entry regarding the proper use of the d20 license and Open Gaming License.

Going in the opposite direction, you could use your WoAdWriMo adventure as an opportunity to shine a light on a system that isn't as popular as it could be. If you hope to evangelize for your favorite game it would be a good idea to write an introductory adventure for new PCs. Several very good games flounder in obscurity at least partly because some GMs don't know what to do with them. A good intro adventure helps overcome that obstacle.

Adventure writers that want to go systemless may find it helpful to introduce a little bit of system into their adventures. The Fudge role-playing game uses a seven step ladder of ordinary words to describe all traits. The ladder is as follows:
  • Superb
  • Great
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Mediocre
  • Poor
  • Terrible
Using a simple system like this one allows for consistent shorthand remarks such as "The orcs are Good warriors overall but Poor archers." For more information on Fudge (include a free download of the entire rules), check out the official Fudge website, or visit this unofficial Fudge fan forum, or just grab this two-page quickie Fudge in a Nutshell. But please remember using the Fudge ladder system is not a requirement of the WoAdWriMo challenge, just a helpful suggestion that you are entriely welcome to ignore.

Along a similar vein one WoAdWriMo participant, known as VV_GM over at the WoAdWriMo forum, is working on what he calls the Universal Adventure Design Language. We'll keep you posted as details become available.

One final note about system choice. The good folks at Palladium Books seem to have a rather draconian and confusing policy towards online fan creations. While your WoAdWriMo support team loves many Palladium products, their internet policies and reputed litigiousness scares us just a bit. So while we heartily approve of anyone wishing to write adventures for any of Palladium's games, we will not be hosting such works at the WoAdWriMo section of Treasure Tables. But if you provide us with a URL to an alternative host, we will cheerfully link to your adventure.

[Many apologies to all readers for the lack of updates over the last week! My daughter came home with the chicken pox and I had been unable to finish this post.]

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Q: Why is the goal 32 pages?

A: The 32-page goal is an arbitrary guideline only. Many of the classic D&D adventure modules from TSR clock in at around 32 pages, so that's why we picked that number. The point of setting a pagecount is to signal that we're challenging you to write Full Length Badass Adventures, not short one-night jobbies. That being said, if you write a complete, coherent adventure and it's 'only' 20 pages long we are not going to give you an 'F'. We will cheer! Don't pad out your adventure just to achieve our 32 page goal. All the parameters of WoAdWriMo are guidelines designed to help you. If one or more of our guidelines isn't cutting the mustard, please ignore it!

But suppose you really, really want to meet our 32 page goal and you're coming up slightly short. What should you do? Anyone who has had to squeak by in the classroom by handing in a short assignment knows all the tricks you can pull to make a small text seem bigger. The font size can be increased, the margins widened, etc. We ask that you not do this just to reach an arbitrary pagecount. Instead, consider adding bonus materials.

For example, you could add a Designer's Notes section explaining exactly what you are trying to achieve in your work. Or perhaps you could write up a one-page history on the creator and wielders of that cool magic sword in room 23a. A player's hand-out section might be handy for your adventure, if you use lots of clues. Or if your adventure involves a lot of interpersonal intrigue, consider devoting a page to a relationship map. Or just throw in some new crunchy bits, like new monsters or magic items. That's always fun. Basically, ask yourself "What could I add to this module to make it more user-friendly or fun?"

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Q: What happens to my completed adventure?

A: First of all, you get our heartfelt congratulations. Congratulations! You made it! A winner is you! What happens next is entirely up to you. Throughout the entire WoAdWriMo process you are in the driver's seat. Martin Ralya at Treasure Tables will host any WoAdWriMo adventures that participants want to submit to us. Our vision is that the WoAdWriMo section of TT will serve as a central clearinghouse of adventures produced as part of the WoAdWriMo challenge.

But that's just our vision. If your vision is different, that's what we want you to go with. If that means you find another host for your adventure, we will happily link to that other site. Or perhaps you want to submit your manuscript to a publisher. That would be super! We would be thrilled to flip through a copy of Dungeon magazine or click over to RPGnow and see a WoAdWriMo adventure on display.

There is one option we would like to avoid. We don't want you to produce that adventure and then keep it to yourself. Please share! The WoAdWriMo challenge has a two-fold purpose: to motivate you to write and to make great adventures available to other GMs. We can't fufill that second mission goal unless the resulting adventures enter general circulation.

As always feel free to ask questions, share concerns, and make suggestions. We're here to help you.

Nothing New Under the Sun

No one had any delusions of originality when we launched WoAdWriMo. This project is directly inspired by NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, though our methods and goals deviate from that endeavor. Game design challenges like Game Chef and the 24 hour RPG did much to convince us of the feasability of WoAdWriMo.

But we were unprepared to discover that WoAdWriMo is covering the same exact ground as another effort. June may be Worldwide Adventure Writing Month, but December is the Knights & Knaves Alehouse Module Writing Month. Knights & Knaves is a fabulous message board community dedicated to what they like to call "Gygaxian D&D", meaning the original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set from 1974 and the first edition of Advanced D&D. Anyone still interested in these august incarnations of the game would do well to visit the K&KA boards. Note that despite the tight focus of the community, the K&KA module writing challenge is open to any system.

The goal of your WoAdWriMo team is two-fold: to motivate people to write adventures and to help share those adventures with other GMs. Anything that accomplishes those goals meets with our hearty approval. If you would rather work under the aegis of the Knights & Knaves program, we encourage you to do so. If you want to take both challenges, that would be excellent. Or if you want to write a module for K&K then submit the results to the WoAdWriMo database, we will gladly host your adventure.

Later today we'll field more FAQ questions.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Can I start now?

Over the next couple of weeks we'll be using this space to organically grow a Frequently Asked Questions page for Worldwide Adventure Writing Month. Once we seem to have most of the common questions answered, we'll get a complete FAQ posted over at the WoAdWriMo section of Treasure Tables. Today we'll start by tackling one of the first questions asked, even before this project went live.

Q: Do I have to wait until June to start writing my adventure?

A: Absolutely not! If you want to start immediately, that would be fantastic! Think of June as the final stretch, the crunch time with the finish line in sight. There's no reason to wait if you don't want to. We started this project several months in advance so that people could get cracking early if they desired. If someone handed in a complete adventure before June 1st we would be thrilled.

In the meantime consider us your personal cheering section. Yay! You rock! The WoAdWriMo team also wants to be your clearinghouse for useful information and resources in the coming months. If there is something we can be doing to make your module-writing easier, please let us know. We want you to succeed and we'll do whatever we can to help you out. You can leave a comment here, start a new thread on the WoAdWriMo forum, or email me personally.

Future FAQ fodder: What happens to my completed adventure? Are there any legal issues I should be worried about? Why is the goal 32 pages? What system should I use?

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Challenge

Tabletop roleplaying games have traditionally relied on a Game Master to create and run adventures. Sometimes that Game Master uses published adventure material. I know for a fact that the internet is chock full of extremely talented GMs. We can all help each other out by writing adventures we can share with each other. Please consider taking the WoAdWriMo challenge with us: to write a complete, playable rpg adventure of at least 32 pages in length by the last day of June next year. You can do it.

Keep watching this space for my personal thoughts on WoAdWriMo or join us at the Treasure Tables forums where host Martin Ralya has set aside a space for the official WoAdWriMo forum. Ask questions. Voice concerns. Sign on to take the challenge. Spread the word. This is about you and what you can do for our hobby.

Remember June is Worldwide Adventure Writing Month. Start planning now.

Jeff Rients,
WoAdWriMo Coordinator