Sunday, July 1, 2007

The month that was.

Worldwide Adventure Writing Month '07 is officially over. Let's hand out some thank-yous to everyone who made this project a success!


Martin Ralya, for volunteering Treasure Tables as a home for our Adventure Archive and Forum and offering lotsa general support.

WeaveWarden of Myth-Weavers, for great advice (both here and in private) and offering to make all our adventures more accessible for online play.

Peter Seckler for being the first to complete the challenge, thereby showing the rest of us that it can be done.

Jay A. Hafner, Phill Winters, Gabor Lux and Bobby Derie for completing their WoAdWriMo projects in the time alotted, proving that Peter isn't some sort of superhuman freak.

Industry professionals Mike Mearls and S. John Ross, for their great advice and words of encouragement.

All the WoAdWriMo forum participants and everyone who commented here on the WoAdWriMo blog.

The people on my blog who encouraged the project, especially Dave and Stuart.

Most especially I want to thank everyone who took the challenge, whether you turned in a completed adventure or not. You all rock!

So where do we go from here? As I explained yesterday, it's never too late to turn in your own WoAdWriMo project. Or join us next year as we all get together to tackle WoAdWriMo '08!

In the meantime, please make use of all the great free adventures we can offer the public. Spread the word about the existence of our Adventure Archive. Writing these adventures was only half of the WoAdWriMo equation. The project won't be complete until people are using these adventures. If you or anyone you know runs any of the adventures in our archive, please stop by the WoAdWriMo Forum and tell us all about it! And if you can think of any way we might improve on WoAdWriMo, any service we can offer or technique we can adopt to make next June a bigger success, please let us know! Drop by our forum or email me directly at jrients AT gmail DOT com.

See you next year!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Howzabout some Shadowrun?

We've got another adventure added to the WoAdWriMo Adventure Archive. Bobby Derie presents Zero Sum Gain, "intended for use with Shadowrun, Fourth Edition and no other supplements or sourcebooks are required for play (though the players and gamemasters may find Runner Havens and Street Magic useful for reference)." Congratulations to Bobby! We're pleased to be able to add another adventure to our archive, especially one for a system we didn't already have covered.

The Beginning of the End

Today is the last official day of Worldwide Adventure Writing Month. We'd like to congratulate Phill Winters for completing his project, the D&D 3.5 adventure Skyfell: the Discovery. Way to go, Phill! His work is available for download, along with all the others we've received, at the official WoAdWriMo Adventure Archive.

No let us suppose that you stepped up to the plate and took the WoAdWriMo Challenge, but that you haven't quite finished your adventure. What should you do? First of all, do not panic! Everyone on the WoAdWriMo team understands that it isn't always possible to come through on a time limit operation like this. We totally respect that you took the challenge and celebrate the work that you have done. But what to do with an incomplete adventure? Here are some options:
  • Drop the project and try again next year. Response was sufficient that your WoAdWriMo team will be at it again in 2008. We'd like you to be right there with us. You can start a new project or pick up where you left off this year.
  • Turn in an unfinished adventure. One of the major goals of WoAdWriMo is to provide free materials for GMs. If you think your incomplete project could still be of use to others, we will gladly accept it into our archive. We'll label the work 'incomplete' as a courtesy to prospective downloaders, but that doesn't mean your work is unappreciated. Thank you for your contribution!
  • Keep working. We will gladly accept late submissions. Our one month time limit has always been a guideline, not a straightjacket. If you've got an adventure to share, we'll host it even if you turn it in 11 months from now. We want to show the world your awesome work, no matter when you finish it!

Note that these options can be used in conjunction. If you want to submit what you have now, but update your work later, we're game. We simply ask that you not overload us with a large number of updates on the same project. Send all your adventures and updates to martin AT treasure tables DOT org. Please label the email "WoAdWriMo submission" or something like that.

If you're almost done, stop reading this blog and get back to work! :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Completed Projects!

Jay Hafner (WoAdWriMo forum member Emirikol) has completed his adventure! The Blue Mountains is a Conan/D&D adventure done "Keep on the Borderlands style with pregenerated characters. It makes an excellent intro for Norse or cold land gaming campaigns." Awesome! Congratulations, Jay!

And Gabor Lux has sent in Systema Tartarobasis, a 56-page adventure for Castles & Crusades. Wow! Thanks for taking the WoAdWriMo Challenge, Mr. Lux! We are super thrilled to be able to support a great game like C&C!

Peter Seckler (a.k.a. Abyssal Maw) has submitted a second WoAdWriMo adventure! Called Xathyl's Redoubt, this dungeon can be used as a standalone or in conjunction with Peter's first module, The Maze of Cherno. Great work, Peter!

These adventures and any more we receive can be found at the official WoAdWriMo downloads page.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Final Week is here!

We're down to the point in Worldwide Adventure Writing Month where only one thing matters: determination. I truly believe you can finish your WoAdWriMo in the next seven days, as long as you make a conscious decision to do so. You've got to want it. Don't let yourself make excuses. Only a positive attitude and grit can see you through.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Q: What if I miss the deadline?

Like the target size of 32 pages, we at WoAdWriMo consider the 'deadline' of June 30th to be a goal, not a stick with which to beat the participants. If you complete your adventure in July or later, do not be ashamed of not completing the project in June. We're not here to bring you down. Any adventures submitted on or after July 1st will be cheerfully accepted! Don't stop writing just because you missed a completely arbitrary deadline. We want you to succeed and we want you to be able to share the fruits of your hard work with others. Just don't let our easy-going attitude be an excuse to put off working on your adventure!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

First completed module!!!

Peter, a.k.a. Abyssal Maw, has completed his Worldwide Adventure Writing Month project! Follow this link to The Maze of Cherno, "A D&D 3.5 Megadungeon for characters levels 1-5". Peter, congratulations on being the first person we know of to successfully complete your adventure!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tips from the Pros, Part 2

We're almost halfway through Worldwide Adventure Writing Month. Keep up the good work! You can do this! If you get stuck, here's some great advice on overcoming writer's block from S. John Ross. Mr. Ross has been working in the game industry since 1990. Click here for some of Mr. Ross's credits. Nowadays Mr. Ross runs his own publishing company, Cumberland Games & Diversions. Cumberland was one of the first all-electronic publishing ventures, though in recent years Mr. Ross has made some of his product line available via print-on-demand. Below the line are S. John's tips for beating writer's block.

As a warm-up, any game-writing newbie facing “writer’s block” should consider discarding the phrase “writer’s block” entirely. It’s a heavy phrase, encumbered with quasi-mythical creative fears. The net result is a kind of Wizard of Oz effect where the tiny trembling little problem puffs itself up into a Great and Powerful foe. Yank that curtain back; and see? It's just workaday anxiety.
  • Walk away – for a little while. Never use this as an excuse not to write, but sometimes just going for a swim, washing the dishes, having some sex or taking a brisk walk is the best tonic. Don’t bring work along (mentally or physically); just swim, wash, screw or hike, as you please. Work the knots out, stay active, and make sure there’s more going on in your mind – and your life – than whatever it is you’re trying to write. Stay physical, stay social, and keep perspective.

  • Feed your brain with good writing by others, but feed it something unexpected. Read (or watch, or listen to) something tangential. If you’re writing a fantasy module, try a crime-TV-show episode guide or an article on windowsill gardening. If you’re writing a space-adventure piece, read about ancient Persia or try a new cookbook. Sometimes, you’ll find inspiring fragments you can translate back into you work, but for the most part just focus on the writing. Is it clear, engaging, informative? Let it inspire your approach. Is it muddy, dull, and rambling? Let it inspire you to show them how it’s done. Writing well is its own wellspring of energy.

  • Take your eyes off the finish line. You eat a pizza one bite of one slice at a time; don’t try to shove the whole pie down your throat. Pick a morsel and savor it, devoting yourself with gusto to a single portion of the project – a sidebar, a particularly eccentric NPC, an especially deadly monster encounter. Then, move on to the next morsel, and enjoy just how different the pieces can be. Before you know it, you’ll be reaching for the crumbs, all done and still hungry for more.

  • Never forget to groove on the joy of what you’re engaging in. This is game writing, and that rocks. If the idea of creating RPG material excites you, then you’ve already got the one true secret weapon: tap into your greatest campaigns and favorite characters from the gaming table. Everything you need is right there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tips from the Pros, part 1

This week we'll be bringing you some advice from two professional game designers. Today we'll hear from Mike Mearls. Currently employed at Wizards of the Coast, Mr. Mearls is one of the brightest luminaries to come out of the d20 revolution. His list of credits is both long and impressive. You can read further insights of Mike's at his livejournal and at the Wizards website. Take it away, Mike!
Here's a few things I've learned:

1. When it comes to gaming, doing is better than thinking. Some of the best ideas I've had for adventures or mechanics have come off the top of my head. I think that, in the heat of the moment when I need something cool or entertaining, I just go with what's fun. It's easy in game and adventure design to get caught up in theory, or obsessed over minutia or corner case situations that don't have a real impact on play. When you have five players waiting for something cool to happen, all you want to do as GM is find something fun and entertaining. In that moment, you strip away everything except fun, and I think it's conducive to good gaming ideas.

So, run a game, or play a game (RP, video, or board; whatever's handy) and just focus on what was fun about it. At the end of the day, elegant die mechanics, compelling plot lines, and everything else are all crap unless the end result is fun.

(As an aside, adventures that I ran before publishing have always turned out better than ones that I never ran. I think this bit of advice is the reason why.)

2. Talk games with other, active gamers. I find that just talking about games is stimulating, particularly if you throw some ideas you've had out there. New perspectives, especially from people who game in ways that are really different from your own, can make you look at things in different ways. This doesn't mean slavishly doing what others tell you, but it does mean listening and learning. Sometimes, a fresh angle is what you need to get around a problem.

3. This next bit is totally cribbed from every lame motivational speaker ever, but I think it's useful to keep in mind. Failure is better than mediocrity. It's easy to get too worried about looking goofy, or stick too closely to how you think everyone else wants you to do something, and in the process lose your own voice, vision, and perspective. If you think an idea is maybe a bit stupid, or a little too weird, follow it. At the very least, talk it out with your gaming buddies. It's easy to talk yourself out of a risky but good idea.

(By the same token, if everyone thinks your idea is dumb, trust your friends.)

Hope that helps!

- M

Monday, June 11, 2007

Welcome to Week 2!

If you look back on the first week of WoAdWriMo and aren't happy with your work thus far, do not despair! Our forum is full of cool people who can help you work through mechanical kinks or assist in brainstorming. If the slow pace of your work is causing you to lose hope, don't sweat it! The point of Worldwide Adventure Writing Month is not to judge anyone. We won't poo-poo your module if it is 'only' twenty pages long. I promise! If you come to the end of the month and have written a complete, useable, but shorter module, that goes in the win column! Yay, you wrote a module that other GMs can use!

If you feel like you've stumbled and can't quite recover, remember that dedication is the only thing that can see you through to the end of this challenge. You've got to pick yourself up and get back on that bike! If it's been a day or more since you've added something to your module close this browser window and go write something right now!

You can do it!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Q: What counts toward the page goal?

A question tha has come up more than once is whether things like maps or pre-gen PCs count towards the 32 page goal. The short answer is YES! Anything that helps make your adventure awesome counts towards your goal. Over at the WoAdWriMo forum user WeaveWarden (of MythWeavers) came up with this great post:

Just as there are many possibilities for a given adventure, there are many possible ways of describing an adventure. Let's take a look at some of the common elements that writers can use to fill those pages with useful content.

Textual Descriptions
  • Discussion of how to integrate the adventure into an ongoing game (hooks, description of preceding adventures, ways to fit into an established campaign setting)

  • Setting Description

  • Character Descriptions

  • Pre-Readied Character Speech

  • Pre-Readed NPC/Monster Action descriptions

  • NPC/Monster Statistic Blocks

  • GM Meta-Advice on ways to introduce/handle certain situations

  • Custom Adventure-Specific Rules

  • Treasure Tables (and other tables of random possibilities)

  • Lists of possible results for information-finding attempts (possible rumors uncovered, knowledge known on a subject, clues uncovered in a room)

  • Suggested extra media for a given scene or story (music, movie clips, links to videos available online, etc)
Non-Textual Descriptions
  • Scene illustrations

  • Images of characters (consider both illustrations and photographs)

  • Adventure/encounter flow charts (to help organize the progression of the story along possible paths of action)

  • Illustrations of opponents / monsters

  • Maps (small-scale and broad geographical)

  • Relationship diagrams (family trees, rivalries, political organizations)

  • Formatting elements (background or border images and patterns, etc)
Don't forget to check the copyright laws governing any images you end up borrowing from other sources.

Good work, MythWeaver!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How's your module going?

If you write at a regular pace and you started on the 1st, then you should have one quarter (8 pages) of your module written by tomorrow. Don't panic if you're see yourself coming up short. I said "if you write at a regular pace" for a reason. Some people write in bursts. Maybe your time is tied up during the week and you'll make more progress over the weekend. Don't berate yourself for 'only' writing a paragraph or two today. If you're working on your WoAdWriMo project, then you're doing something right, no matter what your current page total. Just be careful you don't come to the last few days of June with the majority of your adventure unwritten.

If you have any questions or concerned, feel free to drop a comment here or visit the gang at our official forum. Are you stuck and need some ideas for a slick mechanic or neat plot twist? The WoAdWriMo forum is full of talented people ready to offer a hand!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Q: I'm done! Now what?

We are thrilled beyond measure to hear reports of WoAdWriMo participants that are almost done writing their adventures! So let's say you got a completed adventure. What happens next?

First, please let us know! We want to sing your praises! Drop a comment here or at the WoAdWriMo forum, or send an email to me personally. If you want us to host the adventure so that other may download, please send me a copy in an email. We're trying to get an automatic uploader set up on the WoAdWriMo Adventure home, but so far it is not ready. We'll let you know when we have that up and running.

If you want to host your adventure elsewhere, please provide us with a link so we can pass it on to others. We want people to see all your hard work, and we want GMs interested in your module to be able to find it. Maybe you want to try to sell your work, instead of making it available for free download. If you find a buyer, please keep us informed of the details. We'll help get the word out to prosepctive buyers.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Welcome to Worldwide Adventure Writing Month!

Come join the fun! The challenge to to write a 32 page adventure in the month of June. Then share your adventure with other GMs around the world!

Here are some links to people already participating!




David Jacobs





Jeffrey (some graphics here NSFW)

all the gang at our official forum

If you have links to other participants, please let us know!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Adventure Begins Tomorrow!

June is Worldwide Adventure Writing Month, where participants are challenged to write a 32-page adventure module to share with the rest of the internet community of RPG fans. We invite you to join in the project! All are welcome! This is your chance to flex your writing chops, promote a favorite game system, and help out other GMs worldwide.

If you need assistance of any sort, please feel free to leave a comment here, or to participate in our official WoAdWriMo Forum, hosted by Treasure Tables. Once your adventure is complete, Treasure Tables will be happy to host the file so that you may share your work with the rest of the world. Or host it yourself and we will gladly link to your accomplishment!

Have you decided to take the challenge, but are still having trouble picking a system or a scenario? Feel free to pitch ideas here or at the forum! Need some adventure writing help? Try the articles linked in this thread or check out these two WoAdWriMo blog entries.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Guest post: A Play-By-Post Opportunity

As mentioned yesterday, here's our guest post by WeaveWarden of MythWeaver outlining a great opportunity to make your WoAdWriMo project accessible to the world of play-by-post!

The folks at Myth-Weavers are volunteering to help out with supporting WoAdWriMo by offering an extra way to spread the word and make your WoAdWriMo adventure accessible a wide audience of gaming groups. Myth-Weavers is a roleplay-by-post site that will be hosting your finished WoAdWriMo adventures as special "ready-to-play-by-post" game forums.

Wait, What's RolePlay-By-Post?
RolePlay-by-Post (or just play-by-post) is when gamers run their roleplaying adventures using the medium of online message-boards, often with the help of a variety of gaming-enabling features, like online character sheets, dice-rollers, out-of-character text, and so on.

So, what's a "Ready-to-Play-by-Post" game forum?
A ready-to-play-by-post game forum is the interactive online equivalent of a pre-made adventure (like the one you'll be writing for WoAdWriMo). The general idea is to take an adventure and make it supremely easy to play online.

The adventure information will be formatted for the message board and split into private (GM-only) threads so that it's easy for GMs to copy story descriptions, NPC quotes, and so forth directly into open-to-player game threads. The adventures' maps and images will be uploaded and hosted next to their part in the story, ready to be revealed at the right moment. Important NPCs will be given their own online character sheets for easy customization, and these sheets will be integrated into the Myth-Weavers dice-roller system so that GMs might not even have to look up stats to make critical rolls. The little perks roll on ad infinitum.

Plus, the ready-to-play-by-post adventures will be instantly copy-able for any group that wants to play them, so many different online gaming groups will get a chance to play your adventure!

What do I have to do?
Sit back, relax, and focus on writing your adventure! The WoAdWriMo team members at Myth-Weavers will take care of the conversion of the final adventures to ready-to-play-by-post for you! If you don't particularly care about online play, it's no sweat off your back, since this new way of sharing your adventure will be in addition to hosting your efforts in pdf format at TreasureTables.

If you have any questions or ideas about the ready-to-play-by-post games, go ahead and direct them to the official WoAdWriMo forums.
Thanks for this generous offer, WeaveWarden. I'm unfamiliar with the world of play-by-post, but anything that gets more people playing games they enjoy is okay by me!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

...and we're back!

Worldwide Adventure Writing Month is only a few weeks away! Look for more tips and words of encouragement as we dust off this blog and get ready to ramp up towards WoAdWriMo. Have you resolved to take the challenge? Need help picking a system? If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave comments here or at our official forum.

Tomorrow we'll feature a guest post by WeaveWarden of play-by-post site MythWeavers. In the meantime, do you need help building plots for your adventures? Doctor Rotwang's Adventure Funnel might be just the tool to help!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Two More Ideas on Structure

WoAdWriMo forum member Devin Parker outlines the adventure format of some classic Shadowrun adventures.
In practice, the Shadowrun adventure templates always seemed to work for me as a model for games where the PCs aren't necessarily going to travel in a simple A-B-C progression through the plot. It works well for PCs who will be acting independently, following their own leads, investigating people and places at their own discretion. It generally feels pretty versatile, allowing for such free-roaming PC behavior while still maintaining a plot (rather than simply an "Explore The Hex" type oldschool AD&D module). On the down side, it requires the GM to really familiarize himself with it before running it; doing it cold means a lot of page-flipping and possible mistakes.
Click here to read Mr. Parker's breakdown of the Shadowrun format.

On a more old school tip, here's David Cook explaining how the A series of modules for first edition AD&D were created (from the forward to the compiled A1-4 Scourge of the Slavelords megamodule):

First, each designer chose a low-level monster that would be the basis for his round: orcs in A1, hobgoblins in A2, and gnolls in A3. Next we decided on the number and type of encounters that would occur: nine encounters to fit the time limit of 3 1/2 hours. We guessed this would give a good team just enough time to get through every encounter.


We also set what would happen in each encounter. Thus we came up with the following list:

2 Traps
1 Trick to fool the players
1 Problem the players had to solve
1 Encounter with the basic monster of the round (orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, etc.)
1 Ambush prepared by the basic monster of the round
1 Encounter with the basic monster and a friend (an ogre, for example)
1 Encounter with an unintelligent monster
1 Encounter with a brand new monster
1 Grand Finale

Using this list, we each went to design our tournament rounds.

What's interesting for our purposes is that even with the smaller stat blocks of yesteryear, the A series of modules clock in at around 30 pages each.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Planning by Pagecount

I am pleased to report that more folks have signed on to take the WoAdWriMo Challenge. Without a doubt there a still some out in internet-land who are still on the fence. Here's one way to make the 32 page goal seem a lot less daunting: Try cutting up the task into distinctive pieces of only a few pages at a time.

Here's an example. Say I want to write an old school adventure module, with a dungeon in the middle of a wilderness area. That easily breaks down into chunks. The wilderness area will include a two page map spread, and at least four pages of description of various encounter areas. The dungeon will be three large levels and two small levels. The large levels will each have full page maps and maybe three pages of text. The maps of the two smaller levels will share a page and will need maybe 3 pages of description between the two of them. A mini-dungeon elsewhere on the wilderness map will require a single map and three pages of text.

That ought to cover the basics of an old fashioned site based adventure. For extras I want a village that the PCs can use as a base of operations. That will need another page for a map and maybe 2 pages of text. The main villain and couple henchmen will need full NPC write-ups, say one page for the villain and 1 split between the evil lieutenants. Let's see where this puts us as far as pagecount goes:

2 wilderness map
4 wilderness description
5 dungeon maps
15 dungeon text
1 town map
2 town text

That's 31 pages! Wow, that worked out a lot better than I thought it would when I started this exercise. If anything, this particular project could go over the 32 page goal, as the list above fails to include several items that will add to pagecount. I don't have an introduction or a table of contents or index. I have allocated any space to illustrations. I was thinking 2 half-page and at least 4 quarter-page illos, in addition to the cover image. And I wanted to include at least one new monster and magic item in an appendix, simply because I can.

For more plot and story oriented adventures more of your pagecount will be taken up with things like background information on the situation at hand, more NPCs, story flowcharts, and things like that. But I think this same basic method could help out those kinds of adventures as well.

Again, I urge anyone still hesitant to take the Challenge: just give it a try. We will help you! Do not hesitate to ask for assistance either here or at our forum.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Resolve to take the Challenge

If you are still on the fence about joining the WoAdWriMo team, now is the perfect time to make a New Year's Resolution: to write a complete 32+ page adventure module by June 30th, 2007.

Don't worry if the size of the undertaking seems intimidating. Maybe you just need to look for ways to make our challenge easier on yourself. Do you have a favorite homemade adventure? The fact that it's old hat to your local players doesn't disqualify it from becoming a WoAdWriMo module. Flesh those notes out, give them some real polish, and you'll be surprised how close you are to the 32 page goal. Do you have a system that is particularly easy for you? If you think to yourself "Oh, yeah. Making foes in System X is a snap," then maybe that's what system you should use for you WoAdWriMo project.

And finally, don't hestiate to take tired, old clichés out for a spin. Dragons menacing princesses, tramp star-freighters smuggling spice, and slick espionage agents packing Walther PPKs are clichés for a reason: that stuff works. And you'd be surprised by the number of veteran gamers who would appreciate your spin on these tired old ideas.