A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer


A Hero’s Journey

A Hero's Journey

So I've sent The Heart of Fire to a few people who volunteered to edit it; I haven't heard from them in a few days, so either I've stupified them with my awesome writing or my writing is soi abysmal that I compelled them to jump off a bridge. You can never tell with these sort of things...

In the meantime, inspired by Thick Skull Adventure's upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure "Attack of the Frawgs!" (which I help edit), I had an idea for a level 0 mini-adventure. I would have written it for the DCC ruleset, but all I have for now are the "beta" rules. I could have waited, I know... But I'm impatient. Once I get an idea in my head I need to get it done and out there.

So I decided to create the module using the level 0 rules for D&D 4E that were documented by the "A Hero's First Steps: Rules for Level 0 Characters" article by Philippe-Antoine Menard (a.k.a. @ChattyDM) that was published in Dragon magazine #403 (DDI subscription required). Here is the intro, in all its vague glory:

    For years you have followed in the footsteps of your master, watching his every move and learning through observation and study. You longed for the day when you might actually be able to follow in his footsteps and become an adventurer yourself, basking in the fame and glory that comes with such an honor.

     One day, during what should have been a normal expedition for your master and the other members of his group, everything changes. You suddenly find yourselves alone, the only hope for a city in desperate need of salvation, and you must put what you have observed in to practice. Can you step up and become the hero you were destined to be?

It's very short - less than 20 pages - and really only has a couple of encounters. I designed it with roleplaying in mind, where the players can really get in to character when their simple level 0 characters are thrust in to danger and must deal with forces beyond their understanding.

The hardest part of this module was coming up with names... The city had three different names - an online random name generator seriously suggested the name "Cloverclover" - until I settled on the name Feldspar. It's a strange name I know, but I'm sure someone can come up with a good reason for it to be called that? And I also had to find a name for a pirate ship, and even though the online "pirate ship name generator" are far from appropriate, it did help me come up with the ship name as The Red Barnacle.

Anyway, you can purchase the mini-adventure A Hero's Journey for the low price of $1.99 at Drive Thru RPG!

Map Pack M3: Crypt Entrance

While I was creating the adventure, I ended up creating a tactical map that I really liked: the entrance to an underground crypt. So I decided to make that in to a high resolution image (200 DPI) and release it as a map pack. This new map pack, brilliantly titled M3: Crypt Entrance (I suck at names... sue me) is also available at Drive Thru RPG.

Once I feel comfortable about The Heart of Fire - which will hopefully be soon - that will be released.


The Heart of Fire

It's been two weeks since a post, so I figured I'd post something.

Yesterday I finished my editing pass on my upcoming Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition mega-adventure The Heart of Fire. I use the term "mega-adventure" loosely; it's 130 pages, which makes it larger than most adventures... but it's not as big as Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (222 pages) or Return to the Tomb of Horrors (which is well over 200 pages if you count illustrations, maps and monsters). And I don't know how big Madness at Gardmore Abbey is, but by all accounts it's a big one too.

I mention those for a reason... Unlike my past endeavors, this is not a linear dungeon. There are two different entrances, each with a whole set of rooms, and players can take multiple paths through these areas to reach the final boss. They can hack and slash approach or try a more subtle tactic; it's up to them. In a full session, I don't expect a party to go through every room in the adventure, but it does give them the option to go exploring and investigate several different quests and subplots.

I've posted some teasers on Twitter, such as the map of the Isle of Pyrias (by J.D. Harvill from Cartographer's Guild) and the ground floor of the Temple of Blackfire. There are also some other pics on my DeviantArt page.

This week I am going to find editors for it; as you can imagine, it's kind of hard to find editors willing to plod through a 130 page document for free (NOTE: If you're willing to volunteer, please let me kn0w), but once that is done I will be releasing it digitally through Drive Thru RPG as well as submitting it to the ENnies (hey, might as well, right?).

Once that is done, I am going to attempt something: a Kickstarter for the print release. You see, there isn't a better feeling of accomplishment than to hold a physical copy of your own creation in your hands. So I'd like to try and run a very low budget Kickstarter - probably a couple of grand at most - to cover printing copies and other expenses (commissioning an artist to do the cover, getting my own ISBN number, listing on major sales venues, possible advertising, etc.) and see if t works. And if it goes really well, perhaps it could help fund future products like The Coming Dark.

So if all goes well, The Heart of Fire will be published by the end of this month, and the Kickstarter will follow shortly thereafter. We'll see how things go.

In the meantime, I have started to work on my next project: a significantly smaller adventure for a party of 0th level characters, using the guidelines published in "A Hero's First Steps" by Philippe-Antoine Menard (a.k.a. @ChattyDM on Twitter). If it goes well, I may also port the encounter over to Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics system if those rules become available soon.

Finally, I have one big article/blog post I'm working on, but it's complicated and it... well... needs to be approved by higher authorities. 😉