Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Doldrums

It’s been a bit quiet ‘round these parts of late. Only four posts in the past 30 days time is a clear sign of summer. Nearly a month ago I announced I’d be absent for a dozen days so I could focus on judging the One Page Dungeon Contest, and devote spare time to wrapping up a rather large submission to Fight On!

Agreeing to get that adventure done in one month was me being over-confident in my writing capabilities. I didn’t meet the deadline, but was able to estimate the size so it could be planned around. I should’ve known I wasn’t giving myself enough time; I’ve had nothing but delays and, well, writer’s block with that adventure since day one back in August of last year.

It’s been submitted for a number of days now, but I figured I’d make a post in regard to the blasted project tonight. It’s something of a flight of fancy in many ways, and I’m hoping the editor is bold enough to cut out chunks of the text I wasn’t able to part with. It is truly the polar opposite of the One Page Dungeon, overflowing with information and threatening to collapse under its own weight.

I don’t even know if it’s coming back to me with a nasty letter and orders to revise the thing. It was submitted in font size 9, weighing in at 31 pages, 10 of which are devoted to the adventure’s appendix. It features in the neighborhood of 90 rooms, 70 NPC's, 20 new monsters, 24 new magic items, 20 rumors, 20 suggestions/events, and some tables. That room count includes guest rooms and sub-caves, and many of the NPC’s are just names. Don't let the high page count mislead you, although it is wordy where it needs to be, it is still crammed with substance.

Here's the altogether dense mess of a map that I'm hoping will be in FO! 6:


It was something of a challenge working a functional Adventurer’s Inn into the dungeon. My insistence on including a detailed background and loose plot further complicated matters. Wrapped around all of that I plugged in what I hope are realistic cave and spelunking features using speleological terms.

With an Inn so close to the action I had to take a few things into consideration. Resource management becomes easy mode if this is a normal dungeon level, having a safe house and resupply point around the corner. How can I ensure that players would want to continue to make use of the Inn, even after they are “done” on this level? What on earth, or beneath it, would make anyone want to run an Inn down here?

To combat the proximity of the Inn I undertook two goals. First I would make the caves difficult to negotiate, much like a real cavernous complex. They’re difficult to map, even harder to traverse, boast secret sub-caves and hidden tunnels. Jogging back to the Inn after each encounter is time consuming. Second I deliberately made many very challenging encounters. Most of which can be retreated from safely, but add even more in ensuring that although the Inn not too terribly far away, the level is downright nasty for 5th level characters unless they have large numbers and play wisely.

There’s another plot driven aspect to the Inn that actually might deter characters from spending the night within, but that’s GM adjudicated and shouldn’t be something that prevents them from using it altogether. The Inn is really the focal point of the level.

In an effort to make the Inn actually feel like an Inn and not just a collection of dungeon rooms, I wanted to add enough creative opportunity for GM’s to be able to craft endless possible adventures revolving around the establishment. How successful I was there remains to be seen.

Lastly, why would Jalen Longspear want to open and operate such a place? Reasons are given in the adventure and I think they hold up well enough that players won’t consider the whole affair ludicrous…that is as long as they don’t consider megadungeons in general ludicrous.

In the end I think that the Inn has some nice sand-box aspects to it, as there are plenty of areas to discover and explore. The NPC’s in the Inn offer a plethora of city-type adventures with a crafty GM at the helm. There’s some history and an involved story that can be uncovered but is not essential to the level. There’s some really weird eerie old magic infused throughout.

As I told Calithena, if nothing else the 10 page appendix might be worthwhile for the additional homebrew within. I’ll have more on this submission once I learn whether or not it is seeing print, and then I can give away more information as it is warranted.

*****

This long hiatus has also involved something which I’ll be announcing tomorrow. There’s a six eyed monstrosity stirring in its deep, dark lair, and I think it will awaken on the morrow.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

5 comments:

JB said...

Yow!

Sean Wills said...

looking forward to this !

Timeshadows said...

That map is amazing.
--If the accompanying text is even a fraction as good, it'll be talked about and remembered, fondly.

-wow-

Mike D. said...

As always, I love your maps. Looking forward to seeing this one in print!

Sham aka Dave said...

Thanks guys. I had to pull a few unconventional tricks to get everything to fit, and I hope the end result is not too confusing. I'm still waiting to see how it all unfolds, but again, thanks for the kind words.