Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thoughts on Module Writing

Yesterday, I wrote an encounter area for Down the Shadowvein and I thought I should share some of my thoughts concerning writing modules - or at least how I write modules. :)

IMO, D&D (and most other rpgs for that matter) is primarily a game of exploration. Sure you may kill something and take its stuff, but first you go to a (hopefully) exotic local to do so. You may not even have to kill anything to get some stuff if you're clever. The whole trope of the game is one of entering a fantasy world, where things are different and magic is real. It's exploration first, everything else second. This means that (almost) every module should take the players someplace interesting. How or why its interesting varies greatly: could be that the area itself is intriguing or that the story bringing the players to the location makes the location interesting. That's the main thing for me. Interesting things to see and do - "interesting" combat and loot is secondary.

Since the game is about exploration I believe the best way to write a module is to use that same idea in the creation process. The author needs to be exploring the world right at the moment the figurative pen hits the figurative paper. This authorial exploration of a pretend world is the driving factor behind what I consider good adventure. When I write I'm there, lantern in hand, peering into the darkness, trying to decipher what already exists in that fantasy world and transcribe it to the page.

Yesterday, while writing an area for Down the Shadowvein (area C30 for those who care to know) I went through that old familiar process of discovering what was already there. In the process something entirely unexpected happened and the area is made much more interesting because of it.

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