The open license for D&D 5th Edition has inspired me to return to writing for roleplaying games after a long and wistful absence. I turn to Kickstarter to help me jumpstart a series of short modules called Places by the Way. Some of them will work fine as short stand-alone adventures, but as I write in the product introduction, each Places by the Way module is meant to be a kit for creating a memorable interlude in a larger campaign. Each entry in the series will consist of two versions sold separately but similar in content. One version will be set in the Forgotten Realms; as such it will be sold exclusively through the Dungeon Masters Guild. The other version assumes a generic setting and complies with WotC’s Open Game License. It will be sold through DriveThru RPG and a print version will be sold through Amazon and other online outlets.
Places by the Way has two inspirations. One is the line of mini-adventures that AEG published as part of the D&D 3rd Edition open license boom. I recall that the word count for those modules was only 5,000 words. I wrote three: The Wreck of the Venerable Drake, Gottheit and The Caravan City of Azul. They suggested to me that the short form could be made to work in adventure modules as it does in fiction. That is to say, if the typical folio-sized module is the novel, and the hardcover campaign books that WotC is publishing for 5th Edition are epics, there should be also be a place for the module equivalent of short stories.
The other inspiration is the strangely important role that side quests play in what we now recognize as standard CRPG structure. Side quests are those little tasks that you can find throughout the game world, and while they have no direct bearing on the main story, they allow you to accumulate XP, money and items, and meet memorable NPCs. If they’re done well they can add real flavor to the game experience.
Fallout remains one of my very favorite CRPGs. One of the first things that jumps back into my mind is Tandi, the Shady Sands girl voiced so perfectly by Cree Summer. Her wistful musing about what lies beyond her little village convey the fallen melancholy of that world so beautifully that it made me forget all about finding that water filter.
My goal for Places by the Way is that somewhere in the series, I will create an NPC encounter that has an effect like that. My disadvantage is that I won’t have a talented voice artist to help. But I’m going to try to create a moment in a campaign that you will find memorable out of proportion to its role as a diversion.
The first entry in Places by the Way describes a farming village that faces a threat to its existence massing in the wilderness just beyond its cleared fields. The Forgotten Realms version is called In the Shadow of The High Forest; the OGL, generic setting version is called The Village of Darkharrow. Both versions have 14 numbered locations, each of which offers an encounter, noteworthy items, noteworthy NPCs or an opening into which you can hook your existing campaign. The PCs may choose to help a farmer clear his field of ankhegs, buy some potent herbal cures, and move on. Or they choose to delve beneath the surface of village life, the second half of the module presents conditional series of events that lead to a boss encounter with a twist, with Darkharrow’’s fate at stake.
The text for both versions is already written and edited. But I need to raise funds to help pay for layout, formatting and cartography.
Risks and challenges
This project presents a relatively low level of risk. The text for both In the Shadow of The High Forest and The Village of Darkharrow has been written and edited. I just need some funds to help pay for layout, formatting. and cartography. Assuming that this campaign succeeds, both products should be available by February 2017.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)